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Monday, February 13, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023

Public Invited on Tuesday to Pāhala Hongwanji
The bell will ring on Tuesday for an indoor service at Pāhala Hongwanji at 4 p.m. Members and community supporters of the Buddhist temple, its schoolhouse and grounds, are invited to attend. Pāhala Hongwanji hosts bon dances (photo above) during summer, hula, taiko drumming and aikido classes throughout the year, and much more. Photo by Ron Johnson

Drilling of the HOVE potable water well
many years ago. 
HOVE WATER WELL IS OFFLINE. The County Department of Water Supply "is contracting emergency work to troubleshoot and repair the well as quickly as possible," says a statement from the Mayor's Office issued Monday afternoon. 
    The drinking water spigot station remains open in Hawai'i Ocean View Estates for "potable uses only, but DWS asks residents to take only what they need. The standpipe facility is closed to water haulers.
     Call 808-961-8790 or email dws@hawaiidws.org for more information

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PROTECTING AND STRENGTHENING HAWAI'I'S COFFEE PLANT INDUSTRY is the inaugural bi-partisan bill from new Congresswoman Jill Tokuda, who represents rural Hawai'i, and served as Chair of Agriculture during her term in the state Senate.  The bill, cosponsored by Congressman Ed Case, with senate version cosponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Sen. Brian Schatz, is called the Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act.
       The bill would broaden current language included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s high priority initiatives in support of the coffee plant industry by improving the tools available for domestic coffee growers to fight pests, diseases, and expand critical research.
     “Coffee is an everyday staple for millions across the country, and an iconic product of Hawaiʻi’s agricultural industry. A significant contribution to our economy, the 2021-2022 season produced an estimated $61.9 million in production value from Hawaiʻi farms, and the coffee industry employs thousands of residents,” said Tokuda. “Our farmers are facing an uphill battle in fighting invasive pests, diseases, drought, and changing weather patterns. They urgently need and deserve our full support and access to resources to make sure that the coffee industry thrives well into the future.”
Kaʻū Coffee farms would be beneficiaries of the Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act.
Photo from www.kaucoffeefestival.com

     Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzales-Colon from Puerto Rico also supports the bill, saying, “Coffee is one of the most treasured agriculture commodities in Puerto Rico. This bill seeks to protect this crop from emerging threats, including coffee leaf rust, coffee berry borer, among others, and promote greater collaboration with USDA through expanded research and development of science-based tools and treatments. I am proud to be co-leading this legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, alongside Representatives Tokuda, Case and Garret Graves, and I look forward to working together to get it across the finish line,”
    Case said, “Coffee, an iconic crop cultivated in Hawai’i for two centuries, faces a myriad of challenges, including the rising cost of production, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, drought, and the COVID-19 pandemic, but foremost now is coffee leaf rust. This alignment of threats has caused an estimated 50 percent coffee crop reduction throughout the state. I continue to work with my Congressional colleagues to maximize federal research and assistance funding for Hawai'i’s specialty crops like coffee and macadamia nut, and this legislation is one more needed tool to ensure the survival and prosperity of our agricultural industry.”
   Hirono said, “Hawai'i is known around the world for our coffee. Investing in coffee-specific research and combatting current and emerging threats to coffee plant health—including things like Coffee Leaf Rust—is critical to Hawai'i’s ability to continue providing high-quality coffee products. This legislation will help producers keep their coffee plants healthy and build our understanding of how best to protect this important industry. I will continue to advocate for Hawaii’s unique agricultural and nutrition needs as we begin the process of forming a new Farm Bill,” said Senator Hirono.
Kaʻū and other coffee regions in Hawai'i are in need of research on
emerging threats to coffee plant health. Photo from www.kaucoffeefestival.com
    Schatz said, “Hawai‘i coffee is like none other on the planet. It’s a distinct local crop that supports local jobs and is a big part of Hawai‘i’s agriculture economy. We must support our local farmers and help them stay competitive, and that begins with science-based management.”
    The Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act would expand USDA research and extension grants for the following:
    Developing and disseminating science-based tools and treatments to combat plant pests and noxious weeds that impact coffee plants;
    Establishing an areawide integrated pest management program in areas affected by, or areas at risk of being affected by, plant pest or noxious weeds that impact coffee plants;
    Surveying and collecting data on coffee plant production and health;
    Investigating coffee plant biology, immunology, ecology, genomics, and bioinformatics.
    The bill also supports conducting research on: Factors that may contribute to or be associated with coffee plant immune; other serious threats to coffee plants, including the sublethal effects of insecticides,
herbicides, and fungicides on insects and plants beneficial to coffee plant growth; and
development of mitigating and preventative measures to improve habitat conservation and best management practices in coffee-growing regions.
     The statement from Tokuda says that coffee is the most consumed beverage in our country. Studies conducted by the National Coffee Association show that the total economic impact of this industry was close to $225.5 million in 2015, with consumers spending $74.2 billion in coffee. Additionally, coffee generates over 1.6 million jobs and nearly $28 billion in tax revenue.
    "As the U.S. coffee industry faces emerging threats from coffee tree pests, such as the coffee leaf rust, coffee berry borer, coffee leaf miner, and coffee wilt, it is critical that Congress improve the tools available for domestic coffee growers and support this critical industry."

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VACATION RENTALS IN ALL ZONINGS COULD BE SHUT DOWN under new legislation proposed at the 2023 Hawai'i Legislature. Bill HB84 in the House of Representatives, would give all counties the ability to phase out vacation rentals whether or not they are permitted, in all land use classifications and zonings. On Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 8:30 a.m., The Hawaii House Committee on Water & Land will host a public hearing on HB 84.
    Another bill would raise the Transient Accommodations Tax to 25 percent, but keep hotels, time shares and county licensed B&Bs at a lower rate.The bill goes to the House Finance committee for a hearing to be scheduled.
    Hawaii Rental
 by Owner Awareness Association sent out a statement with the following talking points:
    Disallowing anything under 180 days or lesser days as the counties deems appropriate could eliminate month to month rentals for those in need of temporary housing, such as traveling nurses and relocating families for short term needs.
    Short term rentals employ a large number of small businesses from housekeepers, laundry services, handypersons, plumbers, electricians, property managers. Short term rentals generate large tax revenues from GET/TAT and Property Taxes that benefit the State and Counties.
     To testify and follow any bill at the Hawai'i Legislature, go to https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/account/login.aspx?return=/account/submittestimony.aspx.

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PRESIDENT OF THE HAWAI'I LODING & TOURISM ASSOCIATION, MUFI HANNEMANN, WHOSE CONNECTIONS TO KA'U go back to starting Punalu'u Bake Shop, when he lived there, working for
Mufi Hannemann
 C. Brewer's old sugar plantation company and later running for governor, has a new post. He has been named to U.S. Tourism & Travel Advisory Board by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimonday. 
    U.S. Travel & Tourism Advisory Board has 32 members, including Hawaiian Airlines President Peter Ingram, and representatives of such organizations as Discover Puerto Rico, San Diego Tourism Authority, LA Tourism & Convention Board; CEOs of Air B&B, Trip Advisor, Booking Holdings (booking.com, kayak, priceline.....) and MGM Resorts; VP of Marriott, and Presidents of Carnival Cruise Line and Hertz.
    Non profits represented on the board include Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance; Sustainable Tourism & Partnerships, Leave No Trace; Locally Grown Restaurants; and Unite Here, the union that advocates for livable wages and safe conditions in the tourism industry. Also represented is the Port of Seattle and Atlanta International Airport.
     See more on U.S. Travel & Tourism Board at https://www.trade.gov/us-travel-and-tourism-advisory-board.

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THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN REPLACING THE OLD PLANTATION SEWER SYSTEMS IN PĀHALA AND NĀ'ĀLEHU are online and the the subject of a mailing in both communities. The notice reminds folks of a community informational meeting to be held on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at Pāhala Community Center, 96-1140 Kamani St. It will cover proposed options for closing the large capacity cesspools in Pāhala and Nā'ālehu and replacing them with other legal wastewater treatment options.
The website is https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/departments/environmental-management/pahala-naalehu.
The letter to community members comes from Brenda Iokepa-Moses, Deputy Director, Dept. Environmental Management, County of Hawai'i.

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St. Jude's Hot Meals are free to those in need on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until food runs out, no later than noon. Volunteers from the community are welcome to help and can contact Karen at pooch53@gmail.com. Location is 96-8606 Paradise Circle Drive in Ocean View. Those in need can also take hot showers from 9 a.m. to noon and use the computer lab from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free Meals Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are served from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Nā'ālehu Hongwanji. Volunteers prepare the food provided by 'O Ka'ū Kākou with fresh produce from its gardens on the farm of Eva Liu, who supports the project. Other community members also make donations and approximately 150 meals are served each day, according to OKK President Wayne Kawachi.

Volcano Evening Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village, Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with live music, artisan crafts, ono grinds, and fresh produce. See facebook.com.

Volcano Swap Meet, fourth Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. Large variety of vendors with numerous products. Tools, clothes, books, toys, local made healing extract and creams, antiques, jewelry, gemstones, crystals, food, music, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Also offered are cakes, coffee, and shave ice. Live music.

Volcano Farmers Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with local produce, baked goods, food to go, island beef and Ka'ū Coffee. EBT is used for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Call 808-967-7800.

Ka'ū Kākou Market, Nā'ālehu, Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Nadine Ebert at 808-938-5124 or June Domondon 808-938-4875. See facebook.com/OKauKakouMarket.

Ocean View Community Market, Saturdays and Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., corner of Kona Drive and Highway 11, where Thai Grindz is located. Masks mandatory. 100-person limit, social distancing required. Gate unlocked for vendors at 5:30 a.m., $15 dollars, no reservations needed. Parking in the upper lot only. Vendors must provide their own sanitizer. Food vendor permits required. Carpooling is encouraged.