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.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Dec. 6, 2013

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed the ban on most GMO crops into law. Photo from bigislandvideonews.com
THE BAN ON GROWING NEW GMO PLANTS on Hawai`i Island became law yesterday as Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113 after it passed the County Council,. It prohibits any open-air use of genetically modified crops in Hawai`i County, with the exception of GMO papayas, which dominate the industry, and a cattle feed program that is already in place. GMO coffee and taro were banned in 2008.
      The ban halts the rollout of planned GMO green lettuce, expansion of the cattle feed operation and a GMO program for anthuriums.
      Supporting the ban is the Kona Coffee Growers Association and Farmers Union United. Opposing the ban is the Hawai`i Farm Bureau, including its Ka`u group, and Hawai`i Farmers and Ranchers United, along with its member organizations.
      The mayor released the following statement:
      “Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching.
      “The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai`i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support.
Papaya farmers got their wish, an exemption to the GMO ban.     Photo from Big Island Video News
      The mayor promised additional support to local agriculture, including a public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa`auilo Slaughterhouse “to support our grass-fed beef industry” and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultural Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land. He promised support for “innovative training programs to grow the farmers of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Korean Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock.” 
      He pointed to completion of the “first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai`i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.”
      Wrote the mayor, “We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector. It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must turn now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.” 
      Kenoi promised to “launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in our community should take. This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements. We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts.” 
     According to Kenoi, “Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.”
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

VOLCANO SCHOOL OF ARTS & SCIENCES supporter Ross Rammelmeyer has sent a letter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie urging him to “immediately release the soon-to-expire Capital Improvement Funds of $618,000 of our state tax dollars already appropriated by our elected legislators. These are the funds you are arbitrarily withholding from the Friends of the Volcano School of Arts and Sciences, a chartered state public school. These funds have been twice appropriated by our elected representatives, only to be arbitrarily withheld by your administration. Our numerous pleas to provide the funds have been ignored,” Rammelmeyer contended.
     “For a decade our 188 Volcano children, students, (with a waiting list of 86) have been attending school in now rotting and torn tents and World War II Quonset huts reached by a rutted dirt road. Our county Fire Marshall now indicates that if the school physical plant situation is not quickly remedied, the school will be condemned as unsafe in which to conduct instruction of our community’s children.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie has yet to release $618,000 in capital
improvement funds approved by the Legislature for VSAS .
      “Your most recent $1.8 million release of school construction and maintenance finds, all but a tenth of one percent was directed to non-chartered public schools, is exclusively dedicated to support and sports activities, including a radio/TV broadcasting booth.
     “Your appointed state superintendent of schools is now paid $150,000 per year, over $20,000 more than the average salary of the governors of the 50 U.S. states. The now aggregate salaries of her and her 22 deputies, assistant superintendents, and ‘area specialists’ amount to $ 2,749,593 per year, almost five times what we asking for once for our school buildings. Their individual salaries are four times that of a person teaching in our state school system. You are currently entertaining a substantial increase in the salaries of each, as recommended by those who will receive them.
         “Meanwhile, our children continue to learn in leaking tents in the rainforest here. State annual funding per student provided to our struggling charter school is half of that provided to the public schools on which you have lavished funds for sports facilities. Yet our VSAS charter students test higher than students in our surrounding public schools. 
      “In addition to paying their taxes for education to our state, consistently one of the most heavily per-capita taxed in the nation, our community has assembled over $ 85,772 in voluntary support of our school construction on 3.15 acres of land given to the state by our community’s citizens and leased back to us by your Department of Education. We are now initiating yet another community fund drive to gather more voluntary funding pending your release of already twice appropriated state tax funds.
      Your future action will test whether “government of the people, by the people and for the people” applies in our 50th state in our union,” Rammelmeyer told the governor.
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Ocean View Center's Malama Market, the cornerstone of the shopping center,
next to the swap meet.

NEW CONDITIONS ADDED TO OCEAN VIEW SWAP MEET’S special use permit address what commissioners consider to be safety issues involving parking at the event held each Saturday. At yesterday’s meeting of the county Windward Planning Commission, commissioners voted unanimously to add three conditions to try to resolve complaints about people parking along the side of Prince Kuhio Blvd. during the events. Swap meet owners must provide traffic control attendants to actively manage traffic flow and parking, provide adequate signage indicating where visitors may park on-site and provide parking inside the special use permit area. The commission also called for a prohibition of parking on Prince Kuhio Blvd. and Maile Drive.
   Bill Peebles, representing Ocean View Partners, LLC, owners the property on which the swap meet operates, said that, according to police and fire departments, there is not a problem. He also said owners have met every requirement of the county and health department.  Peebles said income from vendors covers expenses and that most of the balance goes to community events. “I am there to support my community,” Peebles said. “We take no income. We support the local keiki fishing tournaments and Christmas parties. We are doing positive things for the community.”
Don Nitsche
     Commissioner Raylene Moses, a Ka`u resident, told Peebles that part of the permit is that “you need to address public complaints. It’s not unreasonable to put up signs and hire someone to control traffic. Create another job for someone in Ka`u.”   Peebles responded, “I don’t think there is an issue and never has been an issue. I invite you all to go to the next swap meet.”  Moses said, “We need to ensure safety. I’ve been there; I’ve seen it. In his testimony, Don Nitsche, resident of Ocean View Ranchos and member of the Ranchos Road Maintenance Corp., said that maintaining the swap meet requires overseeing parking. “We like the swap meet, but it gets out of control and dangerous at times,” he said.Nitsche said that when the Road Maintenance Corp. hired a policeman as test of managing traffic, it worked.
      Commissioner Ronald Gonzales estimated that an additional $7 per vendor should cover the expense of hiring an officer in uniform, which he said would sway people to park in proper areas. Current fee is $15 per vendor, Peebles said.
      Peebles questioned the effectiveness of having a police officer patrol a private street. Gonzales said that he often hires officers to help with parking on private property.
      Commissioner Stephen Ono said, “Safety is more important than vendors fees; vendors need to be made aware of safety requirements.”
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

THE ANNUAL MAKAHIKI FESTIVAL takes place this weekend at Punalu`u Beach Park, celebrating Hawaiian values, culture, talent and food. The event features free music, dance, crafting and feasting with people gathering and camping as people join together this evening, tomorrow and Sunday.

KILAUEA DRAMA AND ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK presents Volcano Festival Chorus Christmas Concert tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at Kilauea Military Camp Theater in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
      Free; park entrance fees apply.

KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP’S CRATER RIM CAFÉ in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park offers dinner before the Volcano Festival Chorus Christmas Concert. KMC is open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply.

SUNDAY IS FALL CREATIVITY DAY from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Discovery Harbour Community Hall. with Ka`u School of the Arts offering batik, `ohe kapala (bamboo stamp making), dying, sewing and jewelry making workshops. 
      For more information, call 854-1540.
Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park members explore
Puna Coast Trail Sunday. Photo from FHVNP
PALM TRAIL HIKE TAKES PLACE SUNDAY from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s Kahuku Unit. This relatively easy, guided, 2.6-mile loop crosses scenic pasture along an ancient cinder cone with some of the best panoramic views Kahuku has to offer. Call 985-6011 or see nps.gov/havo.

AT FRIENDS OF HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK’S Sunday Walk in the Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thane Pratt leads an exploration of Puna Coast Trail. Free for members; non-members can join the organization in order to attend. Call 985-7373 or email admin@fhvnp.org.

SANTA IS ON HIS WAY TO JOIN Pahala Christmas Parade Sunday, handing out candy to keiki and making an appearance at Ka`u Hospital.
      To participate, call Eddie Andrade at 928-0808.