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.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Big Island Invasive Species Committee is battling albizia trees which, in Ka`u, dot the landscape in coffee and other agriculture fields. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
SENDING UP ROCKETS SOUTH OF KA LAE from a manmade raft may soon not be the only floating island activity in Hawaiian waters. A proposal to establish floating windmills in federal waters near Hawai`i will be presented today in Honolulu.
      Duane Shimogawa, of Pacific Business News, reported that Alpha Wind Energy’s proposed $1.6 billion offshore wind energy project would be in federal waters off O`ahu’s northwest and southern coasts.
      The project would consist of more than 100 turbines totaling 408 megawatts and would be the first floating offshore wind farm in the United States.
      See bizjournals.com/pacific.
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HAWAI`I MEDICAL SERVICE ASSOCIATION recently filed a request with the state Insurance Division to raise premiums for individual Affordable Care Act health plans for 2016. The request for an average 49.1 percent increase is the highest premium increase the organization has ever requested. It will affect about three percent of membership and will cover the much higher than expected medical costs for these members.
Michael Gold
      “At HMSA, we understand the frustration of rising health care costs,” said President and CEO Michael Gold. “We’re a local company that employs more than 1,600 Hawai`i residents. We care about all of our members who are often our family, friends and our neighbors.
      “Our decision to ask for this premium increase was truly difficult. We explored every alternative for a smaller premium, but ultimately had to ask for this increase.”  
      According to Gold, almost everyone in Hawai`i already has health insurance from their employer, Med-QUEST or Medicare, and the small number of people left without coverage often had serious health conditions. Many of these previously uninsured people purchased HMSA’s ACA plans. 
      Because ACA plans are still new, this is the first time HMSA has been able to price these plans using actual claims and health information from these members. “We’ve learned many of these members are using substantially more medical services and prescription drugs than we expected,” Gold said. “Now we have a much clearer understanding of the true cost of caring for these members.”
      This year, several thousand members from the Compact of Free Association countries, including Ka`u’s Marshallese community, purchased individual ACA health plans from HMSA. “These members came to us from the state Med-QUEST program, and we’re honored to serve them,” Gold said. “However, many of these members have conditions that will likely require intensive medical services and expensive prescription drugs.
      “The ACA has helped thousands of Hawai`i residents get health coverage. That’s good for the well-being of our state. But it comes with a price that we’re seeing now,” Gold said.
      According to Gold, other health plans around the country are reporting premium requests as high as 51 percent.
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`Imiloa lauches mobile education programs this fall.
MANU `IMILOA, A MOBILE OUTREACH program aimed at sharing `Imiloa Astronomy Center’s brand of culture-based science education across the island, begins this fall. MANU `Imiloa (Modern and Ancient ways of Navigating our Universe) will take `Imiloa staff on the road with an interactive curriculum inspired by the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s epic Worldwide Voyage and designed to explore skills involved in non-instrument ocean navigation, or wayfinding. 
      Outreach will be offered in two formats. NOIO (Non-instrument Orientation, an Introduction to Oceanic Wayfinding) is a 30-60 minute package that can be delivered on request by K-12 schools and community centers or offered as part of local events. Audiences of all ages gather around a model of the Hawaiian Star Compass or sit inside `Imiloa’s digital portable planetarium to learn how wayfinders rely upon stars and their relationship with the environment to determine course and direction.
      The second offering, KOLEA (Keeping Our Legacy of Exploration Alive), is a two-week-plus curriculum package designed specifically for middle school teachers to adopt for seventh- and eighth-grade science or math classes. Titled The Geometry of Wayfinding, it explores the geometry and science that undergird traditional Polynesian non-instrumental navigation.
      The 2015-2016 KOLEA program will be limited to a first cohort of 10 middle school teachers across Hawai`i Island. Applications close Saturday, August 15. Selection committee decisions will be announced by Sept.1.
      For more information on `Imiloa outreach programs and costs, visit outreach page at www.imiloahawaii.org, email outreach@imiloahawaii.org or call 969-9721.
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Springer Kaye
THE FIRST MILESTONES IN A HAZARD mitigation plan to reduce the threat of albizia across East Hawai`i have been reached, according to Bill Buckley, albizia coordinator for the Big Island Invasive Species Committee. “This was all sugar cane into the 1990s, but now some of these trees are 200 feet tall, with massive trunks you can’t wrap your arms around,” Buckley said. The mile-long project created a 300-foot-wide buffer zone on either side of high-power transmission lines in North Hilo and Hamakua and included removal or treatment of more than 14,000 albizia trees.
      Following Tropical Storm Iselle last year, stakeholders from all levels of government came together with private landowners at the behest of Sen. Brian Schatz to develop a plan for mitigation of the albizia threat.
      “The message we’d really like to get across at this point is how 'do-able' this is,” said BIISC Manager Springer Kaye. “The stakeholders who deal with the trees every day developed this strategy. It’s cost effective, and it’s producing long-term results.”
      Buckley’s team has treated an additional 16,000 trees on 200 acres, while hazard trees were managed by project partners, Hawai`i Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Hawai`i County Department of Public Works and Hawai`i Electric Light Co. Impacts are being carefully monitored by researchers at the U.S. Forest Service.
      A bill sponsored by Sen. Russell Ruderman for $2.1 million to fund other portions of the mitigation plan did not make it to the full Senate for a vote this past session, but the Legislature did allocate $1.5 million to the Department of Transportation to address the albizia threat along state highways in 2016.
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Sen. Mazie Hirono
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO VOTED FOR THE BIPARTISAN USA Freedom Act, which ends bulk-phone records collection by the government while preserving its authority to investigate terrorism. The measure passed the House last month 338-88 and passed the Senate 67-32. 
      “Today’s vote is a key first step in our ongoing effort to balance our national security and civil liberties,” Hirono said. “I will continue to fight to ensure there are responsible and effective approaches to strengthening privacy protections for law-abiding Americans while preserving our national security. 
      “As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, I am focused on keeping Americans safe, both here and abroad. We live in a world where terrorism is a serious threat to our country, our economy and to American lives. Our government needs appropriate surveillance and anti-terrorism tools to keep us safe, but it’s Congress’ job to ensure those tools strike the right balance between national security and protecting our privacy rights.
       “The PATRIOT Act’s bulk-phone records collection program does not strike the right balance. I agree with the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals and a large bipartisan coalition that the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records exceeds Congressional authority.”  
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Sen. Russell Ruderman
KA`U’S STATE SEN. RUSSELL RUDERMAN hosts a talk story at Cooper Center in Volcano Village tomorrow from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Ruderman will discuss newly passed legislation and seek input on bills to be introduced next year.
      For more info, call 586-6890 or email senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov.

NATURAL FARMING HAWAI`I HOLDS a potluck meeting Tuesday, June 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Komohana Ag Research Center in Hilo. Participants learn how to understand the benefits of natural farming down to their smallest detail by using a microscope.
      According to Natural Farming Hawai`i, “Soil isn’t just a dead medium in which crops grow; it’s a matrix of living things, some beneficial, some harmful. In healthy soil, microorganisms interact in complementary ways, but pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers can disrupt that balance.”
      The presentation at the meeting covers how to use the microscope, how to identify bacteria, fungus and nematodes and what all this means for soil health.
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See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf and
See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_June2015.pdf.