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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 20, 2012

Mayor Billy Kenoi spoke to a full house at Na`alehu School last night. Photos by Julia Neal
A FULL HOUSE AT NA`ALEHU SCHOOL CAFETERIA greeted Mayor Billy Kenoi and many of the department heads last night as they took the county to the community. Kenoi said the purpose was to “to listen and to learn, to help, assist and to follow up.” The mayor said he brings county staff into each community at least once a year because Hawai`i County has 4,028 square miles, bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island and about the same size as Connecticut. “We have to bring the government to the people, so everybody feels connected,” he said.
      Among county chiefs attending were directors of planning, water, public works, parks, police, transportation, civil defense, information, housing, finance, environmental management and economic development, as well as attorneys working for the county. Kenoi said he would “stand here take any question on any topic related to government, and will stay after until all questions are answered.”

Billy Kenoi's administration reduced consulting contracts
by $12 million, he told citizens attending the talk story,
where co-sponsor Jessie Marques of Ka`u Rural Health
Community Association talked to the mayor.
THE BUDGET was the mayor’s main focus during his presentation. He noted that the county had 2700 employees when he took office and now has 2500. He pointed to property taxes remaining the same as when he took office. He said he and his staff reduced the budget from $403 million to $364.5 million, without raising taxes and while maintaining such services as police, fire, transportation and senior programs. This was a time when the county weathered four of the most economically challenging years in county history, the mayor said. He noted that Tom Brown and the county transportation department started its free Hele On Bus service with Ka`u High School, providing after school service so that students could stay for sports and other activities “to keep them safe.”
      The mayor also said he targeted county consulting fees when he took office taking them from $16 million a year to $4 million. More work is done in house now. He pointed to a road project with much of the engineering and management of the project done by county employees, allowing the county to build “twice the road for the same amount of money.”

Several community members last night
said they are afraid to go to Kawa,
which recently became county land.  
Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
THE FUTURE OF KAWA drew the most comments and questions from the public. Now that Kawa is in public ownership, the mayor said, his staff is meeting with local families and other members of the public to help plan its future and the stewardship of the land. Several native Hawaiian families, including members of the Apiki clan, said with people living on the county property there, they don’t feel safe going to Kawa and they fear that historic sites are being damaged. Several members of the public asked for county help to make Kawa open for everyone.
      The mayor vowed to work on the issue and said he didn’t want to evict people, who could be fined $25 and come right back to Kawa. He said he wanted to work out a long-term solution and asked for continued patience. “Our goal is to transfer ownership, stewardship and management to the people of Ka`u,” the mayor said. He said that the acquisition of Kawa was “paid for by all the people.”
      Paul Makuakani, of Wai`ohinu, offered to take anyone concerned about Kawa to visit Abel Simeona Lui who lives there with friends and family, himself a resident for some 20 years. Lui has claimed the property belongs to him in the face of court decisions allowing for his eviction.
      Rancher Kyle Soares asked for more protection for people going to Kawa. “When we go down to Kawa, the police stop at the border as if it was border between Texas and Mexico,” he said. Several others said they had been harassed by people at Kawa and asked the county to take control of the area.
      The mayor said Kawa involves complex cultural issues, not just a “series of arrests, evictions, more arrests and evictions.” He said his vision is "a transition and transfer from what it is to what it is going to be."

BETTER COMMUNICATION FOR POLICE was another issue brought forward. Police Chief Harry Kojiri said one initiative is to provide mobile data terminals in every police vehicle that allow police officers to file reports and interact with the Hawai`i Police Department. He noted, however, that to a communications line at the Ocean View Police Substation would cost $1,000 a month. The mayor said that a $30 million project for communication towers to help with civil defense and other county services around the island is in the works.

Ola Kochis asked Public Works Director Warren
Lee about water for Green Sands subdivision.

AGRICULTURAL AND DOMESTIC WATER were both addressed by the public. Making water available to Hawaiian Home Lands at South Point from Mountain House and Ha`ao Springs in Wai`ohinu was suggested. Rancher Kyle Soares proclaimed “Supress a person? Cut off their water or don’t develop water.” He said that water development would help with the creation of housing in all of the subdivisions that already exist – instead of cutting up more land for more subdivisions.
      The mayor asked Soares to organize people from Ka`u with water concerns to meet with the county.

MIKE DUBOIS talked about the new Ocean View water spigots expected to be available to the public May 1. He recommended that the speed limit be reduced on Hwy 11 to 30 miles an hour near the water station and also to make the drive through the Ocean View commercial area more pleasant and more likely for visitors to stop in and use local businesses. Public Works Director Warren Lee said he would talk to the state Department of Transportation.
      Dubois also asked if overflow water could be used to create a community garden on the grounds of the water station. Mayor Billy Kenoi said he supports the idea.

Marie Burns
MARIE BURNS, who is running for County Council, asked how the county takes care of trimming trees at county parks. The mayor explained that the county parks department has its own crews, as does the county roads division. The Department of Parks also takes care of 33 cemeteries. Burns commented that private contractors are hired for emergencies, like trees falling. It may be more prudent to maintain more regular maintenance than pay for emergency care of trees by private contractors, Burns said.

A COUNTY OFFICE for Ka`u where citizens can participate in County Council meetings remotely and take their concerns was brought up by a member of the public. Kenoi asked Nelson Ho from the office of council member Brittany Smart about the project, which was one of her campaign promises. Ho said that her staff is working with the state to release a section of the old Na`alehu Courthouse, which is not being used, in order to create the regional council office.

KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL holds a meeting tonight, 5 p.m., at Pahala Community Center. Public is invited to help the coffee farmers celebrate their new industry and thank the community through this annual event to be held on May 12.

HULA HALAU KE `OLU MAKANI O MAUNA LOA performs tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Donations are accepted, and park entrance fees apply.

Ka'u experienced unhealthy air quality this morning. The
proposed shelter gym could have two rooms with air
cleaning equipment. Image from hiso2index.info
COMMENTS ON THE KA`U DISTRICT Gym & Shelter Draft Environmental Assessment are due Friday. One of the issues is how much space will be cleaned by air cleaning equipment. Preliminary plans call for possibly two rooms separate from the gym to be air-conditioned for vog. Together they would hold less than 300 people. The main gym would hold some 1,500 people, but is not planned for air cleaning.
     The Draft Environment Assessment 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.