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.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Ka`u News Briefs Sunday, March 1, 2015

A state House of Representatives bill calls for HHSC facilities, including Ka`u Hospital, to return to centralized, rather that regional, control. Photo by Julia Neal
DAN BRINKMAN, INTERIM REGIONAL CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER for East Hawai`i Region of Hawai`i Health Systems Corp., which operates Ka`u Hospital, has submitted testimony to the state House of Representatives opposing a bill that would reconsolidate HHSC operational administration and oversight by eliminating regional system boards. In 1996, a task force recommended establishment of regional boards of directors, but, according to HB 1112, “the Legislature finds that the decentralization of personnel, purchasing and other administration functions to the four regions … caused inefficiencies that are detrimental to the financial stability of the system, operational effectiveness and employee morale.”
HHSC's East Hawai`i Regional Interim
CEO Dan Brinkman
      According to Brinkman, the East Hawai`i Region opposes elimination of regional system boards. “We believe that the intent of Act 290 (which created regional boards) has been realized in East Hawai`i,” he testified. “Our highly engaged regional board, composed of professional experts and community leaders, has driven substantive and positive changes in the delivery of our region’s healthcare. We have modernized our systems, including installing a highly efficient and cost effective electronic medical record system, increased our revenues, controlled our expenses and have greatly improved quality and the patient experience.
      “We also believe that each region is unique in its geography, demographics, business environment, types of operations (acute vs. long-term care) and the size of its business. While there is merit to the idea that decentralization has not been successful in all regions, recentralizing imposes a ‘one size fits all’ remedy and neglects the fact that some regions have greatly benefited from community control. Additionally, the primary cause of the public hospital system’s poor condition is not its organizational structure but due to the imposing outside forces of declining reimbursements, increased cost of healthcare (i.e. supplies, medicine, employment) and the unique challenges of providing ‘safety net’ care for communities that are geographically dispersed, socio-economically challenged and aging.
      “Our solution for East Hawai`i is one of service-oriented local partnerships with other healthcare providers, especially those on the Big Island. We are seeking predictable and sustainable funding of our safety net mission and coverage of collective bargaining costs. The stability that is offered by these measured steps will give the region’s board the resources to succeed in maintaining and improving the region's operations.
      “HD 1112 HD2 removes the Regional Boards and places all authority and decision making with the Corporate Board. While this is intended to produce improvements in efficiency and accountability, there are potentially adverse disruptive consequences that should be considered, most significantly the loss of community support, ‘ownership’ and direction. We respectfully request the opportunity for further discussion regarding East Hawai`i and HHSC’s function and governance, rather than a wholesale removal of the current structure.” 
Ka`u had a bumper crop of coffee this
season. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
      House Committees on Health, vice-chaired by Ka`u’s Rep. Richard Creagan, and Labor & Public Employment passed the measure. Finance Committee hears it Tuesday at 11:05 a.m.
      More testimony and the opportunity to testify are available at capitol.hawaii.gov. Testimony is due by 11:05 tomorrow to be included in the hearing.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I FARM BUREAU PRESIDENT and Ka`u resident Chris Manfredi credits this year’s bumper crop of Ka`u Coffee and increase in acreage planted to “the very solid foundation built in establishing Ka`u as a premium coffee growing origin,” reported Carolyn Lucas-Zenk in West Hawai`i Today. Lucas-Zenk listed the Ka`u Coffee Festival, international awards consistently won every year and increased familiarity with Ka`u Coffee as contributing to success of the regional products.
      In contrast to this year’s large harvest, a report from the Department of Agriculture and National Agricultural Statistics Service Pacific Regional Field Office claims that state coffee marketings are down four percent from last season. Manfredi told Lucas-Zenk the statistics are based on those reporting and may be inaccurate if not all farmers participated. Lucas-Zenk also said Manfredi has been trying to get officials to revalue crops using green been values instead of parchment, which, according to the story, would bring it into alignment “with the rest of the world.”
      According to Lucas-Zenk, Manfredi said one of the challenges that continues to exist for Ka`u Coffee farmers is “matching the absorption rate of coffee produced and developing markets.”
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

The second of three Sanctuary Ocean Counts of humpback whales
took place yesterday. Photo from wayfaring.info
MORE THAN 889 VOLUNTEERS GATHERED data from the shores of Hawai`i island, O`ahu and Kaua`i during the second event of the 20th Anniversary Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. 
       The count, conducted three times per year during peak whale season, is a shore-based census that provides snapshot data on humpback whales. Participants tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey.
      Volunteers collected data from 55 sites statewide. A total of 105 whales were seen during the 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. time period, the most of any time period throughout the day’s count. 
      In Ka`u, volunteers at Ka Lae reported 10 whales during this time period, with more sightings throughout the count. Whale sightings at Punalu`u began at 10:30 a.m. and continued through 12:15 p.m.
      Weather conditions were highly variable. Several sites were canceled due to heavy rains, whereas other sites enjoyed sunshine and calm seas.
      “For 20 years, the Sanctuary Ocean Count has proven to be a fun volunteer activity for residents and visitors,” said Malia Chow, sanctuary superintendent. “It also provides important population and distribution information on humpback whales around the Hawaiian Islands that we use to better understand and protect this important species.”
Ka`u's County Council member
Maile Medeiros David
       Preliminary data detailing whale sightings by site location is available at http://www.sanctuaryoceancount.org/resources/.
      The final Sanctuary Ocean Count for 2015 is scheduled for March 28. Interested volunteers may register online at http://sanctuaryoceancount.org.
      Additional information is available at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov, or volunteers may call 808-725-5917. Volunteers are required to register prior to participating. Registration closes one week prior to the event date.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL, meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m., hears the final reading of a bill that would require Planned Unit Development applications to be reviewed and acted on by either the Leeward or Windward Planning Commission, depending on properties’ locations. Currently, only the Planning director has to approve PUDs, and public notice follows the decisions. Decisions can be overturned by the Board of Appeals and the Third Circuit Court.
      Council committees meet Tuesday, with Planning at 9 a.m.; Finance, 9:45 a.m.; Agriculture, Water & Energy Sustainability, 10:30 a.m.; and Environmental Management, 1:30 p.m.
      All meetings, held at Council Chambers in Hilo, are live-streamed at hawaiicounty.gov. Click on Council Meetings on left side of page.
      Ka`u residents can also participate via videoconferencing at Ocean View Community Center.
      Agendas for all meetings are available at hawaiicounty.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Project Vision returns to Ka`u this week with free screenings.
KA`U RESIDENT DICK HERSHBERGER brings Hawaiian Volcano Observatory founder Thomas Jaggar to life Tuesday at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Participants meet at Kilauea Visitor Center Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and take a short walk to Whitney Vault, where Jaggar conducted research. Free; park entrance fees apply. 

PROJECT VISION RETURNS TO KA`U this week with free vision screenings, Wednesday at Na`alehu Community Center and Thursday at Pahala Community Center. Hours both days are 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for keiki and adults.
      Call 929-8571 for more information.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.


See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.swf or
kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf.