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, January 15, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Jan. 15, 2013

Sen. Dan Akaka became the first recipient of the Aloha Award of Merit yesterday and is congratulated by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
Photo by Shane Tegarden.
A RURAL RESIDENCY PROGRAM for physicians and nurses to train and work at such hospitals as Ka`u is one of the priorities that Mayor Bill Kenoi is taking to the state Legislature when it opens its 2013 session tomorrow. The measure has been adopted by the Neighbor Islands legislative collaborative group, which is asking for $5.6 million over two years for the Hawai`i Health Systems Corp’s primary care training program. The name of the local program is Hawai`i Island Family Medicine Residency. Also on the health front is the plan to invest another $41 million through bonds during the next two years to expand the College of Pharmacy & Health Science in Hilo.
       Both measures are also supported by Sen. Josh Green. Also in the legislative package from the county is money to modernize civil defense warnings, which could lead to the replacement of three dozen sirens on the Big Island.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen
REQUIRING A REASONABLE RATE OF RETURN for electric companies is the goal of Representative Cynthia Thielen, (R-Kailua), who plans to introduce legislation at tomorrow’s opening of the state Legislature that would create a permanent Task Force to determine and periodically revise the reasonable rate of return. The bill also establishes a bipartisan joint legislative oversight committee to determine if the Public Utilities Commission is enforcing the reasonable rate of return.
      Thielen said, “The electricity costs for ratepayers in Hawai`i have increased at a constant and precipitous rate, and these increases have created serious financial hardships for Hawai`i residents. One of the most important functions of the PUC is to approve or deny rate increases proposed by HECO, but in reality, the PUC rarely denies rate increases.
      “HECO, by statute, is guaranteed a reasonable rate of return on its rate base. But what constitutes a reasonable rate of return? The statutory language that created the PUC and gives it its powers does not elaborate. This, in turn, gives the PUC vast powers to deny HECO rate increases, but more importantly gives the PUC the ability to allow HECO rate increases without any concrete standards to review the proposals for ‘reasonableness’” said Thielen.
   The bill’s purpose clause explains that “for over 100 years, Hawaiian Electric Company has had a monopoly on energy production in Hawai`i with the objective of efficiently and adequately fulfilling the energy needs of the state and its residents. In exchange for the privilege of providing non-competitive electrical services within the state, HECO is subject to supervision by the PUC and is required to abide by its regulations."
      Thielen said that requiring a reasonable rate of return for electric utilities “will keep HECO honest and provide more checks and balances, which translates into consumer rate savings for all of us.”

Sen Dan Akaka received the Aloha Award of Merit
yesterday. Photo by Shane Tegarden
WHERE I LIVE, THERE ARE RAINBOWS, sang Sen. Dan Akaka yesterday when he became the first recipient of the state Legislature’s Aloha Award of Merit. The award was established in 1993 to honor those who provide distinguished service to Hawai`i and devote their lives to the people and place of Hawai`i. Gov. Neil Abercrombie and four former governors attended. As a recipient of the award, Akaka may be called on by the governor to serve as an emissary to represent the Aloha State.
      Akaka retired from Congress after the 2012 session, after serving for 22 years in the U.S. Senate and 14 years in the U.S. House. He chaired the Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee and is well known for his Akaka Bill, which attempts to give more self-governance to Native Hawaiians.
      The Aloha Award of Merit ceremony was held in the state House of Representatives chambers. For the music, Akaka’s sons accompanied him on guitars.

MISSING AT SEA is the status of a 67-year-old Pahala man after falling off a South Point cliff while fishing Sunday night. Fire/rescue units responded to a 10:26 p.m. alarm Sunday to Ka Lae for a fisherman who fell into the ocean. Witnesses reported that the man fell about 20 feet into the ocean while fishing and was last seen about 50 yards offshore. They lost sight of the fisherman due to darkness, reports the Hawai`i Police Department. 
      County fire/rescue crews conducted a water and land search with the assistance of a Coast Guard C-130 plane and Dolphin helicopter searching up to six miles from shore. A Hawai`i National Guard Blackhawk helicopter performed an aerial ocean search up to three miles out. Searchers were not able to find the man. The area is popular for fishing but has high cliffs and strong currents.
      The search was scheduled to resume today with the fire department’s Chopper One helicopter.

The cliffs of Ka Lae at South Point are a popular fishing spot. However, another
 fisherman from Pahala fell into the water Sunday, and the search
resumed today. Photo by Julia Neal
A HILO MAN WAS FOUND DEAD in his vehicle on Hwy 11 in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park Saturday, reports Jessica Ferracane, of the park’s Public Affairs office. A park ranger discovered the lifeless body of Steven L. Elliott in a white 2002 Ford pickup truck parked on the shoulder of the highway near mile marker 35 at 9:34 a.m. The cause of death is unknown, and an investigation is being conducted by the National Park Service. An autopsy by the medical examiner is scheduled for today.

HAWAI`I POLICE DEPARTMENT is hosting its next community access meeting next Friday, Jan. 25 from noon to 2 p.m. at Cooper Center on Wright Road in Volcano Village. The event allows the public to meet the Police Department’s command staff and to discuss police-related concerns with the police chief and commanders who oversee police operations in Volcano and Puna.
      The Volcano event continues district community meetings, which are rotated throughout the eight police districts on the Big Island. To aid police commanders in focusing on specific community concerns, police officers ask that participation in this meeting be limited to persons who live or work in the immediate area.
      Those interested in participating but unable to attend may e-mail their concerns or comments to copsysop@hawaiipolice.com. For more information, call Acting Captain Reed Mahuna at 965-2716.

USGS/HVO geologists Tim Orr, at left, and Matt Patrick
present programs during Volcano Awareness Month.
Photo from USGS/HVO
VOLCANO AWARENESS MONTH CONTINUES with another After Dark in the Park program tonight at 7 p.m. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Matt Patrick presents an overview of Kilauea’s summit eruption, including a survey of the volcanic processes occurring within the vent, at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The program is free, and park entrance fees apply. 

ALSO AT KILAUEA VISITOR CENTER AUDITORIUM, Kai Ho`opi`i, an Aloha Festivals Hawaiian falsetto contest winner, shares music of his `ohana tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. as part of the park’s ongoing Na Leo Manu, Heavenly Voices, presentations. The concert is free, and park entrance fees apply.

VALENTINE VARIETY SHOW AUDITIONS are Thursday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. Auditions are open to all ages and talents, and all applicants and performers must be able to make one of the scheduled auditions, one mandatory dress rehearsal on Feb. 7 and 8 and show times, which will be either Feb 9 and 16 or Feb. 10 and 17. Acts for the show to be held at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village should be no longer than five minutes. Acts can be music, dance, drama, comedy, magic, juggling, acrobatics or any other form of entertainment. Solo and group acts encouraged. $15 application fee per act waived for VAC members. For an application or more information, email julie@volcanoartcenter.org

HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY geologist Tim Orr presents a program at Pahala Plantation House a week from tomorrow on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Orr’s talk includes photos and videos reviewing highlights and recent developments of Kilauea’s 30-year-long east rift zone eruption. The program, which is part of Volcano Awareness Month, begins at 6:30 p.m.