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Ka`u News Briefs April 24, 2013

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More than 5,800 acres of coffee farms, pasture, open land and several houses and lots are scheduled to be auctioned
off through foreclosure on May 21.
MOA`ULA COFFEE LANDS are scheduled to be auctioned off at noon on May 21 on the lanai of the First Circuit Court Building in Honolulu. The coffee farms, which have been the economic hope of more than 30 farmers since the shutdown of the sugar plantation in 1996, are tied up in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy disaster of 2008. Lehman Brothers has foreclosed on 5,800 acres of farm, coastal and residential land in Ka`u that was purchased from C. Brewer subsidiaries by Windwalker, Hawai`i and WWK Hawai`i Holdings, a group led by developer Alan Worden.
Alan Worden Photo from Windwalker
Real Estate
      The properties include large acreage around Waikapuna, lands on the hillside of Honu`apo and the Moa`ula farms. The Moa`ula coffee farm land, part of a 2,000-acre parcel, has preliminary subdivision approval under a Project Unit Development plan that would allow lots smaller than 20 acres, while preserving several large parcels. The subdivision would require bringing in roads and other infrastructure before it would be allowed by the county. 
     Pacific Business News reported yesterday that Windwalker borrowed $44.7 million from Lehman against the land now valued by the county appraisers at about $13.6 million. With interest the total debt is $59.7 million. According to the auction notice, there is no upset price on the property.
      PBN reporter Duane Shimogawa wrote: “Massachusetts resort developer Alan Worden led a group who purchased the land in the Ka`u district of the Big Island in 2006. The group had estimated that it would take up to five years to build out the infrastructure and gain approvals and permits to build a high-end residential development with large homes on ‘farm lots.’ They had planned to subdivide and sell the land, which would have had an average density of one home per 20 acres.
      "Worden is the managing member of Windwalker Hawai`i, the managing member of WWK Hawai`i Holdings, which owns all the interests in the borrowers," PBN reports.
      “Lehman Brothers halted funding for the loan after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008, putting the project in jeopardy,” the PBN story says.
      Chris Manfredi, who manages the leases of the coffee farms for Windwalker, heads the Ka`u Farm Bureau, chairs the Ka`u Coffee Festival and is one of the lead promoters of Ka`u Coffee, had this to say this morning:
      “It’s clear that Lehman’s bankruptcy caused our plans to stall. I was here before Lehman, and I will be here after. Ka`u has been my home for 11 years. The community has treated me as `ohana, and I will continue to do all I can to continue to advance our community through agriculture.”
      For more information about the auction, see the fact sheet at http://assets.bizjournals.com/pacific/pdf/Big%20Island%20Auction.pdf or contact George Van Buren, the case commissioner, at 808-522-0420 or gvb@vcshawaii.com.

Chris Manfredi promoted Ka`u Coffee Festival events on Hawai`i News
Now
with Howard Dicus this morning. Image from hawaiinewsnow.com
KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL got a pitch on Hawai`i News Now during the Sunrise program with Howard Dicus this morning. Chris Manfredi, chair of the Ka`u Coffee Festival, reported on the ten days of upcoming events. Holding a five-pound bag of Ka`u Coffee Mill coffee, Manfredi talked about the international awards won over the last six years at the Specialty Coffee Association of America convention, the largest of its kind in the world. Manfredi was the first to enter Ka`u Coffee farmers’ green beans into the competition, and Ka`u has placed in the top ten ever since that first year. Dicus talked about remote Ka`u and said that once visitors reach here they find the nicest people and great coffee. 
      Ka`u Coffee Festival events begin Friday with Miss Ka`u Coffee Pageant at Ka`u Coffee Mill, followed by a dinner at the Inn at Kalaekilohana on Saturday and the Triple C Recipe contest for Ka`u Coffee cookies, candies and crackers on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill.
      Deadline to enter the recipe contest is Friday. Professional, amateur and student chefs are encouraged to enter. Winners in each category receive $150, second place receives $100, and third place receives $50. The overall Signature Grand Prize winner receives $500. See the entry form in the April issue of The Ka`u Calendar newspaper or download it at kaucoffeefest.com or kaucoffeemill.com.
      Miss Ka`u Coffee will be at the recipe contest and after having been crowned at the pageant Friday.
OCEAN VIEW FILL STATION is now open after a three-week closure due to equipment failure. Spigots became useable after the system was flushed and final water quality testing was completed the morning. Kanani Aton, of the Department of Water Supply, told West Hawai`i Today reporter Erin Miller that “it was really quite an expeditious repair.” Aton said that repairs could have lasted until late May had a spare pump not been located in the state.

THE STATE CONSUMER ADVOCATE has submitted questions to Hawai`i County regarding its testimony on the proposed contract being considered by the Public Utilities Commission for `Aina Koa Pono to grow feedstock and refine biofuel in Ka`u and sell it to Hawaiian Electric Co. and Hawai`i Electric Light Co. 
      Referring to the county’s statement that “the ratepayer has already carried a high financial burden for supporting high penetrations of renewable energy they thought was meant to achieve lower-priced electricity on this island,” the Consumer Advocate asks the county to identify the existing projects and renewable energy technologies that have resulted in significant costs to ratepayers.
      Regarding the county’s testimony that, “when biofuels and biomass projects can compete to effectively lower the cost of utility customer bills, we will consider those projects, provide support and help make them happen,” the Consumer Advocate asks the county to identify the steps that it has taken to-date or plans to take “to facilitate the development of cost-effective biofuel and biomass projects. To the extent that the COH has not taken any steps or does not plan to take any steps, please explain why.”
Big Fish in Ka`u
A 500 lb marlin caught yesterday on a boat trolling off Punalu`u by
police sergeant Cory Koi and his friend. Photo courtesy Trini Marques
  The Consumer Advocate says that Hawai`i County, according to its testimony, recognizes that it is “appropriate for the PUC to consider ‘inevitable trade-offs’ to encourage a particular activity” and asks the county whether it has conducted any analysis of “what premium might be reasonable to consider for approval in order to further the state’s migration away from imported petroleum.”
      According to the Consumer Advocate, the county’s testimony “acknowledges that HECO and HELCO have shielded ratepayers from the risk of AKP failing to perform as they have no obligation to purchase fuel that does not meet specifications” and “notes that risks associated with long-term contracting may be larger.”
      The Consumer Advocate asks the county to identify and quantify, where possible, all risks to ratepayers associated with the proposed contract with AKP “that are materially different from, and/or materially larger than, the risks associated with the long term-contracts for renewable energy projects that the Commission has approved to date.”
       The Consumer Advocate’s and other parties’ information requests are available at puc.hawaii.gov. Responses to the questions are due Friday, May 10.
ENTRIES FOR THE ANNUAL KEN WICKS Ka`u Chamber of Commerce Scholarships are due a week from today, Wednesday, May 1. High school seniors and adults seeking to re-enter the educational system are encouraged to apply. Applicants are asked to write an essay about how their educational experience will benefit Ka`u. Preference will be given to those who intend to remain in or return to Ka`u and live here. Scholarship money can be used for all college and vocational training, and each scholarship will range from $250 to $1,000. Visit the Chamber website at kauchamber.org to download the application form. Call Lee McIntosh at 929-9872. with any questions.

A special hike tomorrow explores Pu`uloa Petroglyphs.
NPS photo by Jay Robinson
ENTRY TO HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK is free through Friday in celebration of National Park Week. Tomorrow at 1 p.m., ranger Adrian Boone leads a two-hour, 1.5-mile round-trip trek across ancient lava flows to Pu`uloa Petroglyphs, the largest petroglyph field in Hawai`i. Participants discover the meanings inherent in these rock carvings and gather a greater understanding of the native people who created them. Meet at Pu`uloa Petroglyphs parking area, near the end of Chain of Craters Road and 45 minutes from the park entrance.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.


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