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.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Nov. 30, 2012

Evening views of Halema`uma`u Crater from Jaggar Museum overlook thrill visitors. Photo by Mark Wasser from NPS
AN `AINA KOA PONO PUBLIC MEETING in Pahala has been requested by incoming District 3 state House of Representatives member Richard Onishi. In a letter to the state Public Utilities Commission, dated Nov. 26, Onishi, who will represent Punalu`u through Puna when the legislators take office in January, said, “I appreciate that public hearings on this docket were held in Hilo and Kailua-Kona. However, the facility will be built and operated in Pahala and Pahala residents, all of whom will undoubtedly be directly impacted by the facility, have many questions and concerns to express to you and the other commissioners, as well as the Consumer Advocate and HELCO. Please afford them the much deserved opportunity to do so. Please do not proceed on this application without first hearing what they have to say.
      “On behalf of the Pahala community, your favorable consideration of this request is appreciated.”

A SEPARATE PUBLIC MEETING is planned for next Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Pahala Community Center by Hawaiian Electric Co. regarding long-term planning for energy production. The Pahala meeting follows meetings in Hilo on Tuesday at `Imiloa Astronomy Center and Wednesday at Waikoloa Elementary School. A Public Utility Commission-nominated group of advisors to HECO will be on hand to listen to citizens. Documents regarding the utility’s long-term planning are available at irpie.com.

HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC CO.’S GENERATING UNITS are only 30 percent efficient,” UH doctoral student Iman Nasseri told Sophie Cocke, of Civil Beat. “If the electric utilities switched out their steam-powered generating units to more efficient gas turbines, efficiency could double, reducing the amount of oil needed to produce electricity by about half.”
      Research by Nasseri and Sherilyn Wee says that, of the roughly 15 million barrels of oil for electricity use that the state imports annually, only five million barrels are converted to electricity, and 10 million barrels are wasted.
Ray Starling
      Cocke reports that the state’s energy efficiency standards don’t focus on the operations of the electric utility companies. Instead, they only apply to reducing the amount of electricity residents consume and ignore the efficiencies that can be gained throughout the generation, transmission and distribution process.
      Ray Starling, head of Hawai`i Energy, the state’s energy efficiency program, told Cocke that, when state policymakers discussed including the utilities’ production facilities, HECO fought it. “In the (regulatory process), the utility basically took a position that they already do the stuff they need to be doing to be efficient and that the efficiency of the utility should not be something that is part of the (energy efficiency) mandate,”" he said.
      HECO spokesman Darren Pai responded that “we are continually improving the efficiency of existing generating units and the transmission and distribution systems. This helps customers by reducing the fuel needed to meet their energy needs — and thereby the costs to them.”
Jeff Mikulina
      Jeff Mikulina, Blue Planet Foundation executive director, told Cocke that, when it comes to energy efficiency policies, the full cycle of electricity production and delivery needs to be taken into account. “We have to look at the entire system from the fuel source all the way to the end use — every efficiency throughout the entire system,” he said. “We have some of the most inefficient, outdated plants possible. We have power plants that date back to the 1940s.”
      For more, see civilbeat.com.
TODAY IS THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT TESTIMONY on the proposed 20-year contract for `Aina Koa Pono to sell diesel, which would be manufactured at a refinery off Wood Valley Road above Pahala, to Hawai`i Electric Light Co. for use in Kona. The contract, according to Mayor Billy Kenoi, is for the biodiesel to be sold for some $200 a barrel. The cost of a barrel of oil – the type being used at the Kona power plant – was under $90 today. `Aina Koa Pono contends that the cost will rise in the future above the $200 and, in the end, consumers will save money with the proposed fixed rates. Opponents contend that geothermal and other alternative energies will be less expensive and that electric company customers should not be burdened with the $200 per barrel cost that could make electric bills higher. See more at www.puc.hawaii.gov/dockets and click on documents, where pro and con testimony as well as the proposal are available for reading.
      The proposal, if approved, would allow electric bills to go up on both O`ahu and the Big Island, and testimony is coming from both places.

RODRIGO ROMO, of Hilo, who is vice president of engineering for Zeta Corp., writes opposition to both the `Aina Koa Pono biofuel project and a separate HELCO rate hike. “In today’s day and age it is inconceivable that while we are living in one of the most privileged locations on the planet with regards to renewable energy resources availability, we still depend on a single utility company that holds a true monopoly on the power generation and that continues to ignore what would be the most efficient path towards energy independence. 
      “South Puna sits on a rich geothermal zone that could provide enough power for the entire Big Island. South Kona and Kohala areas have enough sun radiation to produce a significant supplement to the grid, and South Point and Saddle Road areas provide some of the most reliable wind patterns for wind generation. Yet, here we are debating on whether we should lock in a $200/barrel deal with a biofuel company. Who in its right mind would opt for this option!?”
      Rodrigo presents a graph for the electricity cost at his home for two years. He said the cost went up 16.7 percent in two years. “Now they want an additional four percent increase? Under what justification?” Meanwhile, HELCO continues to report record profits year after year.”
      He also pointed to a lower increase in the price per barrel of crude oil. In Jan. 2010, it was $82. In Nov. 2012, “the price is $87.50, an increase of 6.7 percent. HELCO has increased their rates 2.5 times the net increase of the price of oil, and now they want another increase,” write Rodrigo.
      IRA ONO, OF VOLCANO, who owns a café and gallery in Volcano, wrote, “We do not think taxpayers should subsidize the $200.00 per barrel that A.K.P. and HELCO is proposing.”

HAWAI`I HAS THE SECOND-LEAST COMPETITIVE commercial health insurance market in the country, according to a report released this week by American Medical Association. 
      “Without competition, there may not be the impetus to get better innovation and efficiency,” AMA president Dr. Jeremy Lazarus told Erin Miller of West Hawai`i Today. “In general, when you have an insurer that has such a monopoly on the market, the physicians have to take it or leave it. There’s not a lot of room for negotiation.”
      Lazarus also sees less motivation for insurance providers to create a better system for delivering medical services, Miller reports.
Dr. Jeremy Lazarus
      Hawai`i Medical Service Association, the state’s largest health insurance provider, has 69 percent of the commercial health insurance market and 84 percent of the preferred provider organization market, Miller reports. Nationwide, 89 percent of market share areas have at least one provider claiming more than 30 percent of the insurance market, while nine percent of the market share areas have a provider claiming 70 percent or more of the market.
      But HMSA doesn’t think the limited number of insurance providers in the state is hurting residents at all, Miller reports HMSA vice president for Communication Elisa Yadao as saying.
      “While the study makes ominous predictions about a lack of competition, that is not the case in Hawai`i,” Yadao told Miller. “We often perform better in key health areas than states on the mainland. We have a very low rate of uninsured residents and scored No. 1 overall in the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index again this year.”
      Miller said Yadao cited a 2011 study by The Commonwealth Fund and an Associated Press report that said Hawai`i has “among the lowest average family premiums in the nation.”

Ranger Talmadge Magno
“THE BEST AND CLOSEST PLACE TO OBSERVE a volcanic eruption within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park at present is from Jaggar Museum overlook and other vantage points at the summit of Kilauea that provide views of Halema`uma`u Crater,” said chief ranger Talmadge Magno. The park discourages hikers from going to the end of Chain of Craters Road to access the narrow streams of lava that reached the ocean last week. 
      The ocean entry is several hundred yards outside of the park’s easternmost boundary, over private land closer to Kalapana. The trek is an extremely arduous and grueling hike over hardened lava at least 10 miles round trip.
      “We don’t want people to be disappointed, and we especially don’t want people to get hurt,” Magno said. “While the historic flows covering the end of Chain of Craters Road are well worth a visit during the day, hiking all the way out to the ocean entry from the park side and leaving the park to cross private party isnt something we recommend.
      The park has increased staffing at Jaggar Museum to assist the many visitors drawn to Halema`uma`u. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/havo. For webcams and daily Kilauea status updates, visit http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php. For information on observing lava from Kalapana, call the county hotline at 961-8093.

Students who were honored for showing the month of October's featured trait of responsibility are, left to right, bottom row: Diane Libunao, Dylan Davis, Daehlee Figueroa and Melo Keohuloa; top row: Sarah Kailiawa, Jennifer Abalos and Cherisse Calumpit. Missing is Rebecca Escobar-Kailiawa. Photo by Carla Andrade
ONE STUDENT FROM EACH GRADE will be honored with a luncheon today at Pahala Elementary School Cafeteria. Students were chosen for exemplifying the character trait of cooperation during the month of November.

`O Ka`u Kakou joins with other community groups to clean up Punalu`u
Pond tomorrow.
`O KA`U KAKOU invites everyone to help clean up Punalu`u pond tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Free lunch, local music, games and shave ice follow the cleanup. Sign up with Wayne Kawachi at 937-4773.

DIGITAL MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL takes place tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The public can view 11 films by students from Ka`u and Puna at youtube.com/user/digital-mountain2012 and vote for their favorite by sending an email to kupono_mcdaniel@nps.gov. The winner receives a MacBook Air, and additional prizes are awarded to the top film, chosen by judges, in categories 7th - 9th grade and 10th - 12th grade.

HARPIST/PERCUSSIONIST KRISTIN ARIA SHAW and harpist/keyboardist Irminsul perform in a holiday concert entitled Anela Strings, Music of a Higher Place tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Volcano Art Centers Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Admission is $16 for the general public and $14 for VAC members. Call 967-8222 for more information.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Nov. 29, 2012

KAMILO BEACH on the Ka`u Coast made NBC Nightly News last night with a story on the possibility of Japan tsunami debris arriving this winter with a huge impact. Anchorman Brian Williams leads off the report saying: “The tsunami in Japan was almost two years ago, and yet wait until you see the pictures of what we found on the beach in Hawai`i, the amount of debris washing ashore, and there’s more coming right behind it.”
      NBC reporter Miguel Almaguer came here for the network and filmed Hawai`i Wildlife Fund workers and volunteers at Kamilo, calling the situation: “On the southern tip of Hawai`i’s Big Island, disaster in paradise.”
      Says Lamson, “We’re pulling a minimum of 2,000 pounds, if not more, off the beach.”
      NBC notes that “Megan Lamson leads the overwhelming cleanup effort at Kamilo. This is what many are calling the world’s dirtiest beach. An estimated 20 tons of garbage washes ashore here every year.”
      Says Lamson, “We are the hub and an accumulation point for loads of marine debris that are washing up from all over the map.”
      NBC reports that “now more and more debris is arriving with Japanese markings, the leading edge of what many fear is an oncoming wave, a ten-mile stretch of buoys, bottles and fishing nets. Even a refrigerator has washed ashore.
     “This section of Kamilo Beach used to be covered in beautiful sand, but now it’s pieces of broken plastic in some cases three to four inches deep that have redefined the very look of this coastline."
      Says Lamson: “You keep digging, and you just keep finding more.”
      NBC reports the impacts on wildlife: “Necropsies on albatross show seabirds are digesting plastic at an alarming rate.”
      Oceanographer David Hyrenback says, “Every bird we open has plastic, 100 percent.” The NBC report continues, “It’s showing up in our fish, too.”
      Biologist Michelle Hester says, “The species that we love to eat like salmon and tuna are eating the fish we are finding plastic in. It’s in our human food web.”
      Reports NBC, “All that plastic is propelled by the great Pacific Garbage patch, a swirling current that has funneled trash toward Kamilo Beach for decades.”
      Carey Morishige, of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, states that “arrival of the lower floating items, the things that are more at the surface of the ocean and hanging below the surface, (are) coming potentially this fall and winter.”
      Almaguer concludes that the debris predictions are “clear signs of trouble in paradise.” See http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/50002124#50002132.
      Hawai`i Wildlife Fund leads volunteer groups to Kamilo and other Ka`u Coast beaches throughout the year. The next beach cleanup is Saturday, Jan. 12. To volunteer, contact Lamson at 769-7629 or kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com.

THE ELECTRIC COMPANY’S IMPACT on local communities will be part of the discussion at a public meeting next Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Pahala Community Center. A Public Utility Commission-nominated group of advisors to Hawaiian Electric Co. will be on hand to listen to citizens. The Pahala meeting is one of three to be held on this island this month by HECO’s Integrated Resource Planning Advisory Group. 
      Also called the Aloha Advisory Group, some of the 15 members from this island are expected to come to Pahala to listen to the public. HECO and Hawai`i Electric Light Co. plan to present information on development of an Action Plan to govern how HECO will meet energy objectives and customer energy needs consistent with state energy policies and goals. The group is asking for perspectives, concerns and ideas from the community.
Rep. Bob Herkes is a member of
HECO's Aloha Advisory Group.
      The Aloha Group reviews HECO planning and its relationship to the community. Renewable energy is one of the main topics of HECO’s Integrated Resource Plan. In IRP documents filed with the PUC, HECO states: “Renewable generation must not ‘substantially compromise’ the reliable operation of the host island’s distribution and transmission grid” and that “renewable generation must not ‘markedly increase’ curtailment or ‘meaningfully displace’ other renewable generation.”
      Renewable energy for Ka`u currently includes windmills along South Point Road that generate enough electricity for all the houses in the district. In addition, a hydroelectric plant is being constructed in Wood Valley by Olson Trust that could power up many homes in Pahala, if it were to go on the grid. Another proposal is the `Aina Koa Pono plan to build a refinery off Wood Valley Road and process trees, shrubs and crops to make biodiesel to be trucked for electric generation in Kona.
       A notice from Hawai`i Electric Light Co. says the planning by the utility is for the next 20 years, with a report to be submitted to the PUC by June 28, 2013.
      At the website www.irpie.com, documents regarding the long-term planning by the utility company are available. They include: Blazing a Bold Frontier: High oil prices and policies supporting clean energy resources; Stuck in the Middle: Moderate but growing oil prices with uncertain public policy regarding clean energy resource and infrastructure implementation; No Burning Desire: Lower oil prices with waning policy support for clean energy; and Moved by Passion: Moderate but growing oil prices with aggressive clean energy policies.
      After gathering testimony, the utility plans to update the public and hold another round of meetings in the spring of 2013.

HAWAI`I ISLAND “CLEARLY HAS THE ABILITY TO SATISFY current diesel fuel transportation requirements with locally produced biofuels,” states the county’s Energy Sustainability Program Five-Year Roadmap. However, “replacing current gasoline and jet fuel consumption represents a much bigger challenge. Fortunately, there is advanced research ongoing in Hawai`i to develop new sources of renewable biofuels. The U.S. Department of Defense supports biofuel research and development and has shown an interest in large-scale biofuels projects in Hawai`i.” 
      The report says “the promise of a reinvigorated agricultural industry that simultaneously reduces energy dependence makes support and development of a biofuels industry a goal of many business, community, and political leaders.” It also describes much of Hawai`i Island as not suitable for growing biofuels, “so competition for high quality, irrigated land could become an issue. The county should continue to help local communities discuss and decide how to achieve energy goals without harming other important interests, such as ranching, farming, and recreation,” the report states.
      The roadmap mentions the `Aina Koa Pono project with regards to transportation fuel. “The proposed `Aina Koa Pono biofuel production facility would sell 16 million gallons of biodiesel directly to Hawai`i Electric Light Company for use in their diesel generators, leaving eight million gallons available for other uses, according to company estimates,” it says. While biodiesel is commonly found on the mainland and even in Hawai`i, “biogasoline and bio-jet fuel production processes are still being tested and refined, and await scale-up to a commercial level.
      During his campaign for re-election as mayor of Hawai`i County, Billy Kenoi stated opposition to `Aina Koa Pono’s proposed contract to sell biodiesel to HELCO for electricity generation. “We’re not interested in more renewable energy. We’re interested in cheaper renewable energy. Unless it has lower rates, we will not support it,” he told West Hawai`i Today reporter Colin M. Stewart.
      The contract would allow HELCO to raise electric rates to households on the Big Island and O`ahu by $1 per month for every 600 kilowatt-hours used.
Brenda Ford and other County Council
members are sworn in Monday, Dec. 3.
      Deadline for public comments on the proposed contract is tomorrow. Public Utilities Commission is accepting comments at hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov.
      The county’s Energy Sustainability Program Five-Year Roadmap is available at hawaiienergyplan.com. Public comments are accepted at energy@hawaiienergyplan.com or 887-6411 through Dec. 5.

THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO WITNESS the swearing in of Mayor Billy Kenoi and Hawai`i County Council members, including Ka`u's new District 6 council member Brenda Fordat noon Monday in the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo. The ceremony begins with music by the Hawai`i County Band. Then, Third Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura administers the oath of office. Two Council meetings also take place on Monday in Council chambers. 
      A Sine Die Council meeting precedes the ceremony at 9 a.m., when Council members receive thanks from the county for their years of service.
      Another Council meeting follows the ceremony at 3 p.m., with appointments of Council members to various committees, Stewart Maeda as County Clerk and Maile David as deputy County Clerk.
The public can view the meetings as they are broadcast live at Ocean View Community Center.

What Volcano Means to Me is part of Digital Mountain Film Festival.
WHAT VOLCANO MEANS TO ME is one of 11 films by students from Ka`u and Puna to be presented during Digital Mountain Film Festival Saturday at 6 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The public can view the films at youtube.com/user/digital-mountain2012 and vote for their favorite by sending an email to kupono_mcdaniel@nps.gov. The winner receives a MacBook Air, and additional prizes are awarded to the top film, chosen by judges, in categories 7th - 9th grade and 10th - 12th grade.

VOLCANO ART CENTER PRESENTS Anela Strings, Music of a Higher Place, Saturday at 7 p.m. at its Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. This holiday concert features performances by harpist/percussionist Kristin Aria Shaw and harpist/keyboardist Irminsul. Admission is $16 for the general public and $14 for VAC members. Call 967-8222 for more information. 


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Nov. 28, 2012

Mayor Billy Kenoi (right) with Pahala supporters a few days before the election. He named several new cabinet posts yesterday and promises to come to Ka`u with his department heads. Photo by Julia Neal
WALLY LAU, 64, is the newly appointed managing director for Hawai`i County and will work out of the county’s Kona office. Randy Kurohara, 50, is the new deputy managing director and will work out of the county’s Hilo office. Mayor Billy Kenoi appointed the two and they move into their new positions Dec. 3, following swearing in of the mayor and County Council.
Wally Lau
       One widely discussed possible reason for the mayor having won his reelection Nov. 6 is his effort to refrain from being Hilo-centric and his attempt to pay attention to the population living on the other side of the island from the county seat.
      This will be the first time that the managing director of Hawai`i County has operated from Kona. Lau, who became deputy managing director when Kenoi became mayor in 2008 and has operated out of Kona, will set up office in the new West Hawai`i Civic Center.
      The deputy managing director’s office will move to Hilo, where Kurohara will transition from the directorship of the county Department of Research & Economic Development.
      Staying on in top county administrative spots are director of Public Works, Warren Lee; Civil Defense director, Ben Fuata; director of Finance, Nancy Crawford; and Corporation Council (the county attorney), Lincoln Ashida. Acting director of Environmental Management, Dora Beck, is expected to remain until another manager is found. The county is also looking for a new head of Research & Development to replace Kurohara.
      Four executive assistants to the mayor will be Charmaine Shigemura, Karen Tishima and Kevin Dayton in Hilo and Bobby Command in Kona.
       Shigemura said this morning that the mayor plans to continue to bring department heads to meetings in Ka`u and around the island to “continue to live up to his promise of being accessible to the community.”

Hawai`i could join other states with 100 percent mail-in voting if
the state Legislature approves a measure to be proposed by Gov.
Abercrombie. Image from counterpolitics.com
GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE plans to propose to the Legislature a measure moving Hawai`i toward 100 percent mail-in voting. “The right to vote is one of our most cherished duties as U.S. citizens. Therefore, we must ensure that our voting process runs smoothly and efficiently,” Abercrombie said. “Moreover, absentee ballots have seen a steady increase and use over the last several elections, and there has been no evidence to question the accuracy and security of these ballots relative to traditional methods. 
      He said 100 percent mail-in voting has been effective in other parts of the country. Wikipedia lists Oregon and Washington as states using the system.
      The measure follows circumstances that resulted in a shortage of paper ballots at several O`ahu polling places during the November general election. “I agree with criticisms that the handling of election operations raises legitimate concerns,” Abercrombie said. “I do not plan to simply stand on the side and wait to see what the Office of Elections’ own review may bring. At a minimum, we must consider new technologies that can help bring our election process into the 21st Century.”

HAWAI`I COUNTY IS SEEKING PUBLIC COMMENT on its draft Energy Sustainability Program Five-Year Roadmap. Comments are due a week from today on Wednesday, Dec. 5. The roadmap reports that transportation presents the greatest challenge to energy sustainability for the island because this sector constitutes more than half of energy demand, and the market development of sustainable transportation solutions has been slow. It calls for the county to organize its actions around mass transit system improvements, countywide transportation laws and regulations, and county vehicles and operations. Additionally, the county can take steps to promote the adoption of new and better vehicles that consume little or no fossil fuel, the report says.
      “The county has several specific powers related to transportation planning and regulation that can be leveraged to promote more sustainable and efficient use of energy in transportation. It also can wield influence as a major consumer of fuel on the island with total expenditures of about $7.5 million per year,” according to the report.
      Priority actions listed for the county to move toward energy sustainability are:
  • Coordinate the formation of a large fleet owners consortium; 
  • Fund a comprehensive mass transit strategic plan to increase ridership and introduce modern transit management technologies;
  • Increase user-friendliness of Hele-On bus information for riders; 
Increasing Hele-On Bus ridership and user-friendlyness are two priority
actions in the county's Energy Sustainability Program Roadmap.
  • Provide grant funding to vehicle dealers and repair businesses to acquire and install electric vehicle servicing equipment; 
  • Create a property tax credit for electric vehicle charging stations;
  • Establish a countywide priority policy for alternative fuels; 
  • Adopt or develop a biofuels evaluation framework to support county decision-making and advocacy that addresses the specific needs of the island; 
  • Institute a fuel tax schedule for alternative fuels; 
  • Develop a framework for increasing the fuel tax on fossil fuels at a future date; 
  • Implement a Complete Streets policy to improve the safety and accessibility of the island’s public roadways; 
  • Enforce the state law requiring large parking lots to provide electric vehicle parking and charging; 
  • Reduce fossil-fuel consumption in the county fleet through vehicle purchasing and a fleet management system; 
  • Encourage county employees to use an existing free private platform for carpooling and ridesharing. 
      The roadmap is available at hawaiienergyplan.com. Public comments are accepted at energy@hawaiienergyplan.com or 887-6411.

PUBLIC LAND DEVELOPMENT CORP. resolution by the Hawai`i State Association of Counties to abolish the agency comes up before the Honolulu County Council next Wednesday, Dec. 5, following a committee meeting yesterday. If the Honolulu Council fails to join Hawai`i, Maui and Kaua`i Counties in issuing a resolution to overturn PLDC laws, the Hawai`i State Association of Counties will be unable to include it in their legislative package for 2013. Most of Ka`u’s legislators have called for the repeal of the law that allows the state to work with private entities to develop public lands.
      Another issue is requiring Genetically Modified Organism labeling, for which the three neighbor island councils already passed resolutions. Honolulu has yet to settle on whether to support the GMO labeling.

A swarm of earthquakes continues eight miles east-
northeast of Pahala. Image from USGS
FUNDING FOR TURNING LANES off Hwy 11 near Volcano onto Kulani Road and other improvements was released by Gov. Neil Abercrombie yesterday. Kulani is expected to become a prison once again to house adult inmates and make room for bringing home prisoners who are now housed on the mainland in privately owned institutions. The money will be used to improve drainage, streetlights and guardrails at the intersection where people turn off Hwy 11 to go to the prison. It is also an area of farms and houses. 

HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK is experiencing seismic activity described as “steady at low values” by Hawaiian Volcano Observatory this morning. Sixteen earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea: two west of the summit caldera, two south of the summit caldera and 12 on south flank faults including a continuing cluster of deep earthquakes beneath the coast near Napu`uona`elemakule, 10 miles east-northeast of Pahala.

Wayne Keeth's Joy to the World and other wreaths are on
display at Volcano Art Center Gallery. Photo from VAC
VOLCANO FESTIVAL CHORUS performs a selection of holiday music entitled Comfort and Joy on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. The holiday performance will be at Kilauea Military Camp Theatre in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Among the many selections to be performed are Rise up and Follow That Star by Lloyd Larson, Hush My Babe by Cynthia Gray and Wishes and Candles by Stephen Paulus. The choir will also perform old familiar favorites as Angels Sing Glory by Larry Shackley and Oh Come to the Manger by Patrick Liebergen. The chorus is under the direction of Roch Jones with accompaniment by Cinnie Decker. 
       Admission is free, with  donations gratefully accepted. Sponsored by Kilauea Drama & Entertainment Network.

VOLCANO ART CENTER’S 13th annual invitational wreath exhibit is on display at the gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and park entrance fees apply.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Nov. 27, 2012

Beach at Road to the Sea is part of more than 3,000 acres approved for preservation by Hawai`i County Council.
Photo courtesy of Megan Lamson
HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC CO. has scheduled a meeting in Pahala next week for its Aloha Advisory Group, according to Lisa K. K. Giang, director of the Corporate Energy Planning Division for Hawaiian Electric Co.
      In her Transmittal of Scheduled Public meetings, the gathering is listed for Thursday, Dec. 6 at Pahala Community Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Meetings of the group are being held around the state. A public notice was printed in Sunday’s Hilo and Kona newspapers for meetings at Waikoloa and Hilo. The Pahala meeting has since been added.
      Advisory group members from the Big Island, include County Planning director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, Hawai`i County Housing Office representative Niniau Simmons, current County Council chair Dominic Yagong, current state House of Representatives member Robert Herkes, businessman Barry Mizuno, Rep. Denny Coffman, Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Robert Lindsey, Jr., Hawai`i Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai`i Authority representative Gregory P. Barbour, energy expert Robert Rapier and Matthew Hamabata of The Kohala Center.
Matthew Hamabata Photo from
The Kohala Center
      Aloha Advisory Group members were selected by the Public Utilities Commission to advise HECO with its integrated resource planning to develop an Action Plan to govern how HECO will meet energy objectives and customer energy needs consistent with state energy policies and goals. According to the PUC’s order establishing the advisory group, its purpose is to “provide the Hawaiian Electric Companies with the benefit of community perspectives by participating in the utility’s integrated resource planning process and representing diverse community, environmental, social, political, or cultural interest consistent with the Revised Framework’s goal.” The document says that the “Advisory Group represents interests that are affected by the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ resource plans and possesses the ability to provide significant perspective or useful expertise in the development of the resource plans.”
      To review the advisory group documents, see www.irp.ie.com.

COUNTY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS to repeal the Public Land Development Corp, which passed all three neighbor island County Councils, may not be included in the Hawai`i State Association of Counties’ 2013 legislative package. According to a Peter Sur story in this morning’s Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, the proposal may be nixed by the Honolulu City Council. Sur reports that last Wednesday, “minutes before the Thanksgiving weekend, five Honolulu Council members introduced a resolution for the HSAC that omits requests to introduce both a GMO labeling bill and a proposed repeal of the Public Lands Development Corp.”
      According to the Tribune-Herald story, “The passage of the resolution without a floor amendment would mean that the Hawai`i County Council’s votes requesting HSCA to introduce legislation abolishing the PLDC and mandating GMO labeling would be nullified.”
      Those supporting abolishing the PLDC and establishing GMO labeling are planning to take up the matters with the Honolulu council today, the story says.
      See more at www.hawaii-tribuneherald.com.

Hawai`i County Council approved the purchase of 3,128 acres along
the Ka`u Coast.
HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL LAST WEEK authorized Mayor Billy Kenoi to enter into an agreement with the state of Hawai`i, Board of Land and Natural Resources, Legacy Land Conservation Commission, and to accept funds for the acquisition of Kahuku Coastal Property accessed by Road to the Sea. The resolution passed unanimously, with Council members Fred Blas and Angel Pilago absent.

A BILL ADDING $10,640,000 TO THE COUNTY BUDGET for Ka`u Water Source and Storage Expansion Project passed its second and final reading at County Council unanimously, with Council member Fred Blas absent. Funds will be provided from general obligation bonds, capital projects funds and/or other sources such as grants. Funds will be used for water infrastructure improvements, which will add a new well source, expand water storage and replace buried water lines where appropriate.

Two bills passed by County Council expand water storage in Ka`u.
Photo from Department of Water Supply
ANOTHER BILL ADDING $9,900,000 TO THE COUNTY BUDGET FOR South Point Road Water Infrastructure Expansion Project also passed its second and final reading unanimously, with Council member Fred Blas absent. Funds will be provided from general obligation bonds, capital projects funds and/or other sources such as grants. Funds will be used for water infrastructure improvements to replace and realign an existing water line above Hwy 11, add a new well source, expand water storage and bring a new six-inch, buried, ductile pipe water line and fire hydrants to the area below Hwy 11.

THE NEXT COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Ka`u residents can now participate at Ocean View Community Center, 92-8924 Leilani Circle, with a new system that allows testimony to be given live from the site. Committee meeting agendas are available at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/lb-council-committee, and Council agendas, along with information on how to submit testimony, can be viewed at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/lb-council-meeting. For more information, call 961-8536 or edistrict6@co.hawaii.hi.us.

ESTABLISHMENT OF A SENIOR CENTER in Ocean View has been approved by the Windward Planning Commission. The application calls for the center to also be used as a community center and emergency shelter with a capacity of 100 people. The two-acre parcel of land, situated within the state Land Use Agricultural District on Lotus Blossom Lane mauka of Ace Hardware, would also have a certified kitchen. The decision states that, “since this recommendation is made without the benefit of public testimony, the director reserves the right to modify and/or alter this recommendation based upon additional information presented at the public hearing.”

OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS has identified a priority list for $8.9 million in grant money that community organizations across the state can now apply for. At the top of the priority list are grant proposals aimed at improving nutrition and physical activity within the Hawaiian community, where OHA has stepped up efforts to combat obesity. Other prime targets for OHA grants include programs that perpetuate Hawaiian culture and preserve natural resources in a manner that would benefit future generations.
      The deadline to apply for a grant is Jan. 16. The grants fund a two-year period between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2015.
      For more information, call 808-594-1986, email grantsinfo@oha.org or visit www.oha.org.

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI`I is reaching out to Native Hawaiians across on the Big Island who want to pursue a college education. The effort is part of a statewide initiative to bring Native Hawaiian scholarship opportunities to underserved communities in Hawai`i.
      UH has partnered with Office of Hawaiian Affairs and GEAR UP Hawai`i to present the 2012-2013 Native Hawaiian Scholarship Aha, a series of free presentations for high school students, parents, teachers, current college students, adult students, counselors and anyone interested in learning about the resources and financial aid available to Native Hawaiian students.
      There will also be a brief workshop on filling out financial aid applications and strategies on earning scholarships.
      Other community partners supporting the workshops include Native Hawaiian Education Association, Kamehameha Schools and Pacific Financial Aid Association.
      The workshops are from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow at Kealakehe High School Cafeteria in Kona and Thursday at UH-Hilo’s Campus Center. Information about the workshops is available online at www.hawaii.edu/aha.

TONIGHT’S AFTER DARK IN THE PARK about fossilized human footprints in the Ka`u Desert has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.

Fall Turkey, by Lanaya Deily, is on display at
Volcano Art Center Gallery. Photo from VAC
SEN. JOSH GREEN APPEARS ON INSIGHTS, the PBS Hawai`i program hosted by Dan Boylan, Thursday at 8 p.m. in a roundtable discussion on the state of health care in Hawai`i. Green started his career as a physician at Ka`u Hospital and was elected to represent Ka`u from Honu`apo through Na`alehu, South Point, Ocean View and up the coast through Kona when the 2013 Hawai`i State Legislature convenes. He is chair of the Senate’s Committee on Health.

HOLIDAY WREATHS are on display at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Wreaths are made from many materials, from turkey feathers to cloth fabric. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.



Monday, November 26, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Nov. 26, 2012

A wisp of steam marks the site of lava entering the ocean this morning. Photo from USGS/HVO
NO COMMENT ON THE KA`U FOREST RESERVE MANAGEMENT PLAN lawsuit filed last week by Pele Defense Fund. That’s the word from the state Department of Land & Natural Resources. Comments are expected after the state Attorney General looks at the suit, which calls for an Environmental Impact Statement.
Map from DLNR shows hunting areas and proposed
fencing areas in Ka`u Forest Reserve.
      The management plan for 61,641 state-owned acres, which are surrounded on three sides by other state and federal properties, calls for fencing through some of the high elevation of the Ka`u Forest Reserve to keep out ungulates such as pigs, goats and sheep, which destroy native plants and endanger native Hawaiian birds. The plan also calls for reintroduction of the endangered `Alala, the native Hawaiian Crow, which is believed to be extinct in the wild and lives only in bird sanctuaries.
      Some hunters, however, recoil at any more access limitation in Ka`u, where new fencing has been strung for cattle ranching and by new owners of property that was left open to the community by the old sugar company. Some ranches, such as Kapapala, work with hunters and give access through pastures. However, the word “fencing” has become a hot-button issue, and some residents see it as further restricting subsistence hunters and gatherers from land where they traditionally traveled.
      The management plan calls for walkovers – stairways going over fencing – to preserve hunting trails. Much of the proposed fenced-in area would be at high elevations that are less frequently used as hunting grounds, the plan states.
      The EA lays out the general purposes of the management plan as follows:
  • Develop management actions for general and specific areas that protect and restore the watershed and native species as vital natural and cultural resources. These actions include fencing and ungulate removal from the most critical area(s), predator control, invasive plant removal and control, and native plant restoration.
  • Reintroduce the `Alala to the Ka`u Forest Reserve.
  • Enhance public access to Ka`u Forest Reserve through development and maintenance of public access roads and other infrastructure (trails, cabins and/or campsites, etc.).
  • Conform with the purpose of the Forest Reserve System and the Ka`u Forest Reserve, in particular as stated in Hawai`i Revised Statutes (Chapter 183) and associated Hawai`i Administrative Rules (Chapter 104), to protect, manage, restore and monitor the resources of Forest Reserves for the public benefit, particularly water resources.
      “Implementation of this management plan will be a huge benefit to rare, threatened and endangered plant and animal species in the ecosystem,” the DLNR statement says.
      The Ka`u forest provides habitat for 16 native Hawaiian birds, including seven listed as Endangered Species; encompasses five major native-dominated forest ecosystems, contains critical habitat for 32 rare plants (listed or candidate) and four endemic and, or, listed invertebrates and likely also provides habitat for the Hawaiian hoary bat.
      Fencing is already built on one side of the unit, and partnership opportunities are available with adjacent landowners for additional habitat protection, says a DLNR press release.
      To read the entire management plan, see http://oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%20Documents/EA_and_EIS_Online_Library/Hawaii/2010s/2012-10-23-FEA-Kau-Forest-Reserve-Management-Plan-5B.pdf.

Life of the Land director
Henry Curtis
THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION HAS DENIED a request by several parties and participants in the docket concerning the proposed contract between Hawai`i Electric Light Company and `Aina Koa Pono. HELCO, `Aina Koa Pono, the Consumer Advocate, the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism and the County of Hawai`i requested a new, shorter Schedule of Proceedings. Life of the Land, an intervenor and one of the parties in the procedure, objected to the new schedule, which set the final due date for Companies’ responses to Information Requests on rebuttal testimony as May 3, 2013 instead of Aug. 2, 2013.
      The requestors had interpreted language in the original order as not requiring unanimity to make changes to the schedule, but the PUC said that interpretation is “without merit” and that the order “clearly identifies the ‘Parties’ as the Companies, the Consumer Advocate and LOL, and the ‘Participants’ as the County of Hawai`i and DBEDT.
      “In the absence of unanimous agreement, no new, proposed procedural schedule should have been filed with the commission,” the PUC statement said.
      This and other documents and public testimony can be read at puc.hawaii.gov/dockets. Docket number is 2012-0185.
      Deadline for public written comments to the PUC regarding the proposed biodiesel supply contract is this Friday, Nov. 30. Email testimony to hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov or mail to 465 South King Street, #103, Honolulu, HI 96813.

Cowman greets winner Alexandre Ribeiro, left, at the 28th annual
Ultraman Triathlon finish line. Photo from realendurance.com
THE 28TH ANNUAL ULTRAMAN TRIATHLON, after zooming through Ka`u, wound up in Kona yesterday with 47-year-old Alexandre Ribeiro, of Brazil, winning the swim, bike and run in 22 hours, 51 minutes and 12 seconds. Amber Monforte, of Reno, NV, won the women’s division with a time of 34 hours, 25 minutes and 29 seconds.
      Ribeiro and Monforte were last year’s winners, as well. Of the 35 who started the grueling three-day race, 27 finished.

LAVA FROM KILAUEA VOLCANO continues to flow into the ocean after reaching the coastline in lower Puna around 1 p.m. Saturday. The last lava flow to reach the ocean occurred in December last year at West Ka`ili`ili, then stopped on New Year’s Day.

HAWAI`I NEI, THE ANNUAL EXHIBIT celebrating Hawai`i’s native species, runs through the end of the month at Wailoa Arts and Cultural Center in Hilo. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m.

Dr. Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura
Photo from NPS
DR. JADELYN J. MONIZ-NAKAMURA discusses fossilized human footprints in the Ka`u Desert at After Dark in the Park tomorrow at 7 p.m. She examines geologic evidence and the recent discovery of hundreds of archaeological features that indicate prehistoric activity in the area, suggesting that the footprints may be much older than expected.
      The program takes place at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Park entrance fees apply.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Nov. 25, 2012

Lo`ihi mapping shows a large volcano under the sea 22 miles off the southeast coast of Ka`u. Image from NOAA
A 4.3 EARTHQUAKE struck yesterday at 6 p.m., four miles east-northeast of Lo`ihi Seamount. The quake was 9.1 miles below sea level on the ocean floor south of Pahala and Punalu`u and east of South Point. Windows rattled in Ka`u and beyond, but no damage was reported.
      Lo`ihi is an active underwater volcano, about 400,000 years old, with its summit having risen to about 3,180 feet below sea level. Emerging from a hot spot on the Pacific Ocean floor, Lo`ihi has grown to become 10,000 feet tall when measured from the seabed and could rise above the ocean surface in about 10,000 to 100,000 years from now, earth scientists predict.
A 4.3 earthquake struck off the Ka`u Coast yesterday.
      According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Loi`hi Seamount was the site of a flurry of earthquakes Dec. 6 and 7 in 2005. Over 100 earthquakes were located by HVO. An eruption was followed by a swarm of 4,070 earthquakes in 1996. The series of quakes became the largest number recorded during a swarm in the history of studying Hawai`i’s volcanoes. 
      HVO reports: “After the
 swarm, scientists on submersible dives to Lo`ihi concluded that the
 earthquakes were accompanied by a significant collapse of the summit
 area and an apparent eruption.” The quakes led to the implosion of Pele’s Vents, which are now known as Pele’s Pit. The eruption and swarm crafted a major change in about five square miles of the underwater topography of Lo`ihi.
      The newest in the chain of volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands, Lo`ihi is growing out of the flank of Mauna Loa Volcano, which is the largest shield volcano on earth. When measured from its base on the ocean floor, Mauna Loa is more than 30,000 feet tall.

Preston Barnes opposes the `Aina Koa Pono
contract. Photo from Rotary Club of Hilo Bay
THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION has received more testimony in advance of the Nov. 30 deadline regarding the application for approval of Hawai`i Electric Light Company’s proposed 20-year biodiesel supply contract with `Aina Koa Pono. The plan to build a refinery off  Wood Valley Road and a biofuel farm between Pahala and Na`alehu is drawing testimony from O`ahu and the Big Island. It would raise electric bills on both islands and would reportedly fix the price of the biofuel at some $200 a barrel. The proposal is also drawing testimony from those affiliated with `Aina Koa Pono. 
      Brett Kulbis, of Ewa Beach on O`ahu, opposes the contract. He writes, “I’m opposed to the `Aina Koa Pono biofuel purchase proposal. It will raise electricity rates. I want lower rates. Over the last two years, my electrical bill has gone up from approximately $237 per month to $591; this is becoming outrageous. Purchasing biofuel at $200 per barrel is not only irrational, it is fiscally irresponsible. The Hawaiian Electric Co. monopolistic stranglehold on our electric rates and energy future must end.”
      Preston Barnes, who owns property in Wood Valley, worked as a supervisor for Ka`u Sugar and for C. Brewer for 20 years, opposes the contract. The Papaikou resident says, “I agree that we need renewable energy, but it doesn’t make sense to develop a product, any product, that is more expensive than oil, especially if you intend to have HELCO pass on the cost of this development to the consumer. Let’s use common sense and develop alternative fuels or methods that are less expensive than oil first. All you are doing is funding an alternative source which is a private company developing a product that they can’t sell because it is not economical.”
John Carroll,  left, works with `Aina Koa Pono to grow test crops in Wood
Valley and submits testimony supporting the biofuel project.
Photo by Michael Neal
      John Carroll, of the Pacific Northwest and Kona, who has worked for `Aina Koa Pono, supports the project. He says he is an agricultural engineer who has helped `Aina Koa Pono locate some of the plant varieties being used for yield trials. “The sustainable benefits far outweigh any perceived increases in electrical costs,” he writes. “Initially, there may be some slight increases, but as oil prices rise in the future, `Aina Koa Pono’s project will act as a stabilizing agent and will eventually be effective in reducing costs and providing a green, renewable source of carbon-negative energy, which Hawai`i can be proud of and works well with our agricultural heritage.”
      Carroll says AKP offers “the only technology which supplies the volumes of needed liquid fuels.” He contends that AKP will utilize marginal lands and not lands currently used for food production, will keep land in agricultural use and not for speculation, will employ farmers and agriculturalists - similar to the sugar cane days - and make Hawai`i County a destination for eco-tourism.
      The PUC is accepting testimony through Nov. 30 at hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov and 465 South King Street, #103, Honolulu, HI 96813.
      See more testimony and the proposal at www.puc.hawaii.gov/dockets.

Program director Yvonne Gilbert
ARC OF KONA ANNOUNCES ITS FIVE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of providing an active project site and services in Ka`u. In the winter of 2008, Arc of Kona received two donated homes in Ocean View. After much deliberation and community input, the private nonprofit decided to develop one home as an activity center for adults with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities. The house next door was developed as a low-cost, high-quality housing unit for people living with a disability who can live independently. “To date, we have been successful in fulfilling both goals, and we are able and willing to support more people living with disabilities,” said program director Yvonne Gilbert. “Throughout the last five years, we have been fortunate to receive ongoing support for our homes in Ocean View, including installing safe water systems and recently replacing and upgrading flooring in the residence.”
      Arc of Kona provides one-on-one services to individuals with DD/ID via the Personal Assistance and Habilitation program of the Medicaid Waiver. Staff works with individuals with disabilities on increasing their independence and skills in activities of daily living, personal care skills and community access. “There is a formal process of admission and establishing meaningful goals for the people we support, ongoing review of these goals, qualified and caring staff, and a lovely and cozy house from which to practice these goals,” Gilbert said. “We are always interested in hearing from you if you or a family member has a disability and are looking for supports and services. We are also interested in hearing from you if you are skilled or interested in working with individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities.”
      Arc of Kona has been serving Hawai‘i Island for over 40 years and is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
      For more information, contact Gilbert at 323-2626.

Ka`u Coffee Pageant winners for 2011-2012, Miss Ka`u
Coffee Brandy Shibuya and Miss Ka`u Peaberry Rebecca
Lynn Kailiawa-Escobar. Photo by Julia Neal
CALLING FOR MISS KA`U COFFEE CANDIDATES: Young women wanting to become Miss Ka`u Coffee contestants for 2013 are welcome to sign up for the competition by Jan. 15 for the spring pageant. Categories will be Miss Ka`u Coffee for young women ages 17 to 24 and Miss Ka`u Peaberry for girls ages 7 to 9. The winners will reign over the annual Ka`u Coffee Festival on Saturday, May 4. 
      Candidates must be age 17-24 by May 13 for Miss Ka`u Coffee. Candidates must be age 7-9 by May 13 for Miss Ka`u Peaberry. Pick up and drop off applications at R&G Store in Pahala, Pahala Community Center, Grandma’s Closet in Na`alehu and Kahuku Gift & Garden Shop in Ocean View. For more, contact Gloria Camba at 928-8558 or call Pahala Plantation Cottages at 928-9811. Organizers also welcome volunteers to help produce the pageant.

VOLCANO VILLAGE ARTISTS HUI Art Studio Tour & Sale continues today until 4 p.m. Artists display their work in several studios throughout the village. Maps are available at local businesses and VolcanoVillageArtistsHui.com.

CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY continues today at Volcano Art Center Gallery with art demonstrations and a selection of handcrafted decorations and gifts offered only during the holiday season are available until 5 p.m. Park entrance fees apply. For more, visit volcanoartcenter.org or call 967-7565.

After Dark in the Park examines fossilized footprints in the Ka`u Desert.
FOSSILIZED HUMAN FOOTPRINTS IN THE KA`U DESERT are the topic at After Dark in the Park Tuesday at 7 p.m. Archaeological research at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park suggests that the story behind the creation of may be more complex than originally thought. Footprint impressions found in desert ash layers were believed to have been created by the army of the Hawaiian Chief Keoua in 1790 on their way back from battle over land and power with Chief (later King) Kamehameha. With his army split into three groups, Keoua passed by Kilauea Volcano. Kilauea is said to have erupted, sending ash down on one group and suffocating them. The others made it out alive, apparently leaving their footprints in the wet ash. The ash dried, forever memorializing this event, or did it? Dr. Jadelyn J. Moniz-Nakamura examines geologic evidence, coupled with the recent discovery of hundreds of archaeological features that may indicate much more prehistoric activity in the area suggesting others contributed to the footprint impressions.
      The program takes place at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Park entrance fees apply.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Nov. 24, 2012

More than 85 volunteers joined Hawai`i Wildlife Fund's Ka`u Coast cleanup last Saturday. Photo from HWF
TIME OUT FOR THE PLDC is what Gov. Neil Abercrombie requested yesterday in a press release. He asked the Public Land Development Corp. to postpone its meetings and actions on pending rules while public concerns are addressed. The governor asked state Department of Land & Natural Resources chief William Aila, Jr. to facilitate meetings with stakeholders. “I do not want the potential for the PLDC to accomplish public good to be lost because of a failure to account for reservations about either the process or the outcome,” said the governor.
      “We’ve heard the concerns and now need to focus on productive dialogue with stakeholders before proceeding.” According to Abercrombie,
      “The PLDC has the potential to support new schools, recreational facilities and operations by using public lands for public purposes that otherwise may not have had sufficient funding. We will continue to work closely with the Legislature and all interested parties involved to do what is best for the people of Hawai`i.”
      Hawai`i and Kaua`i County Councils have asked the 2013 state Legislature to appeal the law that allows the formation of the PLDC to work with private partners to develop state lands. In their opposition statements, Council members named loss of home rule and weakening of planning and environmental protection measures.
      Abercrombie said, “We will do our best to alleviate public concerns; however, the PLDC is the creation of the Legislature, and lawmakers will ultimately be the ones to decide its future.”

Kulani Prison has a gymnasium, auto shop and other work places for the 200 male prisoners who would finish their sentences there. Photos from Environmental Assessment for re-opening the prison.
KULANI PRISON, east of Volcano, could reopen by January for about 200 male inmates. Inmates near the end of their prison terms would be moved to Kalani, opening up other prison space in the islands for inmates who would be shipped from the mainland where the state of Hawai`i is paying for their incarceration. Sen. Gil Kahele worked with the state Legislature and Gov. Neil Abercrombie to begin planning to return the prisoners so they could be closer to their families and opportunities for rehabilitation in Hawai`i. The move would also keep the money spent on prisoners in the state of Hawai`i. The operating cost at Kulani is estimated to be about $5.3 million per year. Reopening Kulani would create 96 jobs near Ka`u’s eastern border.
      The re-opening of Kulani would be a first step in returning approximately 1,700 of the 6,000 prisoners who are housed in private mainland correctional facilities.
      Yesterday, the state Office of Environmental Quality Control posted a notice and a draft Environmental Assessment on its website covering the re-opening of the prison. It says that the state Department of Accounting and General Services seeks a building permit, Conservation Use Permit and Board of Land & Natural Resources approval to operate and manage a correctional facility. The location is on the developed portions of the 280 acres where Kulani Prison closed in 2009.
Kulani Prison sits on 280 acres near Ka`u's eastern border.
      According to the notice, “The project involves primarily logistical actions to assemble required staff and physically transfer Hawai`i inmates. Architectural, engineering and environmental analyses in 2012 of the existing dormitories, workshops, dining facilities and administrative spaces revealed that the facility is ready for occupation by 200 inmates with only nominal repairs and no major facility upgrades.” The budget for improvements is about $600,000. “The proposed reactivation supports Hawai`i justice reinvestment initiative strategy to bring out-of-state prisoners back to Hawai`i, reduce spending on corrections and reinvest savings generated in strategies that would reverse recent crime trends,” the EA says.
      “This humanitarian effort will provide increased social support for the inmates through proximity to family, friends, familiar culture, local staff and potential employment following release,” the EA states.
      The EA suggests that inmates could help with rainforest conservation projects with DLNR, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, and U.S. Geological Survey. Facilities at Kulani include a craft building, gymnasium, automotive shop, greenhouse, piggery and pastures.
      Read the EA at http://hawaii.gov/health/environmental/oeqc/index.html. Click on current issue under the The Environmental Notice. Comments are due by Feb. 7.

`Ama`ama season closes Dec. 1 until April 1.
`AMA`AMA, STRIPED MULLET, will be out of season from Dec. 1 through March 31. The state Department of Land & Natural Resources is shutting down the season because “ama`ama are about to enter their peak spawning season, which increases their vulnerability to fishing pressure,” said DLNR chief William Aila, Jr. “The annual winter closure is designed to help the fish reproduce successfully and protect the species from overfishing.”
      Fines up to $500 plus $100 for each fish taken and up to 30 days in jail can be leveled for breaking the kapu on ama`ama. Aila declared that, “while it’s DLNR’s job to protect our marine resources, everyone shares in the responsibility to take care of important fish species like `ama`ama to ensure their survival into the future.” See fishing regulations on the state Division of Aquatic Resources’ website at hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar. Report fishing law violations to 643-DLNR (643-3567).

“THE ISLAND OF HAWAI`I POSSESSES VAST UNTAPPED POTENTIAL for electricity generation from renewable resources,” says the County of Hawai`i Energy Sustainability Program Five-Year Roadmap released recently. “Estimates vary, but the total available renewable resource far exceeds current electricity demand.” The report calls for a transition from burning fossil fuels to renewables to generate electricity.
      According to the report, in the past, the high capital cost of renewable technologies did not compare favorably with the relatively low prices of petroleum products. “Today, many renewable energy technologies have matured to the point that they can now compete with current electricity prices. Reducing overall electricity costs by taking advantage of the low cost of renewable electricity generation will require adding relatively large amounts of new renewables to displace existing petroleum-based generation.”
      The report says that energy efficiency improvements can be viewed as one renewable energy resource “because they reduce overall demand, most of which comes from petroleum. If the residents, businesses and government of Hawai`i Island take steps now to improve energy efficiency, it could dramatically lower the overall cost of transitioning the island’s energy system to renewable sources. Energy efficiency improvements are often the most cost-effective energy investments.”
      The report claims that the island’s existing petroleum-fired electric generators are only about 32 percent efficient on average, and that eliminating power generation and grid losses would reduce the island’s total energy consumption by 24 percent. Replacing petroleum-based generation with renewable generation could save some or all of the more than $120 million the island spent on fuel purchases for power generation in 2011.
      “The relatively low cost of renewable electricity provides a powerful market signal, but it has not been sufficient to induce widespread adoption of renewable energy in the electricity sector,” the report states. It cites technical challenges associated with interconnecting some renewables into the current power grid, but says that these challenges “have been successfully managed in other places by investing in a modernized power grid and using existing technologies and applications to improve control and efficiency of the power system. Regulatory, policy, and financial incentive issues remain the key barriers to a full transition to renewable electricity.
      “The regulatory system needs to be designed to encourage the kinds of investments required to transition the island’s energy system to sustainability. Continued policy innovation will be necessary to realize a full transformation away from petroleum dependence.”
      See more at hawaiienergyplan.com.

Ultraman speeds through Ka`u on Friday for the three-day endurance
challenge. Photos from www.ultramanlive.org

ULTRAMAN PEDALED THROUGH KA`U yesterday, with 35 triathletes in the three-day, 320-mile swim, bike and run. Held every year over Thanksgiving weekend on the Big Island, it was founded in 1983. Day 1 on Friday was a 6.2-mile swim followed by a 90-mile bike ride with vertical climbs totaling 7,600 feet from Keauhou Bay through Ka`u to Namakani Paio Park in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

Ultraman support staff visited exotic
animals along Hwy 11 in Ka`u.
      Today the endurance competitors ride through Kalapana, Kapoho and Pahoa, through Hilo and up the Hamakua Coast to Waimea and to Kohala Village Inn. Tomorrow they run a double marathon from Hawi to Kawaihae and down the Kohala and Kona Coasts to Old Airport State Park. Participants include ten women. Competitors are from many countries, and the leader at the start this morning was 47-year-old Alexandre Ribeiro of Brazil, followed by Nino Cokan, 39, of Slovenia, and Miro Kregar, 50, of Slovenia.  For more and coverage, see www.ultramanlive.com

HAWAI`I WILDLIFE FUND SENDS A BIG MAHALO to the more than 85 volunteers who cleaned up three miles of Ka`u coastline from Hanalua Bay, near South Point boat ramp, to Pohakuloa Cove last Saturday. “I have never seen Pohakuloa Cove that clean, ever!” said organizer Megan Lamson.
      Volunteers collected and removed 3,385 pound of debris, as well as 1,000 pounds of derelict fishing nets. Total volume collected and removed was 580 cubic feet.
Derelict fishing nets collected at HWF's Ka`u Coast cleanups are stored at
Wai`ohinu transfer station to be loaded into a container Dec. 1.
      Interesting finds included a mini fridge, extra large Styrofoam piece, boat hatch cover and toilet cleaner bottle from Norway.
      Supporters can vote for Hawai`i Wildlife Fund in Subaru Hawai`i’s Share the Love Contest to help the nonprofit win a $5,000 donation to help care for and protect native wildlife. Log onto HWF’s facebook page at http://bit.ly/UizYSw
      Volunteers can help load derelict nets stored at Wai`ohinu transfer station into a container on Saturday, Dec. 1. “This is a hard, hot morning and requires heavy lifting, high spirits and good balance!” Lamson said. HWF’s next beach cleanup event is on Saturday, Jan 12, most likely at Kamilo Point. For more info about either event, contact Lamson at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com.

Agave Abstraction by Volcano Village Artists
Hui member Mary Goodrich
VOLCANO VILLAGE ARTISTS HUI Art Studio Tour & Sale continues today and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Artists display their work in several studios, and a special drawing for pieces contributed by the artists will be held tomorrow. Maps are available at local businesses and VolcanoVillageArtistsHui.com.

CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY continues through tomorrow at Volcano Art Center Gallery. Art demonstrations, print and book signings by gallery artists, a selection of handcrafted decorations and gifts offered only during the holiday season are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Park entrance fees apply. For more, visit volcanoartcenter.org or call 967-7565.