Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016

Grassman Macadamia Nut Farm on Lorenzo Road worked with Hawaiian Island Land Trust to put more than 200 acres
under a conservation easement to keep it in agriculture for generations. The Trust also honored Edmund C. Oslon
for his conservation efforts statewide. See stories below. Photo from Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
ALLOWING CAMPGROUNDS AND CESSPOOLS ON AG LAND, a U.H. teaching hospital for Kona, and dealing with crime, roads, cesspools, solar farms, and junk cars were discussed by about 30 residents who attended state Rep. Richard Creagan’s talk story at Ocean View Community Center on Monday night. The 2017 Hawai`i Legislature begins in January.
     Creagan outlined his vision for a university hospital that would be linked to University of Hawai`i's John A. Burns Medical School of Medicine on O`ahu, and sited on 500 state acres near the airport in Kona, which are already tagged for higher education. Half a million dollars of state funds have been earmarked to pay for the feasibility study. “Kona Hospital can’t expand,” explained Creagan, “so we need a new site. The hospital would be used to train new doctors and we hope that once trained, they will stay in Hawai`i.” 
     Creagan is the new Chair of the state House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. Rep. Lynn DeCoite from Moloka`i will be Vice-Chair. Creagan addressed some potential changes to use of agricultural land:
Rep. Richard Creagan meets with Ka`u residents ahead of the Hawai`i Legislature, which convenes in January.
Photo by Ann Bosted
     Concerning allowing cesspools on some ag land to save the cost of more expensive septic systems was a topic that drew discussion. Creagan explained that the state Department of Health (and the federal Environmental Protection Agency) has ruled no more cesspools, but he is considering submitting a bill in the legislature to allow cesspools on agricultural land provided they are a certain number of miles from the ocean or flowing water and at least a certain number of feet above sea level. He said that Vice-Chair Decoite and Mayor Harry Kim both support cesspools in appropriate locations. Creagan contended that cesspools are cheap and easy and they work and are safe. A septic system can cost over $15,000 00 and requires periodic pumping that can cost $500. Some owners shoot holes in the plastic tanks to avoid the need for pumping as there are no required inspections after installation.
Rep. Richard Creagan
Photo by Ann Bosted
    A bill to require developers to obtain a county permit for any large solar farms in non-conforming subdivisions failed to “pass through” conference committee on the last hearing day of the 2016 legislative session. Creagan said that he would promote the bill next year, with support of other legislators. Although the bill would not stop the 6.75 megawatt project planned for three subdivisions in Ocean View, it would stop similar projects in the future.
      Creagan raised the topic of private overnight campgrounds on agricultural land. Day camps are currently an authorized use on ag land. Campgrounds are usable year round in Hawai`i, given the mild climate, but federal State, and County campgrounds are often full. Residents raised the squatter problem that is growing in Ocean View, and Creagan explained that the campsites would not be a permanent solution for homelessness. When a resident asked if campsites would open a proverbial “can of worms,” Creagan replied, “the can of worms is open,” but acknowledged that perhaps Ocean View’s one-acre lots might be too small.
      Asked how the state Department of Transportation plans to deal with flooding of Hwy 11 at Kawa Flats, between Na’alehu and Pahala, Creagan stated that the highway department has seemed to lack the will to address it. A raised highway was engineered and planned years ago, but the project stalled.
     When Hwy 11 floods, the the old sugar cane haul road that goes through the mountains mauka of Hwy 11 is considered the alternate route with its many gulches that flood. It is often unusable and dangerous. However, improving the upper road and its small bridges might be less expensive than modifying the state highway. Creagan agreed that it was ironic that an $18 million storm shelter should be built in Pahala, but the road to reach it from most of Ka`u is unusable in a storm. The upper road could be improved not only for emergencies but to serve the farms and ranches there.
      When residents raised the topic of schools and education, Creagan said he supports teaching agriculture in schools.
      He also acknowledged that there are more private schools per population in Hawai’i than in any other state, and that state schools need more funding. One question asked is why is so much money spent on air-conditioning and so little on training and hiring teachers?
     Mike DuBois raised the pressing problem of crime in Ocean View where several businesses and homes have been the victims of robbery and vandalism.
Mike Dubois has worked with many Ocean View residents to collect
 and haul away junk cars, including Robin and David Baglow
who offered a staging area.  
     “We have a lot of repeat criminals,” explained DuBois, “I’d like a system that lets us residents know where they are living, like the system for sex offenders. We have a person who has committed six crimes and was caught committing the seventh. He is living in a shack under very poor conditions. He should be brought to justice, but the police are not effective in policing our area.”
      The growing number of junk cars on private properties is an escalating problem in Ocean View, residents told Creagan. “They make a statement that anything goes in Ocean View,” said a resident. The cars leak hazardous materials, attract rodents, provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and could kill children who play in them and may become trapped. Residents said that state laws need to be stricter. The county sets the limit at two cars per home, where the state allows 25 inoperable vehicles per home. One resident estimated that about 40 to 50 cars are abandoned along the sides of the roads in Ocean View. Dubois, who has led campaigns to haul away junk vehicles in the past, said that it costs about $350 per vehicle to transport and turn it in to the county in Kona or Hilo.
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EDMUND C. OLSON IS CONSERVER OF THE YEAR. Olson, who owns more than 8,000 acres in Ka`u, was recently recognized as by the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust "for his generous contributions to land conservation through out the state." Describing Olson, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust stated, "A great leader and friend to land conservation in Hawai‘i, Mr. Olson’s generosity and foresight have made a tremendous impact on protecting our environment and revitalizing local agriculture. His passion for conservation and commitment to Hawai‘i’s agricultural industry is demonstrated through numerous conservation land acquisitions, conservation easements, and agricultural enterprises he has led over the past several years."
Ed Olson at a Pahala Christmas Parade. He was recently honored for 
helping to conserve land throughout the state, including ag and 
coastal lands in Ka`u. Photo by Julia Neal
      In agriculture, through Hawaiian Island Lands Trust, Olson  donated. in 2010, a conservation easement for agriculture on more than 900 acres of his pasturelands, mauka of the old cane haul road between Na`alehu and Pahala, adjacent to the Ka`u Forest Reserve.
    Olson founded the Ka`u Coffee Mill and planted coffee along Hwy 11 in Pahala to show off where the famous Ka`u Coffee is grown. He upgraded  old sugar plantation water lines for irrigation in diversified farming for his own coffee and macadamia as well as diversified crops on land leased to local farmers. He is also working on a hydroelectric plant at Keaiwa, above Wood Valley Road, which will be used for electricity for ag enterprises. Olson is one of the largest macadamia tree growers and macadamia nut processors in the state.
     In Ka`u, Olson helped with the conservation of the Ka`u Coast at Honu`apo, Kawa and lands between Kawa and Punalu`u by putting up money and holding the lands for sale on the real estate market until the community could raise funds to buy it and place it in the public trust.
     He also established public trails to forestlands through his property for hunting, hiking and Hawaiian cultural activiteis. He has welcomed stewardship by Hawaiian families for religious sites at Makanau and for a hula heiau on his lands.
     Olson works with multiple land preservation organizations, including Hawai`i Islands Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Land. 
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GRASSMAN MACADAMIA NUT FARM NEAR NA`ALEHU WILL BE PROTECTED for generations through a conservation easement recently purchased by the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. The Trust bought a  211-acre conservation easement on the farm up Lorenzo Road, from the Janice M. Grassman Trust. The Grassman Macadamia Nut Farm consists of a mixed age macadamia orchard adjacent to the Ka‘ū Forest Reserve.
Blaine and Janet Grassman worked with Hawaiian 
Islands Land Trust to preserve their Ka`u land for ag
 conservation.Photo from Haaiian Islands Land Trust
     “Through this purchase, these lands will be protected and will maintain its agricultural purpose for generations to come,” said Kawika Burgess, CEO of Hawai`i Islands Land Trust. The funds to purchase the easement were contributed by the Freeman Foundation of Honolulu in a strategic effort to conserve working agricultural lands in Hawai‘i. The purchase will add to the more than 17,500 acres that HILT protects throughout Hawai‘i.
     Blaine Grassman expressed his gratitude to Hawaiian Island Land Trust and the Freeman Foundation for making the project possible. “I was raised on a farm and have been a farmer for my entire life - I love farming. By placing a conservation easement on our land I know this unique parcel will remain in agriculture forever,” said Grassman.
    Burgess said that the land trust hopes to assist more agricultural operations in Hawai‘i by working with other foundations and donors who share similar goals to help farmers keep their lands productive while protecting the land’s conservation values.

STATE GRANTS-IN-AID may become available to qualified nonprofit and other organizations who apply in time for the 2017 Hawai`i Legislature, according to state Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Jill Tokuda and House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke. In a statement, they said grants are "appropriated to nonprofit and other organizations for various public purposes recognized as priorities and seen as complimentary to state government functions, including health, educational, workforce development, and social services and cultural and historical activities."
      To allow the Legislature time to review applications, deadline to submit grant applications is  4:30 p.m. Jan. 20, 2017. In 2016, the Legislature awarded nearly $37 million in grants to organizations. Information on the GIA process is available on the Legislature’s website (www.capitol.hawaii.gov). For questions, contact Ways and Means Committee at 808-586-6800 or Finance Committee at 808-586-6200.

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NA` LEO MANU - KENNETH MAKUAKANE, TONIGHT at Kilauea Visitor Center auditorium, 6:30 - 8 p.m. The free event showcases the melodies of multiple award-winning artist Kenneth Makuakāne. His accolades include 15 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards, and six Big Island Music Awards. A prolific songwriter, Makuakane’s compositions have been recorded by artists such as the Brothers Cazimero, Nā Leo Pilimehana and many more. Park entrance fees apply.

CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp through the holidays.

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