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.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Feb. 23, 2013

Trail maintenance and the fight against invasive species in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park could suffer with sequestration.
Photo from National Park Service
HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, with most of its land in Ka`u, is ready for the possibility of sequestration. The park is prepared to cut five percent of the $7.3 million it receives from Congress through the Operation of the National Park Service annual budget, said Superintendent Cindy Orlando.
      The budget cut would go into effect unless Congress comes to an agreement on the entire federal budget by March 1. The sequestration cuts the budget of all federal agencies.
      Orlando said that if sequestration takes place, “We won’t be doing as much preventive maintenance. We will have lower levels of trail maintenance, lower levels of invasive species control. There will also be reduction in our school and educational programs.” A half dozen permanent fulltime jobs will go unfilled for now, she said.
HVNP superintendent Cindy Orlando said the park will remain open 24/7,
and her goal is to protect jobs of full time employees and to keep
visitors safe. Photo by Julia Neal
      The superintendent said the goal, should sequestration happen, will be “to protect our fulltime employees and to protect the public visiting the park.”
      Getting ready for the sequestration is a “planning exercise, and we hope it won’t happen,” Orlando said. The overall budget for Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is about $15 million. In addition to congressional funding, there are grants, the park competes for projects, and there are other programs from which there is income.
      With sequestration, the park may have to delay buying some supplies and equipment. However, “a good percentage of all of our budget is personal service – salaries,” she said. “We are prepared to protect them.”
      Over time, however, the park would not be able to sustain the cuts, said Orlando. The park needs to hire an electrician, journeyman carpenter and other skilled people to maintain the buildings and trails, she said.
      She noted, however, that the park is open 24/7 and that budget cuts in recent years have helped prepare the staff for any additional belt tightening.

Sen. Mazie Hirono
KA`U’S U.S. SENATOR MAZIE HIRONO recently wrote about the looming sequestration and called for preserving many educational, health, welfare and economic development programs as well as defense spending. 
      She praised Pres. Barack Obama’s efforts to avert sequestration. She said the President “laid out a strong and compelling course for Hawai`i and our country. He was right to focus on the economy and jobs. Our economy is still trying to recover from a deep recession, and we should do everything we can to create sustainable economic growth. In the near term, that means averting sequestration – the indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts that are projected to cost Hawai`i some 11,000 jobs. “Averting these cuts before March 1 is not just an economic necessity; it’s a matter of national security.”
      Hirono said that “top military officers warned my colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee and me that these cuts would impact the military’s readiness everywhere, including in the increasingly important Asia-Pacific region.

      “I applaud the far-sighted plan the President laid out for broad-based economic growth that creates dependable jobs and expands opportunities for everyone, not just those at the very top of society.
      She said that Obama’s effort in expanding access to early childhood education “is one of the smartest things we can do as a nation to ensure our economic future. Study after study has shown that early childhood education leads to increased educational achievement and employability later in life. Business leaders, economists, and educators all agree investing in early childhood education is one of the easiest ways to ensure we have a workforce that can compete on the international stage.” Head Start and Early Head Start could be cut if sequestration happens.

REGARDING THE `AINA KOA PONO proposal, the Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday published responses to more questions asked by the state Consumer Advocate, Hawai`i County and Life of the Land. The questions concern the proposed contract for `Aina Koa Pono to annually sell, at a fixed price for 20 years, 16 million gallons of diesel that would be manufactured at a refinery off Wood Valley Road above Pahala. The fuel, produced in 27 microwave units, would be sold to Hawai`i Electric Light and Hawaiian Electric Companies, with most of it trucked up Hwy 11 to a power plant in Kona. Electric rates on O`ahu and the Big Island would increase.
      County of Hawai`i asked about the use of biofuels for transportation, which it calls a “higher-value use.” “It seems the electricity sector is being used to start a biofuels industry that will ultimately benefit a biofuels industry for transportation,” the county said. “Therefore, a real likelihood exists that if this contract is authorized, Hawai`i electric ratepayers could be helping to subsidize a biofuels transportation industry. Why are long-term contracts not being done in the transportation sector?” the county asks. “Why is the electric ratepayer subsidizing a lower-value use? Should the higher-value use of a transportation fuels and the associated biofuels industry stand on its own?”
      The utilities replied that “the Companies are not in a position to speculate on why long-term contracts are not being done in the transportation sector or whether the biofuel use in the transportation sector should stand on its own, and issues related to these topics are beyond the scope of the subject proceeding. Further, the Companies also respectfully disagree with the characterization of the use of biodiesel by the utilities as a lower-value use. As explained in the Application and in response to County of Hawai`i’s Supplemental Information Request 13, the use of biofuels is a critical component of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ strategy to actively seek and incorporate a diverse portfolio of new renewable energy resources (as opposed to a single sector) including wind, solar power, hydro, geothermal, biomass, biofuels, and other types of renewable generation that may emerge and become commercially viable several years down the road (e.g., wave energy, ocean thermal energy). Biofuels are an element of this strategy as biofuels can be used to generate energy from existing conventional generating units which provide essential grid services including load following, frequency response, voltage control and on-line operating and spinning reserves. Moreover, utilizing biofuel in existing generating units is expected to achieve cleaner air emissions and facilitate compliance with new and revised environmental regulations. Increasing the use of biofuels in existing power plants will help the Hawaiian Electric Companies meet the Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements.”
      Ka`u News Briefs will cover more responses in the coming days.
      Complete responses to all questions are online at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2012-0185.

THE SEVENTH ANNUAL SPAGHETTI DINNER raising funds for Ka`u Hospital’s emergency room takes place today beginning at 4 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. The event is sponsored every February by Red Hat Ladies of Ka`u and Ka Lae Quilters. Contributions are welcome. For more information, call Barbara Beatty at 929-9072.

SEN. RUSSELL RUDERMAN holds a talk story at Pahala Plantation House Tuesday, Feb. 26 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Ruderman meets with constituents to discuss issues before the state Legislature. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call 974-4000, ext. 66890.

AT AFTER DARK IN THE PARK on Tuesday, Toni Parras, communications manager for Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, presents an overview of Hawai`i’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monument has been called a global treasure, rainforest of the sea, the last best place on earth, and it is a place of great cultural significance to Hawaiian people. The program, which covers the people, the partnerships and the promise for the monument, begins at 7 p.m.
 at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
      A short film about Midway Island in the western portion of the monument can be seen at midwayfilm.com.