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.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Ka'u News Briefs April 1, 2012

The copper-striped, blue-tailed skink (Emoia impar) is now extinct in Hawai`i. Photo from USGS
PROPERTY TAX POLICIES, ASSESSMENTS, AND EXEMPTIONS come up for review by the County Council beginning this week, following the release of a $40,000 audit from the International Association of Assessing Officers. The auditors recommend 40 changes and identify 15 areas of major concern. Reporter Tom Callis writes in this morning’s West Hawai`i Today that “the layers of categories and exemptions in Hawai`i County’s tax policies lead to confusion among property owners and potential inequality in taxation, an independent audit has concluded.”
      The document describes Hawai`i County tax policies as confusing, possibly unequally imposed and in need of a better appeal process and transparency. County Council chair Dominic Yagong said the Council will take it up on Tuesday and takes it “very seriously,” according to the West Hawai`i Today story. Mayor Billy Kenoi said he will also review the audit with his staff and attempt to implement appropriate recommendations.
      The West Hawai`i Today story said that “some of the report’s areas of major concern include limited review of exemptions, including those that apply to agricultural land; complex multi-tiered tax rates; lack of a formal complaint and reporting system; limited training opportunities for staff; vague property class definitions; and limited use of digital maps and photographs.

Dr. Elizabeth Tam Photo from University of Hawai`i
BUILDING ACTION-BASED LEARNING to change “our own behavior” to deal with vog is a goal of Dr. Elizabeth Tam from University of Hawai`i Medical School. She was talking to the 15th annual Ka`u Rural Health Community Association on Friday about a study that began with volunteer help of Ka`u people. She said that the Big Island Community had been asking for help with research on health effects of vog since 1982, when the ongoing eruption began spewing fumes. It was ten years ago that district health director June Kunimoto asked again and received help involving Tam. By the time the new Halema`uma`u vent opened in 2008, the vog study was up and running.
      In 2002, Tam met Jesse Marques, who founded the Ka`u Rural Health Community Association, and Marques pulled in volunteers. They put the first vog monitor up on the roof of the organization’s Distance Learning Center. Help also came from far away, from the National Institute of Health, Harvard School of Public Health and University of Southern California. Without local participants and local residents helping out, however, it never would have happened, Tam told the large crowd at Pahala Community Center. She said the long-term funding for such a study is unusual.
      Researchers studied children by testing them for lung function over time and also reviewed medical records of people of all ages. They also studied the vog itself. X-ray flourescence revealed that the vog is relatively clean compared to smog in places like Beijing before the Olympics and sites with heavy traffic, ships coming into harbors and coal-burning generators where air contains metals and other toxic substances. 
Wind carries vog to different areas. Map from USGS
      Locally, to reduce irritation from vog, Tam recommended “sheltering in place.” She said, “the learning thing is to close the window at night. Closing windows dampens the effect of vog.” Protection can also be increased. “Get ventilation systems that scrub out the vog,” she recommended. She also talked about smoking, saying, “Putting volcanic air pollution into context, the particulates from the volcano are less than what is in a smoker’s home,” warned Tam, a lung specialist and chair of Medicine at U.H. John A. Burns School of Medicine.

ANOTHER EXTINCTION among Hawai`i's native species has been announced. This one is a tiny lizard, the copper-striped, blue-tailed skink. A story yesterday in Science Daily says USGS biologist Robert Fisher and researcher Ivan Ineich noted that “island extinctions around the world often share similar factors, such as the loss of habitat due to uncontrolled human development. Another is competition or predation from invasive species accidentally or intentionally introduced through human migration and activity.”
      U.S. Geological Survey director Marcia McNutt said that “no other landscape in these United States has been more impacted by extinction events and species invasions in historic times than the Hawaiian Islands, with as yet unknown long-term cascading consequences to the ecosystem. Today, we close the book on one more animal that is unlikely to ever be re-established in this fragile island home.”
      “There’s some evidence that an invasive ant was preying on these skinks,” Fisher said. “That’s a new factor we’ll need to examine as we look out for other at-risk species in the Pacific islands.” See more at www.sciencedaily.com.

A volunteer studies water at an
anchialine pond. Photo from HWF
THE DEADLINE TO ENTER photographs into Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s photo contest has been extended to April 16. Original Photographs taken in the park can be submitted for first, second, and third place awards given in three categories: Amateur-Beginner, Amateur-Advanced, and Professional. All images will be considered for inclusion in a multi-image slideshow Saturday, April 28. All finalists’ photographs will be exhibited June 9 - 17 at Volcano Art Center Gallery, a co-sponsor of the event. Photos must be submitted as digital images online. Entry fee for up to three photos is $25. For full contest rules and to enter, visit www.fhvnp.org.

HAWAI`I WILDLIFE FUND sponsors a cleanup of an anchialine pond in Ka`u this Tuesday. Volunteers can sign up with Megan Lamson at 769-7629 or meg.hwf@gmail.com

EASTER EGG HUNT & FUN DAY takes place Wednesday at Pahala Community Center. Registration and activities begin at 3 p.m., and egg hunt starts at 4 p.m. Call 928-3102 or 929-9611.