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Monday, June 12, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Monday, June 12, 2023

Leo Norberte and team took first place for Kaʻū Coffee in the 2022 Hawai'i Coffee Association cupping competition. Winners
for 2023 will be announced at the HCA convention on Kaua'i this weekend. Photo by Julia Neal

KAʻŪ COFFEES will among the statewide competitors in Hawai' Coffee Association's 14th Annual Cupping Contest, with winners announced this Saturday. HCA's annual conference will be held this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 15-17 at Kaua'i Beach Resort & Spa. 
    HCA Executive Director Chris Manfredi said, "The Cupping Competition is the Hawai'i Coffee Association's opportunity to honor the work and innovation of Hawai'i's coffee growers. The competition
provides several benefits including feedback from professional coffee tasters (Licensed Q Graders), expanding market opportunities, and the chance to collaborate, network and celebrate the progression of and improvements in Hawaii-grown coffee."
     Hawai'i Coffee Association partners with Pacific Coffee Research to administer the annual statewide cupping competition. PCR selected a panel of Hawai'i-based licensed Q Graders to assess and score samples using SCA protocol and methodology at its Kona lab.
     Last year, Leo and Herme Norberte and Miguel Mesa won top Kaʻū Coffees. Three Kaʻū Coffees scored in the top ten statewide. Norberte's JN Red Bourbon Fruit- Dried entry scored 86.90, the third highest score in the state. Rusty's Hawaiian Bourbon Fruit-Dried came in second for Kaʻū, with a score of 86.48, the eighth highest score in the state. Third in Kaʻū was Karina and Armando Rodrigues' Casablanca Farms, LLC with their Typica & Pacamara Fruit-Dried entry, with a score of 86.35, the ninth highest score in the state.

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HAWAI'I ON THE HILL begins on Tuesday, showcasing Hawai'i products, services, culture and issues in Washington, D.C. Initiated a decade ago by Sen. Maxie Hirono. Hawai'i on the Hill is in its seventh year, after a three year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
      Hirono is a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. To host the event, she partners with Chamber of Commerce Hawai'i. The three day event not only promotes Hawai'i, it gives Hawai'i entrepreneurs, who attend, the opportunity to meet directly with Congressional leaders and Administration officials, while also showcasing Hawai'i businesses and products to Members of Congress, their staff, and the D.C. community. This year, more than 200 individuals representing more than 40 Hawai'i businesses are expected to attend.
    On Tuesday, there will be a Fireside chat and Q&A with Hirono and Chamber of Commerce of Hawai'i Pres. and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara.  It begins at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
    Wednesday will feature a Hawai'i on the Hill Policy Summit with policymakers, policy experts, and Members of Congress providing insight on issues important to businesses in Hawai'i and across the country at 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time, live streamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Upv5nLSVRU.                   
    Included will be Hirono, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. John Boozman, Rep. Ed Case, Rep. Jill Tokuda,  Secretary of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Marge Fudge, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Compact Negotiations Joseph Yun, Chair of Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory, Administrator of U.S. Small Business Administration Isabel Guzman, Chamber of Commerce Hawai'i President & CEO Sherry Menior-McNamara and Hawai'i State Senate President Ron Kouchi.
     Taste of Hawai'i on Capitol Hill will be featured on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Hirono and Chamber of Commerce Hawai'i will be the host to members of Congress, Congressional and federal agency staff and Hawai'i businesses. The event offers the opportunity to experience and learn more about Hawai'i's unique culture through cuisine, music, and more. Some of this year's exhibitors include: Hawai'i Farm Bureau; Hawaiian Chip Company; Kaua'i Kookie; Koloa Rum; Lappert's Hawai'i; Maui Brewing; The Orchid Lei Company; and the University of Hawai'i.
    Thursday's event is Kama'aina Career Connect & Reception, at  6 p.m. Eastern Time. It will network Hawai'i residents living in Washington D.C. who are interested in returning to Hawai'i for work. The event provides the opportunity to meet with Hawai'i employers in diverse industries including defense, tech, cybersecurity, engineering, and more. Hawai'i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism will be on hand.

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A WILDFIRE AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, KICKED OFF BY COUNTY CIVIL DEFENSE last week, warns the public: "Don’t let the winter’s rains fool you into thinking Hawai‘i won’t experience devastating wildfires anytime soon. As part of the annual Wildfire & Drought LOOKOUT! campaign, forecasters warned that the islands will begin experiencing drought conditions late this summer, that could extend all the way through next winter."
    During the Civil Defense kick-off, Derek Wroe of National Weather Service cautioned about weather complacency. “While everything is green and lush right now, we are expecting below-average rainfall, as we enter the dry season in Hawai‘i. Our long-range modeling shows that even our normally wet winter (2023-2024) will be abnormally dry.”
Hawai'i Island experienced the largest wildfires in recent years and was the
site of the kickoff of the annual Wildfire & Drought LOOKOUT! campaign.
Photo from state Department of Land & Natural Resources
    This means all that green vegetation now, will not only be more abundant, but will have a longer period to dry out, providing more potential fuel for wildland fires.
    Mike Walker, State Protection Forester for DLNR Division of Forestry & Wildlife, reminded everyone that wildfire season in Hawai‘i is now and will continue to be a year-round phenomenon, due to warming climate conditions. “Much of Hawai‘i’s landscape, particularly in fire-prone areas, is dominated by invasive fountain grass. It is fire adapted and is flammable throughout the year and even more so during drought periods,” Walker said. Dry fountain grass has helped fuel most large wildfires on Hawai‘i island.
    The Wildfire & Drought Lookout! is a collaborative effort of virtually every fire prevention and response agency in the state. It is coordinated by Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization. Last week marked the first time since the initiative started in 2016 that the kick-off news conference was held somewhere other than O‘ahu. It focused on Hawai‘i Island, which has experienced the largest wildfires in
recent years. Both the 40,000-acre Mana Road fire in 2021 and last year’s 17,000-acre Leilani fire were fueled by invasive grasses.
    Here are fire prevention and mitigation initiatives announced by partner agencies.
    Hawai‘i County Civil Defense: Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno is the voice Hawai‘i Island residents often hear in times of emergency. He also leads the Big Island Wildfire Coordinating Group, which is readying the roll out of predefined, evacuation preparedness threat levels, patterned on NWS weather warnings.
    “The beginning of this whole process started with trying to outreach with the various fire agencies to accomplish getting better communications with communities. It was apparent that fire matches other natural disasters as far as advisories, watches, and warnings. We’ve come up with a color-coded scale to match each level,” Magno explained. Language for each evacuation level is still being finalized but expected to be ready this summer.
    Hawai‘i Fire Department: Assistant Chief Darwin Okinaka is one of the driving forces behind the
Wildfire Home Risk Assessor Program. Now available for homeowners in any of the current 16 Firewise USA® communities in Hawai‘i, the free service brings trained wildfire risk assessors to the home.
    During a recent assessment at a home in Waimea, Okinaka told the homeowner, “We’re not going to be able to save every home threatened by a wildfire. But, if you prepare your home and minimize hazards and fire risks, you’re protecting yourself. That’s one less thing that firefighters would have to do. You’re essentially helping yourself, helping us to help you, and keeping your home and livelihood safe.”
    Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization: As the clearing house for all things wildfire related, HWMO continues to introduce new initiatives and provide coordination across agencies for wildfire messaging. “To compliment the statewide Firewise USA® program, HWMO and the Hawai‘i County Fire

Department are partnering to pilot a large landowners wildfire working group. This will allow for peer learning and help build capacity for wildfire planning and mitigation on large land tracts,” explained HWMO Co-Executive Director Elizabeth Pickett.
    HWMO will connect large landowners and land managers to find grant opportunities to assist with fuel-reduction projects. The organization also has a wealth of resources available for landowners and homeowners to help them become more fire wise.
    All the Hawai‘i Island initiatives and programs are available to share statewide. "Hawai‘i’s wildfire issue is caused by both fuels and human ignitions and the message is, both need to be reduced and managed in both residential areas and on undeveloped/wildland areas," said a statement from the partnering organizations.

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