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, March 31, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 31, 2013

Tsunami waves dug into the Punalu`u beach last October after an earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Canada.
Photo by Julia Neal
TSUNAMI AWARENESS MONTH has been declared by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who plans a ceremony at the Capitol in Honolulu tomorrow. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration will participate. The proclamation notes that Hawai`i is the only island state with a long history of tsunamis. According to the Pacific Disaster center, tsunamis are responsible for more deaths than any other natural disaster in Hawai`i. Tsunamis have wiped out and damaged houses, a restaurant, museum and shops at Punalu`u, washed away the old Standard Oil storage tanks, shops, offices and homes at Honu`apo and changed the composition of the shoreline and underwater nearshore seascape numerous times along the Ka`u Coast.
The tsunami hazard zones in Ka`u where the most people live and play
along the coast are at Punalu`u and Honu`apo.
      The Japan tsunami of March 11, 2011 threw fish on the shore and washed away and damaged vehicles, beach homes and palm trees in south Kona, but spared the few buildings along the Ka`u Coast. A 7.7 earthquake off Haida Gwali (Queen Charlotte Islands) in British Columbia last Oct. 27 led to evacuation of Punalu`u and Honu`apo before small waves lapped onto the beach, with little damage.
       Marine debris along the Ka`u Coast, particularly at Kamilo Beach, has helped to illustrate the widespread effects of tsunamis with filming for news stories aired by CNN on March 11 (see www.cnn.com/2013/03/11/us/hawaii-japan-tsunami-debris) and by NBC last Nov. 28 (see www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/50002132#50002132). Both films featured Hawai`i Wildlife Fund and its coastal cleanup organizer Megan Lamson discussing more tsunami debris expected to wash up here and the ongoing efforts by community volunteers to monitor and clean up. The next beach cleanup along the Ka`u Coast will be July 13. Anchaline pond cleanups will be held April 17 and 18. Sign up with Lamson at 769-7629.
Curricula for tsunami education is available
from Pacific Disaster Center.
      Educational information on tsunami awareness is available in the Tsunami Awareness Kit, developed by the Pacific Disaster Center and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission. The online kit at www.pdc.org includes tsunami curricula for grades K-6 and grades 7-12. It offers teacher’s guides, puzzle books, posters and tsunami stories from Hawai`i, Japan and Sri Lanka, along with a case study from Fiji.

A BILL PROMOTING PARTIAL PUBLIC FUNDING of state representative elections has been approved by the Senate Way and Means Committee after passing the state House of Representatives. HB 1481 follows Hawai`i County’s pilot program that offers a public funding option for County Council candidates.
      The vast majority of testimony submitted to the state Legislature has been in support of the bill.
      Beppie Shapiro, president of Hawai`i League of Women Voters, stated that the program “has been successful in allowing five of nine Council members to be elected without spending time and energy chasing dollars. The public can trust that these successful candidates will devote themselves to the public good.” Ka`u’s County Council member Brenda Ford won her most recent election using the public funding option.
      Carmille Lim, executive director of Common Cause Hawai`i, wrote: “Wealthy and corporate donors dominated Hawai`i’s 2012 elections. The more they spend, the more they expect in return. The public suffers from the results of the current pay-to-play system.
      “We believe that implementing a public funding option would reduce the perception of pay-to-play politics and, by increasing competition, can reengage the citizenry in the democratic process.”
      Kathleen and Peter Golden, of Volcano Rainforest Retreat, also submitted testimony: “We support HB 1481 because we have strong concerns that private money has negative influence on elected officials and a corrosive effect on government. Fair elections addresses this problem by giving politicians the option to run on public money.” 
      Former Hawai`i County Planning director Chris Yuen testified that the bill would allow candidates “to run financially competitive campaigns without having to solicit funds from big money interests that often have a very definite agenda. It is one way to reduce the excessive influence of money in our political system.
      Susan Dursin, who participated in a League of Women Voters follow-up study after the last County Council election, said, “When candidates do not have to focus on raising large amounts of money, they are free of obligations to their major donors. Even when those obligations are not openly stated and are, for the most part, subconscious, they do exist. Public funding allows candidates who might not otherwise have the personal wealth or contacts to run for office. The wider the spectrum of candidates available to the voter, the stronger our system will be. Public funding allows incumbents to focus more on meeting their constituents and hearing their concerns, rather than on organizing and attending fundraising events. It also allows incumbents to concentrate on their jobs.
      “This measure is a very positive move toward separating ourselves from the problems associated with large private donations.”
      In an interview with Colin Stewart of Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, East Ka`u Senator Russell Ruderman said, “The reason for public financing in general is to reduce the influence of larger corporations on our government, especially when (candidates) get that money every year, like we see happen. Some people over there are just working for specific corporations.”

Plans show layout of the new disaster shelter and gym
that is expected to start rising from the school grounds
in Pahala, as the construction management crew arrives
this week.
THE NEW KA`U GYMNASIUM & DISASTER SHELTER construction management crew is expected to arrive this week and start ground preparation for the project that could cost up to $20 million. The contractor is Summit Construction from Honolulu.
      On state land between the tennis courts and the school cafeteria and elementary campus, the complex will be owned and managed by the county Department of Parks & Recreation and be available for school and community sports and other activities. It will also be the region’s official disaster shelter, hardened for hurricanes and provided with a kitchen and several rooms with air cleaning devices for vog alerts.
      Statements issued by the county and state before the groundbreaking last Oct. 3 said that “plans, design and construction will strive to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines put forth by the U.S. Green Building Council. For a building to achieve LEED certification, its construction must meet criteria in six performance standards: a sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design.”
      The gym will be large enough for three regulation Hawai`i High School Athletic Association basketball or volleyball courts. Additional rooms will be for lockers, showers and training, restrooms, lobby, courtyard, kitchen, ticket booths, offices and storage for America Red Cross supplies and equipment of the Department of Education and county Parks.
      During groundbreaking ceremonies last October, Gov. Neil Abercrombie noted the qualities of Ka`u, saying such communities, where a handshake is still a handshake, are hard to find. Ka`u people understand what it is to have a sense of family. You’ve got one big family down here. It is not who you are, what you look like, what your name is. It’s what you give.” He said it’s no small thing that the state and county have worked together to make the gym and shelter a reality.

IN HONOR OF THE 50TH annual Merrie Monarch Festival, Volcano Art Center hosts special arts and cultural events. All events are free and take place on the lanai of the VAC Gallery, located next to the Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Visitors and kama‘aina alike are invited to experience the mauka celebration of Merrie Monarch free of charge. Park entrance fees apply.
      On Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., artist and Hawaiian cultural practitioner Greg West teaches the art of ohe kapala (bamboo stamping). Participants select their own 100 percent cotton gathering bag keepsake and personalize designs using a traditional Hawaiian stamping technique. Bag and materials fee is $42.
      On Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jelena Clay demonstrates a variety of techniques for designing and decorating an ipu (gourd) and presents an extensive collection of her past works.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 30, 2013

Volunteers are counting whales today during this year's final Sanctuary Ocean Count. Hawai`i is one of the world's
most important humpback whale habitats, with whales migrating from as far away as Russia every winter to mate,
calve and nurse their young. Map from NOAA
PUBLIC ELECTIONS FUNDING being tested for the state through a Hawai`i County Council pilot program may not see changes during the 2013 Hawai`i Legislature. Senate Bill 381, authored by East Ka`u Senator Russell Ruderman, would equalize public funding in all districts, but was tabled this week by the House of Representatives Finance Committee, which means that unless some form of the bill can be resurrected soon,  the funding equalization won’t be in place by the 2014 elections. Ruderman said his goal is to make sure election funding is fair among the candidates.
      2012 Council candidate Bradley Westervelt disagreed with equalizing public funding for elections across all districts and wrote the only testimony opposing the measure before the Finance committee: “As one of the recipients of the Hawai`i County public funding pilot program, (B4Council District 6, 2012) I have a lot of opinions on what is and is not working.
Hawai`i County Council elections are testing public funding.
      “I strongly agree the wide differences in funding available to the various districts is unfair, and needs adjustment, but I strongly believe that making all the districts exactly the same is not the right solution!
      “The point of the public funding program is to provide an opportunity for regular citizens to participate in serving in elected office. The requirement to collect 200 valid personal checks from registered voters within the district is a very high bar, to start with.
      “Compare that to getting thousands in campaign contributions from just a few individuals or corporations, and it quickly becomes not worth the effort, especially if the public fund amount for a district is under five or ten thousand.
      “The pilot program was crafted to run for three years (elections) as a test. The changes proposed by SB381 represent major changes well beyond the intent of the County Council’s original authorship (supportive resolution). Leveling the compensation amount for every district will undermine the intent to provide equalizing funding for new candidates in a subsequent election in a district that had major spending previously. In other words, the intent was to have public funds available to compete with private sector and special interest-backed candidates.
      “I’d like to see the program amended to have a higher minimum compensation available to candidates in districts that have gone uncontested, but capping the amount to same for every district is shortsighted, and guts the original purpose.”
      On Feb. 28, after passing the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee, the bill was deferred by the House Finance Committee.
      The state Campaign Commission submitted testimony saying its members take no position on the bill and pointed out that the funding provided to each candidate on the Big Island, should the bill pass, would be $13,106.10 for the primary and $3,237.97 for the general election.
      Without a change in how public campaign funds are distributed, each of the Ka`u District County Council candidates in 2014 would receive $22,310.78 for the primary and $15,788.93 for the general election. This compares to other districts’ candidates receiving less than half of the amount that would be given out to candidates in Ka`u. Ruderman called this "a fluke," based on extraordinary contributions to the campaign of former County Council member Guy Enriques in Ka`u.
Ka`u County Council candidates received twice the public funding as those in other distictsed. The winner,
Brenda Ford, call it unfair.  Photo from Big Island Video News
      Susan Dursin testified that she has studied the issue for years, including her participation in a League of Women Voters follow-up study after the last election. “All candidates who qualified for the funding were interviewed. Without exception, they said that funding should be the same for every district,” she said in testimony supporting SB381. She said the measure “ensures equal funding. This bill also appropriates money to the Campaign Spending Commission. In order to do their very important job, they need adequate funding. Please support this bill,” she testified.
      Westervelt said this morning that he did not tell Dursin that he supported equal funding. She said in a phone interview this morning, “That was our impression, and apologize if I misrepresented Mr. Westervelt’s position.” Dursin said there are many good candidates who would prefer to spend their time talking to the people in their district rather than fundraising. Using public funding also lets the constituency know that candidates are not obligated to special interests, Dursin said.
      Westervelt said, “I am pleased the bill is dead.”

KA`U COUNCIL MEMBER BRENDA FORD said this morning that she wrote the original resolution from the County Council to the Legislature supporting the public funding and suggested funding $10,000 per candidate. The state added on a formula based on the fundraising amounts in prior elections in each Council district, and the state imposed the requirement that to qualify for public funding, each candidate collect $5 and a signature from 200 registered voters in the district. Ford described the formula as “completely unfair” and said she decried the large amount of public funding for her candidacy here compared to other districts where candidates received very little.
      Ford said that to make the funding fair, each county council candidate could receive about $24,000 with two thirds ($16,000) provided for the primary election and one third ($8,000) for each candidate in the general election. Those candidates winning outright in the primary would receive no funding for the general.  She said she continues to support public funding of elections. “The purpose of the pilot project is to find out the problems and to get the kinks out, and that is what we are doing,” she said. Ruderman said that the House finance committee may have mistakenly thought that equalization of the funding might cost the state more money. "I don't think it will cost the state more money," as the funding comes from donations made to publicly funded elections when filing state income tax forms, said the state senator.

Humpback whales have begun their migration to
northern feeding grounds. Photo from NOAA
VOLUNTEERS ARE COUNTING humpback whales and recording their behavior today during the final Sanctuary Ocean Count for 2013.
      Every winter and spring the warm and shallow waters surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands constitute one of the world’s most important humpback whale habitats.
      Scientists estimate that more than 50 percent of the entire North Pacific humpback whale population migrates to Hawaiian waters from their higher latitude feeding areas each winter to mate, calve and nurse their young. The first whales to arrive in Hawai`i are usually juveniles and pregnant females, followed closely by mature adult animals.
      Researchers report that the Hawai`i sub-population of humpback whales has increased at an annual rate of five to seven percent.
      A trend noted in the census summary analysis indicates consistently higher sightings in January and February than in March. According to researchers, a possible explanation for lower whale counts in March is that some whales may have begun their migration back to the feeding grounds in Alaska by the time of the March census. Over a census period from 2002 – 2010, January had the largest average amount of humpback whale sightings. In the Ka`u area, South Point consistently had the most whale sightings during those years.
      For more information, see hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.

AN EASTER EGG HUNT AND BRUNCH take place tomorrow at Kilauea Military Camp in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Registration for the 9 a.m. egg hunt for children 10 years old and under begins at 7:30 a.m. Participants should bring their own Easter baskets.
      Brunch is available from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Crater Rim Café. KMC is open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests, and park entrance fees apply. Call 967-8356 for more information.

NA`ALEHU ELEMENTARY SCHOOL is having a rummage sale next Saturday to raise money for a new playground set and student Incentives. Clothes, books, household items, furniture, toys, tools, and more will be on sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information and to donate, contact Denise Garcia at 939-2413 ext. 243.

SPRING FLING TAKES PLACE two weeks from today, on Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Punalu`u Bake Shop in Na`alehu. Ka`u School of the Arts celebrates the cultural diversity of the district with free entertainment, music, dance and a creativity corner. The line-up of entertainment includes Ka`u `Ohana Band, Sonny Ramos, a taiko drum group, Hannah’s Makana `Ohana Hula Halau, Full Tilt Band, `ukulele students from the Center for Hawaiian Music Studies and Keoki Kahumoku. 
      For more information, call Kepi Davis at 929-8215.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 29, 2013

Ka`u farmers and ranchers setting up at the state Capitol for yesterday's Ag Awareness Day.
KA`U FARMERS, RANCHERS, land managers, coffee brokers and retailers met members of the state Legislature and the public yesterday with booths at the annual Agricultural Awareness Day at the state Capitol in Honolulu, sponsored by Hawai`i Farm Bureau Federation. Phil Becker of Aikane Plantation Coffee, Lani and Bill Petrie of Kapapala Ranch and Chris Manfredi of Ka`u Farm Bureau joined in. Becker, who also represented the state Seal of Quality, said the presentation was very successful for Ka`u.

GMO LABELING PROPONENTS wound up in a scuffle after statewide Hawai`i Farm Bureau president Dean Okimoto covered their video camera with his hand while several Ka`u ranchers and farmers looked on. The encounter was shown on statewide television and posted on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper’s website. GMO labeling proponents said they visited legislators’ offices yesterday. Both Ka`u senators, Josh Green and Russell Ruderman, support GMO labeling, as does Rep. Denny Coffman.
      The labeling proponents were walking through the ag day display area at the state Capitol with a sign saying, “If we keep buying, they’ll keep selling,” when Okimoto told them, “We don’t appreciate being filmed.” and put his hand over the camera lens.
GMO labeling supporters' camera covered by Hawai`i Farm
Bureau president at yesterday's ag day.
      The Hawai`i Farm Bureau Federation and Hawai`i Crop Improvement Association have withheld support for GMO labeling and recently held an essay contest called “Views from the Farm” to drum up support for Genetically Modified Organisms. The winning essays came from Illinois, Oregon, North Dakota and Washington State and are posted on Hawai`i Crop Improvement Association’s website at www.hciaonline.com. Hawai`i Crop Improvement Association also posts breaking news with such headlines as GMO Protestors Would Accomplish More by Talking to the Companies, Genetic Engineering ‘Monster’ Exists only in Our Minds, and The Effects of Persecuting Biotechnology.
      In February, the state House Committee on Agriculture unanimously adopted HB174 to require all GMO produce imported into the state to be labeled. The locally grown Rainbow payaya would have been exempt, although these papayas are required by the Japan government to be labeled GMO when they are shipped there. The labeling bill for Hawai`i passed the House and moved to the Senate.
      However, last week, three Senate committees heard the bill and tabled it for further study.
      Ruderman said that this was the farthest any GMO labeling bill has gone in the state Legislature and gave Sen. Josh Green credit for making sure the bill went to a public hearing in the Senate. Regarding a proposed resolution to study GMO labeling, he said, “It is better than nothing, but not much.” Ruderman predicted that GMO labeling would become an important issue in the 2014 Hawai`i Legislature.

A RESOLUTION TO STUDY GMO LABELING passed the state Senate Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection yesterday. It asks the University of Hawai`i Economic Research Organization to establish an economic model, conduct an economic impact study and submit a report on the economic impact of implementing a GMO labeling or GMO registration requirement on consumers, the local agricultural industry, and the state’s 2050 sustainability goals.
      The resolution also asks the state Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Business, Economic Development & Tourism, to research and submit a report “examining whether implementing a GMO labeling or GMO registration regimen is practicable, including issues relating to ease of enforcement and administration of a labeling or registration requirement, and whether such a program would adversely affect the Hawai`i 2050 sustainability goals and determining how the preferred program, if any, should be implemented.”

IN TESTIMONY OPPOSING THE PROPOSAL for `Aina Koa Pono to sell biofuel that would be manufactured at a refinery off Wood Valley Road from crops grown between Pahala and Na`alehu to Hawai`i Electric Light Co., Life of the Land gave answers to questions about pricing posed by the state Public Utilities Commission. 
      To the question of whether the commission should approve the contract as reasonable and consistent with the public interest and the related contract costs, including the biodiesel, transportation, and storage costs, and related taxes, Life of the Land replied: “The price is not reasonable compared with other Hawai`i biofuel supply contracts.
      “The price is not reasonable compared with other baseload renewable energy options for the Island of Hawai`i. As the commencement date envisioned in this contract and in the current geothermal Request for Proposals are far off in the future, it is not unreasonable to require that if both are acceptable, they have to offer solutions in the same general price ballpark, which they do not.
      “But there is another and more troubling problem. In most biofuel proposals submitted to the Commission, the proposers have extensive biofuel and/or utility experience. The known AKP principals lack this knowledge base. Specific details in the submittals are redacted.”
      “Furthermore, the fact that the difference between AKP-1 and AKP-2 is the $100 million price tag that was to be saddled on the backs of O`ahu ratepayers, combined with the facts that HECO has not seen AKP’s books, and AKP will make multiple products which can be cross-subsidized, means that O`ahu ratepayers may still be overpaying for something that might or might not promote sustainable bio production operations.”
      To questions of whether the commission should approve as just and reasonable the inclusion of the cost differential between the biodiesel under the Biodiesel Supply Contract and the cost of the petroleum diesel that the biodiesel is replacing, Life of the Land replied:
      “There are two separate issues here. First, the cost differential is unreasonable since the contract itself is overpriced and thus unreasonable. Second, allowing multiple cost differentials for multiple biofuel supply contracts contradicts the spirit of competitive bidding. If the Commission does want to offer a cost differential, it should make it a uniform percentage available to all biofuel suppliers.
      “If biofuels are the most cost-effective baseload renewable energy resource, then there should be a generic surcharge, modified by specific cost analysis conducted in the individual biofuel contracts. However, in the absence of any analysis on whether biofuels are the most cost-effective way of increasing renewable energy baseload, a surcharge is not the way to proceed.
      Life of the Land says “this is especially relevant in the current doctrine” which it explains as “‘O`ahu has sun, wind, waves and a deep cold ocean for tourists, but lacks the same resources for generating renewable energy).’ This doctrine supports an entrenched political decision that one particular future scenario should be pre-selected as the winner.”
      This and other testimony, both pro and con, is available at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2012-0185.

Milton Pavao
MILTON PAVAO, RETIRED MANAGER and chief engineer for Hawai`i County Department of Water Supply, has been chosen by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to serve on the state Commission of Water Resource Management. The licensed professional engineer and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Hawai`i.
      The commission consists of seven members, with five members appointed by the governor. Appointments are subject to Senate confirmation. Pavao’s four-year term would begin July 1.

THE KAHUKU UNIT of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park hosts Lunch with a Ranger tomorrow. Participants bring a bag lunch and join rangers for an open discussion on topics ranging from land management and conservation issues to environmental and cultural history. 
      Drive through the Kahuku gate located on the mauka side of Hwy 11 near mile marker 70.5. Park and meet at the visitor contact tent near the ranch buildings. Check the activities board for the location and topic of the day.
      No advance reservation is required.

KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park celebrates Easter with an Easter Egg Hunt and brunch on Sunday. The egg hunt at 9 a.m. is for children 10 years old and under. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and participants should bring their own Easter baskets.
      Brunch takes place from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Crater Rim Café. Menu includes honey-glazed ham, beef pot roast, stuffed French toast with mango cream cheese filling, omelet station, breakfast meats, fresh fruit, ice cream bar and a beverage. $17.50 adults; $8.50 children 6 to 11. KMC is open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests, and park entrance fees apply. Call 967-8356 for more.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Friday, March 28, 2013

Royal Hawaiian Orchards released its first annual report since changing its name from ML Macadamis Orchards, LP
Photo by Julia Neal
ROYAL HAWAIIAN ORCHARDS yesterday released its annual report, the first since launching its new brand and changing its name from MLMacadamia Orchards, L.P. The Ka`u branch of the company farms 3,785 acres around Pahala and employs approximately 150 people, more than half of its islandwide workforce. Other orchards are located at Kea`au and north of Hilo at Mauna Kea.
      The company report says its 2012 farming operations were profitable, generating a net income of $521,000. The total 2012 revenue was $20.1 million, an increase of 12 percent over 2011, the report says, with nut sales up 12 percent and contract farming revenues up 6 percent. The Partnership was paid an average contract price of 77.4 cents per pound for mac nuts sold, according to the annual report.
      “In late 2012, the Partnership launched its own line of all-natural, ‘better for you,’ branded macadamia products in response to historically volatile macadamia pricing and to reduce its dependence on a single customer,” the company statement reports. That single customer was Mauna Loa for which long term contracts were expiring.
Royal Hawaiian promotes health, orchard to market, aloha and no GMO's. 
    According to the report, “Branded product sales were initiated in November 2012 and amounted to $91,000 for the year. This investment seeks to enable the Partnership to generate stable and attractive margins despite commodity price swings and is intended to increase unit holder value once critical mass is achieved. Approximately 7 million nut-in-shell pounds or 1.4 million pounds of kernel will become available, from expired sales contracts, for the Partnership to sell as branded or bulk macadamia nuts in 2013 and approximately 3.0 million kernel pounds will be available for sale in 2014.”
  The new www.royalhawaiianorchards.com says the products are gluten free and made without sulfites and artificial ingredients. It also brands them as non-GMO. Various tag lines include “Live Long, Live Well, Live Aloha” and “Find Your Balance.”
      The website promotes the similarity between macadamia oil and olive oil and its health benefits, along with the high protein content of mac nut products.
      According to a story in today’s Honolulu Star Advertiser, Royal Hawaiian plans to soon gain shelf space at ABC Stores, Foodland, Food Pantry, Longs and Walgreens. “The company expects to be in approximately 5,000 stores in Hawai`i and the western U.S. by the end of 2013,” the Star Advertiser says, quoting CEO Dennis Simonis: "We're very enthusiastic about the start. It's in the early stages and we think it's well positioned. They're very good products and everybody who has tried them has really enjoyed them. We're very optimistic."
      Among the new product line offerings are Hawaiian Barbecue, Maui Onion. Salt & Black Pepper, Sea Salt and Wasabi Soy snacks. Other snacks include nuts with dried fruit and Kona Coffee.

LEGISLATION ALLOWING USE OF PUBLIC SCHOOL LANDS for private development by leasing them for housing and commercial enterprise passed state Senate and House of Representatives committees yesterday. Numerous groups, from contractors to unions, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state agencies submitted testimony supporting the measure, contending it will bring in money needed to ugrade schools. Various educational groups testified to “underutilized school lands,” aging facilities, and the need for 21st Century School design.
Ka`u High & Pahala Elementary & Intermediate School Campus will see construction starting soon, but for a gym and
 disaster shelter for students and the community. Photo by Julia Neal
      Opponents predicted that places like Waikiki where the land is the most expensive will lose school playgrounds, school gardens and precious open space.
      Liz Larson testified: “As a mother of two children who go to Jefferson Elementary School, I am deeply concerned that the land that is precious to our community and treasured by the school, parents, and children will be taken away permanently. lf a high rise structure is developed on the property of Jefferson Elementary School (in Waikiki), the land will never be reclaimed for the children.
      “You cannot put a price tag on the value of the outdoor instruction, gardening, and scientific discovery that my children experience daily because of the programs Jefferson Elementary School is able to provide because of the land. “Raising children in the city in a small one bedroom apartment, I understand first-hand how important this open space is to the children and to the community of Waikiki……One unintended consequence of the bill will be that inner city schools, such as Jefferson Elementary School, will be targeted even though land and open space is most needed by the children and citizens of those communities.
      “The lack of local community and parent involvement in the decision making of our schools comes from the centralized nature of the school system in Hawai`i. This bill only highlights the problems that already exist in a centralized school system that discourages local participation by not allowing the public to even know which two schools are being considered for redevelopment.
      She said she also opposes the measure “because revenues generated from the pilot schools will be put into a Twenty-first century schools special revolving fund. The system of dispersal of these funds is not transparent and funds can be arbitrarily dispersed at the discretion of the DOE and the school board.
     "The best investment for our future is in our children. School land should be used for the purpose of educating our children. Once the land has been developed for other purposes such as housing, it will be forever lost.”
      Sharon Wileford testified: “As a 30- year Department of Eduation/Hawai`i teacher - The Land should be kept for the children! Where will they play? Not enough exercise -they need to learn to plant gardens - use it for education not profit!”
      Jeannine Johnson testified: “As a Hawaiian I am used to this. As a parent, I am appalled at the audacity of our government officials. I know the reason is because none of you send your children to public schools and therefore don’t care that my keiki won’t have playgrounds, playing fields and room to run around. So I ask you, in all fairness, would you force this on Punahou students? If your answer to that is no, your vote must be no to SB237, SD2.”
      Some opponents compared it to the Public Lands Development Corp. which received a slew of opposition over the last year for planning to lease out state lands to developers.
      Lisa Andrews wrote: “No way. Take your hands off our public school lands. Hawai'i children need open space to roam, exercise, and grow. No more PLDCs - you don't fool us anymore. We are watching. Pay attention to the legacy you are creating.”
      Todd Andrews testified: “Kids need to learn about where their food comes from by farming the land around their schools. Exercise, skills, aina awareness, environment awareness, opportunity to grow healthy food, etc. No PLDC.”
      Janice Palama-Glenlie testified: “How can legislators -- representatives of the People -- continue to support PLDC look- alikes, which is what privatizing our schools is? please oppose bills that are good for corporations and bad for People. Mahalo.”

Pelekapu Dedman fights aerial hunting with his Pele Defense Fund.
Photo from Pele Defense Fund
AERIAL HUNTING to rid natural areas of ungulates, like sheep, goats and pigs, received strong testimony yesterday at the County Council’s committee meeting on agriculture water and energy sustainability. According to a story in this morning’s Hawai`i Tribune Herald, Palikapu Dedman, President of the Pele Defense Fund, supports a ban on aerial hunting, and pointed out that the state Department of Land & Natural Resources is filing suit to prevent the ban. The County Council passed the ban last year.
      However, aerial hunting is used by the state to reach remote areas to kill the ungulates which are considered a danger to the native forest and its rare plants and animals, as well as the watershed. Hunters have testified that they want to be the ones to hunt the animals to provide food for their families.
      Pele Defense Fund announced last November that it filed a suit against the DLNR, which fences out ungulates from protected areas. Pele Defense Fund is also attempting to prevent fencing of thousands of acres in the Ka`u Forest Reserve. Dedman said that native rights, land tenure, hunting and subsistence living should be given more weight in such decisions. See more on Erin Miller’s coverage of the council meetings at www.hawaiitribune-herald.com

REOPENING OF KULANI PRISON was taken up by the County Council’s Committee on Public Safety and Transportation, chaired by Ka`u council member Brenda Ford. According to a story in this morning’s West Hawai`i Today, Public Safety Director Ted Sakai said a Pu`uhonua program that would be low security and allow for reintegration into the community would be helpful. A man recently released from prison testified that the jails are like revolving doors and the inmates need training and rehabilitation. The committee plans to draft a resolution supporting the state plan to reopen Kulani, according to the Erin Miller report. See more at www.westhawaiitoday.com.

Last humpback whale count of the season is Saturday.
Photo from NOAA
SOUTHSIDE VOLLEYBALL BOYS won their division, 14-and under last night at the annual Haili Volleyball Tournament in Hilo. The team, coached by Guy Enriques, won all six games this week. Team members are: Nai`a Makuakane, Adison Enriques, Avery Enriques, Cameron Moses, Abi Campbell, Tristen Cross, Logan Thomas, Chase Carter and Nakana Nakana.

THE LAST HUMPBACK WHALE COUNT of the year is this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at South Point, Punalu`u Black Sand Beach and Ka`ena Point at the end of Chain of Craters Road in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Sign up at sanctuaryoceancount.org.

EASTER EGG HUNT will be held this Sunday, March 30 at Kilauea Military Camp for children ten years of age and under. Bring Easter baskets. Register at 967-8352.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 27, 2013

Testimony from a consultant for the state Consumer Advocate says emissions associated with HECO's use of `Aina Koa
Pono biofuel would be at most one-third of the emissions associated with HECO's use of fuel oil. Image from AKP
LEASING PUBLIC SCHOOL LANDS to commercial entities is the topic of a bill being heard by state legislative committees today. SB 237 SD2 establishes a three-year pilot program to generate revenue for improvement to public school facilities and infrastructure “to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century and to improve the overall quality of education in Hawai`i. The pilot program will lay groundwork for a statewide approach and plan to optimize public school lands and modernize public school facilities,” the bill states.
Sen. Russell Ruderman
      “The considerable amount of underused public school lands on the state’s 257 school campuses is an untapped resource that would provide infrastructure that could make classrooms, campuses, and communities suitable for the twenty-first century,” the bill says. “A preliminary review by a real estate expert indicates that ten parcels that have unused lands are valued at $120,000,000 under existing surrounding uses. These lands could be developed solely for the benefit of Hawai`i’s public school children. The beneficiaries would be the children of Hawai`i.”
      All proceeds generated from the lease of public school lands would go into a fund used to build or upgrade school facilities.
      The bill is moving through the Legislature at the same time as other bills calling for repeal of a law establishing of the Public Lands Development Corp., which was created by the Legislature in 2011 to develop state lands and generate revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
      Sen. Russell Ruderman is one of the introducers of the bill. He explained his support for the bill leasing public school lands at a talk story session in Pahala recently, saying the program is very limited in scope and that it makes sense to generate funds on state school properties that have a high value and are under-used. His staff said he is reviewing the latest rendition of the bill today to decide whether to continue his support.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
A BILL PREVENTING a federal government shutdown next week has passed Congress with significant bipartisan support, passing with a vote of 318-109.
      Rep. Tulsi Gabbard praised both parties coming together “to ensure that greater flexibility in funding was provided to the Department of Defense, as well as addressing some domestic priorities like agriculture, public safety, and rural development.”
      The bill reinstates Department of Defense tuition assistance education programs that were initially suspended due to across-the-board cuts, which were put into effect earlier this month. “These earned educational benefits exist to ensure our troops gain further leadership skills and to set them up for success upon their eventual transition from military to civilian life,” Gabbard said. “Our service members have made tremendous personal sacrifices for our country. This is a step toward ensuring they are properly served in return.”
      Gabbard said “there is still much work to be done to ensure we are protecting and serving those most in need. As we plan for our long-term future, I will continue to push for common-sense initiatives that strike a balance between targeted spending cuts and closing tax loopholes for special interests.”
      The bill, which funds the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

THE `AINA KOA PONO PROJECT “has many of the characteristics of an environmentally sustainable process,” testified Patrick Luckow, an energy consultant hired by the state Consumer Advocate to submit testimony to the Public Utilities Commission regarding the proposed contract for AKP to sell biofuel refined near Wood Valley from crops grown between Pahala and Na`alehu to Hawaiian Electric Co. and Hawai`i Electric Light Co. Luckow, an associate with Synapse Energy Economics, of Massachusetts, conducts research focusing on a variety of issues related to electric utilities, including integrated resource planning, federal and state clean air policies, emissions from electricity generation and electrical system dispatch. He also performs modeling analyses of electric power systems. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from University of Maryland.
      “The fact that the feedstock will be grown on former sugarcane land is positive, as intensively managed soils typically have lower terrestrial carbon stocks,” Luckow testifies. “Research has shown gains in soil and above-ground carbon with certain biofuel feedstocks, although the re-establishment of native and invasive grasses and Christmas berry trees may have improved soil conditions in recent years. Once a final feedstock is chosen, it will be important to conduct an updated assessment of the net change in soil carbon as a result of this project.”
      Luckow claims that biochar, a by-product of refining biofuel, is another benefit that contributes to the projects sustainability. “In addition to helping soils retain water and nutrients, biochar holds onto its carbon for hundreds of years,” Luckow says. “Sequestering carbon through the use of biochar as a soil amendment has been explored recently as a cost-effective way to offset greenhouse gas emissions.”
      Luckow discusses greenhouse gas emissions associated with production and use of the biofuels HELCO is proposing to acquire from the project. He says he relied on “the Company’s application, its responses to various information requests and relevant recent studies on the use of biomass and biofuels” to draw his conclusions.
      Luckow testifies that “generating electricity from biomass and biofuels that are well tracked and produced in a sustainable manner can produce lower emissions of carbon than generating electricity from conventional fossil fuels such as diesel, low sulfur fuel oil, natural gas and coal. Various studies, based on long-term economic models of energy use, have shown that it is more cost-effective to reduce carbon emissions substantially through strategies that include biomass and biofuels than through strategies that do not include those resources.
      “In the electricity sector, biomass and biofuels help improve the cost effectiveness of these strategies because they produce electricity in a consistent, dispatchable manner and because they can be shipped over long distances using existing transportation infrastructure.
      “In order for biomass and biofuels to play this important role, they must be produced in a sustainable manner. In particular, for each proposed source of biomass and biofuels, one must identify the carbon emissions at each stage of production and use, including emissions from the use of the land to produce the feedstocks and emissions resulting from any activities displaced from that land. It is important to consider both the carbon absorption and the carbon emissions associated with biomass production – absorption in order to give accurate credit to biomass and emissions from land use to prevent unjustified clearing of land.”
      Luckow estimates that emissions associated with HECO’s use of biofuel would be at most one-third of the emissions associated with HECO’s use of fuel oil. He says that a report prepared by Eichleay Engineers, Inc. over-estimates benefits associated with use of biofuels. The report includes emissions associated with feedstock production, conversion to biofuels and transport of biofuel to the power plant but does not include an estimate of greenhouse gas emissions associated with combustion of biofuel at Keahole power plant, Luckow says. However, he claims that even after those emissions are included, they would be considerably less than the emissions associated with HELCO’s use of diesel.
      This and other testimony is available at puc.hawaii.gov. Docket number is 2012-0185.

Front row l-r: Wen-Jing Yang, Marileah Lalin, Romina Sembran, Wen-
Hui Yang. Back row l-r: Jemy-Ray Palancia, Carlos Uribe-Buonus,
Coach Hi`ilani Lapera, William Mitchell, Andrew Garcia.
Photo courtesy of Ka`u High School Yearbook
TRAINING FOR MEMBERS and potential members of Ka`u Ag Water Cooperative District takes place today at Pahala Community Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
      Another workshop for co-op board members takes place tomorrow from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill.
      The workshops present basics of co-op membership and board directorship.
      For more information, email mbondera@kohalacenter.org.

IN SPORTS, MEMBERS OF KA`U HIGH varsity tennis team reported wins against Kea`au and St. Joseph’s this month. Trojan Andrew Garcia, playing in boys team second singles, defeated Pahoa (6-4, 6-4), as well as St. Joseph’s (6-3, 6-4). Senior Jemy-Ray Palancia competes in boys team first singles and shut out St. Joseph’s 6-0 and 6-2. Ka`u’s girls second singles player Wen-Jing Yang emerged victorious versus Kea`au. Scores were 6-4 and 6-2. Hi`ilani Lapera, longtime coach for Ka`u High bowling, has stepped up as coach for Trojan tennis.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 26, 2013

A consultant for the state Consumer Advocate has testified that the cost of biofuel, proposed to be refined near Wood Valley from crops grown between Pahala and Na`alehu, is reasonable. Photo by Julia Neal
FUNDING FOR IMPROVEMENTS to Ka`u irrigation system has been approved by the state House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for further consideration. The Capital Improvements Project funding amounts to $2.5 million. Several other House Bills regarding agriculture have also made their way to the Senate for further consideration.
Rep. Richard Onishi
      HB353 would appropriate funds to the Department of Agriculture for the United States Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center to research and develop methods for the prevention and treatment of coffee berry borer infestations. It would provide a grant for the coffee berry borer task force for control of the coffee berry borer and mitigation of damage.
      HB487 would expand livestock feed subsidy to include feed for goats, sheep, lambs, fish and crustaceans. It would create a subsidy for qualified feed developers.
      HB489 would provide, under certain circumstances, an exemption from building code and permit requirements for nonresidential buildings or structures on farms.
      HB1264 would allow for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects. It would modify the new farmer loan program of the Department of Agriculture to promote the development of innovative technologies and to assist new farm enterprises.
      “Agriculture is an important component of life for residents who live in my district and for all of us on Hawai`i Island,” said East Ka`u Rep. Richard Onishi. “I am pleased that the House has approved legislation that supports, improves and strengthens this vital part of our economy and lifestyle. If we truly want to achieve food sustainability for Hawai`i and put more local food in our markets and homes, we need to assist farmers in every way we can.”

Sen. Brian Schatz
“DENYING COMMITTED COUPLES the right to marry is unacceptable,” said Sen. Brian Schatz in a statement as the Supreme Court hears arguments to determine the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. “Because we all have friends, relatives and loved ones in devoted same-sex relationships, I encourage everyone to stand up for equality. It affects all of us. It is my hope that the arguments heard in the Supreme Court will further prove what millions of Americans know is just — marriage equality must be a constitutional right for all Americans. I am a proud supporter of marriage equality, and I will continue to join President Obama in speaking out to end this type of discrimination. My hope is that the Supreme Court does what is right for this country.”
      The Supreme Court will also hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage between a man and a woman, thereby denying federal benefits to same-sex couples.
      Schatz joined his Senate colleagues in filing testimony in the DOMA case that is before the Supreme Court.

James Richard Hornby
IN TESTIMONY TO THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION on behalf of the state Consumer Advocate regarding the proposed contract for `Aina Koa Pono to sell biofuel refined in Ka`u to Hawaiian Electric Co. and Hawai`i Electric Light Co., James Richard Hornby, an energy consultant hired by the Consumer Advocate, concludes that “the cost of biofuel under the proposed Biofuel Supply Contract is reasonable. The AKP Biofuel Supply Contract will enable the Companies to provide reliable service at reasonable rates relative to continuing to rely upon fossil fuels.”
      Hornby is a senior consultant at Synapse Energy Economics of Massachusetts, a research and consulting firm specializing in energy and environmental issues including electric generation, transmission and distribution system reliability, market power, electricity market prices, stranded costs, efficiency, renewable energy, environmental quality and nuclear power. Hornby has presented testimony and provided litigation support on these issues in the United States and Canada. His clients have included staff of public utility commissions, state energy offices, consumer advocate offices and marketers. He has a Master of Science degree in energy technology and policy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor of industrial engineering degree from Technical University of Nova Scotia.
      To reach his conclusions, Hornby said he relied on responses to various information requests, recent projections of prices for relevant fossil fuels, Commission orders in other relevant proceedings, Hawai`i energy policies and relevant resource planning proceedings of other utilities in which he has participated or which he has reviewed.
      Hornby acknowledges that “the prices the Companies will pay for biofuel under the AKP contract are likely to be higher than diesel prices according to current Reference Case forecasts for diesel prices.” However, he considers other factors that he claims justify the higher prices. “In exchange,” Hornby says, “the Companies and their customers will receive a number of benefits from the AKP contract.” He lists following benefits that would be received:
  • reduced dependence on fossil fuels; 
  • reduced exposure to increases in electricity costs in periods when diesel prices prove to be higher than current Reference Case forecasts as well as reduced exposure to the volatility associated with diesel prices; 
  • reduced emission of air pollutants; 
  • a contribution to compliance with Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements (Hornby says “HECO needs the AKP biofuel supply in order to meet its requirements under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard statute.); and 
  • diversification of the resources used to meet Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements. 
      Hornby also says his “analyses indicate that entering the AKP contract will not prevent the Companies from acquiring additional resources that prove to be cost-effective in the future. The Companies will continue to have that flexibility.”
      This and other testimony is available at puc.hawaii.gov.

Ocean View Community Center has videoconferencing
facilities for county government meetings.
KA`U RESIDENTS CAN PARTICIPATE in this week’s county government meetings via videoconference at Ocean View Community Center, 92-8924 Leilani Circle. Council committees meet tomorrow, and the full Council meets Thursday at West Hawai`i Civic Center in Kona. The videoconferencing system is available until 3 p.m. or later if public witness testimony has not been completed. For more information, call 961-8536 or edistrict6@co.hawaii.hi.us.
      Agenda items include several improvements to Kahuku Park in Ocean View being pursued by Council member Brenda Ford. Agendas for the meetings, along with information on how to submit testimony, can be viewed at hawaiicounty.gov.

KA`U AG WATER COOPERATIVE DISTRICT members and potential members are invited to learn about being ag water co-op members and how the development process is proceeding at a workshop tomorrow at Pahala Community Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
      Another workshop for co-op board members takes place Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill.
      The workshops will present the basics of co-op membership and board directorship while allowing for ongoing questions and answers. A few exercises will help participants work through the basics. Workbooks will be passed out to take home or show those who couldn’t make it.
      For more information, email mbondera@kohalacenter.org.

Volunteers Paul and Jane Field remove Kahili ginger on a park trail.
NPS Photo by Jessica Ferracane
STEWARDSHIP AT THE SUMMIT is the name of the weekly program in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park that has volunteers help cut invasive Kahili ginger along trails. On Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon, participants hike into Kilauea caldera down Halem`auma`u Trail, leaving from Kilauea Visitor Center. The hike involves walking over rough, uneven terrain on a dirt and rock path, with up to a 400-foot elevation change.

VOLUNTEERS HAVE ONE MORE opportunity this year to count humpback whales and record their behavior during the Sanctuary Ocean Count Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Sites for the count in Ka`u are South Point, Punalu`u Black Sand Beach and Ka`ena Point at the end of Chain of Craters Road in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Sign up at sanctuaryoceancount.org.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 25, 2013

Teachers carried signs in downtown Pahala. They vote April 17 on a new contract.
TEACHERS PLAN TO VOTE on a proposed four-year agreement between the state and Hawai`i State Teachers Association on Wednesday, April 17. HSTA union president Wil Okabe told Civil Beat that the union plans to spend the weeks making sure teachers understand contents of the contract, saying teachers rejected an earlier contract “because they didn’t understand it.”
     HSTA Board of Directors approved the contract yesterday. Okabe said, “I believe that this tentative agreement is the beginning of providing professional salaries that will attract and retain the best and the brightest into Hawai`i’s classrooms.” The agreement removes the five percent pay cut and reduced health care benefits that the state imposed in July 2011.
      It also calls for pay raises. On July 1, all teachers move up one step on the salary schedule. Three annual 3.2 percent across-the-board salary increases take place beginning in 2014.
 A teacher evaluation system that has been an issue with union members is also part of the deal. The system measures teacher effectiveness and student growth, and teachers will be involved in its development. The contract also requires the union to drop its complaint filed with the Hawai`i Labor Relations Board charging that the state violated collective bargaining rights.
     “This is a major breakthrough for our teachers, our students, and the future of our state,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “I believe this contract is fair and provides opportunities for pay increases, which are long overdue after years of sacrifice from teachers and other public employees. With the state now being administered in a fiscally sound manner and improving economic estimates by the Council of Revenues, we were able to offer a comprehensive and favorable contract.”
     Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said, “Public school teachers and their union representatives are critical partners in transforming education for our students and our state. We’ve worked very hard to get to this point, and we remain committed to providing teachers with necessary resources and support to achieve our strategic goals.”
     Don Horner, chair of the Board of Education, said, “The Board is appreciative of the dedication, sacrifices, and achievements of our teachers. This agreement will allow us, together, to better support our teachers in reaching the objectives of our educational strategic plan.” 

A NEW YORK TIMES editorial this morning on changing the immigration system credits Sen. Mazie Hirono. The opinion piece praises Hirono for speaking “movingly of her own experience immigrating to Honolulu as a young girl; and yet joined other witnesses in explaining how the system falls short: she noted that it treats women unequally – women who arrive as dependent spouses are denied the right to work legally and face discrimination and several obstacles to assimilation.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono meets with Hawaiian youth visiting the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo from www.hirono.senate.gov
    The editorial states that “the momentum in Washington for immigration reform has been growing with amazing speed in recent weeks, and it seems that the question now is not whether Congress will try to fix the immigration system this year, but how big and effective the repairs will be. We hope that whatever bill emerges will continue to protect and unite families, preserving and strengthening a bedrock value of America’s immigration system,” says the New York Times.
      The newspaper points out that “it might be hard to imagine that America’s long tradition of allowing immigrants to sponsor spouses, children and siblings for visas would be threatened. But anti-immigration groups and lawmakers have long attacked the practice, using the slanderous and misleading term “chain migration,” which summons images of a relentless flow of undesirables, usually from south of the border. Even as some of the staunchest resistance to reform is crumbling — legalizing 11 million immigrants was unthinkable for leading Republicans a few months ago, and now even rock-ribbed Tea Partiers like Representative Rand Paul favor it — right-wing resistance to family migration persists.
Mee Moua, president of Aisan
American Justice Institute.
    “Bills are still being drafted, but some lawmakers are reportedly trying to reduce or eliminate visas for extended family members in order to expand employment-based immigration. Advocates are resisting this zero-sum game.”
      The editorial also quotes Mee Moua, president of the Asian American Justice Center, explaining “how backlogs kept families separated for years, if not decades. ‘As of November 2012,’ she said, ‘nearly 4.3 million close family members were waiting in the family-visa backlogs’ — with Latino and Asian-American families most affected.”
      The New York Times opined that “immigration is more than a business relationship America has with selected foreigners. It’s a process that renews this country; it means going all-in on America, through binding ties of love and blood. Recruited workers enrich the country. Reunited families do, too.”

COUNTY GOVERNMENT MEETINGS take place this week, with Council committees meeting on Wednesday and the full Council meeting Thursday at West Hawai`i Civic Center in Kona. Agendas for the meetings, along with information on how to submit testimony, can be viewed at hawaiicounty.gov.
      Ka`u residents can participate in the meetings via videoconference at Ocean View Community Center, 92-8924 Leilani Circle. The system is available until 3 p.m. or later if public witness testimony has not been completed. For more information, call 961-8536 or edistrict6@co.hawaii.hi.us.

MEMBER TRAINING FOR Ka`u Ag Water Cooperative District takes place Wednesday at Pahala Community Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Members and potential members of the regional water systems’ cooperatives, including Ha`ao, Mountain House, Moa`ula, Alili, Hilea, Keaiwa, Wood Valley and Kapapala can learn about being an ag water co-op member and how the development process is proceeding. For more information, email mbondera@kohalacenter.org.

Volcano resident and state Department of Agriculture Chair
Russell Kokubun, right, presented an award for using local beef
at last year's Ag Day. Photo from Hawai`i Cattlemen's Council
AGRICULTURE AWARENESS  DAY AT THE CAPITOL will be held this Thursday, March 28 in Honolulu, with Ka`u Farm Bureau and `Aikane Plantation Coffee Company representing Ka`u. Phil Becker of `Aikane said the Hawai`i Seal of Quality will have a booth next to the Ka`u Farm Bureau booth, which will be manned by Ka`u Farm Bureau President Chris Manfredi. Samples and written materials celebrating the diverse agriculture of Ka`u, from flowers to vegetables, fruits, nuts, beef and coffee will be displayed, Manfredi said. Farm Bureau members wanting to submit samples and information can call him at 929-9550.

VOLUNTEERS CAN HELP CUT invasive Kahili ginger in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. The hike is a one-mile, moderate round trip into Kilauea caldera down Halem`auma`u Trail, leaving from Kilauea Visitor Center. It involves walking over rough, uneven terrain on a dirt and rock path, with up to a 400-foot elevation change.

THE FINAL SANCTUARY OCEAN COUNT for this year takes place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., when volunteers throughout the state count humpback whales and record their behavior. Sites for the count in Ka`u are South Point, Punalu`u Black Sand Beach and Ka`ena Point at the end of Chain of Craters Road in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Sign up at sanctuaryoceancount.org.

IN SPORTS over the weekend, Ka`u Trojans boys volleyball beat Kohala in five sets at Kohala. Scores were 25-21, 25-27, 19-25, 25-16, and 16-14. In girls softball, Ka`u played Konawaena, losing at home 2-17.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 24, 2013

More than $3,500 was raised for Discovery Harbour's volunteer fire department at last weekend's rummage sale.
Photo by Liz Stabo
“A STRONGER JAPAN ECONOMY with hope, vision and confidence in the future will bode well for the Japan outbound tourism to Hawai`i,” said Dave Erdman, president and CEO of PacRim Marketing Group Inc. & PRTech LLC. His comments followed an announcement that the Japanese government plans to fund job creation and reconstruction efforts, enhance innovation, strengthen domestic demand and create global opportunities following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region of the country two years ago this month.
      A story in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser said that Hawai`i Tourism Authority is projecting Japanese arrivals to increase by 13 percent and expenditures to grow by 16.4 percent this year. “In partnership with the Japan Association of Travel Agents, Hawai`i has committed to reaching two million Japanese visitors by 2016,” said HTA president and CEO Mike McCartney.
Toyoei Shigeeda
      Japan also is interested in “Two-Way Tourism,” inbound tourism from Hawai`i and the U.S., Erdman said. “Two-way tourism is good for all of us. Building bonds of friendship and giving our aloha spirit as we travel will encourage more first-timers to come to Hawai`i from Japan, and not just to O`ahu, but to visit our neighbor islands,” he said. “I encourage those thinking of an overseas vacation to consider going to Japan and exploring areas outside of central metropolitan cities to learn more about our friends and neighbors, and return to them the support that they need in this time of reconstruction and revitalization.”
      The Star-Advertiser story quoted Consul General of Japan Toyoei Shigeeda: “The people of Japan have been encouraged by the continued and generous support from Hawai`i. There has been a variety of financial and spiritual support, which has been the most precious. I have been asked to convey the gratitude of the Tohoku people and to encourage the people of Hawai`i to pay a visit to them.”

ALLOWING FOREIGN-BUILT SHIPS to carry cargo to Hawai`i from the mainland is the goal of House Resolution 119 introduced by Hawai`i state legislators last week. The resolution calls for a limited exemption to the Jones Act, which requires ships carrying cargo between United States ports to be built in the U.S.
      Rep. Gene Ward, of O`ahu, said in a written announcement that the high cost of building new ships at domestic shipyards is the main cost driver in Hawai`i shipping, and so residents would save money without it. Ships carrying cargo between two U.S. ports would still be required to have U.S. crews, owners and flags.
      Ward also said the exemption would help Hawai`i’s efforts to import liquefied natural gas as an alternative to oil to generate electricity. He said U.S. shipyards haven’t built ships to carry LNG since the 1970s.
Matson opposes the proposed Jones Act exemption. Photo from Matson
      The Hawai`i Shippers Council, an organization representing companies that ship goods on carriers including Matson, Inc., Horizon Lines and Pasha Hawai`i Transport Lines, said in a statement that allowing foreign-built ships to serve Hawai`i from other U.S. ports would make trade more competitive by lowering a major barrier to entry. “The proposed reform will create significant economic benefits that will flow through the system to businesses and consumers in Hawai`i and other noncontiguous jurisdictions,” the council said in a statement. The council estimates that U.S.-built ships cost five times as much as foreign-built ships.
      However, Matson opposes the proposed exemption, saying the cost of ships represents a small percentage of overall operating costs and that other U.S.-flag cargo transportation companies support building ships domestically. The company also said the U.S.-built requirement helps ensure the country has strong shipyards. “We should not become dependent on foreign shipyards to support the U.S.-flag maritime industry,” the company said.
      The exemption is similar to exemptions for Guam and cruise ships serving Hawai`i. Other introducers of the measure include Big Island Reps. Cindy Evans and Clift Tsuji.

SOFTBALL FIELD IMPROVEMENTS at Ka`u High and Pahala Elementary Schools are listed in Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s announcement of more that $26 million released for statewide capital improvement projects for education facilities. Projects may include field improvements, drainage improvements, new or replacement backstops and fences, dugouts, bleachers, scoreboards, walkways and grading.
       Other statewide projects include science facility upgrades at various high schools, minor renovations and improvements and noise and heat abatement.
      “These priority CIPs will help address the many needed repair, maintenance and upgrade projects that have accumulated at our public schools over many years,” Abercrombie said. “The majority of these funds will go toward statewide projects and programs aimed at providing the suitable, learning-friendly environment for students and teachers that they each deserve.”

COUNCIL MEMBER BRENDA FORD is seeking improvements to Kahuku Park in Ocean View. Ford has introduced five bills that break improvements down into phases. Four of the bills are on the County Council agenda for its upcoming meeting on Thursday, March 28. 
      Phase 1 lists water system improvements to address public health and safety relating to water for drinking, irrigation and an auxiliary source of potable water in a disaster).
      Phase 2 addresses improvements related to Americans with Disabilities Act and seeks $600,000 for installation of ramps to the pavilion and ball field.
      Phase 3, budgeted at $250,000, would add, replace, improve and repair children’s playground equipment, regulation matting, a gazebo and BBQ apparatus.
      Phase 4 calls for construction of a community center, gymnasium, restrooms, certified kitchen, storage for Civil Defense supplies and a second water reservoir to serve the community center. Funding for this $5,100,000-phase as well as the other phases would be provided from general obligation bonds, capital projects fund and/or other sources.
      The bill for Phase 5 is on the Finance Committee’s agenda for its meeting this Wednesday, March 27. It calls for $100,000 for grading to provide an additional area to the park for future use.

Ocean View Park & Ride bus lot at the corner of Hwy 11 and Prince
Kuhio Blvd. may be purchased and upgraded by the county
if Council member Brenda Ford's bill passes.
OCEAN VIEW PARK & RIDE BUS LOT is another item on the Finance Committee’s agenda. Council member Brenda Ford is introducing a measure to purchase property for a permanent bus station and park and ride location, along with design and construction of the facility and placement of a streetlight. The project would cost $94,000.
      Another measure introduced by Ford would authorize the Finance director to initiate any funding mechanisms required for acquisition of the parcel to be used for the Ocean View Park & Ride location and bus station. The parcel on the corner of Hwy 11 and Prince Kuhio Boulevard is owned by Oceanview Partners, LLC, of Honolulu. 
      County Council and committee meeting agendas, along with information on how to submit testimony, can be viewed at hawaiicounty.gov.
      Ka`u residents can participate in committee and Council meetings via videoconference at Ocean View Community Center, 92-8924 Leilani Circle. The system is available until 3 p.m. or later if public witness testimony has not been completed.
      For more information, call 961-8536 or edistrict6@co.hawaii.hi.us.

MORE THAN $3,500 WAS RAISED for Discovery Harbour volunteer firefighters at last weekend’s bi-annual rummage sale. Proceeds for Volunteer Company 11-Charlie will be used to equip new members with optional firefighting equipment that veterans already have, said organizer Suzanne Brady. The company also plans to investigate purchasing some radio equipment to improve communication among crew members. “These funds will need to see us through the next two years and will also go a long way in purchasing uniform items, service recognition awards, flashlights, batteries, water and snack bars, etc.,” Brady said. “It’s events such as this one that help us to keep each member’s personal expenses to a minimum.”

TWO BY TENN WITH TEA, a performance of two of Tennessee Williams’ one-act plays at Pahala Plantation House, takes place today. University of Hawai`i-Hilo drama department senior Julie Dobbs directs Dick Hershberger and Arlene Araki in Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen and I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow. The plays begin at 3 p.m. Tea and cookies will be served, and a potluck dinner follows.

Lehua Domingo's lauhala hats will be displayed tomorrow.
NPS photo by Jessica Ferracane
LEI HULU A ME ULANA PAPALE LAUHALA are topics tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the lanai of Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Kilohana Domingo demonstrates feather work and displays his na lei hulu (feather lei). His mother, Hawaiian artist and master weaver Lehua Domingo, shares the `anoni style of weaving pandanus leaves into a hat and other art objects with assistance from her granddaughter, Kawai Domingo. Free; park entrance fees apply.