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Sunday, January 14, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 14, 2024

A 24-year old visitor drowned after being swept away from the shore after jumping off the South Point cliff in the hoist area on Saturday morning. His three companions made it back to shore. See more below. Photo by Peter Anderson

DR. KIMO ALAMEDA OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED HIS CAMPAIGN FOR MAYOR Saturday night, following months of community meetings across the island, including rallies in Nāʻālehu, Waimea, and Kona. He held a community rally Saturday night at Wailoa State Park, where he emphasized his connection with the Big Island and its people. "This place, and all of its wonderful and diverse people, helped shape me into the person I am today," Alameda told more than 300 in the audience. "And like so many of you, I want to make sure that this island can continue to shape the lives of our children and grandchildren, so that they can sustain and perpetuate our local culture and identity. Our campaign is an expression of gratitude and aloha for our island, our culture, and our people."
Kimo Alameda says its official, after months of events around the island to
prepare to run for Mayor of this county. Photo from Friends of Kimo Alameda

Educated as a counselor and psychologist, with a PD., Alameda worked at state Department of Health as a mental health specialist and later as director of Office of Health Equity. In 2015, he entered county government as the Executive of the Office of Aging under Mayors Billy Kenoi and Harry Kim before becoming CEO of the non-profit Bay Clinic Health Center. He most recently served as vice president of business development for the newly-formed Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center, one of the largest federally-qualified health centers in the state.
    "I have always been dedicated to building strong, healthy, and resilient communities. And this campaign is an extension of that dedication. Ultimately, I want to bring my passion and commitment to our county government and serve the people of Hawaiʻi Island. As I have said before, we have an opportunity to bring the spirit of aloha back to our local government."
    In his announcement, Alameda outlined his priorities of "Live, Work, and Play." He highlighted lack of attainable housing as a key issue of his campaign. "My goal is to build a Hawaiʻi where people can get educated, find good jobs, raise their families, and enjoy this beautiful ʻāina that we've been blessed with." "Why is the county getting in the way of us building an additional dwelling on property we already
Dr. Kimo Alameda at his official kick-off party on Saturday to launch his bid
for Mayor of County of Hawai'i. Photo from Friends of Kimo Alameda
own?... Our kids don't want to move far away... if they could, they would move out of their parents' house and live right in the back. I know because I have seven of um and three of um said they would."
    In a statement before the rally, Alameda expressed his excitement for the coming race, saying "This election goes beyond ideas. I will continue to share my vision with communities all over our county, and I look forward to engaging with everyone who cares about this island and wants to see County government start working for all of us again."
    Alameda and his wife Star reside in Hilo with seven children and one grandchild. More information on Alameda and his candidacy can be found at www.kimoformayor.com.
     Mayor Mitch Roth launched his campaign for reelection last Thursday.

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NEW PLANS FOR THE OLD SEAMOUNTAIN RESORT AT PUNALU'U include an introductory statement on the application for a Special Management Area permit that is now before the Windward Planning Commission with a public hearing expected in March. 
    The project, called Punalu'u Village, would put about 223 new accommodations on the 335 acres below Hwy 11 and create restaurants, retail outlets, a Wellness Center, events and sports venues, golf course improvements and parking lots to accommodate them. Some of the commercial plans are adjacent to the Black Sand Beach and pond. Accommodations are set back a quarter mile. The proposal emphasizes that it is different from failed earlier plans, some of them aiming to build some 2,000 units, many of them close to the shoreline.
   The introductory statement says that the President and Chief Executive Officer of applicant Black Sand Beach, LLC, Eva Liu, "has spent many months living part-time on the project site at the Colony I condominium complex, acquainting herself with members of various local community organizations, businesses and individuals in order to understand the importance of these lands and the hopes and needs of various communities within the Kaʻū District, and the concerns of people who have kuleana within the immediate area." It says that her many interactions with the community have made the following messages abundantly clear:
    "Take sincere steps towards correcting the neglect that has occurred on these lands over many decades before efforts are made to find other development and economic opportunities within this former resort community;
    "Provide open and transparent lines of communication with the community regarding the intended of use and potential development of these lands.
    "Promote a community-driven, collaborative approach towards defining the type of uses and forms of development within Punaluʻu that would best compliment the valued resources that make Punaluʻu so special while providing for cultural, historical, recreational and economic opportunities."
    The introduction says that Liu and Black Sand Beach, LLC have "worked diligently towards establishing relationships with kūpuna, residents and various community organizations to seek their collective guidance on how these lands can be properly nurtured as a historical, cultural, environmental and economic resource and find opportunities to sustain it going forward. Ms. Liu has encountered a number of local champions who are willing to guide her and her company towards revitalizing Punaluʻu. But that guidance is conditional upon the Applicant providing and maintaining constant communication with the broader community and especially with those who have kuleana within the project area."
    The statement says that "Another important commitment that the Applicant has made with many in the community is to revitalize Punaluʻu in a measured way, demonstrating what community-based priorities can be accomplished before initiating broader discussions about what can become of the entire 434-acre project site. (The 434 acres include the section of golf course above the highway)."
   The introductory statement says, "The method behind this approach is about: first understanding the importance of these lands and the surrounding communities, and the people who live within; working to fix what has been neglected or improperly managed over many years; and building a future for these lands in a collaborative manner so that it benefits the entire community with an emphasis on preserving what makes Punaluʻu so special."
    Read more about the plan in upcoming Kaʻū News Briefs.

A VISITOR DROWNED AFTER JUMPING OFF THE CLIFF AT SOUTH POINT AT THE HOIST on Saturday morning. Until further investigation, Hawai‘i Island police are describing it as a possible drowning involving a 24-year-old man visiting from North Carolina. 
    Ka‘ū District patrol officers responded at approximately 11:23 a.m. to the South Point area after receiving information that several swimmers were in distress. Police determined that three adult males and one female jumped into the ocean at the “hoist” area and experienced difficulties due to rough ocean conditions.

Carson Philbin was a cross country runner and adventurer who
on YouTube posted his jump from a ledge above a 105 ft.
waterfall on the mainland. The visitor from North Carolina died
on Saturday after jumping off the cliff at South Point. In rough
 water, he was swept out into the ocean. His friends were assisted
 by local bystanders and made it back alive. Image from YouTube
    With the assistance of local by-standers, three of the four distressed swimmers were able to make it safely back to shore. However, one of the swimmers was swept further out to sea. A witness reported seeing the swimmer approximately 75 yards off shore before going under.
   Through the search efforts of local fisherman and the Hawai‘i Fire Department, fire personnel were able to locate the body of the swimmer, who was later pronounced dead after being transported to Hilo Medical Center.
   He is identified as Carson Philbin of Charlotte, North Carolina.
    An autopsy is ordered to determine exact cause of death and the investigation remains ongoing. Hawai‘i Police Department is asking anyone who has any information regarding this incident to please contact Ka‘ū Patrol Officer Paul Wright III at (808) 939-2520..

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TRAINING TO HELP FARMERS WITH MENTAL HEALTH is available through Seeds of Wellbeing, University of Hawai'i and other sponsors. The application deadline is Monday.
    The Seeds of Wellbeing team is accepting applications for Cohort 3 of Hawai'i Ag Mental Health Mentors on each island to serve Hawai'i's agriculture community. Recruited mentors will receive a $500 stipend (+250 for inter-island travel to Oʻahu for in-person training) after completing 8 hours of online training + 6 hours of in-person training, and a mandatory 1-hour online orientation. All trainings are mandatory and must be completed by March 15th to receive a stipend.
    Training Dates are: Orientation on Jan. 18 at 4 p.m.; QPR (Suicide Prevention) on Jan. 25 from 7-8:30 a.m.;  Elemental Guidance- Service Provider Webinar Training- Date TBD; Mental Health First Aid- Date TBD (6 hours in-person on Oʻahu + 2 hours online); and Cool Mind, Main Thing (two versions)- Self  -Paced Online Modules. See the application at https://forms.gle/tMcy7XM4SJbcggyD6
    Seeds of Wellbeing website: https://manoa.hawaii.edu/sow-well/

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

The Kaʻū Calendar newspaper, 5,000 in the mail.
2,500 on the streets.

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 13, 2024


MORE DETAILS ON PLANS FOR PUNALU'U VILLAGE at the old SeaMountain resort and golf course land include work at seven sites on the property proposed by Black Sand Beach, LLC. The proposal is before the county Windward Planning Commission. A public hearing is expected in March concerning the required Special Management Area permit. The SMA is everything in the 325-acre project area below Hwy 11.
      SITE ONE is for Old Punaluʻu Village Restoration on the old restaurant and museum site by the Black Sand Beach pond. Plans include restoration of former Punaluʻu Restaurant complex covering about 3.5 acres. The proposal summary says it will "accommodate more passive, but educational and recreational types of uses," such as a Garden cultivating various types of native plants. A Welcome Center with possible restoration of portions of former restaurant buildings would "allow for a space where information about the project and the protocols of being proper stewards of these lands can be shared with visitors."
       Kaʻū Center of History & Culture, with possible restoration of portions of former restaurant buildings, would "create a space where the history and culture of Punaluʻu can be shared with both visitors and residents through exhibits, information pamphlets, presentations and simple 'talk‐story.'"
      Lawn areas would be "for private and community open‐air events, sharing of wedding vows, open‐air dining." The renovations would "Clean‐up and maintain 62‐stall parking lot, which includes bus parking and visitor drop‐off area." 
    SITE TWO, across the road from Black Sand Beach and around the curve where Nīnole Loop and Punalu'u Road adjoin, would include an Open Market, Fish Market,  Restaurant, and Information Center. The Open Market would be on approximately 0.5 acre, "currently under development." The Fish Market and Seafood Restaurant, along with other retail would be within a 2.5-story complex about 8,000 square feet in gross floor area on approximately 0.5 acre. The restaurant would be on the second level "due to base flood elevation of about 22 feet." There would be on‐site parking for about 28 vehicles. 
    SITE THREE would be  Colony 2 with 63 condominiums, consisting of 1 and 2‐bedroom units on 
about 4.9 acres. Buildings would be in duplex and 4‐plex configurations. Gross floor area of units would range from approximately 760 to 1,500 square feet. The maximum heights of the condos would be 2.5  stories, "due to topography and proximity of Colony I." There would be a 95‐stall vehicle parking area.          
    SITE FOUR would be a Village & Wellness Center on about 37.35 acres. Its Village Center would have a bakery/restaurant, marine eco‐center, Kaʻū coffee showroom within a complex of one‐story structures with a combined gross indoor floor area of about 30,000 square feet with an additional 11,000 square feet of covered outdoor space. 
    The Wellness Center itself would be about 15,000 square‐feet with a 2.5 story spa and fitness facility, including 130 rental units for overnight stay. These would consist of 80 cottages containing 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms ranging in size from approximately 650 to 1,400 square feet. It would also include 50 bungalows containing 3, 4 or 5 bedrooms ranging in size from approximately 2,500 to 3,500 square feet. There would be 250 parking stalls for all units. 
   The Sports Center project would restore existing 4 tennis courts and develop 4 pickleball courts, 2 sand volleyball courts, pro‐shop facilities, gym and swimming pool. There would be an Amphitheater for outdoor performances and movies, about 1,000 square feet in size.
    SITE FIVE would be the Aspen Center. The project would include restoration of the former 4,650
square‐foot Aspen Institute building to its previous use as a conference and educational center, "to be referred to as Aspen Center." It would include 30 retreat units constructed as individual cabins for Aspen Center attendees. Each unit would be approximately 1,500 square feet in size. The 2.5- story structures would cover about 2.73 acres.    
    SITE SIX would be the 18‐hole Golf Course and related facilities. The project would include restoration and minor realignment of existing course, restoration of existing 2,200 square‐foot golf clubhouse complex and driving range. restoration of 6,400 square‐foot pro shop, office and cart barn facility. and restoration of existing 50‐stall parking area. 
    SITE SEVEN would be the Punaluʻu Coastline Management Area of approximately 29.52 acres "to be dedicated towards conservation and coastal management activities, and set aside in public trust for coastal recreational opportunities, protection of historic resources and cultural practices, protection of sensitive natural resources and coastal processes. This proposed management area will be established upon the coastal lands situated to the west of the County‐operated Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach Park complex. The Applicant has not yet determine the best method towards committing these lands towards preservation, but at the very least, it could be accomplished as a conservation easement, with proper resource management that also takes into account coastal recreational and cultural practices," says the summary of the application for the Special Management Area permit.
    See more in upcoming Kaʻū News Briefs.

WHERE DOES MAGMA RESIDE AND HOW DO WE KNOW? is the subject of this week's Volcano Watch, written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and affiliates.
    Over the past several months, periods of increased earthquake activity and ground deformation in the summit region of Kīlauea volcano indicate that magma is accumulating beneath the surface. 

A cross section of proposed magma plumbing system beneath the surface of Kīlauea. “H” marks the Halema‘uma‘u reservoir; “SC” marks the south caldera reservoir; “K” marks the Keanakāko‘i reservoir; “HKIT” notes a connection between the Halema‘uma‘u reservoir and Kīlauea Iki; SWRZ denotes Southwest Rift Zone. The exact depths and geometries of these connections are not well known, but this cross section represents one of the hypothesized configurations. Image from USGS
    First, let’s envision what a region of magma storage might look like. The top of an active magma chamber is hot with liquid rock. Deeper in the chamber, it transitions to slightly cooler, partially molten/partially solid, crystal-rich material, and eventually to relatively cold and brittle rock. The amount of magma in a reservoir fluctuates over time—there may be variations in the amount of magma coming into the reservoir from the hot spot or differences in the amount of magma being removed, due to eruptions or intrusions.
    Fluctuations in the amount of magma in a reservoir cause changes in pressure that we can detect by earthquakes and ground deformation. Earthquakes don’t occur in liquids (such as magma), but their locations in cooler brittle rocks can approximately outline storage zones. Earthquakes also occur over a wider area of the volcano because of changing stresses from magma pressure and gravitational forces.
    Along with earthquakes, the behavior of the ground surface above an area of magma storage can be an important indicator of conditions in the magma reservoir. When more or less magma is being stored, the ground surface above will move. Small changes in the ground’s surface are recorded by instruments on the ground, and also by satellite.
    Earthquake locations and patterns of ground deformation give us clues as to where and how much magma is stored beneath the surface. The size, location, and number of earthquakes, along with the area and amount of ground deformation, can be used to model the depth and volume of magma storage regions.
    At Kīlauea, there are several storage regions hypothesized from decades of monitoring data. Magma is stored in the Halema‘uma‘u reservoir, which lies about one mile (1–2 km) below the crater. Deflation-inflation (DI) events recorded by the tiltmeter near Uēkahuna bluff, in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, are thought to show changes in pressurization of this magma storage region, and this reservoir can drain during intrusions and eruptions. For example, the lower East Rift Zone eruption in 2018 removed so much magma from the Halema‘uma‘u reservoir that the summit caldera collapsed!
    Another shallow reservoir, which is only intermittently active, is located near Keanakāko‘i. There is also probably some magma stored in the Halema‘uma‘u-Kīlauea Iki trend about a mile (1-2 km) from the surface, connecting the Halema‘uma‘u reservoir to Kīlauea Iki. The September 2023 eruption occurred from this system.
    Below the Halema‘uma‘u reservoir and slightly to the south is the larger main magma chamber for Kīlauea, referred to as the south caldera reservoir. This body of magma is a couple of miles below the ground surface (3-5 km); it is fed by the hot spot and feeds the shallower Halema‘uma‘u reservoir, although the two reservoirs sometimes act independently, so the connection is not perfect. The south caldera reservoir also supplies magma to Kīlauea's main rift zones.
    Magma can also be stored in an area referred to as the seismic Southwest Rift Zone, which lies about 2 miles (3 km) beneath the surface between Kīlauea caldera and the Koa‘e Fault System. Episodes of magma accumulation in this region are frequent—for example, in 2006, 2015, 2021, and during October–November 2023; eruptions from this area, however, are rare.
    Earthquake locations and patterns of ground deformation over the past several months suggest that several zones of magma accumulation at the summit have been recently active. In addition to the Halema‘uma‘u and south caldera reservoirs, magma appears to be leaking into the Keanakāko‘i and seismic Southwest Rift Zone.
    Why certain magma storage regions activate over others is not well-understood, but recent observations continue to suggest that the summit of Kīlauea is becoming increasingly pressurized over time. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is closely monitoring this activity.
    January is Volcano Awareness Month on the Island of Hawai‘i! Join us this coming week at one of the several events occurring; the full schedule is available here.
Volcano Activity Updates
    Kīlauea is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is ADVISORY.
Unrest in Kīlauea's summit region continues to wax and wane with fluctuating input of magma to the area. Earthquake activity in the summit region remained low over the week ending Thursday, while tilt shows continuing inflation. Unrest may continue fluctuate and eruptive activity could occur in the near future with little or no warning. The most recent sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rate for the summit—approximately 80 tonnes per day—was measured on December 28. No unusual activity has been noted along the rift zones.
    Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at NORMAL.
    Webcams show no signs of activity on Mauna Loa. Summit seismicity has remained at low levels over the past month. Ground deformation indicates continuing slow inflation as magma replenishes the reservoir system following the 2022 eruption. SO2 emission rates are at background levels.
    One earthquake was reported felt in the Hawaiian Islands during that week ending Thursday: a M3.2 earthquake 14 km (8 mi) SE of Waikoloa at 33 km (21 mi) depth on Jan. 4 at 9:14 a.m. HST.
    HVO continues to closely monitor Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.

The Kaʻū Calendar newspaper, 5,000 in the mail.
2,500 on the streets.