Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Sept. 13, 2013

The value of the `Aina Koa Pono project, which is awaiting a decision by the Public Utilities Commission, is the topic of a letter sent by Pahala resident Bobby Gomes to the Commission. Photo by Julia Neal
HAWAI`I COUNTY HAS FILED A MOTION to intervene in Ka`u County Council member Brenda Ford’s petition challenging Mayor Billy Kenoi’s appointment of Bobby Jean Leithead Todd as director of the Department of Environmental Management based on a lack of qualifications. The county charter says the DEM director must have “an engineering degree or a degree in a related field,” as amended in 2010 by Hawai`i County voters. 
      Ford’s petition, filed in August, said, “Since the respondent Bobby Jean Leithead Todd does not have an engineering degree or a degree in an engineering-related field, the respondent does not have the qualification required to hold the office of director of the Department of Environmental Management for the county of Hawai`i.” It calls for Leithead Todd to be “restrained from performing the duties of that office.”
      The county wants to be involved because “we have an interest in the outcome,” deputy corporation counsel Laureen Marten told Stephens Media reporter Nancy Cook Lauer.
      See more at hawaiitribune-herald.com.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

YOUNG BROTHERS, LTD AND HAWAIIAN TUG & BARGE are now accepting grant applications from nonprofit community organizations on the island of Hawai`i for its Community Gift Giving Program. The program will award grants of up to $1,000 per organization. 
      Community organizations that meet the following criteria are invited to submit applications for grant consideration:
  • IRS Approved under Section 501(c)3; 
  • Purpose of organization is related to health, education, civic and community service, youth activities, cultural enrichment, environment or special community projects. 
      In 2001, HTB/YB established the Community Gift Giving Program to provide recognition and support to charitable community organizations on each island. Since its inception, the community gift-giving program contributed more than $889,900 to 779 nonprofit organizations throughout the state of Hawai`i, of which $332,250 went to 352 Hawai`i Island organizations.
Officials from Young Brothers and Hawaiian Tug & Barge deliver grants
from their Community Gift Giving Program.
      The Hawai`i County Community Advisory Board members are Chery Garvey, M.D., of Waimea, the board chairman; Fanny Collins Au Hoy and Dave Young of Kailua-Kona, and June Kunimoto and Derek Kurisu of Hilo.
      Application forms and information are available at youngbrothershawaii.com under “Community Gift Giving” or by calling Garvey at 885-3211. Applications may be submitted now through Friday, Sept. 27. Completed applications may be faxed to 885-3311 or mailed to Hawaiian Tug & Barge/Young Brothers, Ltd. Hawai`i County Community Advisory Board, Attn: Chery Garvey, M.D., PO Box 550 Kamuela, HI 96743.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Bobby Gomes spoke at a meeting about AKP
last October. Photo by Julia Neal
“I’M SEEING ARGUMENTS THAT THE `AINA KOA PONO project is needed to ‘invigorate’ Hawai`i Island’s agricultural industry by using land that is currently ‘underutilized.’ AKP seems to assume that nothing is happening in Ka`u regarding agriculture, and that without AKP there will be no economic development,” wrote Pahala resident Bobby Gomes in a letter to the Public Utilities Commission. The proposed 20-year contract for AKP to produce biofuel at a refinery above Pahala from feedstock harvested and grown on lands between Pahala and Na`alehu is currently awaiting a decision from the PUC. 
      “I want to go on record saying that this assumption is false. Sure, the Ka`u region suffered when sugar closed down decades ago, but Ka`u people are resilient,” Gomes said. 
      “In fact, Ka`u is doing just fine. Ka`u may look like an impoverished region by Honolulu standards, but people can afford to buy a home here, with room for horses and cattle. That makes us rich in what matters. We have rodeos, our keiki are rodeo queens and award-winning cowboys and cowgirls, sheep riders and mutton busters; our teenage girls raise 4-H prize-winning cattle; and our teenage boys are cattle herders. We have Fourth of July parades and coffee festivals; we have a vibrant community that turns out for fairs and school improvement events. We have a national champion volleyball team, and we find innovative ways to let our boys play football — even if we don’t have enough players to field a traditional team.
      “Despite the impression given by supporters of AKP, Ka`u agriculture is already booming on its own – we have no need for AKP. In fact, AKP will just get in the way of exciting agricultural developments that promise to earn far more money for Ka`u’s people. Cattle ranchers and coffee farmers are worried they may lose their land and livelihood if AKP is approved, and there are already serious concerns about water availability.
      “People are proudly supporting their families with cattle ranching, macadamia farming, local food production and an exploding coffee industry, and there is burgeoning interest in tea. Perhaps AKP’s supporters haven’t noticed, but Ka`u coffee is winning international competitions, its price doubled in the last year, and supply can’t keep up with domestic and international demand. Five acres can support a family, and there are many farmers eagerly waiting for land to plant coffee.”  
      Gomes shared statistics and comparisons to other agricultural activities in Ka`u. “What kind of economic jump-start does AKP offer? Not much compared to current crops,” Gomes said. “I looked up USDA statistics, and macadamias generate over $2,500 per acre in revenue, while Ka`u coffee (at Hawai`i County-wide yields and current Ka`u prices) can generate $12,000 - $13,000 per acre (parchment equivalent value). “If farmers hold onto their coffee through roasting and combine agro-tourism with their operations (direct sales, tours, T-shirts, mugs, B&Bs), they can probably double this value – or more.
      “AKP says it will produce 24 million gallons of biofuel on 12,000 acres (2,000 gallons per acre). They say they will get 80 gallons of fuel per ton of feedstock, so that means they have to get 25 tons of feedstock per acre. Are they kidding? Don’t they know how much of those 12,000 acres is lava rock, and/or too steep to farm? What about water? Recent meetings have already almost broken out into fights over water access. Suppose AKP can produce 25 tons per acre — which they haven’t proven they can do. What is the agricultural value of that feedstock? The best comparison is to crops for livestock feed. The University of Hawai`i looked at enriching various grasses for cattle feed, and in 2003 priced the grasses at $54 per ton. Current reports are that hay and other cellulosic feedstocks sell on the mainland for about $100 per ton. At these prices, AKP will be lucky to generate biomass with agricultural value of $1,350 - $2,500 per acre, which just approaches the value of macadamias and falls well short of coffee. On a farmgate basis, AKP biomass offers no new value to the people of Ka`u.
      “What about the value of end products? I calculate that Ka`u coffee growers can get $14,000 per acre if they hold onto their coffee through roasting and then sell it wholesale at $25 per pound (more if they sell direct at current prices of about $35 per pound). At AKP’s optimistic yield assumptions, they’d have to sell their biodiesel at $7 per gallon or more to provide greater value.
      “There is a choice for the people of the Ka`u region,” Gomes continued. “AKP can offer them employment as hired hands, growing biomass that barely achieves the per-acre value of macadamias and falls well short of the value of coffee. Alternatively, current (and future) diversified agricultural crops can bring far greater value to the people here, enable them to live as proud entrepreneurs and provide for their families, and continue a traditional Hawaiian lifestyle that is deeply cherished. Please don’t sacrifice the Ka`u lifestyle to the misguided interests of the AKP biofuels project,” Gomes concluded.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Volunteers clean up Kamilo Beach tomorrow.
Photo from Hawai`i Wildlife Fund.
HAWAI`I WILDLIFE FUND SPONSORS a Ka`u Coast Cleanup tomorrow in association with the annual Get the Drift & Bag It program. Volunteers meet at Wai`ohinu Park at 7:45 a.m. to carpool to the site. Sign up with Megan Lamson at 769-7629 or kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com.

FOUR HAWAI`I ISLAND POTTERS SELL THEIR WARES at the Second Saturday Volcano Pottery Sale tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Call 985-8530 or email ryhpottery.com for more information.

A GUIDED, MODERATELY DIFFICULT HIKE over rugged terrain at the Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park focuses on the area’s human history. The three-hour, 2.5-mile hike begins at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.

PAHALA POOL PARTY from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow will raise money for the Pahala South Swell Swim Team. The funding will help send the 21 swimmers to meets in Hilo, Kona and Pahoa. The Pool Party at Pahala swimming pool features food, shave ice and drinks. For more, call the pool at 928-8177. 

Coffee farmers can learn the latest techniques to control
coffee berry borer tomorrow.
COFFEE BERRY BORER INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT is the topic tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee Farm. Andrea Kawabata, University of Hawai`i’s coffee and orchard crops Extension agent, presents the most current techniques to manage CBB. Other researchers  offer information on proper sampling for CBB monitoring and other topics. To sign up, call 322-4892 or email ginab@hawaii.edu today.

HALAU NA PUA O ULUHAIMALAMA under the direction of kumu hula Emery Aceret performs tomorrow from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the hula platform near Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Hands-on cultural demonstrations take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the gallery porch’s. Free (donations welcome); park entrance fees apply.

VOLCANO WINERY’S FIRST HARVEST FESTIVAL is Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event includes wine, pupus and music. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Call 967-7772 or email volcanowinery.com.




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