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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ka'u News Briefs Jan. 30, 2012

New teacher performance evaluations tied to the progress of students are being implemented at Ka`u High and
Pahala Elementary School. Photo by Julia Neal

KA`U HIGH & PAHALA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL is one of the campuses where the state Department of Education is implementing new teacher performance evaluations that are tied to the progress of students. Ka`u is among 18 campuses where evaluations are being conducted as a test before establishing the program in all schools across the state. The first reports are expected soon and will tie student test scores and learning to teacher practices. 
      The state is implementing a number of programs in its effort to ensure it will receive some $75 million in the Race to the Top federal program. The federal Department of Education has threatened to pull the funding if progress isn’t made.
      One stumbling block has been negotiations with the Hawai`i State Teachers Association, which recently rejected a bargaining agreement that was pounded out between the union and state school administration. The union has been going from school to school to listen to the teachers before going back to the bargaining table. Teachers met with the union at Ka`u High last Friday. A team from the Department of Education is on campus this week to work with teachers and the school administration.

Rep. Bob Herkes at the recent blessing
of Ka`u Coffee Mill. Photo by
Geneveve Fyvie
KA`U’S REPRESENTATIVE in the state House of Representatives has measures on the move. Rep. Bob Herkes submitted a bill that gives small farmers an income tax break. It would allow farmers to deduct up to $500,000 in income from selling farm products and hosting tours of their agricultural operations. The Department of Agriculture asked that aquaculture also be included. Some testimony asked that the measure be limited to farms growing food that is sold in Hawai`i and warned against giving the tax breaks to “fake farms” owned by land speculators. Another measure would exempt farm products from excise taxes.

LIMITING THE SIZE OF FARM DWELLINGS on prime agricultural land is also a bill being championed by Herkes. The legislative narrative says "the Legislature finds that there has been a proliferation of residential dwellings within agricultural districts that may not be occupied in connection with an actual farm." This act “should reduce the attractiveness of agricultural land for subdivision and development into ‘fake farms’ or ‘gentlemen’s estates’ on which agricultural activity is nonexistent, negligible, or inauthentic,” the bill says. It would limit farm dwellings to 2,000 square feet in size. It would encourage farm activities such as agricultural tourism and biofuel processing facilities, provided that “they do not adversely impact agricultural land and other agricultural uses in the vicinity.”

Houses on prime ag land would have to be reasonable for small farms,
under 2,000 square feet. Photo by Julia Neal
AGRICULTURAL SUBDIVISIONS AND AG CONDOMINIUMS would only be allowed through approval by the County Council by ordinance, if  another ag preservation bill introduced by Herkes passes. 

TO BOLSTER AG EXPORTS, another Herkes bill would help establish a refrigerator storage facility at Hilo Airport.

EXEMPTING THE STATE AND COUNTIES from being forced to improve roads and highways turned over to them by private land ownes is another Herkes measure. Roads in limbo could be included.

LIMITED GAMBLING IN HAWAI`I has been supported by Rep. Bob Herkes. He co-introduced a measure in January that would allow one stand-alone casino in Waikiki, with a 15 percent wagering tax going to the state from gross receipts. The casino would not be inside a hotel.

The Herkes bill would cut taxes on bonafide agricultural business.
Photo by Julia Neal
AN OFFICE OF DISASTER PREPAREDNESS would be established by the state, under a proposal by Rep. Bob Herkes. His bill at the Legislature would establish a director of Disaster Preparedness who would oversee creation of a Natural Disaster Plan that would look at scientific data to assess risks to different communities for various disasters, including vog, and building codes would be addressed to adapt to the risks, including vog. 

THE KA`U COMMUNITY CHORUS rehearses at Discovery Harbour Community Hall tonight and every Monday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Call 929-7544 for more information about this and other programs sponsored by Ka`u School of the Arts.

OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY CENTER hosts duplicate bridge games tomorrow and every Tuesday at 1 p.m. Beginners are welcome; help is available, and partners can be arranged. To sign up, call Pat at 375-6271 or Susan at 375-6821.

KILAUEA’S VOLCANIC GASES and their environmental impact is the topic at After Dark in the Park tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Geochemists Jeff Sutton and Tamar Elias give an update about volcanic gases, especially those related to the 2008-2011 activity at Halema`uma`u Crater. Participants are invited to the “gas tasting” party, where they learn to identify volcanic gases by smell. $2 donation supports park programs, and park entrance fees apply.