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, June 09, 2015

Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Researchers are studying the effects of marine debris, such as plastic and fishing line, on monk seals and other sea creatures.
Photo by Julia Neal
GOV. DAVID IGE YESTERDAY SIGNED into law four energy bills, including one that strengthens Hawai`i’s commitment to clean energy by directing the state’s utilities to generate 100 percent of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045.
Gov. David Ige signs 100 percent renewable energy legislation.
Photo from Office of the Governor
      Hawai`i State Legislature passed the landmark legislation (HB623) that fulfills one of Ige’s policy objectives by making Hawai`i the first state in the nation to set a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard for the electricity sector.
      “As the most oil dependent state in the nation, Hawai`i spends roughly $5 billion a year on foreign oil to meet its energy needs. Making the transition to renewable, indigenous resources for power generation will allow us to keep more of that money at home, thereby improving our economy, environment and energy security,” Ige said. “I’d like to thank the Senate and House Energy Committee chairs for championing HB623 and ensuring that Hawai`i remains a national leader in clean energy.”
      Another measure signed by Ige, SB1050, will help democratize renewable energy by creating a structure that will allow renters, condominium owners and others who have been largely shut out of Hawai`i’s clean energy transformation to purchase electricity generated at an off-site renewable energy facility, such as a large-scale solar farm.
      The law is also expected to provide relief to homeowners and businesses who are located on highly saturated circuits that cannot accommodate additional PV installations.
      In addition to the 100 percent RPS and community-based renewable energy bills, Ige signed into law HB1509, which sets a net-zero energy goal for the University of Hawai`i system and another that designates a state hydrogen implementation coordinator, HB1296.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Jay Kreuzer
KA`U HOSPITAL’S SISTER FACILITY IN KONA is laying employees off and closing a unit due to a $6 million budget deficit for its fiscal year beginning July 1. Kona Community Hospital, one of several facilities operated by Hawai`i Health Systems Corporation, will eliminate 34 positions and close its skilled nursing unit. The announcement follows Ka`u Hospital Administrator Merilyn Harris’s statement that the main impact of budget cuts here will be having to limit the number of long-term care residents to 13 instead of 16.
      “It is with deep regret that we must make these decisions,” said Jay Kreuzer, West Hawai`i Regional CEO of HHSC. “Over the past several years, the entire hospital staff has pulled together to help address our financial challenges. Our hospital departments are running efficiently, and there is no excess or waste to be trimmed. Sadly, these efforts do not offset our fiscal 2016 deficit due to lack of state funding.”
      According to Bret Yager, of West Hawai`i Today, Kreuzer said increased labor costs due to collective bargaining arrangements and retiree health benefits no longer covered by the state added to the deficit.
      Kreuzer also told Yager the facility is looking toward a public-private partnership like the one recently instituted at Maui hospitals to deal with budget issues.
      State Sen. Josh Green told Yager the existing state-run health care model can no longer sustain a public safety net hospital system. “This is why we have been moving toward enabling partnerships for our hospital system,” he said. “A partnership for Kona and Hilo with a local private entity would have been preferable to any layoffs like these.”
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Researchers in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands work and live out of tents while
conducting monk seal surveys and related studies. Photo from NOAA
BABY MONK SEALS MAY BE THREATENED by marine debris that piles up in as remote of places as Ka Lae in Ka`u and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Seals become entangled in discarded plastic lines, and plastic mixes with real food. Ingested, plastics damage the health of sea life, from birds to nursing mother seals and pups. 
    The situation was recently shown through a voyage of the research ship Hi`ialakai, which made a 21-day cruise up the Northwest Hawaiian island chain for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The crew picked up one male and one female malnourished monk seal pup, prematurely weaned by their moms on Pearl and Hermes Atoll, and dropped them off at the new Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola in Kona. The ship also dropped off more than a dozen researchers on French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Kure Atoll and Pearl and Hermes Atoll. Two to four mission members are camping for four months at each location to collect data and work on monk seal survival. In addition, day trips to Ni`ihau, Nihoa and Midway were planned for surveys.
      According to a story in this morning’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “Stacie Robinson, a NOAA official with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, said the 14 researchers will be doing population counts, disentangling monk seals from marine debris and moving the young seals to areas where there are fewer sharks.” The story by Gary T. Kubota said, “The population of Hawaiian monk seals, or Monachus schauinslandi — one of the rarest marine animals in the world — has been on a decline from as many as 1,600 a decade ago to as few as 1,100 today, according to scientists.” 
      The recent cruise also involved Sustainable Coastlines Hawai`i. The story quotes its executive director Kahi Pacarro, saying that the mission “helped to broaden his understanding of the importance of developing nontoxic byproducts.” He also reported that in some places, animals are nesting in mounds of debris. Pacarro reported that “many of the young albatrosses at Midway had ingested plastic. The rib cage of one dead chick was filled with plastic,” Kubota reported him saying.
      Pacarro noted that “debris arrives on the islands via the Pacific gyre garbage patch between Hawai`i and California,” the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
      See more at http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/cruise/ha1502.php and staradvertiser.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I WILDLIFE FUND AND FRIENDS host their first-ever underwater cleanup event on Hawai`i Island this Sunday, June 14 at South Point. They will be joined by 10 divers from Japan with the Sea Beautification Society, alongside a team from Big Island Divers in Kona and Line-X in Hilo, and other individuals from across the island. “We are still looking for a couple of shoreline support volunteers and free-divers/snorkelers to help us haul out the marine debris,” said coordinator Megan Lamson. “Pray for good weather and no swell.” 
      This event was planned for Sunday because it follows the annual S. Tokunaga ulua tournament, and there should be plenty of ulua slide weights and sugi (monofilament line) to collect, Lamson said. Any fishermen who join the cleanup are welcome to the lead. Email kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com or meet at the hoists at 10 a.m. with dive gear. This will be a one-tank dive and should be pau around lunchtime.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U RANCHERS CAN LEARN ABOUT a new mobile slaughter unit coming to Hawai`i Island at Pahala Community Center this Sunday, June 14 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Hawai`i Island Meat’s 36-foot trailer, made possible with funding from the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture, will meet USDA sanitation standards and be capable of processing eight to 10 head of cattle, 15 pigs and 30 lamb or goats per day. 
      For more information, see hawaiiislandmeat.com.

KA`U COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN Steering Committee meets today at 5:30 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. Public input is welcome on agenda items, which at this meeting are preparations for making final CDP recommendations.
      For more information, see kaucdp.info.

Dr. Tom Wilson
VOLCANIC ASH IMPACTS AROUND THE WORLD: Lessons from the Field and Laboratory is the topic at After Dark in the Park this evening at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. 
      What kind of impact does volcanic ash have on farming, agriculture, communities, computers and critical infrastructure? Dr. Tom Wilson, a lecturer of Hazard and Disaster Management in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Canterbury, discusses what he and his team of scientists have learned researching both short- and long-term ash impacts in New Zealand, and the resiliency of rural and isolated communities to natural disasters. Their research has focused on the impact of recent disasters in the Canterbury region from snowstorm and flooding events, and the assessment of natural hazard risk for isolated communities.
      Free; park entrance fees apply.

HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK holds a talk story session about its draft general management plan, wilderness study and environmental impact statement at Kilauea Visitor Center tomorrow from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A formal hearing will be held during the meeting to receive comments specific to the wilderness study.
      To review the DGMP/WS/EIS, see parkplanning.nps.gov/havogmp.