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, December 10, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Dec. 10, 2012

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, Judy and Eddie Andrade, with helper Mary Jane Ballo at Pahala's annual
Christmas Parade. Photos by Julia Neal
RICHARD ONISHI, EAST KA`U’S NEW REPRESENTATIVE in the state House of Representatives, came to Pahala yesterday to ride in the annual Christmas Parade and to host a talk-story session with community members. 
      Meeting at Pahala Community Center, Onishi, whose territory is House District 3 running from Punalu`u into Hilo, opened the session by saying, “I am not a genius. I did not run to tell you what to do.” He said he is holding meetings around his district to determine community needs.

Rep. Richard Onishi rides with Aikane Plantation partner Phil Becker. 
 He talked about the possibility of raising the state excise tax by one percent to increase state income by $600 million a year. The strategy is for visitors to help pay for the infrastructure they use and to help meet the needs of Hawai`i residents. Under the plan, $200 million would go back to Hawai`i residents in a tax credit, $200 million would go to the state Department of Education to improve schools and the other $200 million would go into the state’s general fund.
      “Some form of gambling” is another revenue source for the state supported by Onishi. He said he does not support lotteries, as citizens who can least afford the tickets are often the ones who buy the tickets. He said that gambling should be for people who can afford it, but that Hawai`i is losing too much money from the local residents who fly off to Las Vegas. He said he envisions shipboard gambling, like the casino and entertainment boats plying the Mississippi River on the mainland.
      Onishi took in comments on subjects ranging from keeping Ka`u libraries open to his request for the Public Utilities Commission to hold a hearing in Pahala on the proposed `Aina Koa Pono refinery and biofuel project in Ka`u. He said he is asking for a local hearing since hearings on the issue have been held only in Kona and Hilo. A petition with more than 150 local signatures asking for the public hearing was given to Onishi last night. He said he will present it to PUC chair Mina Morita. Pahala resident Jessie Marques asked whether the PUC’s Consumer Advocate is actually representing the community.
Hulali Waltgen and Demetrius Oliveira, representing Hui Malama
 came early to serenade participants as the parade lined up. 
   Onishi said that the Consumer Advocate not only has to look at the local community but the benefits and costs of a project statewide.
      A long-time health care advocate, Marques said she is concerned about possible funding cuts for critical care access hospitals around the state, and Ka`u Hospital is one of them. She also said she is concerned that during the 2013 Legislature, new laws may be passed requiring nonprofit organizations to pay taxes.
      Retired Na`alehu school principal Peter Volpe said that he is concerned about the state administration’s efforts to cut government worker retirement and require retirees to pay more for the health care. He said he and his wife Fran spent a combined total of some 70 years working for the Department of Education and should not lose any retirement benefits.
      Debbie Wong Yuen asked Onishi to keep in touch with her about the fate of the Pahala and Na`alehu libraries and said she is the only staff for both. A number of citizens talked about the Pahala library no longer being open to students during school hours and said they want the state to fill open librarian positions.
      The new Ka`u Gymnasium & Disaster Shelter was brought up regarding the possibility of funding photovoltaics so that the
complex would have power beyond its generators, should a disaster occur and Hawai`i Electric Light Co. power lines go down for an extended time period.
      Onishi was accompanied by his office manager Jasmine Bronco, who urged citizens to call her anytime at the state Capitol at 808-586-6120. Bronco, from Hilo, was Rep. Clift Tsuji’s first office manager at the Legislature and has also served as the Sergeant of Arms for the state House of Representatives at night, when late-night sessions take care of many complex issues. Onishi’s campaign manager, BJ Soriano, will be an on-island contact for Onishi during the 2013 session. Her phone number is 987-5655.

Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative gets ready to parade through Pahala,
celebrating a banner year for their industry.
LEGISLATIVE TRAINING for the public will be held this Thursday at 6 p.m. in Na`alehu School Cafeteria. The session teaches citizens how to follow all of the legislation being considered during the 2013 session and how to give input. Suzanne Marinelle, Public Access coordinator for Hawai`i State Legislature’s non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau, shows participants how simple it is to follow a favorite subject like fishing, surfing, education and taxes by entering key words into an online search engine. She also explains how legislation makes its way through the complex and often chaotic process. Rep. Richard Onishi urged Ka`u citizens to attend. 

VISITOR EXPENDITURES rose 12.7 percent statewide in October over the same month last year. They reached $125.5 million, according to Hawai`i Tourism Authority. Travel from the U.S. West and Japan rose substantially. The daily expenditures per visitor also rose, with Japanese tourists shelling out an average of $329 per day.
      For the first ten months of 2012, total visitor expenditures grew 18.9 percent to $11.8 billion, with increases from U.S. West (+11.1 percent to $3.8 billion), U.S. East (+9.7 percent to $2.9 billion), Japan (+21.4 percent to $2.2 billion), Canada (+9.3 percent to $776 million) and All Other markets (+55.6 percent to $2.2 billion).
      For the first ten months of 2012, total arrivals rose 9.5 percent to 6,613,948 visitors. The average daily census showed that there were 199,760 visitors in Hawai`i every day, compared to 183,597 visitors in the first 10 months of 2011.
County Council member Brenda Ford rides through Pahala after taking
office Dec. 3 to represent District 6, South Kona into Volcano.
      Hawai`i Island led growth in arrivals for October 2012 with a 14.1 percent increase to 112,866 visitors. On this island, arrivals from all four top visitor markets increased compared to October 2011: U.S. West (+7.4 percent to 43,767), U.S. East (+8.8 percent to 28,806), Japan (+29.2 percent to 17,360) and Canada (+10.4 percent to 5,775), HTA reported. Visitor expenditures on Hawai`i Island increased 10.3 percent to $128.9 million in October 2012.
      For the first ten months of 2012, total arrivals to Hawai`i Island grew eight percent to 1,184,965 visitors, of which 46.5 percent stayed here exclusively. See more at www.hawaiitourismauthority.org.

“CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL, and it’s already having an impact on Hawai`i and throughout the Pacific,” said Hawai`i Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, referring to the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment released by the East-West Center last week. “We islanders must make the necessary preparations for warmer, unstable weather. It will affect every aspect of our society and economy, including agriculture, real estate and tourism. The time is now for serious change.”
Key indicators of climate change in the Pacific Islands region. Image from
Susan Yamamoto and NOAA National Climatic Data Center
      Among the major concerns for Pacific Islands discussed in the report are:
  • Decreased rain and freshwater supplies in the future 
  • Higher air temperatures, especially at high elevations 
  • Higher sea-surface temperatures causing coral bleaching and linked to the increased prevalence of certain coral diseases 
  • Decline in open-ocean fisheries 
  • Rising sea levels, causing coastal flooding and erosion that are likely to damage coastal infrastructure and agriculture, impact tourism, negatively affect ecosystems and endangered species and threaten traditional lifestyles of indigenous Pacific Island communities.
  •   Dr. Victoria Keener, East-West Center fellow and lead editor for the report, told Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Gary Kuboto that the state has a potential advantage in establishing policies to deal with climate change and decreasing rainfall because it has a state water commission with the responsibility to sustainably manage Hawai`i's water resources. “I think Hawai`i has a good chance to be a leader in the field of proactive climate change adaptation,” she said. See the full report at pacificrisa.org/projects/pirca.

KA`U COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN Steering Committee holds a business meeting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. The agenda and other information is available online at kaucdp.info. For more, contact planner Ron Whitmore at 961-8137 or rwhitmore@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Erika Abellera rides a quad for Kehau's Coffee, with
 Pahala Dojo karate students marching down the hill.
PAHALA CHRISTMAS PARADE, organized by Eddie Andrade for more than 30 years, wound through town yesterday with new participants. Council member Brenda Ford and Rep Richard Onishi rode in convertibles. The karate school called Pahala Dojo march through the village. Several vehicles from Hawai`i Classic Cruisers Club stopped in to visit patients and residents at Ka`u Hospital and finished with a gathering at Holy Rosary Church.

HANA HOU RESTAURANT’S Keiki Christmas Party takes place Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Na`alehu. The event includes buffet dinner, lucky number prizes, keiki ID and photos with Santa.

OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY CENTER’S Keiki Christmas Party is Saturday at 11 a.m. The event features food, face painting, storytelling and games including a mac nut toss and a fishing pond with prizes. Each child receives a photo with Santa, a gift and one ticket for a drawing for six bicycles.

THY WORD MINISTRIES hosts Christmas in Ka`u Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Na`alehu Hongwanji Hall. The annual event includes a craft fair, live entertainment and free lunch while supplies last. For more information and to sign up for a booth, call Kahu John at 854-7406 or Pastor Bob at 936-9114. HO, HO, HO! VOLCANO COMEDY SHOW! performances are Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Tickets for the show that features a lineup of the Big Island’s most amusing merry-makers are $12, or $10 for Volcano Art Center members, and can be purchased in person or by calling 967-8222.