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.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ka`u News Briefs, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016

Kilauea Military Camp offers a New Year's Eve Toast until midnight and a brunch on New Years Day. See more below.
Photo from Kilauea Military Camp
NEW YEAR'S DAY MARKS A HIKE IN MINIMUM WAGES for anyone working in Hawai`i. The new minimum wage will be $9.25 an hour, with another hike on Jan. 1, 2018 to $10.10. The increases, over time were put in motion by the 2014 Hawai`i Legislature when the minimum was at $7.25. It went to $7.75 on Jan. 1, 2015 and $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2016. Next year ends the series of minimum wage increases and new legislation would be needed to continue minimum wage hikes.
       According to a story in this morning's Honolulu Star Advertiser, "The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations advocated for the increases partly on the premise that low-wage workers would spend most or all of the resulting additional income and stimulate economic activity, including more job creation."
Altres staffing reminds employers that the minimum wage increases tomorrow.
      With unemployment at 3 percent in Hawai`i, "higher pay for largely entry-level jobs is expected to bubble up to more skilled jobs as employers face pressure to keep higher-paid positions competitive," states the Advertiser. The paper pointed out that minimum wage employees earn far less than most of the workforce in Honolulu. "A full-time worker at a minimum-wage job would earn $19,240 a year. That's about one-fourth of the $70,400 annual median income for a single person in Honolulu last year."
      The Advertiser story also pointed to the Hawai`i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, which testified during wage-increase hearings that "thousands of low-income workers would benefit from higher minimum wages, especially given that the cost of living here is almost 60 percent more than the national average. Peter Mattson, a representative of nonprofit Partners in Care, said in written testimony that higher wages would help people escape poverty and homelessness. Patricia McManaman, director of the state Department of Human Services, said in 2014 that the four annual minimum wage steps were the right thing to do: 'It’s time for Hawai`i to ensure that (the) poorest of our wage workers can at least support their most basic needs.'” 
     See more at www.honolulu-advertiser.com.

Sen. Mazie Hirono
U.S. SENATORS ELIZABETH WARREN AND MAZIE HIRONO are teammates, according to a statement from Warren, issued on New Year's Eve:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren issued a statement saying
she and Mazie Hieono will stand up to
Donald Trump.   
     "There's only one way we're going to stop Donald Trump: By standing together. All of us. That's why I'm proud to stand alongside my friend, Sen. Mazie Hirono. Hard-working families in Hawai`i and all across the country can count on Mazie and me to fight for them in the U.S. Senate, every single day -- and to stand up to Donald Trump's dangerous policies that threaten America.
     "Mazie is one of my closest allies in the Senate, said Warren, calling on Hawai`i residents to look ahead toward Hirono's reelection.
     "Mazie and I both arrived in the Senate in 2013 at the start of President Obama’s second term. Since then, we've been allies on issue after issue -- fighting to advance comprehensive immigration reform, defend Obamacare, protect women's health, raise the minimum wage, and ensure equal rights for all Americans. And we're going to keep up that fight, with your help.
     "Over the past eight years, our country has made incredible progress. We have boosted the economy with more than 15 million new jobs, delivered quality, affordable healthcare to more than 17 million Americans, and fought to defend civil liberties for countless more.
     "But too many Americans still feel like the system is rigged for the millionaires and billionaires and giant corporations – and as Donald Trump prepares to take office (as much as it pains me to say that), that feeling will only get worse. All our progress hangs in the balance. We must fight to protect what we have won, and must fight our way forward," stated Warren.
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SEN. JOSHUA BOOTH GREEN, who represents west Ka`u into Kona in the Hawai`i Legislature, issued a News Year's Eve message this morning: "I want to wish you all a happy, healthy and safe New Year!"
    Looking toward the opening of the Legislature in January, he said, "As chair of the Human Services Committee, I will be focused on protecting our state's safety net. This includes addressing the homelessness crisis, increasing our capacity to help people who suffer with addiction and mental illness, and beginning the debate on implementing a living wage of $15/hr for Hawai`i's people."
    Considering federal government, with Donald Trump as President, Green said, "It is no secret that the new administration in Washington has a very different view of critical American programs like Social Security, Medicare and the stability of our healthcare system than many of us are accustomed to.  
      "I will do all that I can, using my experience as both a practicing physician and legislator, to fight for the survival of programs that make America strong and compassionate. Going forward, I will bring new ideas to the table for debate, so that Hawai`i can lead the nation on key emerging policy challenges."
     Green invites everyone to a Talk Story session on Jan. 5 at King Kamehameha Hotel in Kona from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. "so that I can continue to hear what is most important to you and your families."
      During the 2017 Hawai`i Legislature, Green will be located at the Hawai`i State Capitol, Room 407, 415 South Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI 96813. Email josh@joshgreen.org.
      Reviewing more than a decade of work in the legislature, Green said online,
    “Working together over the last 11 years, we have achieved extraordinary results for our community with over $1 billion committed to improve roads, schools, and hospitals in West Hawai`i, including:

 $90 million to begin building and ultimately complete a Kona Judiciary Complex, which will house 230 full-time employees and make our local justice system safer and efficient; 

over $20 million to build the new West Hawai`i Community College Campus at Palamanui, which will allow our students to pursue higher education at home and serve as an important educational resource for our entire community; 

over $150 million to expand Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway and other critical roads in the region, meant to decrease fatal, tragic accidents and long waits on the road,; and over $75 million annually from the Hospital Sustainability Act which we created together, to strengthen all of Hawai`i’s hospitals, including Kona Community Hospital, Ka`u Hospital, and North Hawai`i Community Hospital (now partnered with Queens Hospital, bringing more specialists to our Island).

At your urging I have sponsored important new laws to care for Hawai`i's children, such as the 2015 mandates for insurance to cover autism and surgery for children with cleft palate. No state is more compassionate in its commitment to children's health needs now, and in 2014 we were named the healthiest state in the nation.”
      Concerning sustainability, Green said, “We have fought side by side against powerful special interests to protect our environment and I've supported renewable energy at every turn possible.

 All of these new projects and initiatives will create jobs, stimulate our economy, build our community and protect those who need us most to advocate for them for years to come. 

I am positive we will keep working together to achieve even greater results in the coming years, to make all of Hawai`i an even better place to live. Of course there is always more work to do.

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CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp cottage through the holidays.

NEW YEAR'S DAY BRUNCH is this Sunday, Jan. 1 at Kilauea Military Camp's Crater Rim Cafe. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply 967-0835.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ka`u News Briefs, Friday Dec. 30, 2016

Firework displays have toned down in Ka`u since more than a thousand people came to Pahala to see the spectacular Rodney
 Freitas show in 2009. However, lots of backyard and street action is expected in all the villages.on Dec. 3 and  Fire Chief
Darren Rosario warns everyone to be careful. See story below. Photo by Kris Bakken
Alina Jerong helped her famly to pick coffee and in 2011 
became the first Marshallese community member to run 
for Miss Ka`u Coffee. Now the Marshallese need child
 care to free them up to help Ka`u Coffee farmers harvest
 their crop. A picker shortage threatens the livelihood of
 the farmers and health of Ka`u Coffee orchards.

KA`U COFFEE FARMERS' COFFEE PICKER SHORTAGE was covered by Hawai`i News Now this morning. John Ah San, President of the Palehua Coffee Cooperative, and Delvin Navarro, Vice-president of Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative, told the television news crew that coffee cherry left on coffee trees can lead to a large loss in the annual crop. Overripe coffee falling onto the soil can become a breeding ground for the dreaded coffee berry borer, which is already devouring a portion of the crop.
     Ka`u Coffee contributes 1.5 million pounds of coffee a year to the famous grown-in Hawai`i coffee market.
    Regarding the picker shortage, Ah San, told Lisa Kubota of Hawai`i News Now that "It's hard to recruit younger people so we're depending more on the Marshallese, migrant workers and a few local people. We've heard of several farmers not having enough pickers on time or couldn't get pickers and pretty much lost an entire round."
     The unusual weather this year has led to an overlap in the picking season. Usually Kona starts first and at the end of the Kona season, coffee pickers move down to Ka`u. Kona farmers are still harvesting, leaving Ka`u short of pickers. Some farmers are losing their income and subjecting their farms to becoming a borer breeding ground.
     Ka`u Coffee farmers are also hoping to keep up with picking to maintain their relationship with a major buyer, Starbucks.
     Navarro told The Ka`u Calendar today that farmers are hoping to work out arrangements with the Marshallese community which has provided pickers for years but is running up against labor laws that prohibit bringing children to the fields and also require that pickers be paid minimum wage against pay per volume of coffee picked. Marshallese community people often pick for payment by the pound, work at a family pace and take breaks for the non-working children they bring with them. The mix of working and caring for family sometimes keeps the volume under the amount required to reach minimum wage.
      Navarro said the farmers are working on organizing child care and a pre-school to satisfy the various Marshallese community groups so they can safely leave their children with teachers or caregivers while they pick coffee. "They are part of our community and we want to work with and help the Marshallese," said Navarro.
   Miss Ka`u Coffee 2015 Maria Miranda has also been working with nonprofit organizations to help provide child care for Marshallese coffee pickers.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Lucille wold enjoy the outdoors with
improvements at Ka`u Hospital.
Photo from Ka`u Hospital
Charitable Foundation
KA`U HOSPITAL CHARITABLE FOUNDATION is reaching out for funding to help long term patients enjoy gardening and other outdoor activities. One funding request tells the story of a resident named Lucile and says, "I met Lucille neary ten years ago as a volunteer. We have shared many stories. She grew up in Ka'u, having lived both on the mountain and at the ocean. She even had a pet mongoose once. Ka`u is her favorite place on earth. Lucille loves flowers, especially roses. With your support, when the outdoor garden/lanai is completed, Lucille and the other residents who live at Ka`u Hospital can enjoy many wonderful times outdoors, including the beautiful flowers, warm breezes and scenery that will be accessible to them." Ka`u Hospital Chritable Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation. One hundred percent tax-deducatible checks can be made out to Ka`u Hospital Charitable Foundation, Box 773, Pahala, HI 96777.
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HAWAI`I'S BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU has published a list of the Top 10 reported scams in 2016. The number of types of scams rose, and the people who reported being scammed in Hawai`i more than doubled this year.  The BBB has an online scam tracker and encourages victims of scams to report the incident. Tax scams are still top for the year, despite a big crack down on a ring in India. According to news reports, there were 770 employees working at a Mumbai call center when a midnight raid by Indian police was conducted; 70 were charged with fraud and other crimes as a result of the raid.
     The top scam is the tax scam (also known as the IRS scam), which has accounted for about one in four reports to BBB Scam Tracker during its first year of operation. The tax scam involves call center con artists posing as IRS agents in the U.S. and Canadian Revenue agents in Canada. They threaten their targets with financial penalties, lawsuits, deportation, and even arrest if they don’t pay the back taxes they supposedly owe. Some IRS impersonation scams are demanding tax payments be made with iTunes and other gift cards. In a typical week, BBB Scam Tracker receives approximately 200 reports on tax scams. That number has dropped to just 11 reports of this scam in the past week, nearly a 95 percent decline.
     The BBB’s Top Ten list was compiled based on nearly 900 scam reports filed by consumers in Hawai`i on bbb.org/scamtracker, a free interactive online tool launched last year by the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust. Not all reported scams resulted in lost money and consumers are encouraged to report any scam they come across using the BBB Scam Tracker.
     As in 2015, tax scams (#1) and sweepstakes/prizes/gifts scams (#2) take the top two spots as the most-reported scams in 2016. New to the top ten list is online purchase scams (#7), which although common in 2015 was not added as a BBB Scam Tracker category until 2016. Credit repair/debt relief (#9) and fake check/money order (#10) scams are also new to the top ten.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

WITH NEW YEARS EVE CELEBRATIONS BEGINNING, County of Hawai`i Fire Chief Darren Rosario has issued a safety notice and said he would like to remind the public that it is illegal for anyone to: Remove the powder or pyrotechnic contents from any firework; throw fireworks from, at, or into any vehicle; set off any fireworks at any time not within the specified time periods (9 p.m to 2 a.m. on New Years Eve), within 1,000 feet of any hospital, convalescent home, care home for the elderly, zoo, animal hospital or shelter, or church when services are held.    
     It is also illegal to set off fireworks on any school property without authorization from the school official and on any public way such as a highway, alley, street, sidewalk, or park.
Backyard and street side fireworks displays are expected throughout Ka`u on New
Years Eve. Photo by Julia Neal
     The Fire Chief notes that it is illegal to offer for sale, sell, or give any fireworks to minors; or for any minor to possess, purchase, sell, or set off, ignite, or otherwise cause to explode any fireworks, except under the immediate supervision of an adult and to set off any aerial luminary devices, commonly called Sky Lanterns or Hawai`i Lanterns; or any other aerial devices, such as bottle rockets, sky rockets, roman candles, cakes, mortars, or shells.    
     "The Hawai`i Fire Department humbly asks everyone to please Kokua in helping us to prevent fires, and also to avoid the unnecessary injuries caused by fireworks each year. You can help us by: Using extreme care when setting off fireworks. Children playing with fireworks should be under an adult’s close supervision at all times. Even the smallest of fireworks can cause severe injuries that will quickly ruin the Holidays. Please help us, to help you, start the New Year off safely," said the fire chief.   
     He said that fireworks should be set off in an area well away from dry grass or flammable materials and urged everyone to be sure Fireworks are completely extinguished before being disposed of. "Most importantly, have a fire extinguisher and/ or a water hose ready to use in the event of an unplanned or unexpected fire. Be sure the water hose(s) can reach all areas of where fireworks activities are being conducted, especially around the entire house. It’s also a great idea to wet down any dry, grassy area before and after setting off fireworks. Doing it before will also let you know the capability of your water source."
      For more information on the purchasing of Fireworks permits, or the use of Fireworks, call the Fire Prevention Bureau at 932-2911 (Hilo) or 323-4760 (Kona).
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CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp cottage through the holidays.

NEW YEARS DAY BRUNCH, Sunday, Jan. 1 from 7 a.m. to noon at Kilauea Military Camp's Crater Rim Cafe in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Roast pork, chicken picata, omelet station, pancakes, breakfast potatoes, patties, bacon, fresh fruit and beverags. Adults $16.95, children 6-11 for $9.50. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply. 967-8356.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016

Pu`u O`o sends lava to the sea.  Photo by Ann Bosted
THE 34TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE START of Kīlauea Volcano's East Rift Zone's Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption will be  Jan. 23, 2017. In this week's Volcano Watch, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists point out the following:

     Given the duration of this eruption, people who were children when it began are now old enough to be parents, or possibly, grandparents. And, many Island of Hawaiʻi residents have never known a time when Puʻu ʻŌʻō was not erupting.
     During the past 34 years, Kīlauea's East Rift Zone has seen a dizzying array of changes. High lava fountains gave way to tube-fed pāhoehoe flows. Vents opened, fed flows to the ocean, and were abandoned. Neighborhoods were buried by lava, rebuilt, and partly buried again.
     On May 24, 2016, two new flows broke out on the flanks of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone on Kīlauea
Volcano's East Rift Zone. The silvery sheen of new lava erupting from the northern 61f breakout (center) and eastern 61g breakout (upper left) stands out in contrast to the older flows on and around Puʻu ʻŌʻō (right). The 61f flow stagnated within two weeks, but the 61g flow, which advanced downslope and reached the ocean on July 26, 2016, remains active today. USGS photo.
     This past year was no exception. A new vent opened and formed a new lava flow that is still active today.
On May 24, 2016, two new flows broke out on the flanks of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone
 on Kīlauea Volcano's East Rift Zone. The silvery sheen of new lava erupting
 from the northern 61f breakout (center) and eastern 61g breakout (upper left) 
stands out in contrast to the older flows on and around \Puʻu ʻŌʻō (right). The 61f 
flow stagnated within two weeks, but the 61g flow, which advanced  downslope 
and reached the ocean on July 26, 2016,  remains active today. USGS photo.
     As the East Rift Zone eruption begins its 35th year, let's review what happened over the past 12 months.
     When 2016 began, lava was erupting from the June 27th vent on the north flank of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone. This was the same vent that fed flows toward Pāhoa in 2014 and early 2015.
      During late 2015 and early 2016, however, the vent fed surface breakouts over a broad area up to about 8 km (5 mi) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. These flows were upslope from communities in the island's lower Puna District, but were relatively weak and posed no threat to infrastructure.
     As 2016 progressed, lava also began to erupt within the small crater atop Puʻu ʻŌʻō, suggesting that more magma was arriving at Puʻu ʻŌʻō than was being erupted. This culminated in two new breakouts on the north and east flanks of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone on May 24. The June 27th flow northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō gradually stagnated and ceased over the following week.
     The northern May 24 breakout at Puʻu ʻŌʻō, called episode 61f, was dead by June 4. But the eastern breakout, called episode 61g, captured the entire output from Puʻu ʻŌʻō and kept going. Lava advanced downslope to the southeast, initially at rates of up to several hundred meters (yards) per day, and reached the top of the Pūlama pali on Kīlauea's south flank in late June.
     Spectacular channelized ʻaʻā flows were visible for the next several days as lava streamed down the pali and puddled at its base. By early July, the 61g flow was back on the move and headed toward the ocean.

Multiple flows into the ocean. Photo courtesy of Lava Ocean Tours
   Lava crept across the coastal plain over the following weeks and crossed the gravel emergency access road (constructed in 2014 when flows were threatening Pāhoa) on July 25. The 61g lava flow reached the ocean early the next day and began to build two lava deltas, known as the eastern and western Kamokuna ocean entries.
     The western, and weaker, of the two lava deltas grew to about 6 acres in size before it was abandoned in late September. The eastern Kamokuna lava delta persisted, however, and by the end of 2016 was about 26 acres.
     Kīlauea's East Rift Zone eruption settled in to a relatively consistent pattern of behavior this past year. Lava erupted from the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent was carried downslope through a lava tube, where it emptied into the ocean. Occasionally, short-lived breakouts of lava occurred along the tube, creating surface flows.
     In a few instances, more substantial breakouts occurred from the vent itself, burying the upper end of the 61g flow field beneath new lava. The largest of these breakouts, to date, occurred on November 21, and sent lava to the east of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. This breakout was still active as of late December, advancing slowly—a few tens of meters (yards) per day—to the southeast along the edge of the older 61g flow. The 61g flows currently pose no threat to Puna communities.
     As the New Year begins, we see no indication that Kīlauea's East Rift Zone eruption is about to change significantly or stop. This leads us to wonder, will it outlast another generation?
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PHILANTHROPIST RIGINA KAWANANAKOA, heiress to the Campbell estate and a member of Hawai`i’s royal family, died Dec. 10 at the age of 69 at her home in East O`ahu. Her family is known for holding title to large parcels of property in Ka`u. Her brother, Pi‘ikoi, owns 1,115 acres makai of the Hawaiian Ranchos neighborhood in Ocean View. It is adjacent to the 3,200 acres now owned by the County and to be conserved as open space.  According to county records, he also owns about 200 acres mauka of Hawahi`i Ocean View Estates.
Princess Regina Kawananakoa in 2002
in historic costume in front of Iolani
Palace, a museum she supported.
Photo by Deborah Booker
Born in Honolulu, Regina Abigail Mary Wahiika`ahu`ula Keopuolani Kawananakoa was the eldest daughter of the late Edward Kawananakoa — a descendent of Kaua`i’s King Kaumuali`i and the great-great-granddaughter of 19th-century Hawai`i industrialist James Campbell — and Lila de Clark Whitaker.
     Kawananakoa supported preservation and historical societies and was a lifetime member of the Friends of Iolani Palace, which works to preserve the one-time home of her great-great-grand uncle and aunt, King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani.
     “Princess Regina was a philanthropist who exemplified the spirit of opualii — charitable generosity embodied in the actions of a true ali`i,” said Hailama Farden, a member of the Hale O Na Ali`i O Hawai`i, a Hawaiian royal society.
     Kawananakoa was a member of various Hawaiian royal benevolent societies and participated in the Daughters of Hawai`i. She was also a lifetime member of the Prince Kuhio Hawaiian Civic Club, which was founded by her grand-aunt, Liliuokalani Kawananakoa, who also founded the Friends of Iolani Palace.
    In 1999 she published a historical biography, Kaumuali`i: King of Kaua‘i, with Kristin Zambucka.
    Kawananakoa spent much of her youth in California but returned to Hawai`i, where she married her first husband, Jim Bartels, the former curator and managing director of Iolani Palace and later director of Washington Place.
    Recently she endorsed Mililani Trask of Kurtistown, who challenged Bob Lindsey as a candidate for the Office of hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees on the Big Island.
    A public service will be held Jan. 14 at St. Augustine-by-the-Sea Catholic Church at 130 Ohua Ave. in Waikiki. The public is welcome at 10 a.m. with services at 11 a.m. A private inurnment will be held at a later date.
  She is survived by her mother, who lives in Mexico; her son, Erik Linstrom Kawananakoa of Texas; three grandchildren, Nicholas, Alexandra and Lucas; her brothers, Edward, David, Quentin and Pi`ikoi; and an aunt, Marchesa Kapi`olani Kawananakoa Marignoli.
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Hawaiian sunsets help draw more visitors to
the Hawaiian Islands. Photo by Ann Bosted
TOURISM ARRIVALS ARE UP with  696,890 visitors arriving in Hawai’i last month - the most ever recorded for the month of November, and a 4.7 percent increase over November 2015. Visitors spent $1.2 billion on the islands, an increase of 5.6 percent compared to November last year, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawai`i Tourism Authority.  
     “Hawai`i’s tourism industry continued to build upon its momentum in November, recording the state’s best-ever totals for visitor arrivals and spending for the month,” said George Szigeti, CEO and president of HTA. In November, growth in visitor arrivals and higher average daily spending contributed to gains in total visitor spending.
     Visitor spending by tourists from the western U.S. rose 5.1 percent to $457.3 million. Visitor spending from Japan rose 13 percent to $187.5 million. Spending from Canada rose 7.5 percent to $85.3 million in November, while visitor spending from all other international markets rose 11.4 percent to $236.4 million.
     From those traveling from the U.S. East, despite an increase in visitors, lower daily spending led to a 4.5 percent drop in total visitor spending to $246.3 million, compared to November 2015.
     There were 686,970 visitors who came by air, up 4.2 percent, compared to November last year, and 9,920 visitors who came via cruise ships, an increase of 56.8 percent.
     Arrivals by air from U.S. West rose 2.3 percent to 293,744 and U.S. East arrivals rose 4.5 percent to 124,328.
     Arrivals from Japan rose 4.6 percent to 125,982, while visitors from Canada rose 3.1 percent to 44,371 and all other international markets rose 9.5 percent to 98,544.
     “Our state’s tax revenue base continues to benefit from tourism’s success,” Szigeti said. “Through November, Hawai`i’s tourism industry has generated $1.64 billion in state tax revenue, which is $64 million more than last year. December looks to be an outstanding month for tourism and will further add to this total.”
     The HTA said it was the sixth consecutive month with a year-over-year increase in visitor spending on the Islands.
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OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORP. MEETING is Friday, Dec. 30 at 5 p.m. at Hawaiian Ranchos Office.

CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp cottage through the holidays.

NEW YEAR'S DAY BRUNCH is this Sunday, Jan. 1 at Kilauea Military Camp's Crater Rim Cafe. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored buests. Park entrance fees apply 9670835,

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016

Keiki on the rocks and limu practice a catch and release at the annual O Ka`u Kakou Keiki Fishing Tournament coming up Jan. 21.
Photo by Peter Anderson
TELEHEALTH AT KA`U RURAL HEALTH COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION will be sponsored by HMSA. The first telehealth online kiosk in Ka`u will be dedicated at the Ka`u Rural Health Community Association's Resource Distance and Learning Center on Friday, Jan. 13. The public is invited to the ceremony and also to video chat with a doctor at no cost. The dedication, ceremony and
demonstration of online telehealth care begins at 11 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m. The location is 96-3126 Puahala St., Pahala, near the Pahala Library.    
Ka`u Rural Health Community Association will
host the telehealth kiosk, sponsored by
HMSA. Photo from Ka`u Rural Health
     Hawai`i Medical Service Association's certified and approved telehealth services are open not only for HMSA subscribers but also the general public, starting in January. HMSA officials say they are motivated to provide health care close to people's homes.
     HMSA's description of its telehealth services states that consumers can talk to local credentialed physicians from HMSA's participating provider network, live on-demand. Sessions will be secure and private, using internet-based videoconferencing, secure chat, or telephone. Physicians can review claims and other health information the patient makes available, talk with patients, prescribe medications as physicians deem appropriate and consistent with standards of care, and recommend follow-up care. Session notes will be maintained electronically, and can be forwarded upon patient request to primary care physicians.
     HMSA's telehealth program is overseen by an executive board and government health care regulators, much like visits to a doctor in an office, clinic or hospital.
     On its website, HMSA states that telehealth helps achieve affordable visits without an appointment. "Online Care doctors can help with sudden or acute conditions like bronchitis, or ear and sinus infections." They can help with "chronic conditions like allergies, diabetes or hypertension; common conditions like headaches, colds, or the flu, and managing multiple medications, side effects or drug interactions." Online care can also help in "Getting you on track with your health and well-being goals," according to HMSA.
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THE NUMBER OF BARRELS OF IMPORTED OIL TO HAWAI`I has been cut by 41 percent since 2006, according to a new report from the the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.  In 2015 Hawai`i imported 28.8 million barrels, nearly half of the 49 million barrels imported in 2006. The speedy growth of renewable sources of energy has driven down demand for oil over the past ten years, but the drop in the price of oil in 2015 has lead to an increase in consumption in 2015. The average oil price decreased by 47.5 percent to $48.8 per barrel in 2015 from $93 per barrel in 2014.
     The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Hawai1i State Energy Office has released its 2016 Energy Resources Coordinator’s Annual Report, which highlights the policies and activities that have advanced the state approximately a quarter of the way toward its target of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.
Pakini Nui Windfarm is the largest in Ka`u and helps reduce the number of barrels of oil shipped here.
Photo by Peter Anderson
   The 86-page report covers a wide variety of energy issues and highlights Hawai`i’s clean energy progress in the last 12 months. It showcases the Hawai`i State Energy Office’s policy and programs position the state as a clean energy leader. It is a fund of figures and statistics.
    “Hawai`i`’s push to create a clean energy future is becoming a reality,” said Luis P. Salaveria, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, & Tourism. “The state made tremendous strides to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, with about 25 percent of all electricity sales coming from renewable sources. We will continue to work toward our 100 percent renewable energy goal by engaging all stakeholders with collaboration, innovative thinking and a strong entrepreneurial drive.”
     The 25 percent figure applies to the state of Hawai’i, where other islands lag behind the big island in terms of the percentage of electricity coming from renewable resources. The Big Island’s figure is 48.7 percent, while Maui’s is 35.4 [ercemt, Kaua`i’s is 27.3 percent and O`ahu is 17.2 percent. 
Hawai`i is considered an ideal environment for
electric vehicles, with moderate temperatures and
high gas prices. Image from hawaiienergy.com
     There is also good news to report in the effort to reduce petroleum use in the transportation sector. The popularity of electric vehicles continues to grow, with EV registrations accelerating at a double-digit pace in 2016. By year’s end there were more than 5,000 EVs registered in Hawa`ii, a 26 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. Hawai`i is second in the nation (after California) in per capita EV registrations and a leader in charging facilities.
      The report shows a map of all the renewable energy projects on all the islands. Of the state's 65 renewables projects, the Big Island has 17 projects generating a total of about 85 megawatts. The largest is in Ka`u. The Pakini Nui Wind Farm generates over 20 megawatts. There is no mention of the solar farm in Miloli`i which should contribute 1.25 megawatts to the grid, unless it is curtailed.
     The report gives details of a “Billionaire Buy-in”, whereby wealthy individuals are investing in technology to counter the threat of climate change. 

THE NINTH ANNUAL KEIKI FISHING TOURNAMENT, presented by `O Ka`u Kakou, for children one to 14 years of age will be on Saturday, Jan. 21 at Punalu`u Beach Park Pavilions.
An aerial of the annual Keiki Fishing Tournament at Punalu`u
Photo by Vernon Harvey
    Registration forms can be picked up and dropped off at Na`alehu Elementary School, Na`alehu Ace Hardware, Pahala Elementary School, Mizuno Superette in Pahala, Pahala Gas Station, Wiki Wiki Mart in Na`alehu, Wong Yuen Store in Wai`ohinu, Kahuku Country Market in Ocean View and Ocean View Auto Parts.
    Families are urged to register early as children pick their prizes in the order they are registered. Pre-registration ends at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
     The fishing guidelines require hand pole fishing with barbless hooks; hand polls, fishing gear and bait provided by the tournament or brought from home. Those needing fishing equipment may be accommodated on a first-to register basis.
     All fishing is catch and release.
     The Keiki Fishing Tournament also involves a canned food drive for the needy.
For more information, contact Guy Enriques at 217-2253 or Wayne Kawachi at 937-4773.
     Sponsors include Pacific Quest, S. Tokunaga Store, Ka`u Royal Hawaiian Cofee & Tea, LP, Suisan Co. Ka`u Mahi, County of Hawai`i, and state Department of Land & Natural Resources Marine Wildlife Program.

CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp cottage through the holidays.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016

`Alalā, are back in captivity after their recent reintroduction into the wild with two of the five surviving after
a short time in the forest near Volcano. Photo from National Park Service
TWO YOUNG ENDANGERED HAWAIIAN CROWS, the `Alalā, were moved back into an aviary at the State of Hawai‘i’s Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve last week, as conservationists work to overcome challenges faced by the birds during their reintroduction. A joint news release issued today from San Diego Zoo Global, the state Department of Land & Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service states: "A group of five birds were released into the protected reserve on Dec. 14. Although the birds had been observed doing well and eating from feeders placed in the area, three birds were found dead over the last week. The confirmed cause of the deaths is currently unknown but conservationists hope to gather information about what happened to the birds through necropsy examinations."
Condolences have come from around the world since three of five ‘Alalā perished
after their recent release into the forest. The surviving two have been placed back
 into an aviary.  Photo from San Diego Zoo
    John Vetter, a wildlife biologist with the DLNR's Division of Forestry & Wildlife, said, “Some level of mortality is to be expected when reintroducing a species back into the wild and we were prepared for that possibility. The initial days of release are always the most difficult stage of any release program, and the level of uncertainty is also highest with the first release cohort. We decided to recapture the remaining birds to ensure their safety while we await the results of the necropsies, so that we can learn, respond, and continue to strive for the long-term success of the ‘Alalā.”
      Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve is an area that conservationists have worked to preserve, protecting native plants and species, and it represents the type of habitat where ‘Alalā originally lived before their numbers began to decline. The ‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global's Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program.
      Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program, remarked, “The loss of these three birds is difficult for the entire community, including the many people who have cared for these birds since their hatch and have worked steadfastly to prepare for their release. Condolences for this loss have come from around the world.”
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RENEWABLE ENERGY TAX CREDITS provided by the State of Hawai`i to taxpayers totaled $112.1 million in in 2014, slightly down from the 2013, according to the tax credits report released by the state Department of Taxation earlier this month. 2014 is the last year for which there’s data available. The Renewable Energy Technologies Tax Credit offers taxpayers who install rooftop solar systems a tax credit for 35 percent of the cost and a 20 percent credit for wind-powered systems. For single-family homes, the amount of the credit was capped at $5,000 for solar energy systems and $1,500 for wind-powered systems. For commercial operators, the credit was capped at $500,000 for wind or solar systems.
     The report said that close to 15,000 tax filers made claims totaling $112.1 million in 2014, which amounted to 35 percent of all tax credit dollars claimed for that year. This is lower than 2013 when the state gave out $118.3 million in renewable energy tax credits. In 2012, a still record-setting $164 million in credit dollars were claimed, at the height of the solar photovoltaic industry.
Pakini Nui wind farm. Photo by Ann Bosted     
     For the three-year period from 2012 to 2014, more than $394 million was claimed, by far the largest sum of any of the state’s tax credits.     This tax credit provides an incentive for Hawaiian families to install rooftop solar systems, as they are able to claim refunds of 35 percent of the cost from the state of Hawai’i as well as 30 percent on federal taxes. According to HELCO, there are nearly 11,000 customer-owned rooftop solar systems on the Big Island. 
     The very popular Net Energy Metering program, whereby an owner of a solar system could earn a credits for electricity after the sun went down in return for surplus daytime power, ended in October 2015. Under the NEM program, most household electricity bills could be as low as $25 per month, depending on how the project was financed. The end of the NEM program also ended the “boom and bust” cycle which ran from 2011 to 2015, during which time local solar installation companies’ revenues were up.
     State and Federal Energy credits are also a huge incentive for overseas companies to install utility-sized solar farms, such as the one planned for Ocean View by SPI Solar, an international corporation which is based in Shanghai. SPI Solar wants to build a 6.75 megawatt utility-scale solar installation in a rural town under the Feed In Tariff Program. 
    This project is now on hold following a Formal Complaint filed with the Public Utilities Commission by Ocean View residents. If the PUC allows the project to proceed, as HELCO argues is should, then SPI Solar will sell power to HELCO for 23.8c per kWh, which is roughly ten cents higher than four recently permitted solar farms, according to a story in the Honolulu Star Advertiser on Sept. 14.
Industrial solar farms incentivized by federal and state
tax credits. Photo by Ann Bosted
   In a February 2013 study, the University of Hawai`i Economic Research Organization revealed that the state renewable energy tax credit could cost $1.4 billion in lost revenue based on 1,100 megawatts of installed systems. The Renewable Energy Technologies Tax Credit was 35.2 percent of the total tax credits claimed in tax year 2014. Some 14,902 claims were filed for the renewable energy systems credits. The majority of the credits were for solar systems with 14,144 solar claims filed. Roughly $55 million in tax credits went to individuals who installed solar systems. Corporations received $42 million in tax credits for solar systems. Claims totaling about $39,000 were filed by individuals for wind systems.
     The solar industry has been struggling since the state ended the NEM solar incentive program in October 2015. Net energy metering paid residents the full retail rate for excess electricity sent into the grid.
     The state PUC replaced NEM with two programs called “grid-supply” and “self-supply.” Grid-supply credits customers roughly 8 cents less than those who enrolled in NEM. Self-supply encourages the use of batteries as it prohibits customers from sending excess energy into the electric grid. The only program currently available is self-supply because the Big Island reached the limit the PUC placed on the amount of solar systems that could enroll in grid-supply earlier this year.
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CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp cottage through the holidays.

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