Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Friday, Feb. 12, 2016

Sign up today for tomorrow's Composting Workshop at Earth Matters Farm. See more below. Photo from Earth Matters
HAWAI`I HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE’S Energy & Environmental Protection Committee advanced Ka`u Rep. Richard Creagan’s bill regarding solar energy facilities. As amended, HB2636 would require solar projects generating more that 25 kilowatts of capacity in agricultural districts to obtain special permits. The bill is Creagan’s response to a proposed project in Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos that would place 30,000 solar panels on 26 lots scattered throughout the neighborhood.
      Creagan told Bret Yager, of West Hawai`i Today, that with the special permit requirement, “There would be more of a process. It would put up roadblocks to anyone trying to come in and ram something through or be sneaky.”
Rep. Richard Creagan
      Testimony from residents focused on unintended consequences of a law allowing solar projects in ag districts.
      Phillip Stuart-Sharkey said, “Passing HB2636 is essential if we are to correct what Gov. Ige described as an 'unintended consequence' of poorly drafted legislation.
      Peter and Ann Bosted testified, “This law, though well-intentioned, has had unforeseen consequences, including no public hearings/comment, no fire mitigation plan, no EIS or archeological study, no plan for the decommissioning of the abandoned project, no plan for toxic clean-up, (and) no consideration of diminished property values.”
      Sandra Shelton, Secretary of Hawaiian Ranchos Community Association, wrote, “While we are in favor of solar because it is relatively clean and renewable, these farms are very dangerous, even when surrounded by unsightly industrial security fences, because of there proximity to homes and people. It may be legal, but it is wrong. There are often unintentional bad consequences of well-intentioned laws, and this is a prime example.”
      Barbara Winch said, “There was a loophole in the law to allow an individual into a residential area for industrial solar installations. Our area in Hawai`i County was declared an extremely high fire hazardous area due to the dry conditions. We are required as homeowners to keep a 4,000-gallon tank on our property. This is a safety issue for the homeowners here. In our `ohi`a trees is where the Hoary bat (an endangered species) nests. It has already affected property values, which in turn will affect the revenue the state receives. Please do not allow our community life to be compromised.”
Chris Yuen
      Former Hawai`i County Planning Director Chris Yuen opposed the bill. “I can understand why a neighbor of a project like this might rather see a vacant lot next door rather than a solar array protected by a fence,” Yuen testified. “It is not visually appealing. But it is not significantly less attractive than many other uses that can be made of that same lot in the ag district. For example, the lot could be covered in shade cloth structures. And I don’t see why the government, in balancing the various interests involved, would change the laws allowing a solar development like this, which would, on each lot, generate enough electricity for 50-100 homes. …
      “I hope the developers, like anybody, try to be good neighbors and accommodate the reasonable concerns and wishes of their community. But the Legislature should not ban PV projects like this and others that can help reduce global warming.”
      Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission holds a public meeting related to the project this Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Commissioners will listen to comments on an application by Hawai`i Electric Light Co. for approval to construct a transmission line across Hwy 11 to support the solar project.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Henry Yang Photo from TMT
THIRTY METER TELESCOPE International Observatory’s Board of Governors have decided to consider other locations for the project. The board met last week to discuss the future of TMT on Mauna Kea.
      Henry Yang, Chair of TMT International Observatory Board, said, “At this time, Hawai`i remains our first choice for the location of TMT, and we are very grateful for all of our supporters. Given the enormous investment and potential challenges ahead, it is necessary to also carry out a review of alternate sites.”
      The University of Hawai`i responded to TMT now exploring alternative sites as a “Plan B” if it can’t build in Hawai`i: “The University of Hawai`i remains steadfast in our support for locating the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawai`i. The project is a tremendous scientific and economic opportunity for Hawai`i Island and the state. It will be a cornerstone of the next generation of astronomy in Hawai`i, one of the anchors of our research and innovation enterprise. TMT is also providing educational, scholarship and STEM support for Hawai`i Island schools and substantial resources for improved stewardship of Maunakea. UH was the original permit applicant for the project and will be deeply involved in the upcoming Land Board proceedings, as we have been throughout the process to date.”
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz yesterday discussed efforts to combat dengue fever on Hawai`i Island and the threat of Zika.
Sen. Brian Schatz discussing dengue fever.
Image from Office of Sen. Schatz 
      “Dengue is a public health emergency on Hawai`i Island. With the emerging threat of a possible Zika crisis, we need to act fast,” Schatz said. “There is no doubt we need additional funding, but we also need the CDC’s commitment to address dengue and the threat of Zika simultaneously in Hawai`i.”
      At an Appropriations Committee hearing Schatz, a member of the committee, called for quick approval of additional funding and urged Frieden to coordinate with state and local governments to improve mosquito control programs to help stop the spread of both dengue and Zika.
      Last week, Schatz joined 45 Senate Democrats to send a letter to President Obama urging a coordinated interagency response plan to address the spread of the Zika virus both at home and abroad. The letter called for the president to take a number of new actions, including taking the Zika virus into consideration in his FY17 budget request.
      Hawai`i has had over 250 confirmed cases of dengue since September 2015, mostly concentrated on Hawai`i Island. Like dengue, Zika can be transmitted by mosquitos. Zika has been spreading throughout the Americas and has been linked with neurological ailments such as paralysis and devastating birth defects. The CDC has issued its highest alert level for Zika, while the World Health Organization has declared it a global health emergency.
      Yesterday, Hawai`i Department of Health identified two new case of dengue fever. Currently, as many as two of the 254 confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. Mazie Hirono accepting her award from Teach
for America. Photo from Office of Sen. Hirono
U.S. SEN. MAZIE HIRONO has been named a Teach For America Congressional Champion. “I know firsthand how a quality education opens doors to opportunity, and TFA is working to change students’ lives in Hawai`i and across the country,” Hirono said. “I am honored to accept this award and will continue to fight to ensure that every student is equipped to play a significant role in the 21st century workforce.”
      To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

ADVANCE TICKETS ARE STILL available for Volcano Art Center’s 12th annual fundraiser tomorrow from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. This evening of art, food and wine will be hosted at Volcano Art Center’s Hale Ho`omana in Volcano Village. Monies raised will be used for arts and cultural education, as well as programs and classes/workshops. The theme is m’ARTi Gras. Tickets are $55 for VAC members; $65 for nonmembers.
      See volcanoartcenter.org or call 967-8222.

ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED for Recycle Hawai`i’s Composting Workshop tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Earth Matters Farm on South Point and Kama`oa Roads.
      Register today at hiartrecycle@gmail.com or 985-8725.

VALENTINE’S WEEKEND HUKILAU begins today and continues through Sunday at Whittington Beach Park. Handijam presents this blanket and toy drive featuring Buddy Cage, of New Riders of the Purple Sage. $15 suggested donation; veterans free.
      Call 917-561-4800.

PANCAKE BREAKFAST IS TOMORROW from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Vision Van will offer free screenings. Call 939-7033 for more information.

KA`U PANIOLO HEAD to the Equestrian Center this side of Hilo tomorrow and Sunday for the annual Pana`ewa Stampede. The rodeo begins at noon tomorrow and and 11 a.m. on Sunday, with qualifying and slack roping starting at 8 a.m.

PARTICIPANTS DISCOVER THE HAWAIIAN goddesses Hi`iaka & Pele and the natural phenomena they represent on a moderate one-mile walk tomorrow from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

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