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, October 01, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013

Although visitors cannot view Halema`uma`u from its observation deck at bottom right, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continues basic volcano monitoring, forecasts and regular updates of volcanic activity
during the federal government shutdown. Image from USGS/HVO 
REOPENING THE NATIONAL PARKS during the federal government shutdown was a proposal among Republicans in the  U.S. House of Representatives this morning. Had the measure been passed and sent to the U.S. Senate today it could have provided some hope that Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, one of Ka`u’s largest employers, could reopen soon. 
      Hawai‘i Volcanoes, which hosts 4,500 visitors on average each day, is an economic engine for Ka`u, employing 127 people who are now on furlough. Another 90 concessions employees in the park are similarly affected. Thirteen park employees remain on duty, providing security and emergency services. 
      Visitors spend about $96,990,000 a year in the communities around Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, or approximately $265,726 a day. The park draws many visitors to stay overnight in vacation rentals, bed-and-breakfasts, at Kilauea Military Camp and in condominiums at Punalu`u. They dine in local restaurants, shop in local stores and visit local agri-tourism destinations like Ka`u Coffee Mill and Aikane Plantation.
      Those heading back to their hotels on the Kona coast from visiting the national park regularly stop in at Ka`u restaurants. Volcano House restaurant, during the shutdown, is open only to feed guests, who must leave by Thursday morning unless the National Park Service receives its funding.
      Superintendent Cindy Orlando said all park programs and special events have been canceled, including tonight’s After Dark in the Park presentation on earthquakes.
Rainforest Gallery at Volcano Art Center's Ni`aulani
Campus in Volcano Village remains open.
Photo from VAC
      Volcano Art Center Gallery, now closed because of the shutdown, is a popular place for visitors and residents to buy art. Eight of the 11 employees who work and support the gallery were furloughed or temporarily laid off this morning, said Volcano Art Center’s CEO Tanya Aynessazian. The shutdown could cost Volcano Art Center and its artists thousands of dollars a day. The Rainforest Gallery at VAC’s Ni`aulani Campus and programs there remain open.
      One public facility that will remain open inside Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is its post office. Anyone with a postal box there will be allowed to enter the park to retrieve mail from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
      USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will remain operational during the lapse of federal government appropriations. Basic volcano monitoring will continue, as will forecasts and regular updates of volcanic activity. However, because of reduced staff, instrument network maintenance will cease. The website will remain functional, but only those pages containing information about current volcano hazards will be maintained. See hvo.wr.usgs.gov.
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“WE UNDERSTAND THE UNCERTAINTY that the current circumstances present for Americans that U.S. Department of Agriculture serves every day, as well as our many partners around the country,” said Doug O’Brien, acting under-secretary of USDA Rural Development.
      “Effective today, many Rural Development staff will be furloughed pending reinstatement of funding by Congress. These staff will not be available by phone or email, and cannot carry out work for the Agency, until funding is restored.”
      Many services will be delayed or interrupted. Rural Development will not be able to make any new loans or grants; the only exceptions will be for emergency purposes and to protect the Government's interest. Automatic disbursements for previously obligated Rental Assistance funds will continue, but no RA contracts will be renewed or issued.
      “We are committed to keeping you as up to date as possible, within the limits of current circumstances,” O’Brien said.
      USDA’s plans for a lapse in appropriations are available at whitehouse.gov/omb/contingency-plans.
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HAWAI`I HEALTH CONNECTOR, the state of Hawai`i’s new Affordable Care Act program, should be able to provide residents with health insurance options by Friday. Those needing health insurance can begin to fill out applications and use an online calculator asking for numbers of people in the family and family income to estimate expected health care insurance costs. Under the new Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, there is no questioning about existing health problems, as everyone will be offered insurance without higher rates or denial of benefits due to health status. Coverage will start Jan. 1. Hawai`i Health Connector received more than $2 million to set up the exchange and provide education for Hawai`i residents to use it. Locally, Ka`u Rural Health Community Association, Inc., with its headquarters in Pahala, has received a $125,000 grant to assist local residents in learning about health care options and to help them sign up. The approach to affordability of health care insurance, on the Health Connector calculator online, shows savings in the cost of the insurance and through tax credits, based on income and family size. Households can receive tax credits of up to 400 percent. See hawaiihealthconnector.com or visit the KRHCAI building near Ka`u High School and Pahala library. Call 928-0101.
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie discussed the Majuro Declaration with Seychelles
Ambassador Ronald Jumeau during the 2013 Asia Pacific Clean Energy
Summit. Photo from Office of the Governor
HAWAI`I IS THE FIRST SUB-NATIONAL GOVERNMENT to sign onto the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, announced the Abercrombie Administration yesterday. 
      The declaration, calling for commitments to climate change mitigation and adaptation, was presented Friday by leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to the United Nations Secretary General.
      “The state of Hawai`i stands with other islands around the world in recognizing the urgent threat of climate change to our sustainability,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement. “We have signed onto the Majuro Declaration to share our ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through innovative energy transformation. We also understand the need to prepare for climate change adaptation through an integrated approach to building a green, resilient economy.”
      The Pacific Islands Forum adopted the Majuro Declaration on Sept. 5 in response to “scientific evidence that escalating emissions of greenhouse gases are causing global warming and Pacific Islands are on the front lines of the impacts. The declaration notes that on May 9, 2013, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide measured near the summit of Mauna Loa exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time since measurements began. The declaration states, “In crossing this historic threshold, the world entered a new danger zone.”
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THE STATE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION continues to receive public testimony regarding the `Aina Koa Pono project, which would involve constructing a refinery off Wood Valley Road and harvesting trees, brushes and grasses between Pahala and Na`alehu to burn in a microwave facility to create biofuel for Hawai`i Electric Light Co. and Hawaiian Electric to use in power plants.
      “As life-long residents of Pahala, we have many concerns and many questions,” wrote Ralph and Ella Louis.
      “What is the total number of truck trips per day needed to bring in all the inputs such as biomass/feedstock, zeolite, hydrogen or natural gas precursor to hydrogen ... to AKP’s site near Pahala?
      “What is the total number of truck trips to transport the fuel to the Keahole power plant? AKP has stated they anticipate they will send six fuel trucks a day, one truck every two hours, to deliver the 16,000,000 gallons of fuel to Keahole. How many more truck trips will AKP need when they meet their goal of doubling output? What is the safety impact of this many fuel trucks on the narrow, two-lane road from Pahala to Keahole (73 miles)?
      “Being that Highway 11 is the only road from Ka`u to Keahole carrying all the traffic and commerce, what is the economic impact on the population along the route? How will the increased traffic on the two-lane road and the road maintenance due to increased usage be handled?
      “What happens if AKP can’t get enough locally grown biomass to produce fuel? Will they truck in biomass from elsewhere on-island or from off-island? How many more trucks will that be per day? Will AKP truck in garbage? If AKP does have to use garbage, what will be the pollutants of that process?
      “What happens to the refinery if AKP goes bankrupt? Who will clean up the site? Will the structures – buildings, tanks, storage units, etc. be removed? At who’s cost? Will all harmful chemicals, etc. be removed? What about the land? If all vegetation is removed and sterile grasses planted and AKP fails, what will happens to the land? Who will remediate the land? Will there be any responsibility to the land? If there has been redirecting of water to feed the AKP refinery or its plantations, will that be corrected? Will the company take on their responsibilities?”
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Artists can still enter the art show at CU Hawai`i
in Na`alehu this week. Photo fro CU Hawai`i
ART FOR THE COVER CONTEST FOR THE DIRECTORY 2014, the annual publication of the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce, is being accepted until Thursday at 4 p.m. at CU Hawai`i Federal Credit Union in Na`alehu. At the end of the week, the popular vote will determine the winner of the cover contest. The art show is up all week during credit union hours and includes a keiki division. Art on display includes paintings, decorated ipu, Hawaiian weapons, photographs and many other visual arts. The theme is Ka`u. 
      For more, call Ka`u Chamber of Commerce president Dallas Decker at 516-662-8789.
      Memberships and advertising are also being taken by the Chamber for The Directory 2014, which raises money for scholarships for Ka`u college students. Call 928-6471.