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, 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.