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.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, Feb. 20, 1014

Moa`ula Coffee lands are in the Lehman Bothers properties that are the subject of negotiations for sale. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
LEHMAN BROTHERS set a deadline of Feb. 14 for interested parties to begin negotiations for the purchase of its 5,800 acres in Ka`u that includes Moa`ula coffee lands, pasture and oceanfront property. Joel LaPinta, who works with Kennedy Wilson real estate management, investment and brokerage company, on behalf of Lehman, said this morning that there are several parties who signed agreements to begin negotiations. Ka`u Coffee farmers said they hope that any buyer will keep them on the land to grow their famous Ka`u Coffee. Mayor Billy Kenoi said that he has encouraged Lehman to make it known to any buyer that the county’s position is to help prevent displacement of the the coffee farmers and that he could cooperate in forming a hui to buy the land for an agricultural park if the coffee lands were to become available for sale as a separate parcel.
     A water cooperative meeting regarding Moa`ula and other farm and ranch lands served by the old plantation water system will be held today at the Royal Hawaiian macadamia conference room at 4 p.m.
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REJECTION OF TWO `AINA KOA PONO contracts with the electric company to sell biofuel that would be manufactured in Ka`u is a key reason why Gov. Neil Abercrombie does not plan to reappoint Mina Morita to the Public Utilities Commission, according to Sen. Roz Baker who was quoted in a Civil Beat story this week.
      Baker, who chairs the committee that oversees the PUC, told reporter Sophie Cocke that the PUC decision was sound. “It was the right decision,” she said. “It was an unproven technology that was going to cost the ratepayers a lot of money.” She also said that it was not the role of the PUC to “do the governor’s bidding.”
Mina Morita, Chair of the PUC
      According to Baker, Abercrombie’s staff told her that Morita wouldn’t be reappointed.” Baker told Civil Beat that the governor “didn’t give me the courtesy of a meeting” regarding the decision.
      Cocke said Abercrombie spokesman Justin Fujioka told her Morita’s reappointment is still “under review” and that Abercrombie “has not made a decision on this matter.”
      Cocke also reported that Morita said she likely won’t be reappointed. “While I acknowledge the governor’s prerogative to appoint members of the commission, I am disappointed that I may not be considered for reappointment,” she said. “Since becoming the chair in March 2011, my mission has been to build a capable, knowledgeable, fair and independent PUC to serve the public interest. Hawai`i’s ratepayers and the utilities that the PUC regulates deserve no less.”
      According to Cocke, Civil Beat also spoke with several energy industry representatives who said Morita won’t be reappointed when her term ends in June.
      Cocke said people involved in energy policy “have said privately that the governor has been frustrated by the PUC’s slow pace in pushing forward his energy agenda. Some have also wondered whether Morita is qualified to tackle the increasingly complicated technical and financial issues associated with Hawai`i’s energy policy.”
      Cocke also wrote that some of the PUC’s decisions “have angered energy developers, some of whom are close to the governor.” One of those she mentioned was William Kaneko, a former lobbyist for `Aina Koa Pono, who chairs Abercrombie’s re-election campaign.  See civilbeat.com.
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VETERANS PURCHASING HOMES IN KA`U with rainwater catchment systems can once again gets loans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The move comes three years after the VA halted the practice of guaranteeing this type of home loan when it determined private rainwater catchment systems are not regulated by the Hawai`i Department of Health and therefore could not meet the VA’s minimum property requirements.
      U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs who has been working on the issue since early 2012 when island veterans and the Hawai`i Realtors Association first contacted her, applauded the decision. She and her staff worked collaboratively with the VA’s Loan Guarantee Office and the DOH’s Environmental Health Division to help resolve the issue.
      “This announcement is the culmination of hard work and cooperation by the VA and the Hawai`i Department of Health as they were able to come to a resolution that meets the needs of veterans seeking loan guarantees across the state,” said Hirono. “After raising this issue directly with Secretary Shinseki, I would like to thank him for his strong leadership in once again helping pave the way for veterans to buy a home, even in Hawai`i’s deep rural areas that don’t have access to county water lines.”
Veterans will be able to get loans for dwellings with
water catchment. Photo from Waterworks
      After discussions with the VA, the DOH determined that rainwater catchment systems can be made safe for domestic use if certain guidelines are followed. This clarification led to the announcement regarding the VA guaranteed loan policy, which takes effect immediately.
      Hirono’s staff will continue to work with the Veteran Benefits Administration's Honolulu regional office on outreach efforts to help veterans navigate the newly established procedures.
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OPPORTUNITY PLAN IS THE TITLE of legislation being introduced into the U.S. Senate by Hawai`i’s Sen. Brian Schatz, along with New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. This five plank agenda “focuses on the biggest issues facing millions of families across the country who are struggling to succeed in an outdated system,” Schatz said in Civil Beat.
      The plan would create paid family and medical leave insurance, raise the minimum wage, take action on income inequality, expand access to quality affordable child care and establish universal pre-kindergarten classes.
      “As two of only a handful of U.S. senators with young children, we understand what it’s like to be working parents with family responsibilities. It’s not easy. And too many middle-class families around the country are struggling because the system is rigged against them,” Schatz said. Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act would create a self-sustaining paid family medical leave program for up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
      Schatz and Gillibrand are also supporting the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over the next three years. “If the minimum wage were more livable, millions of families could move into the middle class,” Schatz said.
      The Paycheck Fairness Act would address the gender wage gap. According to Schatz, in 2012, women were, on average, making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. “If women earned the same amount as men, America’s gross domestic product could grow by as much as four percent,” Schatz said. To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.
Na`alehu Library celebrates 20 year of service tomorrow.
Photo from State of Hawai`i Libraries
      Regarding child care, the legislation would give families the option of deducting the cost of child care expenses as a business expense, in addition to expanding the Child and Dependent Care Credit to allow low income families with little or no tax liability to have access to a fully refundable tax credit
      The fifth plank of the Opportunity Plan supports Hawai`i Sen. Mazie Hirono’s PRE-K Act, which, calling for universal pre-kindergarten classes, would increase the number of early childhood educators and increase the hours per day a family would have access to education programs.
      “The time is right for our government to change the work environment to accommodate the changes in the workforce. In fact, if we want our middle-class families to succeed, it’s imperative.” Schatz concluded. See civilbeat.com.
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NA`ALEHU PUBLIC LIBRARY'S 20th anniversary celebration is Friday, Feb. 21 from noon to 3 p.m. with entertainment and free refreshments. 939-2442.

VOLCANO ART CENTER OFFERS an introduction to Zentangle on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Zentangle is an easy-to-learn, relaxing and fun way to create images by drawing structured patterns. Julie Evans and Lois and Earl Stokes, the island’s only certified Zentangle teachers, share a new art form that has ancient connections to universal symbol and pattern making. “At first glance it looks like we are doodling, but, on another level we are manipulating symbols shared across cultures and times. It is a type of yoga for creative expression,” said Evans.  Cost is $35 or $30 for VAC members with $10 supply fee. Call 967-8222 to register.
Learn Zentangle this Saturday.

SPAGHETTI DINNER & SILENT AUCTION to raise money for the Ka`u Hospital ER is this Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. Ka`u Red Hat Ladies and Ka Lae Quilters are the sponsors. Tickets are $9.99 from Pahala Quilting and Ka`u Rural Health Clinic.

SEN. RUSSELL RUDERMAN’S TOWN HALL MEETING will be open to the public next Monday, Feb. 24 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House on the corner of Maile and Pikake Streets. Light refreshments will be served. Call 808-586-6890 or email senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov.

SEE THE DIRECTORY 2014 ONLINE. For a page-turning version, see www.kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.swf. For a pdf version, see www.kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.pdf.