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, December 25, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs Dec. 25, 2012

Berta Miranda clutched her Bible as she and other coffee growers waited below the raging fires in June
after escaping from coffee farms at Pear Tree. Photo by William Neal

`Aina Koa Pono biofuel project would change the face of Ka`u.
NO. 1:  `AINA KOA PONO refinery, tree harvesting and biofuel idea would change the face of Ka`u more than any other development since the proposed 2,000-unit resort concept died at Punalu`u. The `Aina Koa Pono project, turned down in 2011, was proposed again to the Public Utilities Commission in 2012. The plan is to build a refinery off Wood Valley Road. It would harvest existing trees and shrubs. It would plant grasses on some 11,000 acres to be used for biomass to make pellets that would run through a microwave refinery to manufacture diesel for a Kona power plant. The operation would raise electric bills on O`ahu and the Big Island and lock Hawaiian Electric Light Co. into a 20-year fixed price for the diesel. The partners promise 400 union construction jobs and 200 permanent mill and farm jobs. The county, state and Life of the Land, in a legal proceeding before the PUC, are asking about the impact of using land to grow biofuel instead of food, the displacement of cattle ranchers, the impact on the environment and the lifestyle in Ka`u, and proof that the microwave process will work. The case is expected to be decided in 2013.

Redistricting divided Ka`u in half, giving it representation by two
state senators and two state representatives.
NO. 2:  CHANGING POLITICAL DISTRICT LINES with reapportionment in 2012 led to Ka`u representation by two state senators and two members of the state House of Representatives, as well as electing a member to the County Council who serves a constituency from Volcano into Kona. The redistricting came with the U.S. Census showing growth and shifts in population and the required adjustment of political districts to live up to the one-man, one-vote requirement. 
      While it may be perceived that having more people representing Ka`u could mean more help for the district, all of those elected live somewhere else. While Ka`u’s latest senator, Gil Kahele, traveled regularly from Hilo through Ka`u to his second home in Miloli`i, west Ka`u’s new senator, Josh Green, lives in Kona, and east Ka`u’s new senator, Russell Ruderman, is deeply rooted in Puna. While Ka`u’s latest member of the state House of Representatives, Bob Herkes lives in Ka`u and was deeply involved with obtaining potable water for Ocean View, saving the South Kona Wilderness Area, and funding the regional disaster shelter for Ka`u, the new west Ka`u representative, Denny Coffman, is a Kona resident, and the east Ka`u representative, Richard Onishi, lives in Hilo. While the last member of the County Council, Brittany Smart, lived in Discovery Harbour in Ka`u, the new County Council member, Brenda Ford, is a South Kona resident. All have promised to keep Ka`u in mind, but it may be up to Ka`u residents to keep in touch with them.
A visitor center for Ka`u Coffee opened in 2012.
NO. 3:  KA`U COFFEE reached new success in 2012 with demand outstripping supply. More than 50 Ka`u Coffee growers own their own homes, have their own small businesses and work in coffee orchards on the slope of Mauna Loa. Their marketing and quality have reached some of the finest gourmet coffee stores and restaurants in the world, as well as popular coffee shops like Starbucks. In 2012, Ka`u Coffee Mill opened to service local farmers who would not have to drive their coffee to Hilo or Kona for processing and to also serve as a Ka`u Coffee visitor center. In 2013, the farmers are expected to seek more land security for their existing farms and more land to expand their coffee orchards. At the end of the year, Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative president Gloria Camba thanked the late Sen. Daniel Inouye for helping the coffee growers, many of them displaced sugar workers, through a federal grant that helped them to create the new industry after the last sugar company on the island shut down in Ka`u in 1996.

Hawai`i County's completed its purchases for parklands between
Honu`apo and Punalu`u in 2012. Photo by Julia Neal
NO. 4:  KA`U COAST PRESERVATION made great strides in 2012 with the completion of the county purchase of the last segment of 1,000 acres between Punalu`u and Honu`apo pier. The decade-long campaign involves county, state, federal and private funding and conserves shoreline property that is the closest to the main Hwy 11 that travels through Ka`u. Additional proposals were launched and are likely, with more than 3,000 acres to be purchased for conservation surrounding Road to the Sea on the west side of Ka`u, a Ka Ohana O Honu`apo proposal for the county to purchase the slope below Honu`apo scenic lookout with the land extending southward along the shore, and Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s attempt to secure land along the Great Crack, makai of Hwy 11 between Volcano and Pahala as well as land extending to the shore below the Kahuku Unit of the park. 
      The preservation movement is seen as conserving a resource for all the people of Hawai`i and the nation as Ka`u has the longest uninhabited coastline in all of Hawai`i. It is also considered an economic engine for the future when people will stay in accommodations owned by local residents, visit local farms, frequent local stores and restaurants and explore the Ka`u Coast.
      In the words of Sen. Daniel Inouye: “As the urban sprawl continues to spread beyond O`ahu and into our Neighbor Islands, I think all of us will agree that we must be very vigilant in setting aside that which must be protected.”

Ocean View water well blessing drew public officials and longtime
advocates to the new filling station in July. Photo by Charles Tobias
NO. 5:  POTABLE WATER FOR OCEAN VIEW became available to the community after a 20-year struggle for funding from the state that was led by a band of citizens that marched on the state Capitol and lobbied incessantly. Rep. Bob Herkes helped secure the funding. The well was completed, storage tanks installed and spigots opened to private and commercial water haulers. Ocean View residents hauled water for many decades from South Kona and Wai`ohinu but are now able to access free water for domestic use from the site just mauka of Hwy 11. The achievement is another example of the pioneering spirit of Ocean View residents who built a community with no previous infrastructure, volunteering and raising money for their roads, water system, park, community center and ambulance, amenities that have existed since plantation days in Na`alehu and Pahala. Next, they say, is a school.

Several key politicians and community members helped break ground for
the Ka`u Gym & Disaster Shelter in October. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
NO. 6:  A REGIONAL DISASTER SHELTER & GYMNASIUM for Ka`u was funded and ground broken in the most expensive capital improvement project in Ka`u history. Costing some $18 million, the Ka`u Gymnasium & Disaster Shelter will be a sports and events venue for Ka`u High School and the community. Its hurricane-hardened buildings will become the region’s disaster shelter with activity rooms equipped with air-cleaning devices for heavy vog events. The disaster shelter was championed by Rep. Bob Herkes, the gym by former County Council member Guy Enriques, Ka`u High Principal Sharon Beck, Mayor Billy Kenoi and Gov. Neil Abercrombie, along with help from Ka`u’s last Council member Brittany Smart. Construction is expected to get underway in early 2013 with completion in 2014 on the grounds between Pahala tennis courts and the school cafeteria.

Ka`u Coffee Grower Co-op Pres. Gloria Camba checks on
singed farms after the fire in June. Photo by William Neal
NO. 7:  DROUGHT AND FIRES hit Ka`u agriculture hard in 2012, and the rains on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were a welcome relief to ranchers, macadamia, coffee, flower and vegetable growers. Fires surrounded Pahala this summer, burning through macadamia orchards and some coffee and eucalyptus farms, leaving millions of dollars in damage. Flames marched up the main entrance to Pahala and threatened Ka`u Hospital, where patients were evacuated to Na`alehu. Fires burned along the coast and threatened The Nature Conservancy’s Kamehame hawksbill turtle preserve but did no damage to the nesting grounds. With dry weather continuing, more than a month of intense dust storms blew through Pahala and across farms and pastures between Pahala and Na`alehu after the fires ended their path of destruction.

In April, a Big Island Invasive Species Committee hunter
killed its first axis deer on the Big Island -- above
South Point. Photo from BIISC
NO. 8:  THE KA`U FOREST, with both conservation and hunting traditions, became a huge issue in 2012 as the state cracked down on the introduction of game animals, like the axis deer, and also made a plan to manage Ka`u Forest Reserve. The first axis deer to be shot on the island was taken down in Ka`u by a marksman from Big Island Invasive Species Committee. The helicopter pilot who brought the first axis deer to Hawai`i Island to create a herd for recreational and subsistence hunting was sentenced and fined, along with his cohorts. Licensed hunters are encouraged to assist in the effort to protect Hawai`i Island’s natural resources and farms by harvesting any deer encountered in public hunting areas without restrictions for season or bag limit.
Ka`u Forest Management Plan calls for fencing 12,000 acres of forest.
Photo by Rob Shallenberger
      The state Department of Land & Natural Resources released its plan for public comment on its efforts to exclude invasive species, including goats, pigs and sheep, from a portion of Ka`u Forest Reserve in order to protect and propagate native plants and to reintroduce the endangered Hawaiian crow, the `Alala, to the wild. A small band of hunters backed by the Pele Defense fund filed a lawsuit, while the state explained that it would provide hunter walk-over stairs to allow continued access to traditional hunting grounds.

Ka`u Hospital received many upgrades in 2012. Photo by Julia Neal
NO. 9:  IMPROVED MEDICAL FACILITIES were funded in 2012 for expansion of Bay Clinic in Na`alehu and upgrades at Ka`u Hospital in Pahala. Bay Clinic’s new Ka`u Family Health & Dental Center will have the capacity to see 3,400 new patients with 8,500 new appointments. It will be constructed in front of the current Bay Clinic, which is located in an old two-story building from plantation days. 
     “In addition to expanding access to affordable medical care, the new clinic will provide dental and family counseling services and fully incorporate Bay Clinic’s evolving care model known as the ‘Patient Centered Medical Home,’” said Paul Strauss, who said there is a “new day for health care in Ka`u.”
      Ka`u Hospital received funding for air treatment and air conditioning to protect patients and long-term residents from the affects of vog from Kilauea volcano. New windows, doors, ceilings and other upgrades were funded by the state for this Critical Access Care hospital.

With reduced hours, Pahala Library is only open Mondays from
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
NO. 10:  THE FUTURE OF KA`U LIBRARIES became a serious question in 2012 when Pahala Library was reduced to opening one afternoon a week. Pahala Library was open only 64 days of the 121 days that were scheduled between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 – and even less frequently during the last quarter of the year. Staff shortages and lack of use appear to have put the libraries into a downward spiral, particularly if students are unable to go there regularly before and after school and if libraries are not open when the working public can check out books. County and state elected officials have vowed to follow the issue and help out in 2013, particularly with plans to make the libraries into technology and information centers.

A memorial service for Sen. Dan Inouye
takes place in Hilo Thursday.
Photo from DHHL
A MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR SEN. DAN INOUYE takes place Thursday at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo. Viewing of the koa box with his ashes begins at noon, with a service from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
      Memorial books are available for the public to sign at the mayor’s offices in Hilo and Kona tomorrow through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The books will be sent to the Inouye family.

KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP’S CRATER RIM CAFÉ offers buffets today from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on New Year’s Day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The price of $24.95 and $12 for children 6 to 11 includes entrees, side dishes, desserts and beverages. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply.

KMC ALSO PLANS A NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY for Monday in the Lava Lounge. Call 967-8365 or 967-8371for more information.