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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs December 21, 2023

Quieter skies over Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park are expected with a reduction of air tours and and implementing no-fly days.
NPS photo by Janice Wei

REDUCING AIR TOURS FROM 11,300 TO 1,548 A YEAR OVER HAWAI'I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK and the implementation of no-fly days are the main takeaways from the new National Park Service and Federal Aviation Administration Air Tour Management Plan. The plan for HVNP, released on Dec. 20, provides for continuation of air tours at reduced levels over the park and within a half-mile of its boundary to protect natural and cultural resources, wilderness, the integrity of Native Hawaiian sacred sites and ceremonial areas, and visitor experiences.  
    Operators will be permitted to continue to conduct air tours within the Air Tour Management Plan boundary up to the limit of Interim Operating Authority and until their Operation Specifications are amended, which will occur no later than 180 days after the date the plan takes effect.  The plan does the following:
    Authorizes up to 1,548 air tours per year on three specific routes within the plan's boundary. This is a significant reduction from existing levels of more than 11,300 flights per year.  
    The air tours can occur between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Qualifying air tours using quiet technology may fly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days, as well as on Wednesdays.  
    Designates three air tour routes that avoid the summit of Kīlauea and protect key cultural and natural resources, visitor use areas, and park wilderness. Air tours will be limited to these routes. 
    Identifies no-fly days to include:  Sundays;  Six traditional Hawaiian holidays-  End of Makahiki (typically in January);   Zenith Noon (typically in May);  Summer Solstice (June),   Zenith Noon (typically in July);  Start of Makahiki (typically in October) and  Winter Solstice (December). Other no fly-days are two dates that honor and acknowledge important Hawai'i Island aliʻi, people of traditional nobility - Ruth Ke'elikōlani on Feb. 9 and  Bernice Pauahi Bishop on Dec. 19.
    Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh said, "The Air Tour Management Plan is more than 20 years in the making. It significantly reduces the number of low-flying air tours over the park to protect the natural and cultural resources, the wilderness character and general visitor experience,. We deeply appreciate everyone's input throughout this long process with us." 
     The Plan was developed in cooperation with stakeholders representing a variety of interests, including Native Hawaiian organizations, other land management agencies, local communities, and recreation groups. The plan addresses and responds to concerns identified during these consultations and through public comment.  
    Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is one of several national parks for which the NPS and FAA have developed or are currently developing an air tour management plan or voluntary agreement to meet the requirements of the National Parks Air Tour Management Act. Each air tour management plan or agreement is developed to manage commercial air tours in a way that is consistent with the NPS's mission, the individual park's purposes, and the FAA's authority to regarding aviation safety, says the Park statement.   
     The final Air Tour Management Plan is available on the Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/HawaiiVolcanoesATMP. Visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/sound/airtours.htm for more info.

THREE TOP MUSICIANS WILL JOIN THE CHRISTMAS CONCERT BY SOUTH HAWAI'I SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA this Saturday.  The guest musicians from Kona, Barbara Coffman on flute, Robbie Brown on clarinet and Jessica Dahlke on French horn, will mix it up with the regular ensemble.              Under the baton of maestro Farley Sangels, the musicians will play a dozen Christmas pieces in a new and unique way. The guest musicians will be featured in some parts, the orchestra's ensemble of about 14 musicians will play other parts, and then all the musicians will play the remainder. The result promises to be a unique rendering of a mixture of well-known carols, lesser-known Christmas ballads, and ethnic offerings from Israel, Puerto Rico and Italy.
    This will be the third concert offered by the newly formed South Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra, which has drawn strong attendance, their concerts culminating in standing ovations.
    Following the South Hawai'i Symphony' Orchestra will be The  Jazz Gardeners, a group of four jazz musicians. Joining Sangels on stage will be Cheryl Cuevas performing multilingual vocals, Aaron Loesser on double bass and Gabriel Cuevas on drums.
   The concert will be held at the Ocean View Community Center, 92-8924 Leilani Circle, beginning at 2 p.m. The Jazz Gardeners will take the stage at 3 p.m. There is no charge for admission, but donations to cover expenses are always welcome.
    In keeping with the season's spirit and the Ka'u district's reputation for generosity, the audience is encouraged to bring popcorn, holiday cookies or other baked goods to share during the performances. "I would like our audience to have something to munch while they enjoy our music," explained Sangels. "We want to lift spirits in any way we can!"

HAWAI'I TOURISM AUTHORITY IS PROMOTING AG TOURS TO BENEFIT THE LOCAL ECONOMY AND FOOD PRODUCERS. A promotional piece released this week asks, "Does chocolate really grow on trees? Is vanilla from an orchid? Find out these answers and more about our diverse Hawai'i Island agricultural commodities on a fun and engaging ag tour." The promotion says ag tours are "where both visitors and residents can get up close and personal with the folks producing our island-grown food products and taste and see what they're all about." 
    The promotion features Eva Lee and Chiu Leong's Tea Tasting and Farm Tour in Volcano and Ed Olson and Troy Keolanui's OK Farms with their food growing enterprises in Kaʻū and Hilo.
    According to a 2022 Visitor Satisfaction and Activity Survey by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority, 20 percent of domestic visitors to Hawai'i Island took a farm tour. "With the high cost of doing business in Hawai'i, local farms rely on ag-tourism to help their bottom line. During guided, on-site tours, farmers have the opportunity to direct-sell their local fresh and value-added products while employing residents," says HTA.
Tea Hawai'i and Company in Volcano offers a two-hour Tea Tasting
 and Farm Tour by demand.
 Guests walk through over two acres of
easy terrain and learn about growing tea, its processing
 and see
 any stages of production underway. Photo from HTA
    Pomai Weigert, ag business consultant with GoFarm Hawai'i, says opportunities like ag tours, which connect local farmers with residents and visitors, are important as the tourism and ag industries have shifted.
    "There is a labor shortage, a goods and housing crisis, and in Hawai'i, we don't have industries that can be siloed (left to work alone)," Weigert explains. "We need to try and weave more commerce into each industry because if we don't, the people who do the tourism jobs will move away and the people who grow food won't be as successful."
    Tea Hawai'i and Company in Volcano offers a two-hour Tea Tasting and Farm Tour by demand. For over two decades, Eva Lee and Chiu Leong have been giving tours of their operation that produces white, green, oolong and black teas. Guests walk through over two acres of easy terrain and learn about growing tea, its processing, see any stages of production underway (depending on season) and hear about the history of tea agriculture in Hawai'i.
    Lee says she appreciates the interest of guests during visits as "it's like sharing any other art form." Leong adds, "The whole world comes to us; we get people from so many countries, so we learn about their cultural understanding or relationship to tea and that's a big plus for us."
    The couple say they love sharing how tea is "good in so many ways." That includes how a tea plant can live for 1,000 years and so communities are endeared to the plant itself.
    "Something good to know is tea helps our climate and environment," continues Lee. "It has a great integration with native forests. Fresh tea leaf is used in culinary as you can pair tea with leafy greens for a salad and it can be used in place of basil to make a great pesto. These are all drivers to keep us inspired."
     Plans are in the works at Tea Hawai'i to launch a matcha tea by milling green tea into the fine powder needed for matcha. The company sells its tea after tours, online and through Hawai'i Island food hubs: Ho'ōla Farms and Adaptations. Lee notes the tours have enabled them to meet people involved in wholesale who want to sell their teas. Visits can be booked at http://teahawaii.com/about/tour/
Guests taste and see how tea is grown on customized experiences
 offered by Chiu Leong (pictured) and Eva Lee of Tea Hawaii and
 Company. The couple, who produce green, oolong, white and
 black teas, has been offering ag tours for two decades in Volcano.
Photo from HTA
     OK Farms offers a Rainbow Falls Farm Tour 15 times a week through Hawai'i Eco. In addition to touring Waiānuenue (Rainbow)and Kaimukanaka Waterfalls, the 1.5-hour tour introduces visitors to an abundance of tropical and exotic crops like lychee, longan, heart of palm, cacao and spices. OK employs four tour guides who drive guests to different crop plantings. Guests see food under cultivation, learn how it's harvested and processed, and sample three different seasonal fruits and mac nuts.
    Ala Keolanui, assistant manager, who helps with tours as needed, says while a goal is for tours to be fun and educational, they also strive to enable guests to make a connection to the land and people of Hawai'i.
    "All of us giving the tours get great satisfaction from the feedback of our guests," Keolanui details. "People are so grateful to learn about how food is grown."
    She cites how visitors marvel at how cinnamon comes from a tree. "It's that one-on-one connection with the guests...they are blown away when seeing spices in their natural state. Guests view what we farm and get a feeling of a family operation."
    OK Farms, which is also a food hub, has an on-site farm store selling produce and value-added products like jams and jellies direct to guests. Keolanui adds the farm tour "is a growing process and so far we have been doing well with people wanting to see and learn about what we do here. We strive to do our best." Book a tour at www.okfarmshawaii.com/tours-a.
    Summing up the importance of supporting local food producers, Weigert concludes, "If we don't start to pay into the people who live here, they are going to move away because they can't live here. When you buy from a local farmer they in turn can pay their land lease, buy what they need to live and ultimately continue growing food to increase our island's food security."
    Find 38 Hawai'i Island farm tours listed at www.hawaiifarmtrails.com/visit. Last updated in 2022, the directory will be updated in January 2024 per Kālisi Mausio, Hawai'i Farm Trails co-founder, and can be used as a resource for locating tours. She suggests confirming tour times with the tour provider.

Image from PBS
KAʻŪ GIRLS FROM FOURTH TO EIGHTH GRADE are invited to register and be among the first 50 girls from Hawai'i Island to sign up for the 8th Annual Amelia Earhart Girls in Engineering Day. It will be Saturday, Jan. 27 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Waiakea High School. Registration is open. This free program is underwritten by the Zonta Club of Hilo, whose mission is to build a better world for women and girls.  Funding support was  also provided by the County of Hawai'i.
    "Held annually, the Amelia Earhart Girls in Engineering Day supports girls grades 4-8 to continue STEM curriculum throughout middle school and high school, then pursue college degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)," said Zonta event chair Deb Lewis.
    This annual event was launched in 2012. Instrumental in the program's success are organizers Dale Olive and Eric Hagiwara, dedicated science educators from Waiakea High School. Each year the day features a different science theme and attendees participate in hands-on science activities.
    "This year 'Flight' is our theme/ The girls will build two different models of gliders, one from foam plates and one from balsa. After building them, the girls will throw the gliders to see which have the longest distance flight and the longest time in the air," said Olive. "The girls will also learn how to fly Parrot Mambo drones in teams of two and race down the course and back."
    At Amelia Earhart Girls in Engineering Day, women professionals in STEM fields speak to and encourage middle school students, especially girls, to continue their STEM pathway.
 To download the registration form, visit https://zontahilo.org/event/amelia-earhart-girls-in-engineering-day-2024/ or email koolrainhotrocks@gmail.com.
    To support Zonta Club of Hilo's future STEM events and celebrate the legacy of Amelia Earhart, tax deductible donations can be made to the club's foundation at https://www.zontahilo.org/donate/.

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Buddy Behrendt
the public’s assistance in locating 44-year-old Dorson “Buddy” Behrendt, who is wanted for a $500,000 warrant after he was indicted for the shooting of a 53-year-old Ocean View man on Oct, 15.
    Behrendt, who also goes by the name “Buddy”, is described as 6 feet tall, 160 pounds, with blue eyes and blond hair. He is known to frequent the South Kona and Ocean View areas.
    Police caution members of the public not to approach Behrendt as he is considered armed and dangerous.
    Hawai‘i Police Department would also like to remind the public that harboring or concealing a wanted person can result in criminal charges being filed against the person who harbors or conceals the wanted person.
    Anyone with information on Behrendt’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact Detective Donovan Kohara at (808) 960-3118; or via email at donovan.kohara@hawaiicounty.gov. They may also contact the police department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311.