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Ka`u News Briefs Monday, Dec. 30, 2013

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Ed Olson said this morning that he sees coffee, food cops and ecotourism in the future of his lands, following rejection of the AKP
contract by the state Public Utilities Commission. Here he joined the Ka`u Coffee Mill's float in the recent Pahala Christmas parade.
Photo by Julia Neal
KA`U COFFEE, FOOD CROPS AND ECOTOURISM are the likely future for Olson Trust lands in Ka`u, said Ed Olson this morning. He said he does not see a biofuel plantation and refinery on his 8,000 acres that stretch from Wood Valley toward Na`alehu. The statement comes after last week’s rejection by the state Public Utilities Commission of a plan by `Aina Koa Pono to build a $400 million refinery on the edge of Wood Valley and clear trees, brush and grass between Na`alehu and Pahala. AKP would have planted grasses and other crops to harvest and put into giant microwaves to make biodiesel drawn from an 80-foot-tall chimney. The biodiesel would have been shipped up Hwy 11 to the Hawaii Electric Co. power plant near Kona airport.
Kenton Eldridge
      After the rejection, `Aina Koa Pono founder Kenton Eldridge said his company plans to plow ahead with the biofuel plantation and refinery and sell off the biodiesel to a mainland company. However, Olson said this morning that AKP has no contract to lease the property and that he sees his trust focusing more on expanding coffee production, leasing more land out to local farmers and expanding ecotourism to the district.
      “We’re happy with Ka`u Coffee,” Olson said, noting that visitation to Ka`u Coffee Mill and demand for its coffee and the coffee grown by other local farmers is steadily increasing, the demand outstripping supplies. 
      Olson is also planning a hydroelectric plant to make energy for his coffee mill and other value-added agricultural production. The hydroelectric plant at Keaiwa reservoir would also send water down toward his coffee mill and provide additional irrigation for taro and other crop production.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I’S U.S. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION is looking toward the New Year to continue working on issues from the past year. Adrienne LaFrance, of Civil Beat, asked them what their plans are for next year.
      Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “From my first day in Congress, I have made it a priority to build relationships with my colleagues from across the spectrum. This effort has been critical in my work on issues important to Hawai`i and our country, including the passage and enactment of the very first bill I introduced.” Gabbard’s Helping Heroes Fly Act improves airport screening procedures for wounded warriors. 
      “It is also important as I continue my work to build support for proposals like the Military Justice Improvement Act and the Freedom Act among my colleagues who may be on the fence,” Gabbard said.
      Military Justice Improvement Act deals with the issue of sexual assault within military ranks by removing the decision of whether or not to prosecute from the chain of command and putting it into the hands of trained military prosecutors.
Sens. Mazie Hirono, Brian Schatz; Reps. Colleen Hanabusa, Tulsi Gabbard
      The Freedom Act addresses surveillance overreach occurring within the National Security Agency and targets reforms to the Patriot Act to ensure that innocent Americans’ personal data is protected.
      Rep. Colleen Hanabusa told LaFrance she would continue seeking federal recognition for Native Hawaiians. “We have to stay the course,” she said. “We need to hear from the White House before we can chart the next steps. There are three ways you can achieve federal recognition: one is through Congress, the other … is executive orders; and then the third is judicial, which in my opinion would require the state to take some kind of action. I think that whatever the course may be, it’s going to be something that the entire delegation pools behind... We have to hear from all the players, primarily the executive branch. It’s in their court.”
      Sen. Mazie Hirono said she plans to continue to work on immigration reform. “I continue to talk with immigration advocates,” she told LaFrance. “We are in touch with them all across the country. These are people for whom this is a top issue. It affects so many companies, families, every state. I also have been meeting with DREAMers both in Hawai`i and across the country— the DREAMers are the young (undocumented) people who get here before they turn 16.
      “I am proud of the fact that the UH board of regents took the step to offer in-state tuition to DREAMers in Hawai`i...
      “We also worked really hard on making some important changes with how we deal with sexual assault in the military. I’m hopeful that as we go forward we’ll bring forth … change to the Military Justice Act.”
      Extending long-term unemployment benefits is at the top of Sen. Brian Schatz’s agenda. “Democrats are united in the Senate to make (this) our first order of business in January, and we will have a vote before Jan. 7,” he said.
      See civilbeat.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

THE HAWAI`I TOBACCO QUITLINE has a new advertising campaign to coincide with smokers’ New Year’s resolutions. The campaign features former smokers talking about their experiences with quitting smoking. 
      “This is absolutely a big time of year for us,” said Pedro Haro, spokesperson for the Quitline. “People are well aware of the negative effects of tobacco use, which is why quitting is always such a popular New Year’s Resolution. It’s a great time to set your quit date.” 
      In Hawai`i County, smoking has been banned from beaches and parks since 2008, and the County Council recently passed a law raising the age of those to whom merchants can sell tobacco products from 18 to 21.
      The Hawai`i Tobacco Quitline is funded by the Hawai`i Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund, which represents a portion of Hawai`i’s Master Settlement Agreement payments from a joint lawsuit against the four biggest U.S. tobacco companies, according to the Quitline.
      Contact the Quitline at 1-800-784-8669 or hawaiiquitline.org.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Lahars can still happen years after a volcanic eruption. Photo from giglig.com
HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY’S latest issue of Volcano Watch focuses on indirect hazards of volcanic eruptions and how innovative technology can provide the gift of peace of mind by keeping constant, long-term watch on lurking hazards such as lahars and directly minimize their risk. Lahars, or volcanic mudflows, occur when water surges downslope, picking up soil, rocks and vegetation on its way. 
      On Christmas Eve 60 years ago, such an event occurred in New Zealand and killed 151 people on a train going to Auckland when it crossed a bridge that had collapsed from the force of a lahar.
      New technology is now available that can detect lahars and provide enough warning that emergency managers can take precautions and alert the public of danger. With this technology, another lahar in 2002 caused no casualties and only minor damage.
      See hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP IS CELEBRATING the New Year’s holidays. 
      Tomorrow, the Lava Lounge hosts a New Year’s Eve celebration beginning at 8 p.m., featuring entertainment by Keoki Kahumoku and a midnight toast. For more information, call 967-8365.
      New Year’s Eve partiers can vote for their favorite decorated cottage during Kilauea Military Camp’s Holiday Challenge, which ends tomorrow. 
Paul and Jane Field lead Stewardship at the Summit. Photo from NPS
      New Year’s Day brunch buffet is available at Crater Rim Café from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Menu items include fresh fruit, omelette station, roast pork with gravy, ono picata, sausage patties, bacon, biscuits, brownies, ice cream sundaes and beverages for $15.95 adults and $8.50 children. Call 967-8356 for more information.
      KMC is open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply.

STEWARDSHIP AT THE SUMMIT PROVIDES Ka`u residents with an opportunity to resolve to spend time outdoors by helping remove invasive Himalayan ginger from trails in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Loppers and gloves are provided. Participants are encouraged to wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and close-toed shoes. Work is often in the shade of the forest with sounds of native honeycreepers like `apapane, `amakihi and `oma`o. Water, snacks, rain gear and sun protection are recommended.
      Dates set for January are Fridays, Jan. 3, 10 and 24 and Saturday, Jan. 18. Park entrance fees apply.
      Contact Adrian Boone for more information at 985-6172.

KA`U HOSPITAL URGES RESIDENTS to complete its Community Health Needs Assessment at surveymonkey.com/s/93HQ5MX. The deadline has been extended to Jan. 31.

SEE THE DIRECTORY 2013 from the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce at kauchamber.org.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.








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