|Coffee berry borer on a coffee bean. Photo by Peggy Grebe of USDA Agricultural Research Service|
KA`U’ S CONGRESSWOMAN Mazie Hirono issued a statement on today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the Affordable Care Act: “This ruling means that Americans can now count on secure and stable insurance coverage. If you have a pre-existing condition, you’ll be able to get health care; if you become seriously ill, there will be no annual limits on your care; if you’re a woman you won’t be charged higher premiums; and if you don’t have coverage, you will be able to buy affordable coverage,” Hirono said. “The Affordable Care Act has already had a positive impact on the lives of Hawai`i’s families and seniors.
Photo by William Neal
"An estimated 6,000 young adults in Hawai`i now have access to health insurance. Nearly 25,000 people on Medicare have saved over $14.5 million in prescription drug costs. More than 200,000 people helped control long-term health costs by gaining preventative health service coverage. And Hawai`i has received millions of dollars for critical investments including the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo, and the West Hawai`i Community Health Center,” Hirono stated.
SURVEYING TUNNELS, PIPELINES AND ACCESS routes for the old plantation irrigation system between Kapapala Ranch and Wai`ohinu has been contracted by the state Department of Agriculture. Ka`u Agricultural Water Cooperative District members said the contract has gone to Dennis Hirota and the survey will be completed and presented to the state Department of Land & Natural Resources.
|Old sugar plantation waterways will be restored. Photo from Olsen Trust.|
The effort is a step toward restoration water source and distribution systems for irrigation of farms and ranches, left over from the old sugar operations in Ka`u.
The state Department of Agriculture has released $700,000 for the first phase of the project. A two man survey crew will begin scoping work in Ka`u in early July and Hirota’s survey crew will start Aug. 1. Farmers and ranchers will help surveyors by showing the way to the water sources, as some of them are very remote and require hiking through forest. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 19 at 4 p.m. at ML Mac Nut Field Office on Pikake Street in Pahala. For more information, contact Jeff McCall at 928-6456.
BRITTANY SMART, A STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE CANDIDATE and current County Council member, said she plans to help the community with coordination of the Air National Guard Innovative Readiness Training Program.
Photo by Julia Neal.
She attended the June meeting of the Ka`u Agricultural Water Cooperative District, and told members that the program that brings Air National Guard trainers and trainees to communities with volunteer labor may be able to provide labor to renovate regional irrigation systems. Smart is in her first term as a County Council member and is running for the new state House of Representatives seat from Punalu`u into Hilo along Hwy 11. The seat currently includes Volcano through all of Ka`u into South Kona and is held by Rep. Bob Herkes, who is running for Senate. In her campaign, she notes her work on the governor releasing funding for the $20 million gym and disaster shelter to be built in Pahala, her input in revising the county building code and easing requirements to build farm structures on ag land, and her efforts to establish a satellite office for community input to county government. See briefs on all the candidates daily on this blog. WILD AND
ABANDONED COFFEE infected with coffee berry borer may be destroyed to push back the spread of the pest with new state and federal funding. SHAC – the new Synergistic Hawai`i Agriculture Council received a $330,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service to fight the coffee berry borer. The organization, comprised of the Hawai`i Coffee Association, Hawai`i Floriculture and Nursery Association and Hawai`i Papaya Industry Association, plans to help purchase fungus that attacks the borer and also clear the region of abandoned coffee that can harbor the pest. The organization set a goal of reducing infestation to 2 to 5 percent within three years.
|Eric Tanouye of SHAC and Green Point Nurseries.|
Photo from Big Island News
The coffee berry borer devastated many coffee farms, particularly in Kona. It spread to Ka`u where growers are intent on keeping their coffee farms clean and pest free. SHAC Vice President Eric Tanouye, who is also VP of Green Point Nurseries, said he is very pleased with the funding for Synergistic Hawai`i Agriculture Council and particularly with Rod Yonemura writing the grant for the coffee berry project and his guidance for the new organization. “The best part is seeing Hawai`i agriculture come together to live up to the organization’s mission and its Synergistic name.”
Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced this week that he will use taxes on petroleum products to fund $200,000 to fight coffee berry borer. He said this barrel tax will be used instead of money included in House Bill 283 which he plans to veto. Bill 283 would have used a state agricultural loan fund.
A VENTURE ACCELERATOR FUNDING PROGRAM was signed into law by Gov. Neil Abercrombie yesterday with $2 million in startup money. The governor called the program an "engine for job creation" to "nurture talent, attract talent, and keep the talent here." New ventures will be chosen for funding with a workshop in August, selection program later this year and launching in early 2013.
Writing in Civil Beat, Jason Rushin said such efforts can help Hawai`i with “reversing the brain drain, broadening the talent pool and drivers of the economy, bringing in outside investment, creating sustainable jobs, and much, much more. “As everyone seems to advise, we need to take a 20-year view and commit to supporting local startups,” Rushin said. “The first few accelerator or incubator cohorts might not produce any "successful" businesses, and that would be OK, as long as our ecosystem is learning, growing, and advancing. While the accelerated startups should be aiming high and shooting for the billions, we, the ecosystem, need to understand that a billion-dollar (or even million-dollar) 'exit' is akin to winning the lottery,” he wrote. See more at the websites of the Hawai`i Strategic Development Corp at www.hsdc.hawaii.gov/ and High Technology Development Corp. at http://www.htdc.org/ A CANDIDATE FORUM for Hawai`i County Council and Prosecuting Attorney will be held at Ocean View Community Association tomorrow, Friday at 5 p.m. Candidates are Maile David, Brenda Ford, Lee McIntosh and Bradley Westervelt running for County Council District 6. Lincoln Ashida, Paul Dolan and Mitch Roth, running for prosecuting attorney, will also be on hand. Call 939-7033 for more information.
|Independence Day Parade begins at 11 a.m. Na`alehu this Saturday. |
Photo by Julia Neal
THE PARADE KEEPS GROWING for Independence Day, this Saturday along Hwy 11 in Na`alehu beginning at 11 a.m.. Many of the policitians wanting the vote on Aug. 11, primary election day, will participate, along with churches, community groups, fire trucks, the county band, and pa`u riders who, along with their horses, will be draped in lei and the colors representing each Hawaiian island. For more information call Debra or Lee McIntosh at 937-0991.