Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs May 3, 2013

Halau Hula O Leionalani, with kumu hula Debbie Ryder, danced at dawn on Punalu`u Black Sand Beach
this morning to celebrate the friendship between Ka`u, Lana`i and Japan. The halau performs at tomorrow's Ka`u Coffee Festival Ho`olaule`a at Pahala Community Center.  Photo by Julia Neal
OPPOSITION TO A TEN PERCENT hike in property taxes to pay for the county budget is what Ka`u Council member Brenda Ford has expressed, according to a report in this morning’s Hawai`i Tribune-Herald. The tax hike proposal came from Mayor Billy Kenoi’s revised budget yesterday, and the County Council will take up the issue, along with the proposed budget, beginning May 13.
      According to the Tribune-Herald, “Ford said she’s opposed to property tax hikes until a task force completes a study on some 40 recommendations of an outside auditor. In particular,” Ford said, “the county could cut its past-due backlog from three years to two years before foreclosure actions are taken as a way to recoup money currently owed to the county. With a $17 million backlog in unpaid property taxes, that could add a minimum $5 million to the budget without raising taxes.
      “There are some tax increases I could support,’ Ford said. ‘A property tax increase is not one of them,’” according to the article by Nancy Cook Lauer. See more at www.hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri, right, will be able to assign more officers to
Ka`u under the proposed county budget. Photo by Julia Neal
ADDING ADDITIONAL POLICE OFFICERS to cover the Ka`u District is a proposal in the county budget supported by both Mayor Billy Kenoi and Ka`u County Council member Brenda Ford. Ka`u has had only two police officers on duty for many years for an area larger than the island of O`ahu. Ford said she also supports more lifeguard service at Punalu`u.

THE MAYOR’S REVISED $394.3 MILLION BUDGET is a 7.9 percent increase over this year’s budget. Kenoi said, “This budget tries to accurately reflect the priorities of the County Council and the concerns of the community that came forward. We’re at the point that after years of budget cuts, we need to begin readdressing our needs.” The budget allows for the ending of county worker furloughs that led to back-logs in processing permits for the public and put many county projects on hold.

Chris Manfredi
STARBUCKS IS DOUBLING KA`U COFFEE OUTLETS in its stores that carry Ka`u Coffee to drink and to take home. Ka`u Coffee has been chosen for Starbucks’ Reserve(R) line, according to Chris Manfredi, of Ka`u Local Products, who buys Ka`u Coffee and sells it to Starbucks. 
      Manfredi said this morning that “KLP’s relationship with Starbucks has increased Ka`u’s visibility in the marketplace. This, combined with the exceptional work on the part of the growers to produce a stellar crop that has earned numerous awards, has more than doubled the price paid to the farmers in just three short years. That means the Ka`u Coffee industry is far more sustainable than it was, say, in 2006, when growers were abandoning farms because they could not make ends meet. The ability of the Ka`u community to come together on this marketing program and for the Ka`u Coffee Festival is one of many things that make Ka`u a special place."
      Manfredi is chair of the Ka`u Coffee Festival with events through the weekend, including Coffee and Cattle Day at Aikane Plantation today, Star Gazing at Makanau Mountain, sponsored by Ka`u Coffee Mill tonight, the annual Ho`olaule`a tomorrow with free hula, music, arts, crafts and coffee tasting tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Pahala Community Center and Ka`u Coffee College on Sunday, also at Pahala Community Center. See kaucoffeefest.com.

THE 27TH HAWAI`I STATE LEGISLATURE ended Thursday with members from the House and the Senate joining in the singing of Hawai`i Aloha. Before gaveling the session closed, House Speaker Joseph M. Souki acknowledged the work of everyone involved in the legislative process and summarized the session’s accomplishments.
      Of the 2,872 bills introduced during the Legislature, 293 passed and have been sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for consideration.
      Souki said the approach this session was to focus on the state’s long-term needs such as reducing long term fiscal liabilities, replenishing reserve funds, promoting economic development, education, sustainability and improving the quality of life for all residents.
      “I am deeply grateful to all of you,” Souki said. “It is an honor to serve as your speaker, and I look forward to working together next session to serve the people of this state.”

Jobie Masagatani
THE DEPARTMENT OF HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS has received the largest general funds appropriation in the department’s history. The 2013 state Legislature’s operating budget includes $9.6 million of general funds for administrative and operating costs. While more than any previous appropriation, it was less than the $14.68 million for DHHL that Gov. Neil Abercrombie requested in December or the nearly $26 million that the Hawaiian Homes Commission and DHHL had developed and proposed to “sufficiently” cover administrative and operating costs. 
      According to Jobie Masagatani, chair of the Hawaiian Homes Commission and director of DHHL, the appropriation will allow the trust fund and other revenues generated by the Department that currently fund department operational expenses to now be made available for future development of Hawaiian Homestead projects and programs.
      The Legislature’s action comes in light of the May 2012 Hawai`i Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the Intermediate Court of Appeals judgment that a determination could be made for what constituted “sufficient sums” for DHHL’s administrative and operating expenses to carry out the purposes of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. The case is still ongoing, and the definition of what is “sufficient sums” for DHHL’s administrative and operating expenses is still to be judicially determined.
      Masagatani said, “We look forward to continuing this important conversation and dialogue in working with the Legislature in the coming years toward furthering our efforts to obtain ‘sufficient’ funds essential to revitalizing our programs, increasing development on homestead projects and placing more native Hawaiian families onto Hawaiian home lands.”

Agricultural water systems between Pahala and Na`alehu will be restored with help from the state. This system, funded
by Olson Trust, was toured by the public this week as part of the Ka`u Coffee Festival. Photo by Andrew Richard Hara

KA`U’S AGRICULTURAL IRRIGATION SYSTEMS have received appropriations as Capital Improvement Projects in the state Legislature’s budget. Ha`ao Springs and Mountain House Ag Water Co-op receives $2.5 million for plans, design and construction. Another $2.5 million is listed to be used for design and construction of systems in the Ka`u Ag Water Cooperative.
      The Legislature’s $23.9 billion biennium budget now goes to Gov. Abercrombie for final approval.
VISITATION AT HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK is up more than 20 percent for the first quarter of 2013, reports park public affairs officer Jessica Ferracane. January saw 150,606 visitors, up 22.65 percent from January 2012; February had 147,131 visitors, an increase of 24.85 percent from February 2012; and in March, the increase was 18.95 percent over March 2012, with 139,222 visitors.
      Statistics for 2012 show an overall increase in visitation of 9.7 percent over 2011.

Halau Hula O Leionalani greeted the sun as it rose this morning at Punalu`u
Black Sand Beach. Photo by Julia Neal
HULA SISTERS FROM PAHALA, LANA`I, O`AHU, JAPAN AND OKINAWA greeted the sunrise at Punalu`u Beach this morning with chanting for more than an hour. After the sun lit up the beach, they danced Ka Nani Ao Ka`u, by Uncle George Na`ope, the teacher of kumu hula Debbie Ryder. Ryder is kumu to Pahala dancers who are forging a cultural exchange with Lana`i, where they will participate in its festival in October. The Halau Hula O Leionalani, led by Ryder, will perform tomorrow afternoon at the Ka`u Coffee Festival at Pahala Community Center. Lori Lei Shirakawa’s Hula Studio from Wai`ohinu will perform in the morning. Admission to the festival is free. See kaucoffeefest.com

JOANN AGUIRRE, TEA EDUCATOR and member of Hawai`i Tea Society, commemorates Tango-no-sekku (Boy’s Day) and Mother’s Day with a special tea tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. $15 per person includes tea, scones, tea sandwiches, salad, desserts and tea favors. Reservations are required. Call 982-7691 or email teaquiero@yahoo.com.

KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP’S CRATER RIM CAFÉ in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park celebrates Cinco de Mayo with a buffet Sunday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The menu includes chicken and cheese enchiladas, short rib fajitas, make-your-own-burrito station, cinnamon chips, ice cream bar and beverage. Prices are $15 for adults and $7.50 for children ages 6 to 11. KMC is open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests, and park entrance fees apply.


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