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, April 30, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs April 30, 2013

Miss Ka`u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya will entertain with Keoki Kahumoku and reign over Ka`u Coffee Festival events this week.
 See www.kaucoffeefest.com Photo by Julia Neal
THE 5,700 ACRES OF KA`U LAND to be auctioned off at an O`ahu courthouse on May 21 will be bundled, according commissioner Geroge Van Buren. That means that two houses, as well as small residential and farm lots included in the properties, will be unavailable for individual farmers and local residents to acquire through the auction to be held at the First Circuit Court building in Honolulu.
      The 5,700 acres include a parcel of approximately 2,000 acres where Ka`u Coffee farmers at Moa`ula grow their famous crop on under 400 acres. It also includes Waikapuna, a large stretch of coastal land south of Honu`apo that is now in pasture and open space and is the site of much archeology and pristine coastal conditions. Additional land being auctioned rises above Honu`apo above Hwy 11 and is largely in pasture. 
Moa`ula coffee farms are on the land to be auctioned off on May 21. Photo by Julia Neal
      The acreage is caught up in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy of 2008. Entities that bought the property include Windwalker, Hawai`i and WWW Hawai`i Holdings, which borrowed $44.7 million from Lehman for a high end development on agriculturally zoned land. Before additional money could be loaned, Lehman fell into bankruptcy and loans were halted. Developers said stopping the additional loans made it impossible to finish their project, sell off the development and pay back the money. 
Waikapuna lands, south of Honu`apo, are in the bundle of properties up for auction.
      Since 2008, Lehman Brothers has been allowed to reorganize its real estate business and is foreclosing on Windwalker and auctioning off the property. With an all-or-nothing auction for such large acreage, however, it is unclear as to whether anyone will bid. In fact Lehman could end up with the property and then sell it off in sections or raise money and continue the development.
      The value of the real estate for county property taxes is $13.6 million. The money owed with interest is $59.7 million, according to foreclosure documents. However, there is no upset price listed for the property. The commissioner for the property is George Van Buren, who can be reached at 808—522-0420 or email gvb@vcshawaii.com.

THE `AINA KOA PONO ISSUE is reaching O`ahu, with an op-ed piece submitted to The Ka`u Calendar and also for this morning’s Honolulu Star Advertiser. The opinion comes from the Big Island Community Coalition, which opposes the electric companies signing  a 20-year contract to purchase biofuel that would be produced at a refinery in Ka`u.
      Members of the Coalition include:
      Richard Ha, a member of the state Board of Agriculture and founder of Hamakua Springs Country Farms; Big Island Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and Ka`u sugar mill site co-owner Robert Lindsey; geothermal proponent Ku`ulei Kealoha Cooper, of Kealoha Estate; John E.K. Dill, member of the state Contractors License Board; Rockne Freitas, vice president for student affairs at University of Hawai`i; Wallace Ishibashi, of the ILWU; D. Noelani Kalipi, a former military attorney and advocate of economic and energy development; Ka`iu Kimura, executive director of `Imiloa Astronomy Center; H. “Monty” Richards, of Kahua Ranch; Marcia Sakai, Dean of University of Hawai`i – Hilo School of Business and Economics; Kumu Lehua Veincent, principal of Big Island Kamehameha School; and Bill Walter, president of W.H. Shipman, Ltd.
       The Coalition submitted the following to The Ka`u Calendar. It was penned by Richard Ha:
`Aina Koa Pono is an O`ahu issue in the Honolulu newspaper this morning, following last fall's hearings in Hilo, held by the PUC.
Photo from Big Island Video News
      “The Public Utilities Commission is considering approving a contract between Hawai`i island's HECO-owned utility (HELCO) and a partnership known as `Aina Koa Pono (AKP). Its decision is expected soon.
      “Why should rate payers on O`ahu care about this proposed contract?
      “Because if approved, O`ahu residents would pay about 90 percent of the cost — even though the very expensive biofuel would be used only on the Big Island.
     “The contract between HELCO and AKP calls for HELCO — and you — to purchase fuel from AKP at about $200 per barrel. Today, a barrel of oil costs about half that: $107. If this contract is approved, there will be a surcharge, to cover the difference, on your monthly electricity bill.
     "Furthermore, note that whenever oil has reached about $120 per barrel, world economies have slowed precipitously. Many have gone into recession. This tells us that there is a natural economic ‘stop’ in place that keeps oil from getting anywhere near $200 per barrel.
      “And yet, HELCO/HECO is trying to guarantee AKP a fixed price of $200 per barrel.
      "While a discussion of using renewable energy, rather than primarily buying foreign oil, is warranted, when the cost of those renewables is so unrealistically high that any buyer would look for other alternatives, then that discussion has reached the point of absurdity.
       "What lower-cost alternatives exist for the island of Hawai`i`?
The site off Wood Valley Road where `Aina Koa Pono planned to put its refinery.
Photo by Julia Neal
* “The island has significant geothermal resources at the equivalent price of $57 per barrel. Right now, HELCO purchases only about 70 percent of the geothermal power available, meaning there is more geothermal available at well below the equivalent of $200 per barrel.
* “HELCO currently purchases power from biofuel and hydroelectric sources that make a reasonable profit at today's prices, and don't ask for $200 per barrel. Additional power plants are asking to come on line at today's prices.
* “HECO and HELCO currently buy solar power at prices well below the equivalent of $200 per barrel (in fact, from what we can tell, at less than half that price).
* “HECO and HELCO buy wind-generated power for far less than $200 per barrel, with more potential sellers lining up to sell to them.
     "AKP's plan has technical issues as well. The process AKP plans to use has never been proven at the scale it is proposing; the proposed yield of source material is many times more than ever grown anywhere. There are also cultural and environmental issues.
      “Finally, you might ask why O`ahu rate payers should pay for power consumed by rate payers on another island. Good question.
     "The simple answer is that if rate payers on Hawai`i island had to bear the burden, there is no way this could be approved. That kind of tells the whole story right there, doesn't it?
     "We suggest writing to the Public Utilities Commission if you oppose this contract — hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov — or contacting your state or county lawmakers,” the Big Island Coalition concludes.
Paniolo came from all over Ka`u and beyond to raise money for the Junior Class of Ka`u High School. Photos by Richard Taylor
THE RODEO AT NA`ALEHU held over the weekend to raise money for Ka`u High School’s Junior Class has submitted the results.
In Open Dally, first place went to Chris Awa and Bronson Branco, second place to Danny Joseph and Mike Smith, third place to Alex Gomes and Gilbert Smith, fourth place to Sam Auld and Kalai Nobriga, fifth place to Nahe Nobriga and Edwin Nobriga.
Wahine roping drew many women riders to the rodeo in Na`alehu.
     In Kane Wahine Dally, first place went to Arthur Lindsey and Kacy Boteilho, second to Frank Boteilho and Tatiana Boteilho, third to Kalai Nobriga and Chelsea Branco, fourth to Keola Loando and Tatiana Boteilho, and fifth to Macey Loando and Jr. Henriques.
      In Team 90's, first place went to Keith Gomes and Allen Gomes and second to Frank Boteilho and Billy Benevides.
     In the Po`owai`u, first place went to Ken Meranda, second to Bronson Branco, and third to Kalai Nobriga. 
     In Wahine Mugging, first place went to Chelsea Branco and Nahe Nobriga, second to Raisha Karratti and Cheyenne Fuerte, third to Macy Loando and Naomi Kamakau, and fourth to Laurel Yanagi and Raisha Karratti.
      In Double Mugging, first place went to Keola Loando and Devin Boteiho, second to Kalai Nobriga and Bronson Branco, third to Bronson Branco and Billy Benevides, fourth to Billy Benevides and Ken Moranda and fifth to Dave Borges and Aki Smith.         
     In Ribbon Mugging, first place went to Bronson Branco and Sam Auld, second to Kalai Nobriga and Bronson Branco, third to Shavonne Panglao and Jerry Benevides and fourth to Poch Nobriga and Troy Mandaloniz. 
       In Tie Down Roping, first place went to Ken Moranda and second place Aurthur Lindsey.
       In Youth Barrels, first place went to Daniel Moranda, second to Weston Joseph and third to Kilihea Mackchew.
       In Wahine Barrels, first place went to Nahe Nobriga, second to Hailey Onaka and thrid to Cheyenne Fuerte.
       In Keiki Dummy Roping, four years old and under, first place went to Kohl Pascual. In the five to eight year old Dummy Roping, first place went to Kalia Andrade, second to Blayke Hanoa, third to Stetson Branco, fifth to Khezain Nobriga.
     In Goat Undecorating, four and under, first went to Kohl Pascual, second to Teani Souza. In five-to-eight year old Goat Undecorating, first went to Dedrick Souza, second to Stetson Branco, third to Payton Hanoa
Team roping competition stretched the steer at the rodeo to raise funds for high school student activities. Photo by Richard Taylor
KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL CONTINUES tomorrow with a hike to old plantation water systems and the rainforest. Call 928-0550. On Friday is Coffee & Cattle Day at Aikane Plantation Coffee farm on the old cane road between Pahala and N`alehu. Call 808-927-2252 and Friday is Ka`u Star Gazin at Makanau. Call 928-0550. The full day of music, hula, food, crafts and coffee tasting is Saturday at Pahala Community Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. An education day is set for Sunday. See www.kaucoffeefest.com

CINCO DE MAYO FESTIVAL will be held Friday at St. Judes Episcopal Church in Ocean View at 6 p.m. Includes dinner at $12 a person or two for $20. Call 939-7555.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs April 29, 2013

Triple C Recipe Contest judges taste the many entries at yesterday's event.  Photo by Julia Neal
THE STATE LEGISLATURE ENDS this Thursday, May 2, and community groups are making a final push for and against bills that remain to be passed or tabled.
      House Bill 224 would require the state to conduct, in the Hawaiian language, culturally based assessment testing for math, science and language arts for students enrolled in Hawaiian language immersion programs.
      It is supported by Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools and the Department of Education.
      Another is Senate Bill 1171, which would allow large development projects to be approved before all of the archaeological studies are completed. It is supported by developers and contractors and opposed by historians and archaeologists.
      A Call to Action from Malama Coalition urges people to descend on the state Legislature tomorrow or call in their views to key legislators, including Sen. Gil Kahele, at 808-586-6760. A statement from the group says, “We will not stand by while the Senate attacks the Native Hawaiian people through our keiki and our ancestors.”
      The rally is called Ku`e for Keiki and Ku`e for Kupuna. It begins Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

KA`U FARM BUREAU is pushing for coffee berry borer funding to fight the pest and money to rehabilitate old plantation water systems for irrigation of farms and ranches. One victory, said Farm Bureau president Chris Manfredi, is an easing of permitting for farm buildings.

Coca Mocha Roca, by Gwen Edwards, won grand prize in
yesterday's Triple C Recipe Contest. Photo by Julia Neal
TRIPLE C RECIPE CONTEST using Ka`u Coffee to make cookies, candies and crackers saw Gwen Edwards take home the $500 grand prize with her Coca Mocha Roca, plus $150 for winning the Amateur Candy category. 
      The event was held Sunday at Ka`u Coffee Mill with five judges, the third in ten days of events during the Ka`u Coffee Festival.
      Judges for the recipe contest were Miss Ka`u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya, Chef Brad Hirata, Na`alehu Market owner Carl Okuyama, Ka`u Coffee Mill Chief Roaster Kalikoweo Keolanui-Daniele and Lou Daniele, also of Ka`u Coffee Mill.
      In the Amateur Candy category, where Edwards also took first and $150, she was followed by second-place winner Rosaria Chelsea-Lynn taking home $100 for her Ka`u Coffee Honu Crunch, and Nadine Ebert taking home $50 for her Chocolate Frosted Coffee Candy.
      In the Amateur Cookie category, Masako Sakata took first and $150 for her Ka`u Coffee Cookie Delights, second place and $100 went to Angelica Kawewehi for her Ka`u Coffee Doodles and third place and $50 went to Nadine Ebert for her Mocha Biscotti Frosted with Chocolate.
Masako Sakata took home two prizes yesterday in the Triple C
Recipe Contest, the third in 10 days of Ka`u Coffee Festival events.
Photo by Julia Neal
      In the Amateur Cracker category. Lisa Dacalio took first and $150 with her Ka`u Bull Crackers. Masako Sakata took second and $100 with her Ka`u Coffee Icing on Cracker.
      In the Professional Cookie category, Aikane Plantation Coffee and Kapolei High Schools Culinary Program took home $150 and first place for Ka`u Coffee Brownies. Trini Marques took home second and $100 for Ka`u Coffee Chocolate Dipped Pleasures.
      In the Professional Cracker category, Trini Marques took first and earned $150 for her Ka`u Coffee Melts.
      In the Student Cookie category, Sarah Beth Passarelli took first with the Coffee-Chocolate Bites, earning her $150. Second and $100 went to Lorilee Lokenani Lorenzo with her Coffee Macnut Pie Crust Bars, and third and $50 went to Ka`u Middle School Uplink After-School All-Stars with their Uplink All-Star Cookies.
Happy Birthday Ka`u Coffee Mill, reads a cake
served at yesterday's Triple C Recipe Contest,
with Miss Ka`u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya
looking on. Photo by Julia Neal
     In the Student Candy category, Lorilee Lokenani Lorenzo took first and $100 with her Coffee Macnut Candy. 
      The day also celebrated the first anniversary of the Ka`u Coffee Mill visitor center.

KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL EVENTS this week are the Ka`u Mountain Water System hike on Wednesday, May 1 at 9 a.m. Call 928-0550. Coffee & Cattle Day is Friday, May 3 at 10 a.m. at Aikane Plantation Coffee Farm. Call 927-2252. Ka`u Star Gazing at Makanau is Friday, May 3 at 5:30 p.m. Call 928-0550. The day-long Ka`u Coffee Festival Ho`olaule`a is this Saturday, May 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Pahala Community Center with music, hula, Ka`u Coffee tasing, arts, crafts, food and educational displays. Entry is free. Call 929-9550.
      Sunday, May 5, is Ka`u Coffee College, 9 a.m. at Pahala Community Center. Call 929-9550. See www.kaucoffeefest.com.

IN SPORTS, KA`U GIRLS TRACK DID WELL LAST WEEK in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation track finals:

KRISTINA PADRIGO won the 200-meter dash for the Trojans with a time of 27.14 seconds, beating Emma Taylor of Hawai`i Preparatory Academy and Harper Hottendorf of Kamehameha Schools. Another Ka`u Trojan, Marley Strand-Nicolaisen, came in 11th with a time of 28.73 seconds. Toni Beck finished 28th in 31.88 seconds, Kyra Malepe finished 35th in 33.36 seconds, Shainese Tailon was 38th with 33.76 seconds and Jami Beck was 39th in 34.10 seconds. Padrigo also took first in the Girls Triple Jump with 34-05. Marley Strand-Nicolaisen took third with 34-01.
      Kristina Padrigo came in second in the 100-meter dash in a field of 35 competitors. Her time was 13.05 seconds, just behind Ua Ruedy of Konawaena High School, who ran it in 13 seconds. Other Ka`u standouts in the 100-meter were Kyra Malepe in 15.11 seconds, Jami Beck in 15.55 seconds, Shaenese Tailon in 15.63 seconds and Jennifer Tabios in 17.54 seconds. In the 400-meter dash, Kyra Malepe came in 18th with a time of 1:20.26.

Ka`u track stars Marley Strand-Nicolaisen and Christina Padrigo.
Photo from waynejoseph.wordpress.com
MARLEY STRAND-NICOLAISEN TOOK FIRST in the girls high jump last week in the islandwide high school track finals with ten points. The second place finisher from Hawai`i Preparatory Academy came up with eight points. Strand-Nicolaisen also took fifth in the 100-meter hurdles. Her time was 16.98 seconds. Ka`u took fourth in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 55.06 seconds.

GIRLS LONG JUMP finished with Trojan senior Marley Strand-Nicolaisen coming in second with 15-06.75 and Kristina Padrigo coming in third with 15-09.00. Sheila Balila took 12th with 12.05.50, and Shaenese Tailon took 13th with 12.00.75.

IN GIRLS SHOTPUT, Toni Beck came in seventh islandwide with 29-05-50. Jennifer Tabios came in 16th with 22-07-00. In Girls Discus Throw, Beck came in seventh with 77 and Tabios came in 14th with 60-04.
      Overall, Ka`u Trojan girls came in fourth islandwide.

IN BOYS 100-meter dash, Trojan Esteve Salmo came in 11th in 12 seconds, while David Pillette came in 36th in 13.37 seconds, and Kaweni Ibarra came in 38th in 13.78 seconds. In the Boys 200-meter dash, Jay-R Abaloscame in 46th in 29.64 seconds. In the 300-meter hurdles, David Pillette came in 18th in 50.42 seconds. In the 4x400 Meter Relay, Ka`u came in seventh in 4:23:19.

IN BOYS LONG JUMP, Esteve Salmo came in fifth with 19-05.

TOMORROW, A WALK INTO THE PAST features living history presenter Dick Hershberger, dressed in period costume, bringing back to life Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar, founder of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and a prominent figure in the history of volcanology, the study of volcanoes.
      The program takes place in the Whitney Vault, a 16’ x 12’ underground laboratory that still has original equipment, and is located under a mound in front of the Volcano House.
      Performances are every other Tuesday at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Participants meet at Kilauea Visitor Center.

Photo from teachingtea.com
JOANN AGUIRRE, TEA EDUCATOR and member of the Hawai`i Tea Society, invites Ka`u residents to an hour of tea talk, a delicious scone and a cuppa. Participants have fun exploring traditions and tasting various teas representative of 19th century royal-tea. The free, one-hour program is held tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. For more information, call 967-8222 or visit teachingtea.com.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs April 28, 2013

Sen. Russell Ruderman is promoting Ka`u Coffee Festival on his website, russellruderman.com. "Enjoy free music and
hula all day as Ka`u Coffee farmers provide you the special opportunity to taste and purchase their beans," the website
states. "Talk to coffee professionals in the Ka`u Coffee Experience. Take guided tours of Ka`u Coffee farms."
Photo from russellruderman.com courtesy of Ka`u Coffee Festival
SOMETHING’S BREWING IN KA`U is the front-page headline on today’s Hawai`i Tribune-Herald. Coffee & Cattle Day on Phil and Merle Becker’s Aikane Plantation is featured “as part of the annual Ka`u Coffee Festival.” The event takes place Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. See kaucoffeefest.com for more information about it and other festival events.
Coffee & Cattle Day is Friday at Aikane Plantation.
Photo from aikaneplantation.com
      Tribune-Herald reporter Colin Stewart describes the cane haul road connecting Pahala and Na`alehu as a slowly fading reminder of Hawai`i’s once all-powerful sugar industry and says “mauka of that remnant of a failed industry … another piece of Ka`u’s agricultural past is quickly becoming the district’s agricultural future.”
      Stewart details the history of Aikane Plantation. Merle’s great-grandfather, John C. Searle, first planted eight acres of coffee in Ka`u in 1894. Although it grew well, Searle was unable to find employees because everyone worked for the sugar plantation.
      When in 2000 the Beckers planted Guatemalan Typica plants, the same species that Searles had planted, “what began as a hobby has become a thriving business,” Stewart reports.
      “The more you get into it and learn about it, the more fun it is,” Phil told Stewart. He also said that, although he doesn’t like coffee, “give me some coffee ice cream, you better stand back.”
     See more at hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Brian Schatz
U.S. SENATOR BRIAN SCHATZ, who was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to take the place of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, is running hard for the 2014 election where he is challenged by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. He announced yesterday that his first quarterly fundraising report shows $1.1 million collected from supporters, “nearly 80 percent right here in Hawai`i.”
      He has been endorsed by a dozen labor and construction unions, the Hawai`i Buliding & Construction Trades Council, University of Hawai`i Professional Assembly, League of Conservation Voters, Council for a Livable World, National Weather Service Employees Organization and Ocean Champions. In a mass email sent out to prospective supporters, he appeals: “So there’s one more endorsement I’m hoping to receive this week: Yours.”
      Schatz also reported that last week he joined with colleagues “to oppose slashing your hard-earned Social Security benefits by shifting to the unfair ‘Chained CPI’ formula. I am also fighting to protect Native Hawaiian homelands, and I have advanced legislation which will allow more Native Hawaiians to own their homes. We must continue working to halt the disastrous effects of the budget sequester on Hawai`i jobs and the economy.”
      Schatz is the U.S. Senate chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power. He said, “I will continue to champion efforts to address global climate change.”

Colleen Hanabusa
U.S. REP. COLLEEN HANABUSA is reported to be considering a race against Sen. Brian Schatz in the 2014 election in order to take his place during the last two years of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s six-year term. 
      Before his death, Inouye had asked that Gov. Neil Abercrombie appoint Hanabusa to replace him, but the governor chose Schatz, in part to ensure that Hanabusa’s House seat would remain with the Democrats. Had Hanabusa resigned to take the Senate seat, it is likely that former Gov. Linda Lingle, Djou or another strong Republican would have run for it during the next election.

DEVELOPMENT OF LAND ON PUBLIC school campuses has been approved by the state Legislature. SB237 establishes a pilot program to generate revenue through the lease of public school lands for public purposes. The purpose as stated in the bill is to optimize use of public school lands “to generate opportunities to improve 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 House wanted the bill to allow five projects, and the Senate wanted to limit it to two. On Friday, negotiators agreed to allow three projects.
      Ka`u’s Sen. Russell Ruderman supports the bill. Contrasting it with the Public Lands development Corp., which was repealed, he said this bill is limited in scope and specific in its goals.

Miss Ka`u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya is reigning over the
Ka`u Coffee Festival and will be at Ka`u Coffee Mill
today for the Triple C Recipe Contest which begins
at 2 p.m. See kaucoffeefest.com for all of this
week's events. Photo by Julia Neal
KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL EVENTS continue through Sunday, May 5. 
      Triple C Recipe Contest takes place at 2 p.m. today at Ka`u Coffee Mill. The competition features cookies, candies and crackers made with Ka`u Coffee. Attendance and Ka`u Coffee tasting are free. There will be Hawaiian music entertainment.
      Ka`u Mountain Water System hike explores flume systems of the sugarcane era and the recent development of hydroelectric power for diversified agriculture. It takes place on Wednesday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is limited to 30 participants. $35 includes lunch. See kaucoffeemill.com or call 928-0550.
      Friday, May 3 is Coffee & Cattle Day with a tour through Aikane Plantation, where descendants of the first coffee farmer in Ka`u explain how coffee is integrated into cattle production and other agricultural endeavors. The event begins at 10 a.m., and the $25 fee includes lunch. For more, see aikaneplantation.com or call 808-927-2252.
      The evening of Friday, May 3 is for Ka`u Star Gazing, when participants observe some of the best night skies in the world from the summit of Makanau with an `Imiloa astronomer between 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Fee is $35 and includes light snacks, Ka`u Coffee and beverages. To sign up, see kaucoffeemill.com or call 928-0550.
      These events lead up to Ka`u Coffee Festival Ho`olaule`a Saturday, May 4 on the grounds of Pahala Community Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The free event includes Ka`u Coffee tasting, music, hula, coffee educational displays and demonstrations, food, arts and crafts vendors and a kid’s corner.
      Ka`u Coffee College on Sunday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. features workshops and sharing of information for coffee growers and other coffee-trade professionals.
      Keep up with news of festivities at kaucoffeefest.com.

ARTS IN BLOOM on Saturday, May 11 offers live music, pupus, mimosas and champagne from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. The Mother’s Day Orchid Sale & Fundraising Event is just a day out from Mother’s Day and provides an opportunity to pick up fresh orchids as gifts. Volcano Art Center programs supported by the event include HINA, Camp Likolehua, Volcano Native Forest Restoration and Education Program. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. They are available from Ka`u board member Julia Neal at Pahala Plantation Cottages. Call 928-9811. They are also available from other board members and at Volcano Art Center headquarters at the Ni`aulani Campus.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs April 27, 2013

Miss Ka`u Coffee and attendants: Second Princess Rachel Ornelas, Ka`u Coffee Queen Tiare-Lee Shibuya, Brandy
 Shibuya (2011-2012 queen), Miss Peaberry Rebecca Lynn Kailiawa Escobar, emcees Bobby and Phoebe Gomes,
First Princess Seneca Lee Oleyte and Third Princess Kawailani Houvener. The queen and her court will attend
many festival events through May 5, including the day-long ho`olaulea at Pahala Community Center on
Saturday, May 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
TIARE-LEE SHIBUYA, daughter of police officer Dane and Terry-Lee Shibuya, of Wai`ohinu, became Miss Ka`u Coffee last night during the pageant that kicked off ten days of Ka`u Coffee Festival events. Tiare-Lee is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, attends Hawai`i Community College and plans to be a nurse. Her talent was hula. She won a $1,000 scholarship presented by the Edmund C. Olson Trust II.
      First Princess is Seneca Lee Oleyte, of Pahala. She is 22 and the daughter of Ernest and Lenora Lorenzo-Oleyte. She attends University of Hawai`i in Hilo and studies communications. She is a graduate of Ka`u High School. Her talent was singing. She won a $500 scholarship presented by Ka`u Coffee Festival chair Chis Manfredi.
Tiare-Lee Shibuya, daughter of Dane and Terry-Lee Shibuya, became
Miss Ka`u Coffee last night at the pageant kicking off ten days of Ka`u
Coffee Festival events. At right is her sister Brandy Shibuya, who served
as Miss Ka`u Coffee from 2011 until last night. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
       Second Princess is Rachel Ornelas, of Wai`ohinu. She is the daughter of Mia Ornelas and resides with her grandparents, Mario and Memmy Ornelas. She is 19, graduated from Ka`u High School and attends University of Hawai`i at Hilo, studying to be a nurse. Her talent was singing. She won a $400 scholarship presented on behalf of Sen. Russell Ruderman donating $250 and Rep. Richard Onishi donating $150.
      Third Princess is Kawailani Houvener, of Ocean View. She is 17 and the daughter of Michelle and Kenneth Houvener. She is a senior at Ka`u High School and plans to sign up for the Army and study mechanics. Her talent was hula. She won a $300 scholarship with Punalu`u Bake Shop donating $250 and Miss Bobby Tucker donating $50.
      The Talent and Gown categories were won by Shibuya. Ornelas took home the education scholarship, and Houvener took home the Miss Photogenic prize.
      The reigning Miss Miss Peaberry, Rebecca Lynn Kailiawa-Escobar, wowed the crowd with a dance, a speech and gown presentation.
      Emcees Bobby and Phoebe Gomes entertained, with Phoebe singing and playing `ukulele. Before announcing the judges’ decisions, Bobby said about the candidates, “They are all winners.”
      The queen and her court will attend many festival events through May 5, including Sunday’s Triple C Recipe Contest at Ka`u Coffee Mill for recipes made with Ka`u Coffee. There will be free entertainment with Keoki Kahumoku, coffee tasting and sampling of the entries.
      Tonight’s dinner at Kalaekilohana is sold out. Events this week include a hike in the mountains along the old plantation water system on Wednesday, visiting `Aikane Plantation Coffee farm and stargazing at Makanau on Friday, and the day-long ho`olaule`a at Pahala Community Center on Saturday, May 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. See kaucoffeefest.com.

XCOR Aerospace wants to lease a spacecraft to a Hawai`i-
based operateror. Image from XCOR
LOCATING A SPACEPORT IN HAWAI`I is once again on the radar, and proponents are saying that the location should be remote next to water. It’s a proposal that has drawn attention to South Point and the adjacent Ka`u Coast in the past, since Ka`u is far from population and air traffic. However, the planners may want to use an existing runway.
      According to Pacific Business News, which ran a story by Mark Abramson yesterday, “A commercial space tourism company that has its sights set on rocketing tourists into orbit from Hawai`i could create up to 150 jobs locally. Mojave, Calif.-based XCOR Aerospace officials said they want to find an operator in Hawai`i to lease at least one of their spacecraft so tourists can fly as high as 350,000 feet into the atmosphere. The leases on that equipment would cover 5,000 flights, which is expected to cover a period of four to seven years.”
      The story said the cost of each 30- to 40-minute flight would be about $95,000 per passenger and would include lodging and training. PBN reported XCOR’s CEO Anderson Nelson saying, “It’s going to draw a lot of people to the Islands. There will be a lot of people who just want to come watch these things fly.”
      Hawai`i Tourism Authority chief Mike McCarney also weighed in, telling PBN that a spaceport would support luxury resorts, high-end restaurants and other enterprises catering to the ultra-rich.
      A similar proposal is being negotiated for Curacao, an island off Venezuela, the story reports. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Rocket Crafters Inc. are also interested in possibly operating in Hawai`i, PBN reported.
      The business journal stated that “XCOR’s spacecraft, which will use a rocket to take off from a runway and glide back to the landing site, are about as noisy as a Boeing 747.”
      An Environmental Assessment would be required ,“but a more time-consuming Environmental Impact Statement won’t be needed if the assessment doesn’t find any significant impacts,” reported PBN, referencing the chief of the state Office of Aerospace Development, Jim Crisafulli. “Other studies around the country for these so-called ‘spaceports’ haven’t required an EIS,” PBN reported.
      The state would need a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration, which already provided $250,000 to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. A half million dollars in federal matching grants would help fund the project, with at least 10 percent of the spaceport cost coming from private investors, reported PBN. See more at bizjournals.com/pacific.
      Another spaceport plan was promoted at the Legislature in March by Fred Eissler and Kama Kekoa, a defense contractor. Eissler said that a space launch facility “will be powered by the latest green technology and will incorporate the most innovative, cost effective, and proven engineering practices, while maintaining and enhancing Hawai`i’s pristine environment and ecosystem.” He compared the Big Island to Orlando, FL, saying “Orlando tourist locations during any given launch week saw a 50 percent increase in patronage.”

Shalan Crysdale
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY has named Shalan Crysdale as its Big Island program director. Crysdale has headed TNC’s Na`alehu office for over two years. Trae Menard, TNC’s director of forest conservation, described Crysdale as “a strong and capable leader that clearly has the vision, experience, pragmatism, patience and sense of humor required for this challenging job.”
      In his announcement, Menard said Crysdale has done “his fair share of weed and ungulate control, fencing, and monitoring. He knows what it means to be cold, wet, sore and tired. He knows what it takes to get the job done in the field. He’s also navigated some pretty complex issues with agencies and landowners and maintained excellent working relationships with the partners on the Big Island.”
      Menard also said Crysdale “leads a fantastic team that does excellent, inspiring work.”
      In Ka`u, The Nature Conservancy manages the Ka`u Preserve and Kamehame Beach. Ka`u Preserve consists of four separate parcels of nearly pristine native forest that form a boundary between the largely intact native alpine and subalpine forest above and the agricultural land below. Kamehame is “the most important nesting site in the U.S. for the endangered hawksbill turtle,” says The Nature Conservancy website. The Conservancy, National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service cooperate on managing the site and operate a volunteer turtle-monitoring program to protect nests from rats, mongooses, and other predators.

JUNIOR CLASS RODEO is happening now. Sponsored by Ka`u Roping & Riding Association, the rodeo takes place at the arena behind Na`alehu Park. Tickets are $7, and keiki ages 12 and under get in free.

Encaustics artist John Matsushita discusses his work this evening.
Photo from Volcano Art Center
VOLCANO GARDEN ARTS in Volcano Village hosts Artists in Action today until 3 p.m. The event features demonstrations and hands-on activities and is a fundraiser for the art program at Volcano School of Arts and Sciences.

VOLCANO ART CENTER PRESENTS John Matsushita and Elizabeth Miller discussing their works currently on display in The Nature of Nature exhibit today at 6 p.m. at the gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The program is free; park entrance fees apply. Call 967-7565 or see volcanoartcenter.org for more information.

CINCO DE MAYO FESTIVAL takes place Friday, May 3 at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Ocean View. Doors open at 6 p.m.; dinner with live music is at 6:30 p.m. Menu items include enchiladas, rice, beans, salad, dessert and beverage. Tickets are $12 each or two for $20. Call 939-7555.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs April 26, 2013

Tonight's Miss Ka`u Coffee Pageant highlights the talents of candidates Kawailani Houvener, Tiare-Lee Shibuya,
Rachel Ornelas and Seneca Lee Oleyte. Photo by Nalani Parlin
SHUTTING DOWN VIDEOCONFERENCING of County Council and other county meetings to the remote Ocean View Community Association site is the aim of several County Council members, according to a notice from Ka`u Council member Brenda Ford.
      Ford stated that she objects to cutting funds for the program that allows Ka`u residents to see Council meetings live and to testify live from District 6. She asked the community to testify to keep it open.
Ocean View Community Center hosted a candidate forum
attended by Council member Brenda Ford during last
year's elections.
      Ford said that access to government is more important than some other proposed expenditures by the County Council members, including sending six of them to the National Association of Counties meeting this coming fiscal year in Washington, D.C. Ford said that usually one Council member representing Hawai`i Island flies to D.C. for the meeting. Adding on the expense of five more County Council members to go to the meeting will cost an additional $20,000, and Ford objects to that expenditure.
      Ocean View Community Center “has very graciously allowed the Council to rent the OVCC offices downstairs four days per month for this public outreach program at a reasonable rate,” notes Ford, saying, “Here’s the real problem: two and possibly three of the council members object to keeping the Ka`u videoconferencing site open at the Ocean View Community Center during the next Fiscal Year 2013-2014 to save money ($19,400: rent plus staff expenses). Of course, those Council members already have a videoconferencing site in their districts.
       “The reason those Council members want to close the Ka`u site is that very few people come to hear the committee meetings and the Council meetings at OVCC. Even fewer people actually testify before the Council. Most attendees prefer to sit and listen off to the side of the room when they do attend.”
      Ford said that two Council members “demanded that I provide a count of how many Ka`u residents are attending and testifying via videoconference.
      “The purpose for this demand,” Ford stated, “is to ‘prove’ that Ka`u does not want or need a videoconferencing site, and the County Council could save $19,400 by not having this public outreach videoconferencing location in Ka`u. I disagree. Government should be taken to the people in a convenient manner that meets their needs.”
Council member Brenda Ford asks residents to help keep
videoconferencing of county government meetings
available at Ocean View Community Center.
      Ford said that former Ka`u Council member Brittany Smart “worked very hard to find alocation and obtain equipment to open a videoconference site in Ka`u for the benefit of the public in Ka`u. While we are still trying to work some bugs out of the technology, this is the only place in Ka`u from which the residents may testify. We are improving our notification by email to Ka`u.”
      She said that while budget negotiations continue, there is no money in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 for a Ka`u videoconferencing site. “I intend to amend the Council’s budget to add sufficient funds to continue the OVCC videoconferencing site in Ka`u at least until June 30, 2014, which is the end of the next fiscal year. I will continue to try to find a permanent county location for a videoconference site at a lower cost.”
       Ford called for the public to assist in keeping the Ka`u videoconferencing site open. “We need to get the word out to the community about the videoconferencing site and ask them to come and testify on any issue on the agenda at each meeting. I will send committee and Council agendas to everyone on my email list in Ka`u, which you may forward to friends and neighbors.
       “We need the community to testify on Monday, May 13 beginning at approximately 9 a.m. on the budget amendments, especially on those items that impact Ka`u. I would like people to testify about keeping the Ka`u videoconferencing site open for the public to listen and testify, and the Ka`u public needs to use the site.”
      She asked that questions be directed to her office at 323-4277 or 961-8027.

A study of algae is in this
month's Marine Biology.
ALGAE ON THE SEAFLOOR is important to food webs and fish populations in Hawaiian waters, according to a recent study.
      The study, which took place in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, showed that bottom-dwelling algae served as the base of the food web, culminating in large predatory fishes at the top. Sharks and other large fish consume smaller fishes, which in turn have eaten algae growing on the seafloor.
      The findings, published earlier this month in the journal Marine Biology, “have immediate implications for management of healthy coral reef resources and the restoration of unhealthy reefs,” the authors said in a statement. “Since ecosystems were found to be heavily dependent on benthic algae, any impacts to other such reefs and their algae – like damage from bottom trawling, coral bleaching or other threats – could trickle up the food web.”
       “Benthic algae were found to support a majority of the fish production in this coral reef ecosystem,” said Anna Hilting, lead author and oceanographer with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. “Even some coastal tunas, such as the kawakawa, were partially dependent on primary productivity occurring on the reef bottom.”
      Randall Kosaki, NOAA deputy superintendent of Papahanaumokuakea and a co-author of the report, said the study demonstrates the importance of keeping reefs healthy.
       “Anything affecting native algal species, such as sedimentation, dredging or the spread of non-native invasive algae, will ultimately impact the abundance of prized food fish such as snapper or jacks,” Kosaki said. “Taking care of the reef itself will help to ensure healthy fish populations.”
      The study, Evidence for Benthic Primary Production Support of an Apex Predator-Dominated Coral Reef Food Web, is available at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00227-013-2220-x.

A BILL THAT PROVIDES an exemption from building code requirements and expands existing building permit exemptions for nonresidential buildings or structures, including indigenous Hawaiian hale, on commercial farms and ranches located outside the urban district has passed the state Legislature and been sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
      SB586 is supported by Local Food Coalition, a group of farmers, ranchers, livestock producers, investors and other organizations that collectively manage more than one million acres of land and produce the majority of food in the state.
      Members of LFC include Hawai`i Farm Bureau, Hawai`i Cattlemen’s Council, 4 Ag Hawai`i, Ulupono Initiative, Hawai`i Aquaculture & Aquaponics Association and The Kohala Center.

MISS KA`U COFFEE IS CROWNED this evening at Ka`u Coffee Mill. The Miss Ka`u Coffee Pageant is the first of several events scheduled during the 2013 Ka`u Coffee Festival.
      Miss Ka`u Coffee and her court will be at the Triple C Recipe Contest on Sunday and preside over the ho`olaule`a next Saturday, May 4.

POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA is opening several training areas for bow hunting from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. Training Areas 1- 4 will be open for bow hunting of mammals, only. Training Areas 17, 19 and 20, which are fenced conservation areas, will also be open for bow hunting of mammals to support ongoing protection efforts for threatened and endangered species, according to statement from PTA.
      For more information, call PTA Hunter’s Hotline at 969-3474 or see garrison.hawaii.army.mil/pta and click on the Hunting tab.

JUNIOR CLASS RODEO, sponsored by Ka`u Roping & Riding Association, takes place tomorrow at Na`alehu Rodeo Arena behind Na`alehu Park. Tickets are $7, and keiki ages 12 and under get in free. Slack roping starts at 8 a.m., with the show starting at noon.

Elizabeth Miller discusses her work exhibited in
The Nature of Nature tomorrow. Photo from VAC
DEMONSTRATIONS AND HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES are scheduled tomorrow at Volcano Garden Arts in Volcano Village from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is a fundraiser for the art program at Volcano School of Arts and Sciences. 

JOHN MATSUSHITA AND LIZ MILLER provide insight into their works currently on display in The Nature of Nature exhibit tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The program is free; park entrance fees apply. Call 967-7565 or see volcanoartcenter.org for more information.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs April 25, 2013

A new program at Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park offers views of Ka Lae. NPS photo by Dave Boyle
A VARIANCE TO ALLOW GRASS FOR ABOUT HALF THE ADDITIONAL PARKING at the new Ka`u Gymnasium and Disaster shelter building has been approved by the county Department of Planning. With the gym designed to accommodate 1,023 people, the county is ensuring 285 parking places, with 122 already paved at the school, 75 unpaved and 88 new paved stalls. The variance document says, “The grassed parking area was created to accommodate the community’s desire to leave a large amount of open grass parking area as possible.”
Variances for the Ka`u Gym & Shelter have been approved, allowing for a
 higher-than-permitted roof and some parking spaces to remain grassed. 
      The Planning Department document says, “The project site is entirely grassed and has been used for overflow grass parking when school or community functions occur at the school. Therefore, the proposed project will not create any adverse condition as it is consistent with the present campus grounds.”
      Another variance approved by the county is for the height limit. The building will be 47.5 feet tall at its peak. County documents say, “While the (35-foot) height limit is appropriate for residential development, design and requirements for public facilities such as schools, universities, etc. differ significantly from single family residential requirements.... The proposed new gymnasium building requires an indoor ceiling height to be high enough for basketball shots or volleyball volleys, therefore requiring a building height much higher than the maximum height limit of 35 feet allowed for residential-zoned properties.
      “The plantation style roofline, resulting in a taller structure, allows for higher ceiling spaces which will enhance natural ventilation and introduction and distribution of natural light to interior spaces.”
      Another variance grants construction of the gym on property zoned for single-family homes.

`Io, Hawaiian Hawk Photo by J. Jeffrey from NRDC
REGARDING LIGHTING FOR THE GYM AND SHELTER, the plan states that, regarding potential distraction to night-flying birds from exterior lighting, the “design will specify minimal shielded security lighting.” All other exterior lighting would be turned on only as needed and designed in accordance with the county’s exterior lighting standards. 
      Regarding noise and dark sky impacts to neighbors, the plan says, “Operational policies will require activities to cease no later than 10 p.m. Except for minimal shielded security lights, all outdoor parking lights and interior lights would be turned off no later than 10 p.m.”
      It also promises that, “to minimize the threat of disorientation or downing of (native birds), such as the ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk) and other birds, all exterior lighting will be shielded in compliance with Section 14-50, Hawai`i County Code, and night-time construction will be avoided.”
      Exterior lights are to be shielded so as to lower the ambient glare caused by unshielded lighting to the astronomical observatories on Mauna Kea.
The document also states that the project “will not significantly affect the views of neighboring residents. The plantation-style roofline and corrugated material will complement the architectural style of the surrounding buildings.”
      Concerning landscaping, it says, “The building landscape will attempt to utilize the maximum amount of native species feasible or plants that have proven to be adaptable to the area.”

Sen. Russell Ruderman
Sen. Josh Green
A BILL THAT WOULD REDUCE oversight of historic and archaeological sites is opposed by both Ka`u state senators, Josh Green and Russell Ruderman, but has made it through conference committee meetings between the House and Senate and goes to a floor vote. Sen. Kalani English, from Maui, who initially supported the bill but changed his mind, proposed the bill be shelved until next year. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser this morning reported English voting against the bill Wednesday in conference committee, saying he would like the state to have more time to discuss the issue with opponents. “Dozens of Native Hawaiian students and other activists have protested against the bill at the state Capitol,” the Star-Advertiser reports.
      The bill would allow projects to be approved before complete archaeological surveys are done for the entire project area. Most professional archaeologists and academic archaeologists working in Hawai`i and numerous historians have opposed it.
Sen. Gil Kahele
Rep. Cynthia Thielen
      Rep. Cynthia Thielen wrote that SB1171 “is the same kind of broad, over-reaching exemption as the Public Land Development Corp. It’s unnecessary and will have bad consequences. This bill allows that any large-scale private development in the heart of an area rife with burials – say Turtle Bay – could argue that since their financing is phased, their surveys should be phased too.
      “The problem is you need to design your open space areas and your developed areas around the survey. If you survey in phases, you commit to a design that may actually disrupt the most important historic sites,” said Thielen.
      The Society for Hawaiian Archaeology is asking residents to call legislators to ask for a no vote.
      One of the local senators who has voted yes, to date, is Gil Kahele.

BUY LOCAL at sponsoring area businesses during Ka`u Coffee Festival season and earn chances to win $1,000. Visit any or all of the participating Buy Local sponsors from now until May 4 to enter the Buy Local, It Matters drawing. To enter, bring business cards, product labels or receipts from participating Buy Local sponsors to the Ka`u Coffee Festival Ho`olaule`a at Pahala Community Center by 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. The more Buy Local sponsors visited, the more chances to win. Winner must be present at the time of the drawing at 4 p.m. 
      See kaucoffeefest.com for details and a list of participating Buy Local sponsors.

KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL EVENTS begin tomorrow with the Miss Ka`u Coffee Pageant at 6:30 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill. Call Gloria Camba at 928-8558 or see candidates for $10 advance-purchase tickets.
      Tomorrow is the deadline to enter Triple C Recipe Contest for cookies, candies and crackers using Ka`u Coffee and other local ingredients. Entry forms are available at Ka`u Coffee Mill, R&G Store and Pahala Plantation Cottages in Pahala. The contest takes place Sunday at 2 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill.

Crystal and Saphire's Water Cycle
Photos by Susan Champeny
KA`U STUDENTS ARE AMONG WINNERS of Recycle Hawai`i’s Art of Recycling school competition in the Elementary Group category. Students at Volcano School of Arts & Sciences took first place with Over Under. Na`alehu School third-grade students Crystal Quiros and Saphire Kahakua-Brown won third place with Crystal & Saphire’s Water Cycle.
      Recycle Hawai`i holds the contest annually to increase environmental awareness and encourage recycling and sustainable practices at schools and in the community. See recyclehawaii.org.

VOLCANO GARDEN ARTS in Volcano Village hosts Artists in Action Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This day of demonstrations and hands-on activities is a fundraiser for the art program at Volcano School of Arts and Sciences.

Over Under by VSAS students
KAHUKU UNIT OF HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK presents a new program Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. From an overlook on Palm Trail, rangers orient hikers to numerous prominent geologic features of the many eruptions of the Southwest Rift Zone and discuss natural processes that created these features and the cultural traditions associated with them. Participants are invited to bring and eat lunch during the program. Call 985-6011 for more information.
JUNIOR CLASS RODEO, sponsored by Ka`u Roping & Riding Association, takes place Saturday at Na`alehu Rodeo Arena behind Na`alehu Park. Tickets are $7, and keiki ages 12 and under get in free. Slack roping starts at 8 a.m., with the show starting at noon.

VOLCANO ART CENTER invites the public to what it calls “an elemental journey into the heart and soul of the “aina” with Liz Miller and John Matsushita Saturday at 6 p.m. at VAC Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The artists provide insight into their works currently on display in The Nature of Nature exhibit. The program is free; park entrance fees apply. Call 967-7565 or see volcanoartcenter.org for more information.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs April 24, 2013

More than 5,800 acres of coffee farms, pasture, open land and several houses and lots are scheduled to be auctioned
off through foreclosure on May 21.
MOA`ULA COFFEE LANDS are scheduled to be auctioned off at noon on May 21 on the lanai of the First Circuit Court Building in Honolulu. The coffee farms, which have been the economic hope of more than 30 farmers since the shutdown of the sugar plantation in 1996, are tied up in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy disaster of 2008. Lehman Brothers has foreclosed on 5,800 acres of farm, coastal and residential land in Ka`u that was purchased from C. Brewer subsidiaries by Windwalker, Hawai`i and WWK Hawai`i Holdings, a group led by developer Alan Worden.
Alan Worden Photo from Windwalker
Real Estate
      The properties include large acreage around Waikapuna, lands on the hillside of Honu`apo and the Moa`ula farms. The Moa`ula coffee farm land, part of a 2,000-acre parcel, has preliminary subdivision approval under a Project Unit Development plan that would allow lots smaller than 20 acres, while preserving several large parcels. The subdivision would require bringing in roads and other infrastructure before it would be allowed by the county. 
     Pacific Business News reported yesterday that Windwalker borrowed $44.7 million from Lehman against the land now valued by the county appraisers at about $13.6 million. With interest the total debt is $59.7 million. According to the auction notice, there is no upset price on the property.
      PBN reporter Duane Shimogawa wrote: “Massachusetts resort developer Alan Worden led a group who purchased the land in the Ka`u district of the Big Island in 2006. The group had estimated that it would take up to five years to build out the infrastructure and gain approvals and permits to build a high-end residential development with large homes on ‘farm lots.’ They had planned to subdivide and sell the land, which would have had an average density of one home per 20 acres.
      "Worden is the managing member of Windwalker Hawai`i, the managing member of WWK Hawai`i Holdings, which owns all the interests in the borrowers," PBN reports.
      “Lehman Brothers halted funding for the loan after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008, putting the project in jeopardy,” the PBN story says.
      Chris Manfredi, who manages the leases of the coffee farms for Windwalker, heads the Ka`u Farm Bureau, chairs the Ka`u Coffee Festival and is one of the lead promoters of Ka`u Coffee, had this to say this morning:
      “It’s clear that Lehman’s bankruptcy caused our plans to stall. I was here before Lehman, and I will be here after. Ka`u has been my home for 11 years. The community has treated me as `ohana, and I will continue to do all I can to continue to advance our community through agriculture.”
      For more information about the auction, see the fact sheet at http://assets.bizjournals.com/pacific/pdf/Big%20Island%20Auction.pdf or contact George Van Buren, the case commissioner, at 808-522-0420 or gvb@vcshawaii.com.

Chris Manfredi promoted Ka`u Coffee Festival events on Hawai`i News
with Howard Dicus this morning. Image from hawaiinewsnow.com
KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL got a pitch on Hawai`i News Now during the Sunrise program with Howard Dicus this morning. Chris Manfredi, chair of the Ka`u Coffee Festival, reported on the ten days of upcoming events. Holding a five-pound bag of Ka`u Coffee Mill coffee, Manfredi talked about the international awards won over the last six years at the Specialty Coffee Association of America convention, the largest of its kind in the world. Manfredi was the first to enter Ka`u Coffee farmers’ green beans into the competition, and Ka`u has placed in the top ten ever since that first year. Dicus talked about remote Ka`u and said that once visitors reach here they find the nicest people and great coffee. 
      Ka`u Coffee Festival events begin Friday with Miss Ka`u Coffee Pageant at Ka`u Coffee Mill, followed by a dinner at the Inn at Kalaekilohana on Saturday and the Triple C Recipe contest for Ka`u Coffee cookies, candies and crackers on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill.
      Deadline to enter the recipe contest is Friday. Professional, amateur and student chefs are encouraged to enter. Winners in each category receive $150, second place receives $100, and third place receives $50. The overall Signature Grand Prize winner receives $500. See the entry form in the April issue of The Ka`u Calendar newspaper or download it at kaucoffeefest.com or kaucoffeemill.com.
      Miss Ka`u Coffee will be at the recipe contest and after having been crowned at the pageant Friday.
OCEAN VIEW FILL STATION is now open after a three-week closure due to equipment failure. Spigots became useable after the system was flushed and final water quality testing was completed the morning. Kanani Aton, of the Department of Water Supply, told West Hawai`i Today reporter Erin Miller that “it was really quite an expeditious repair.” Aton said that repairs could have lasted until late May had a spare pump not been located in the state.

THE STATE CONSUMER ADVOCATE has submitted questions to Hawai`i County regarding its testimony on the proposed contract being considered by the Public Utilities Commission for `Aina Koa Pono to grow feedstock and refine biofuel in Ka`u and sell it to Hawaiian Electric Co. and Hawai`i Electric Light Co. 
      Referring to the county’s statement that “the ratepayer has already carried a high financial burden for supporting high penetrations of renewable energy they thought was meant to achieve lower-priced electricity on this island,” the Consumer Advocate asks the county to identify the existing projects and renewable energy technologies that have resulted in significant costs to ratepayers.
      Regarding the county’s testimony that, “when biofuels and biomass projects can compete to effectively lower the cost of utility customer bills, we will consider those projects, provide support and help make them happen,” the Consumer Advocate asks the county to identify the steps that it has taken to-date or plans to take “to facilitate the development of cost-effective biofuel and biomass projects. To the extent that the COH has not taken any steps or does not plan to take any steps, please explain why.”
Big Fish in Ka`u
A 500 lb marlin caught yesterday on a boat trolling off Punalu`u by
police sergeant Cory Koi and his friend. Photo courtesy Trini Marques
  The Consumer Advocate says that Hawai`i County, according to its testimony, recognizes that it is “appropriate for the PUC to consider ‘inevitable trade-offs’ to encourage a particular activity” and asks the county whether it has conducted any analysis of “what premium might be reasonable to consider for approval in order to further the state’s migration away from imported petroleum.”
      According to the Consumer Advocate, the county’s testimony “acknowledges that HECO and HELCO have shielded ratepayers from the risk of AKP failing to perform as they have no obligation to purchase fuel that does not meet specifications” and “notes that risks associated with long-term contracting may be larger.”
      The Consumer Advocate asks the county to identify and quantify, where possible, all risks to ratepayers associated with the proposed contract with AKP “that are materially different from, and/or materially larger than, the risks associated with the long term-contracts for renewable energy projects that the Commission has approved to date.”
       The Consumer Advocate’s and other parties’ information requests are available at puc.hawaii.gov. Responses to the questions are due Friday, May 10.
ENTRIES FOR THE ANNUAL KEN WICKS Ka`u Chamber of Commerce Scholarships are due a week from today, Wednesday, May 1. High school seniors and adults seeking to re-enter the educational system are encouraged to apply. Applicants are asked to write an essay about how their educational experience will benefit Ka`u. Preference will be given to those who intend to remain in or return to Ka`u and live here. Scholarship money can be used for all college and vocational training, and each scholarship will range from $250 to $1,000. Visit the Chamber website at kauchamber.org to download the application form. Call Lee McIntosh at 929-9872. with any questions.

A special hike tomorrow explores Pu`uloa Petroglyphs.
NPS photo by Jay Robinson
ENTRY TO HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK is free through Friday in celebration of National Park Week. Tomorrow at 1 p.m., ranger Adrian Boone leads a two-hour, 1.5-mile round-trip trek across ancient lava flows to Pu`uloa Petroglyphs, the largest petroglyph field in Hawai`i. Participants discover the meanings inherent in these rock carvings and gather a greater understanding of the native people who created them. Meet at Pu`uloa Petroglyphs parking area, near the end of Chain of Craters Road and 45 minutes from the park entrance.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs April 23, 2013

USA Today photo of Merle Becker and an article about Aikane Plantation Coffee Co. was featured on David Letterman last night.
 A farm visit is open to the public on Friday, May 3. Photo from USA Today
AIKANE PLANTATION COFFEE CO. made the Late Show with David Letterman show last night in his segment called Small Town News. Letterman showed a photo of Merle Becker with her donkey, which was featured Jan. 28 in USA Today. Letterman attempted to pronounce Aikane Plantation Coffee, calling  it "A-Cane" and said it was in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia (instead of between Pahala and Na`alehu in Ka`u, Hawai`i. He did pronounce Merle and Phil Becker’s names correctly. As the camera focused on the print version of the USA Today story, the words Aikane Plantation could be easily read by those watching Letterman. The show can be seen online at www.cbs.com/shows/late_show/.
      Aikane Plantation is sponsoring a farm visit and lunch on Friday, May 3 at 10 a.m. as part of the ten days of Ka`u Coffee Festival events that begin this Friday with the Miss Ka`u Coffee Pageant. Call 808-927-2252 to visit Aikane, or email aikaneplantation@hawaii.rr.com. Fee for the tour and lunch is $25. Also see www.kaucoffeefest.com.
Phil and Merle Becker
      The USA Today article included a headline Roots clear back to “papa,” telling the Aikane story:
      “A pair of those Kona nightingales, Madeline and Jasmine, constitute the official greeting party at Aikane Plantation Coffee Company, one of about 50 small farms that are transforming the economic landscape in the Big Island’s sparsely populated Ka`u region.
      “Though Ka`u’s coffee industry took off when the area’s sugar cane plantations folded nearly two decades ago, its roots go back much further — in Aikane Plantation’s case, to co-owner Merle Becker’s great-grandfather ‘Papa’ J.C. Searle.
      “Today, Merle and her husband Phil combine cattle ranching with coffee growing from the same trees ‘Papa’ planted in 1894.
      “Visitors who manage to find the place — tucked off an old sugar cane road that connects the small towns of Na`alehu and Pahala — are welcomed with award-winning java, a taste of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts or peaberries (single, rare coffee beans prized for their taste) and a free tour of their 150-acre spread,” reported travel writer Laura Bly.
      As they do each year, the Beckers will operate the public information and sales booth at Ka`u Coffee Festival Ho`olaule`a on Saturday, May 4 starting at 9 a.m. at Pahala Community Center.

PUBLIC LAND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION has been abolished. Gov. Abercrombie yesterday signed the measure into law after receiving it from the state Legislature. The State House of Representatives unanimously passed HB1133 SD2 on April 15.
      The PLDC was created to develop state lands through public-private partnerships and generate revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. However, growing public concern over the corporation’s broad exemptions from land use laws, county zoning laws and construction standards erupted into strong, statewide opposition and calls to repeal the PLDC.
      “As with any new law, public understanding and support are essential. In the case of the PLDC, best intentions and the potential for public good could not be reconciled with public concerns,” Abercrombie said.

HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK has received recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Federal Green Challenge Program. Honorable mention went to the park for its Education and Outreach Program.
      The park, in conjunction with University of Hawai`i – Hilo, developed an employee survey to ascertain energy knowledge, views and habits. Students from the university analyzed survey results and developed recommendations for educating national park employees about energy conservation methods.
      As a result, informational signs and stickers were put up, and energy meters were added to some equipment. Additionally, supervisors monitored employee activity, and the energy manager tracked quantitative results through energy bills.
      The Federal Green Challenge is a national effort to challenge EPA and other federal agencies to reduce the federal government’s environmental impact.
      Participants select a minimum two of six target areas — waste, electronics, purchasing, energy, water, or transportation — and commit to improve by at least five percent per year in their selected target areas.

OCEAN VIEW WELL is again operating, reports Kanani Aton, of the Department of Water Supply. Operational testing, as well as water quality testing, is taking place after a new pump was put into service and the storage tank began filling on Sunday. According to Aton, the fill station is scheduled to re-open tomorrow.
Scott Hempling
LIFE OF THE LAND executive director Henry Curtis has released a transcript entitled A State Agency Surveys What People Think of It. The 26,000-word transcript is posted on www.disappearednews.com along with a story written by Curtis. The story quotes Scott Hempling, a national regulatory expert with a decade of experience consulting for the Hawai`i PUC. 
      Hempling told the commissioners: “I would like to say that in all of the states that I have worked in, there is not a state with a bigger gap between the expectations of the Legislature has placed on the Commission and the responsibilities that have been placed with the Commission and the resources that the Commission has in terms of number of staff, flexibility to hire staff, flexibility to pay staff. It strikes me as just a deep inconsistency.
       “The public, in terms of the values that matter, isn’t going to have much influence, and shouldn’t have much influence over Commission decision-making,” said Hempling.
      “What I think is frankly more important is to dampen the public’s expectations that they can influence a Commission’s decision.
      “I still think the problem is at the top. Of not creating a path by which decisions can be made faster.
      “If you want renewables and you want it fast and you want it big, get a statute that gives the company, the IPP (Independent Power Producer) or the Commissioner or all three the pre-emptive authority to condemn the land and move it.
      “Community hearing, let people have their say, and then get it done.
      “I’m saying that if the State wants renewables it’s going to have to bite the bullet and take on the political opposition and get it done.
      “Perhaps the word for consumers is patience. Give the Commission running room.
      “Let’s talk about the woman’s concern from Lana`i about the opposition to renewable energy. The Commission has this obligation to goose the utility toward achieving the goals, but the Commission doesn’t have the legal power to go over to Lana`i and tell the landowners there and the community to stuff it and let the plant get built. They don’t have that authority, so the Commission under present law, doesn’t have the authority to make it all happen. This strikes me as a problem.”
      He argued that commissioners should be “independent of arguments that aren’t based on the merits, independent of arguments that are based on emotions, independent of adverbs and adjectives, and insist on facts and logic.”
      See public  reaction to his statements at www.disappearednews.com.

Volunteer ranger Noel Ebertz leads a special program tomorrow.
Photo from pacificislandparks.com
AS A SPECIAL PROGRAM for National Park Week, tomorrow at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. volunteer ranger Noel Eberz leads a one-mile, one-hour round-trip hike exploring volcanic features like fissures and lava trees that were formed during the 1969-74 Mauna Ulu eruption. The hike highlights the process of plant survival on this harsh lava landscape.
 Meet Eberz at Mauna Ulu parking lot, four miles down Chain of Craters Road.
      Entry to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is free through Friday. 

MARIE BURNS, OF OCEAN VIEW, said she wants to thank the county for what she says may have saved her life. While camping on the shoreline at Manuka, Sunday morning at dawn she unexpectedly had what she described as a grand mal seizure. She said her friends called 911, and a helicopter came right away and lifted her to Manuka Park where an ambulance brought her to Ka`u Hospital. “I think the county saved my life,” she said, and I want to thank everyone who helped me.” Burns is a tree trimmer and community organizer.