Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, August 2, 2013

South Point is in the Ka`u Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan. Photo by Peter Anderson
KA`U SCENIC BYWAY received support form both state senators this week. Josh Green, representing West Ka`u, wrote to the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce Scenic Byway committee today, saying, "I like this plan and will be totally supportive." He said that he and Sen. Russell Ruderman can co-sponsor legislation to seek funds. A summary for the Corridor Management Plan, being developed by the committee, says the goal is to "enhance the experience of driving the Byway as it passes through some unique scenery along the western and southern slopes of Mauana Loa. The Byway should 'tell the story' of the drive around the world's highest mountain as measured from the ocean floor, and an active volcano. The Byway is the route between the Manuka Forest Reserve, at the boundary with South Kona, and the main entrance to the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Optionally it offers a side trip along a narrow road to Ka Lae, South Point, the southernmost tip of the 50 states. The Byway passes through areas of unusual natural beauty and some of the longest stretches of untouched landscape anywhere in the state."
     The Corridor Management Plan describes 16 sites identified as being of particular interest, "mostly because of scenic or other natural qualities but also including some sites that offer recreational opportunities. A summary of archaeological and historical points of interest along the Byway also includes a listing of some of the more important cultural events in Ka`u District." The main improvements proposed in the CMP are six new turnouts and three kiosks, one in each of the main population centers in the District. "The turnouts will offer new opportunities to pause and appreciate the scenery, and will have interpretive signs that relate the scenery to its geological past, and may include references to historical or cultural events. A kiosk provides local maps and information, telling the traveler what facilities are available locally and in relation to the Byway in general.
Eva Lee will present a program on growing tea in Ka`u for health, beauty and
economic development at Pahala Plantation House on Aug. 18.
  "The CMP will include an overall strategy for landscaping that is consistent with the natural beauty and a general strategy for preservation of the attractive attributes of the Byway."    Suggestions for improving the safety of the drive along the Byway are also included. The Plan includes proposals for funding the proposed improvements and a timeline for implementation, wrote committee chair Marge Elwell. See more on the Scenic Byway project at http://www.hawaiiscenicbyways.org/index.php/byway/kau-scenic-byway-the-slopes-of-mauna-loa. To comment on this story, go to https://www.facebook.com/kaucalendar.

GROW TEA is a cultivation and production program with educator and tea farmer Eva Lee of Tea Hawaii & Company. It will be held Sunday, Aug. 18 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House. The program is for prospective tea farmers on Hawai`i Island interested in growing the Specialty crop Camellia sinensis tea producing white, green, oolong and black tea. The purpose is too help individuals and small family farms make greater strides in community production. The program is sponsored by The Kohala Center and funded in part by the U.S.Department of Agriculture Co-op Support program. To sign up, call Julia Neal at 928-9811. See more on Eva Lee at www.teahawaii.com.

A WASTE TO ENERGY PLANT that would take care of garbage collected by the county and produce electricity for the county to sell to Hawai`i Electric Light Co. is being studied by the administration and County Council. Ka`u's County Council member Brenda Ford said today that the county considered such a plant years ago, but in the end, the proposal failed with the majority of council members and Ford voting it down.
     Ford contended that "It didn't pencil out with a $120 million cost," for which the county would have had to issue a bond. She said the company proposing waste to energy started with a $60 million price tag that escalated to $120 million.  
Ka`u's County Council member
Brenda Ford
     "It was ludicrous and we didn't know what price HELCO would pay us per killowatt hour" and how the county could make back the money. She said that the county administration, at that time, estimated that HELCO would offer to pay the county 28 cents to 33 cents per kilowatt hour but that HELCO executive Jay Ignacio told the council that he would lose his job if he were to promise a contract at that price. "He reports to shareholders not the council," Ford said. "We weren't going to get the kind of the money we had been told."
     Ford also explained that the county would have to come up with an average of approximately 220 tons of combustibles per day to feed the waste to energy plant "or we would be fined by that company. At the time we were collecting less than 500 tons of total garbage per day islandwide. Of that amount 60 percent was green waste. With green waste going to composting and mulching, we would have been able to provide only 200 tons of waste a day, with only part of it being combustible," she explained.
     Ford said she hopes the council and county will consider some of the newer, innovative waste to energy proposals for which a contracting company would build the infrastructure at no cost to local government. She said that at least one entity promised to charge the county no money to build a Materials Recovery Facility and would use the Hilo sort station, pay union wages and by the end of the second year start mining the Hilo landfill for combustibles and other materials. "We need to take down the Hilo landfill. It is an unlined landfill that is leaching into the ocean and God knows what's in it and what went in it 60 years ago," said Ford. 
   Regarding concerns that Hawai`i County could become a guinea pig for experimental methods to deal with trash, Ford said, "If we can be a guinea pig for free and it works, we could possibly have a scalable solution that could be replicated in different parts of the island." She said that a Materials Recovery Facility, which is only one possibility, could separate out the green waste, ferrous and non ferrous metals, combustiles like paper and cardboard, plastics and glass. "Some of the combustibles would be used to generate energy to run the plant." She said such a system, funded by an outside contractor could have a bond or insurance that would require the chosen company to take down the plant should it fail. "We have a big problem out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Barging the garbage to somewhere else would not be financially conducive to the taxpayer," said Ford.
         She called for open discussions and said she hopes the county launches requests for information first, then requests for proposals second. She said the solid waste solution may require multiple methods. "There is no silver bullet. We should not force the solution into one type of technology." More than one technology from more than one provider may be able to solve the problems with solid waste, said the council member. She talked about multiple locations. "We don't want green waste going from one side of the island to the other, the transportation leading to invasive species falling off the trucks - like coqui, fire ants and stinging nettle caterpillar. We are trying not to spread these pests around the island." To comment on this story, go to https://www.facebook.com/kaucalendar.

A 3.3 EARTHQUAKE ON THURSDAY at 8:42 p.m. was followed by three more small quakes overnight and today in the same area. The epicenter of the larger quake was 7 miles north of Pahala, mauka of Hwy 11 on Kapapala Ranch at a depth of 8.2 miles. The temblors that followed measured 2.3, 2.6 and 2.8 on the richter scale. No damage nor injuries were reported. To comment on this story, go to https://www.facebook.com/kaucalendar.


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