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Monday, July 22, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs July 21, 2024

Hawai'i Volcanoes 40th Annual Cultural Festival
Lori Lei Katahara, on 'ukulele, who taught generations of hula in Kaʻū with her Shirakawa hula studio, sings with Dane Sesson on bass and Gene Akamu on guitar at the 40th Annual Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Cultural Festival on Saturday. Staged at the Kahuku Unit, it featured food, song, dance, cultural practices and participation by the public. It was sponsored by Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai'i Pacific Parks Association and Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
See more in upcoming Kaʻū News Briefs.  Photos by Sara Espaniola

JILL TOKUDA HAD THIS TO SAY ABOUT PRES. JOE BIDEN'S DEPARTURE FROM HIS CAMPAIGN AND KAMALA HARRIS RUNNING FOR THE PRESIDENCY. Tokuda,   Kaʻū's Congresswoman, said, "President Biden has been a remarkable leader, guiding our nation through some of its most challenging times and making investments that will benefit generations to come. We owe a great deal of gratitude to him for his bold leadership and steadfast commitment to making life better for all Americans."I will never forget when he came to Maui following the devastating fires that destroyed Lahaina. He committed the full weight and force of the federal government behind our recovery efforts, but what really struck me was the way he genuinely connected with our people. He held their hands, he listened, and he gave people hope. Just last week, when I spoke with him, he again asked about Maui and how the administration could help. He has always been there for us and is a true friend to Hawai'i. It took great courage to do what he has done, and it is an example of how Joe Biden always puts country first. I have nothing but the sincerest aloha for him.
    "I join President Biden in fully endorsing Kamala Harris to be our Democratic nominee for President of the United States. I was with Vice President Harris when she spoke at our Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote Presidential Town Hall in Philadelphia last week. For our Asian American Native
Kamala Harris at an Asian Pacific Islander American Vote Presidential Town Hall last week with Kaʻū's Congresswoman, Rep. Jill Tokuda. Harris received Tokuda's endorsement for the U.S. presidency on Sunday. Photo from APIA
Hawaiian Pacific Islander community, she made clear that she is one of us, she hears us, and she will empower us. Through her leadership and action, we have seen that she has always been ready and able to step up to lead this country as its commander-in-chief. I am one hundred percent behind her. "We must now come together and fight to defend our democracy and the very basic values of equality, justice, and freedom. The threat of a Trump-Vance presidency and Project 2025 is real. We need Kamala Harris as President to provide the strong leadership necessary in this moment to protect our democracy, restore our rights, and ensure a brighter future for Hawaiʻi and all Americans."

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    Sen. Mazie Hirono said, “Like millions of Americans, I’m extremely grateful for Joe Biden’s service to our country over the past five decades, and his leadership over the last four years.
“After four years of utter chaos, President Biden led our country back from the pandemic and into the strongest economic recovery in a century. Under his leadership, Democrats passed landmark legislation to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, support our veterans, combat the climate crisis, and invest billions in communities throughout Hawai'i and across our country.
    "His foreign policy leadership has been exemplary, helping to restore our country’s image on the world stage, strengthen NATO, and marshal international support for Ukraine. As the only person to have defeated Donald Trump, President Biden understands as well as anybody how high the stakes are this November, and I respect his decision to pass the baton.” Biden has a little under six months left of his
President and First Lady Joe and Jill Biden with Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, visit
 the scene of the Lahaina wildfire devastation last August and promising federal assistance.

Photo from CSPAN
    Hirono also endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris to become the next President of the United States. “Working alongside the President, Vice President Harris has played a critical role in the progress we’ve made, and has shown herself ready to lead our party moving forward. In the Senate, I saw firsthand what a fierce, committed, and effective champion Kamala is for the American people. I’m proud to call Vice President Harris a friend and colleague, and I look forward to doing everything in my power to get her elected to the White House, so we can continue building on the progress of the last four years,” said Hirono
    Sen Brian Schatz said, “For over 50 years, Joe Biden has been a selfless patriot and dedicated public servant who’s given everything to the country he so dearly loves. As a senator, vice president, and now president, he has spent most of his life working to make people’s lives better and the world safer. Today, yet again, he has put the country before himself, making the best choice for the American people in this uniquely consequential moment. For that, and for his lifetime of service, we should all be deeply grateful.
    “It’s not an overstatement to say Joe Biden has been and is the most consequential president of our lifetime. His legislative accomplishments speak for themselves and will endure for generations to come. He took the biggest climate action in human history. He cut the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and made our communities safer by passing long-overdue gun reform. He’s also revitalized our nation’s infrastructure and strengthened our alliances around the world.”
"There’s no question Americans today are better off because of Joe Biden,” said Schatz.

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GOV. JOSH GREEN REACTED TO PRES. JOE BIDEN'S EXIT FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL ON SUNDAY: “President Biden and his family have made this decision, which I said all along was his and theirs to make. I have no doubt that it was a difficult decision and in this, I thank him again for his selfless leadership.”
    “On behalf of the state of Hawaiʻi, especially the residents of Maui, I express our forever-gratitude to President Biden for granting wildfire disaster relief within an unprecedented six hours of our making the request in a time of our people’s deepest need.”
    Green had planned to co-host a Biden-Harris fundraiser on Martha's Vineyard this week.

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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs July 20, 2024


Pacific Islands Cousins Meet for Hula
    Halau Hula O Leionalani joined dancers from Huahine and Turereura in Tahiti and E-Suite 
from Hamilton, New Zealand on Saturday at Ke Ola Pu'uhonua in Nāʻālehu for a free public event organized by Kumu Hula Debbie Ryder. The next free event at Ke Ola, produced by Ryder, is a  Back to School concert with Wehilei at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 28.
                                                Photo by Brenda Iokepa-Moses

KAʻŪ COFFEE SHOWED OFF ITS QUALITY at Hawai'i Coffee Association's 15th Annual Cupping Competition this weekend. The cupping was held during the annual conference and meeting of the HCA at Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu.
    In the Kaʻū District competition, Miranda's Farms took first with a score of 85.63 for its parchment-
The Miranda family took first in cupping competition for the Ka'u District.
Photo from Miranda's Farms
dried Geisha. Rusty's Hawaiian Farm took second with 85.42 for its fruit-dried Yellow Bourbon, Red Bourbon. Kaʻū Coffee Mill, LLC took third with 84.55 for its pulp-dried Red Bourbon.
    In the Commercial Division, Kaʻū Coffee Mill, LLC took third in the state with 81.63 points for its pulp-dried Typica. Second was a tie between Mauka Meadows, Mountain with 82.63 for its parchment-dried Typica and Kopiko Farm with 82.63 for its parchment-dried Red Bourbon. First went to Hula Daddy Kona Coffee with 84.29 for its parchment-dried Typica.
    In the Creative Division, Miranda's Farms took ninth with 85.63 for it parchment-dried Geisha and Rusty's Hawaiian Farm took tenth with 85.42 with its fruit-dried Yellow Bourbon, Red Bourbon. First in Creative was Geisha Kona Coffee with 87.83 for its fruit-dried Geisha. Second was Monarch Coffee Farm, of Kona, with 87.40 for its parchment-dried Geisha.
    Other Kaʻū Coffee farms that participated with scores above 80 were A Coffee Farm, Elepoki, Aroma Coffee Farm, Green Turtle Estate Coffee Farm, Navarro Farms, LLC, R&G Farms/ Ka'u Royal, JN Coffee Farm and DMCA Coffee Farm.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. Support this news service with advertising at kaunews.com. 7,500 copies in the mail and on stands.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF HAWAI'I ISSUED A STATEMENT WITH A "PROFOUND CONCERN" following Donald Trump's speech this week at the 2024 Republican National Convention. Hawai'i's Democratic Party called the speech "a troubling display of incoherence, falsehoods, and his alignment with undemocratic principles, highlighting the urgent need for responsible leadership."    
    Donald Trump’s speech at the RNC Thursday "was both chaotic and troubling,” said Derek Turbin, Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i. “For an unheard of 93-minutes, Trump rambled without presenting a clear vision for our country’s future. Instead, despite his claims of ‘changing’ due to the events of last Saturday, he continued his baseless attacks on prominent figures such as Nancy Pelosi and President Biden.”
    The Democratic Party statement said that "Adding to the confusion, Trump referenced the fictional character Hannibal Lecter and praised North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. These bizarre inclusions emphasized the unhinged nature of his remarks and highlighted his troubling admiration for foreign powers and dictators, which runs counter to our democratic values." 
     Hawai'i's Democratic Party reported that "Following the conclusion of Trump’s speech, fact checkers identified 22 false statements made, which ranged from economic distortions to outright lies about his record and that of his opponents. These falsehoods were promptly debunked, reflecting his concerning pattern of misinformation and falsehoods."
    Turbin said, “The speech not only demonstrated Trump’s lack of coherent leadership but also highlighted the dangerous path he advocates In these critical times, we need to rally behind the vision of progress and inclusivity championed by the Biden-Harris administration. We must reject the regressive policies and false narratives propagated by Trump and the Republican Party.”
    The Democratic Party of Hawai’i stated that it "reaffirms its commitment to protecting our democracy and urges all to strongly consider the impact the upcoming election will have on our country’s future."

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Gov. Josh Green said Pres. Biden was fit during their visit to the
Lahaina fire devastation. Photo from The Hill
GOV. JOSH GREEN SUPPORTS THE CONTINUED CANDIDACY OF PRES. JOE BIDEN while U.S. Congressman Ed Case, former Hawai'i Governors Neil Abercrombie, John Waihee and Ben Cayetano recommended that Biden cease his campaign, following accusations that he is unfit to serve a second term.
    Green said that Biden was "quite sharp" at the recent NATO summit, and top shape when he came to Lahaina to promise aid to victims of fire, holding up well in hot weather while meeting hundreds of people. Green, who is a physician, told The Hill: “Look, an 81-year-old gentleman is going to have moments where they skip a word, where they feel exhausted — that was the case when we had Ronald Reagan (R) as president, and he went on to two terms that are viewed as particularly successful by many.”
    Green is scheduled to co-host a Biden-Harris campaign fundraiser July 29 in Martha's Vineyard on the mainland. The other co-host is television celebrity David Letterman.

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Friday, July 19, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs July 19, 2024

Pahala Elderly is one of two affordable housing projects in Ka'u. There are none listed as 
in the pipeline. Photo from Hawai'i County

TRACK AND FIND AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON THIS ISLAND is the call from  County of Hawaiʻi, with the launch of a new online tool to help residents track and find affordable housing projects. In Kaʻū there are two existing affordable projects - for the aged and disabled. Kaʻū and South Kona are the only two Districts with no new affordable housing in the pipeline according to the Dashboard.
    The aim of the County of Hawaiʻi Affordable Housing Dashboard is to provide a user-friendly interface where residents can easily view details such as project location and income limits, as well as status updates for the over 8,100 units in the affordable housing pipeline and thousands of existing rental units. "This information is crucial for residents interested in understanding the availability and accessibility of housing options within their communities," says a statement from the county.
    One of two projects listed in Kaʻū as affordable housing is Pahala Elderly senior housing with 24 units for those applicants for housing with up to 80 percent of the Average Medium Income. Operated by Hawai'i Public Housing, units are available to income-qualified seniors ages 63 years and older. Applicant household income "must not exceed the limits provided by the property manager," says the description on the dashboard. To apply, contact 808-333-0474. It shows no units available.
Weinberg Hale Kupaa, for Special Needs residents is one of two 
affordable housing projects in Ka'u listed by the County.
    The other affordable housing in Kaʻū listed on the Dashboard is Weinberg Hale Kupaa, with five units of Special Needs Housing. The apartments are subsidized by the federal government Housing & Urban Development Agency. Residents usually pay 30 percent of their income for rent.  It is located at 94-6733 Kamaoa Road near Na'alehu. The property manager is Steadfast Housing Development Corp, with contact number 808-828-7171
    "Our commitment to enhancing housing opportunities for all residents of Hawaiʻi Island is unwavering. This new online tool reflects our dedication to transparency and accountability, ensuring that residents have the information they need to participate in the dialogue about housing development in our County," said Housing Administrator Susan Kunz.
    The landing page of the two-page dashboard presents an affordable housing overview of the County's existing affordable housing units and projects planned for future development. Drop-down menus allow the user to choose the data they want to see for each property. The second page uses graphics to present additional project metrics in a clear and simplified way.
    Explore the County of Hawaiʻi Affordable Housing Dashboard by clicking here.
    Built entirely in-house by staff from the Department of Information Technology and Office of Housing and Community Development, the County of Hawaiʻi Affordable Housing Dashboard utilizes an array of information provided by various County and State agencies and non-profit and for-profit developer partners.
    Future phases will incorporate additional data that will provide the opportunity for more detailed conversation with the community regarding affordable housing to support residents as the County works to build a stronger, vibrant community where all can work and play, and thrive together.
    "Our team has worked tirelessly to fulfill our promise of creating affordable housing opportunities for local families," said Mayor Mitch Roth. "This dashboard showcases our progress, increasing the housing pipeline from just over 1,200 homes to over 8,100. We hope residents use this technology to track our
projects, learn about nearby opportunities, and, most importantly, hold us accountable for ensuring that our keiki can thrive and succeed for generations to come."
   According to the 2019 Hawai'i Housing Planning Study, the County of Hawai'i needed to add 10,796 affordable housing units by 2025 to meet the community's needs.
    Since taking office in late 2020, Roth's administration through the Office of Housing and Community Development has worked with partner developers to increase the number of units in the affordable housing pipeline from about 1,200 units to over 8,100 units. By the end of 2024, the administration will have overseen the completion of over 500 affordable housing units for local families.
    The County of Hawaiʻi Office of Housing and Community Development is responsible for the planning, administration, and operation of all County of Hawai'i housing programs. Its mission is to provide for the development of viable communities through decent housing, suitable living environments and expanded economic opportunities.
    More information on the Office of Housing and Community Development and its programs can be found online at www.housing.hawaiicounty.gov. To receive news alerts and OHCD's quarterly newsletter, click here. Also connect with OHCD on Facebook and Instagram.

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Michelle Galimba

THE TRANSIENT ACCOMMODATIONS BILL is the main focus of County Council member Michelle Galimba's recent newsletter. She notes that the Council is considering and amending Bill 121. A number of amendments that addressed concerns passed the Policy Committee on Planning, Land Use, and 
Development. Some amendments clarified language but many addressed substantive concerns, such as the need for a notarized affidavit of meeting health, safety and code requirements. Instead of the notarized affidavit, a simple declaration will be required. Find the amendments put forward by co-author Council Chair Heather Kimball at https://www.hawaiicountytar.com/
    At the end of its meeting, the Policy Committee on Planning, Land Use and Development postponed further consideration of Bill 121 until Aug. 20, when more amendments will be taken up. Galimba advised her constituents "Please do let me know if you have specific concerns that can be addressed by amendments to Bill 121. This is an important piece of legislation and we want to hear your feedback and to answer any questions you may have. As always please do not hesitate to contact us at the District 6 office!."

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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs July 18, 2024

National Weather Service has issued a minor coastal flood warning for the entire Ka'u Coast and beyond due to a series of high
tides, with the peaks in the afternoons through Sunday. Hawai'i County Civil Devfense urges securing of surfboards, canoes and other watercraft on the coast where the water could rise and to watch for overwash at boat ramps. Remove electronics and
vehicles to higher grounds. South Point photo by Bob Martin

THE STEWARDSHIP OF HOTSPOTS IN KAʻŪ is eligible for funding from Hawai'i Tourism Authority, with deadline to apply on Wednesday, July 31 at 4:30 p.m. The Hotspots named in the Kaʻū area by HTA on its DMAP are Punalu'u, South Point - Kalae, Papakolea/Green Sands Beach, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and Miloli'i. 
    The funding and training are for the two newest Community Tourism Collaborative programs from HTA: the Community Stewardship Program and the Regenerative Experiences Program. Modeled after the traditional regenerative water system of Hawaiʻi, these programs aim to support and enhance the efforts of organizations dedicated to revitalizing and preserving Hawaiʻi's sacred spaces and creating sustainable visitor experiences.
    A statement from the HTA says that "The vision for a regenerative visitor industry in Hawaiʻi depends on community stewardship organizations who are committed to revitalizing ‘āina that has been overtaxed by the impacts of tourism. The CTC - Community Stewardship program recognizes the kuleana of maintaining these wahi pana, the literal foundation upon which our community and industry is built."
     Organizations selected for the program are invited to join a cohort of mission-aligned organizations for specialized workshop opportunities and professional services and consultation in selected areas specifically focused on the needs of those stewarding DMAP identified tourism hotspots throughout Hawaiʻi. In addition to the capacity building opportunities, cohort members may apply for one-time direct funding that will allow them to grow their stewardship efforts, expand their capacity, and seed their growth.
    To read more and apply, see https://regenerativetourismhawaii.info/

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Volcano Watch, the weekly article and activity update written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and affiliates. This week's article is by Research Corporation of the University of Hawaiʻi gas technician Christine Sealing:
    Measurement of volcanic gases is critical for both public safety and understanding volcanic activity—and everything we measure relies on the wind.

Cartoon schematic of a volcanic plume from Halemaʻumaʻu blowing over permanent gas monitoring stations (diamonds) southwest of Kīlauea summit during normal trade wind conditions. Red is a Multi-GAS station; orange are high-resolution stations; yellow are Flyspec Array stations. 
USGS image with satellite imagery from Google Earth
    The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory currently operates 19 permanent gas monitoring stations, and 7 portable instruments for eruption response. These can be divided into two categories based on what they measure: (1) gas concentrations; and (2) emission rates.
    Gas concentration instruments include multi-GAS stations that measure a combination of gases (CO2, H2O, SO2, and H2S) and high-resolution stations that can measure a single gas (SO2) down to very low concentrations. These instruments draw in or 'sip' samples of volcanic plume to tell us which gases are present and the ratios of these gases to each other, which is important for understanding the volcanic system.
    Emission rate instrumentation, which includes the innovative Flyspec Array, UV-camera, and the vehicle-mounted DOAS, measures the plume's absorption of ultraviolet light from the sun via remote sensing. This allows us to determine how much SO2 is coming out of the volcano, though only during daylight hours.
    All these instruments require cooperation from the gases themselves: the plume must pass by or over the instrument for a measurement to be made.
    The volcanic plume, however, doesn't move on its own. It relies on the wind to carry it in any given direction. The job of volcano gas scientists is to chase around and measure this shifting, transient blob of gas—this is not an easy task!
Flyspec Array of instruments helps measure the output
of volcanic plumes. USGS photo
    Imagine a scenario where seismometers didn't work every time it rained. Perhaps because the ground becomes too squishy and dampens the seismic signals. That's not really what happens, but let's pretend. In this scenario, we'd be able to feel an earthquake and know when it happened, but we'd have no way of measuring its magnitude just because the ground is wet. Thankfully, in the real-world, seismometers work no matter the weather condition—but gas instruments do not. They need the wind to be in right direction and the right speed to make a useful measurement.
    At Kīlauea volcano, the dominant trade winds mean that near-surface winds blow from the northeast most of the year. For this reason, HVO's permanent gas monitoring stations are positioned to the southwest (downwind) of Halemaʻumaʻu, Kīlauea's summit crater.
    If the wind direction is reversed relative to normal trade winds (a condition we call "Kona winds") then although we can see the plume, smell it, and even taste it, we have no easy way of measuring it because the wind is blowing the gas away from our permanent sensors.
    Similarly, if the wind is too slow (below about 4 m/s, which is 9 mph or 8 knots), then the plume can loft straight up and once again miss our sensors. Alternatively, if the wind is too strong then it effectively dilutes the plume, spreading it thin and making it difficult for our sensors to measure. How strong is too strong depends on how much gas is in the plume, but during inter-eruptive periods with relatively little gas the cut-off is around 12 m/s, which is 27 mph or 23 knots.
    Another complication is that volcanoes don't always erupt from the same location. In the most recent eruption at Kīlauea, fissures opened in the upper Southwest Rift Zone—downwind of nearly the entire gas monitoring network. Only one instrument, a high-resolution station called HRPKE, was located near the eruptive vents, a few hundred meters to the west/northwest of the fissures. However, the winds were northerly that day, and were blowing the thick eruptive plume to the south, away from HRPKE. It didn't record a wisp of gas until several hours into the eruption when the wind turned more easterly, finally blowing the plume to the station.
A permanent UV camera at Kilauea. Photo by Tom Perling
    Effective gas measurements require an alignment of four things: wind direction, wind speed, sometimes daylight, and always luck. Volcano gas researchers at the USGS continue to develop new technologies to help us win this sophisticated game of chase, so that we can inform the public about this ever-shifting volcanic hazard. So, if you check the public webpage and it looks like there isn't any gas reported, it may just mean the wind is not cooperating and we're still chasing down the plume.
Volcano Activity Updates
    Kīlauea is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is ADVISORY.
    Elevated earthquake activity and inflationary ground deformation rates continue in Kīlauea's summit region, indicating that magma is repressurizing the storage system. Over the past week, about 650 events (most were smaller than M2) occurred beneath Kīlauea's summit region and extending southeast into the upper East Rift Zone. Unrest may continue to wax and wane with changes to the input of magma; changes can occur quickly, as can the potential for eruption. The most recent summit sulfur dioxide emission rate measured was approximately 100 tonnes per day on July 17, 2024.
    Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at NORMAL.
    Two earthquakes were reported felt in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week: a M2.8 earthquake 6 km (3 mi) S of Volcano at 1 km (1 mi) depth on July 16 at 3:33 a.m. HST and a M3.0 earthquake 2 km (1 mi) SSE of Pāhala at 33 km (20 mi) depth on July 12 at 5:50 p.m. HST.
    HVO continues to closely monitor Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.

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HAWAI'I FARMERS UNION UNITED IS HIRING a Chief Operative Officer. The COO will 
lead the Farmers Union growing network of farmers, organizations, and communities supporting Hawaii's family farmers and local food production. The COO is responsible for overseeing the HFUU operations, including financial, programming and organizational oversight. To learn more, visit the job posting. To apply for this position, submit a resume and cover letter to employment@hfuu.org.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. Support this news service with advertising at kaunews.com. 7,500 copies in the mail and on stands.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs July 17, 2024

Troy Keolanui, front left, and his mentor, the late Ed Olson and Olson's wife Sammie Stanbro, on June 8. Olson was honored by Trust for Public Land for "his many years of dedicated service to our mission." TPL helps to place special lands in the public trust and worked with Olson to conserve Kawā, Honu'apo and other properties in Hawai'i. Photo from TPL

EDMUND C. OLSON PASSED AWAY ON MONDAY, July 15. The 93 year-old philanthropist, who donated to the conservation of Kaʻū's Coast, agricultural lands and forest, also founded Kaʻū Coffee Mill. He and his team supported the Kaʻū Coffee Festival and Miss Kaʻū Coffee Pageants, and led promotions to international coffee conventions to help cement the success of the Kaʻū Coffee brand. He supported all the Kaʻū Coffee farmers in the presentation of their coffees at a presidential inaugural ball in Washington, D.C.
Olson built Kaʻū Coffee mill to give farmers a place
to process their coffee. Photo from Kaʻū Coffee Mill
    Over the years, Olson's contributions in Kaʻū included funding for The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land and assistance with purchasing Kawā and Honu'apo for conservation. Olson and his team contributed vans to Kaʻū Hospital and Kaʻū High School, and recently provided free eye exams and glasses to school children throughout east Hawai'i. 
Olson provided the town Christmas tree and annually sponsored the late Eddie Andrade's Pāhala Christmas Parade. The Olson team continued to fund its transition to the Pāhala Town Lighted Christmas Parade in 2023.
    Olson has also contributed to the local Halau Hula O Leionalani and other community nonprofits and has hosted the annual Kaʻū Coffee Trail Run in cooperation with O Kaʻū Kākou. It begins and ends at Kaʻū Coffee Mill.
    A statement from the Edmund C. Olson Foundation said his mission, legacy and philanthropy will continue beyond his passing.         Olson interests in Kaʻū include thousands of acres of macadamia orchards, coffee, pastures and forests, a hydroelectric plant, two homes and the old Pāhala Clubhouse, Pāhala Center with its bank, post office, shops and Mizuno Superette.         The Olson reach goes beyond Kaʻū to OK Farms in Hilo and the Wainaku Executive Center on Hilo coast, which with Olson's cooperation will become a distillery for ʻōkolehao made from the root of the tī plant. 
    Olson also owns land and businesses on O'ahu and in California.
    The statement from the Foundation says, "Mr. Olson was a highly successful self-made businessman and philanthropist who made a significant impact on the quality of life for many people, especially residents on the Big Island of Hawai'i He was a savvy entrepreneur who had a great vision for new opportunities and always found a way to help those in need. Most importantly, he cared about people and giving back to the community he loved." 
    One of his latest purchases was Mizuno Superette in Pāhala, which was in danger of shutting down. With Olson ownership it is now operated by Carl Okuyama and his 'Ohana Foods.
    One of the recent gifts from Olson was providing $200,000 in scholarships, with preference to Kaʻū students studying agriculture at University of Hawai'i at Hilo.
    The statement notes that most of Olson's 15,000 acres in Hawai'i is dedicated to sustainable agriculture. "He started the Kaʻū Coffee Mill in order to provide Kaʻū Coffee growers a place to process their coffee which led to a significant growth the the Kaʻū Coffee region. Mr. Olson operated thousands of acres of macadamia nut orchards and purchased Hamakua Macadamia nut Company to process and market the nuts."
Ed Olson, center, who donated $200,000 for scholarships to study agriculture at U.H. Hilo,
with a preference for Kaʻū students. At left are Troy Keolanui, Sammie Stanbro and recipient Keya Davies.
At his right is recipient Kassey Hanoa and Jeff Clark.

    In the early 2000's Olson partnered with Troy Keolanui to form OK Farms in Hilo, a tropical fruit and macadamia farm. Through their partnership, Keolanui and Olson developed a close relationship that has endured. Keolanui said, "He made everyone feel like family; we will truly miss him."
    On the mainland, Olson grew A-American Storage, based in Los Angeles, to become the fifth largest self-storage operator in the country, with more than 100 locations. His approach was to buy up failing mom and pop mini storages across the country, streamline their operations but keep the owners on his team. On his 75th birthday, many of the mini-storage owners he rescued surprised him at a birthday party in Malibu, California and thanked him for haelping them to become successful.
    Earlier in his career, after a stint in the Marines, Olson worked his way up from toiling on construction sites to becoming a contractor and specialized in Gunite. It involved the spraying of concrete for thousands of swimming pools, water and drainage canals and water piping, including some of the big waterlines coming into Los Angeles. In Washington, D.C. he built part of the Department of Labor building. In Sacramento, he worked on the California state Capitol building dome.
Ed Olson follows Father Joel for the blessing of Kaʻū Coffee Mill in 2012. Photo by Julia Neal
    Olson came to Hawai'i to work on bridges on the road to Hana. 
    Olson lived with his wife Sammie Stanbro at their farm north of Hilo on the Wailuku River. She is also known for her work in land conservation, in particular the passing of the "Two Percent Fund," which provides property tax funding to purchase and steward special lands on this island.
    On June 18, Olson was honored by Trust for Public Land for his lifetime of work and contributions towards conservation of public spaces that benefit the community. On the same day he came to Kaʻū Coffee Festival where he was honored by Kaʻū Coffee Growers Cooperative for leadership and development in building Kaʻū Coffee Mill and helping to grow the local coffee industry here.
    According to his family, he died peacefully at home on July 15.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs July 16, 2024

Dried vegetation flanks  Kīpukapuaulu Trail in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park,. The trail is open but vehicles are prohibited on Hilina Pali Road and Mauna Loa Road and open fires are prohibited at campgrounds and picnic areas in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park until further notice. NPS Photo by Janice Wei
ELEVATED FIRE RISK LED TO THE CLOSING OF MAUNA LOA ROAD AND HILINA PALI ROAD to motorized vehicles Tuesday until further notice. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park stated that the closure if from the gate past Kīpukapuaulu to Mauna Loa Lookout.
    Pedestrians and bicyclists may continue to use both roads, and backcountry permit holders will be provided access to trailheads.
    Open fires are also prohibited until further notice at Nāmakanipaio campground, Kīpukapuaulu picnic area, and Kilauea Military Camp. Propane or gas cooking stoves are allowed.
"Low rainfall, reduced humidity, and gusty winds have created dry conditions throughout the park. Every visitor has a role to help prevent wildfires in national parks. Follow all fire restrictions and do not park on dry grasses. The hot underside of a vehicle can ignite dry grass," says the Park statement. "Most wildfires in Hawaiʻi are unintentionally human caused. Many of these wildfires occur in proximity to roadways, communities and recreational areas, and pose considerable threats to public safety."

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High rez cameras on poles and AI will be employed by AlertWest and Hawaiian Electric in the coming year
to detect smoke and the outbreak of fires on all the inhabited Hawaiian Islands. Photo from AlertWest
HIGH RESOLUTION VIDEO CAMERAS AND AI TO DETECT SMOKE AND FIRES EARLY are being installed by Hawaiian Electric. The aim of the cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) technology is to provide enhanced situational awareness and early detection of ignitions in elevated fire risk areas near company infrastructure. reports Hawaiian Electric.
     The public will also have access to the live feeds from any of the cameras. Hawaiian Electric recently installed the first camera station in Lahaina and has plans to deploy 78 stations in elevated fire risk areas on the five islands served by the company, with each location having two cameras to provide a full 360-degree view. The camera feeds will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
     A company statement says: "The $14 million project is the latest step in Hawaiian Electric’s ongoing effort to reduce the risk of wildfires associated with company equipment."
    Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president and CEO, said, “We are continuing to take action to address the growing risks from wildfires across our service territory using a variety of technologies and methods. Installing publicly viewable AI-assisted video cameras in elevated fire risk areas will enable the company, fire agencies, and emergency operations centers the ability to identify potential wildfires early and respond quickly.” 
    Hawaiian Electric signed a five-year contract with California-based ALERTWest. ALERTWest will install and maintain the camera stations as well as provide around-the-clock monitoring for potential ignitions by experienced wildfire safety professionals. Approximately 50 percent of the project costs will
be covered by federal funds allocated under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act estimated at $90 million in grant funding covering various costs related to Hawaiian Electric’s resiliency and wildfire mitigation work. 
    Hawaiian Electricwill be able to achieve cost savings by leveraging its existing telecom network to provide communications support for the project. ALERTWest’s software platform, which is widely used in fire-prone areas through the Western U.S., is assisted by AI to detect smoke and other early indications of fire in real-time. 
    According to Hawaiian Electric, "ALERTWest has extensive experience working with utility companies, including partnerships, with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), as well as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The AI Solution was recognized as one of TIME magazine’s best inventions of 2023. The software platform’s pan, tilt, zoom cameras constantly scan their surroundings, completing one 360-degree
sweep every two minutes. Utilizing AI, the system detects changes from previous images and highlights them with a red rectangular box on the screen. 
   "This, coupled with 24/7 human verification, helps eliminate false alerts caused by mist or dust. If a suspected ignition is detected, the ALERTWest Operations Center staff reviews the camera imagery to ensure there is sufficient visual evidence before notifying Hawaiian Electric and emergency response agencies, says the statement from Hawaiian Electric.
     The public will be able to access the live feeds from any of the cameras on the ALERTWest website at www.alertwest.org. Half of the video camera stations are expected to be operational by September 2024, with the remainder to be installed in the first half of 2025. 
     Hawaiian Electric initiated a Public Safety Power Shutoff program on July 1. It notifies communities when it will shut off the electricity in cases where fire threat is high or fires are spreading within or nearby service areas. "This program is our last line of defense to keep communities safe from the threat of wildfires," said a statement from the utility. See https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/safety-and-outages/wildfire-safety/public-safety-power-shutoff.

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THE WEHILEI BACK TO SCHOOL CONCERT has been changed to 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 28. The free concert is sponsored by Debbie Ryder and 'Uhane Pohaku Na MOku o Hawai'i and will also feature keiki of Halua Hula O Leionalani. It is designed for Kaʻū youth and will be held at Ke Ola Pu'uhonua in Nāʻālehu, adjacent to Punalu'u Bake Shop.     
    Keiki will receive colorful school backpacks autographed by Wehilei. Free hotdogs and water will be available to keiki.
  Wehilei is composer of hit songs and recipient in 2023 of Na Hoku Hanohano awards for Single of the Year and Most Promising Artist of the Year. Her music includes the song and album Music Heals the Soul, and songs Movin On and In the Mood.
   Wehilei is granddaughter of Debbie Ryder and daughter of Lorna Lim, who is known for her renditions of Pua Olena and Ku'uipo, of the Lim Family of musicians. Wehilei is also daughter of Wailau Ryder, the Hawaiian Slack-key artist and music producer. She has traveled to perform throughout Hawai'i, Asia, New Zealand and Australia, as well as the mainland.

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