Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013

Working the holidays, Summit Construction crews and subcontractors build the walls for the new Ka`u Gym & Disaster Shelter.
Photo by Julia Neal
KA`U GYM & DISASTER SHELTER CONSTRUCTION is in phase of building the hurricane-proof, concrete walls of the building and is expected to be completed sometime next year. The $17 million project will not only end the problem of volleyballs and basketballs hitting the existing gym’s ceiling, it will provide a venue for many community and school sporting, entertainment and educational events. The new gym will seat up to 1,000. The old gym will still be in play for practices and tournaments and smaller community and school events.
      One of the promoters of building the gym, since the time he served the district as Ka`u’s County Council member, is Kamehameha School volleyball coach Guy Enriques, who said he hopes to host tournaments at the new Ka`u gym. He said that the new gym will have three courts for tournament play. “With the old gym, that makes four.”
      Enriques said he is ready to promote weekend tournaments and volleyball clinics. “As soon as the gym is done, I’m on it,” said Enriques. He said camps might be possible be in May and June, possibly fall and winter break. “Throughout the year, we could have weekend tournaments built around the use of the gym for school sports. Ideally, such volleyball tournaments could be on Friday evenings and all day Saturday. “Once people start seeing the new gym, and especially with places to stay,” in Pahala, Punalu`u and Wood Valley, Enriques said he expects Pahala could become a popular place for sports tournaments.

This is the last day for a number of purchases that trigger federal tax deductions.
Image from plan4tax.com
THIS IS THE LAST DAY FOR A NUMBER OF PURCHASES that trigger federal tax deductions. 
      Many teachers in Ka`u buy school supplies for classrooms with their their own money and could take up to $250 a year off federal taxes, but this ends at the end of 2013.
      Deduction for state sales taxes will not be available on the 2014 federal tax forms.
      Section 179 allows businesses to take up to 76 percent of the cost of new, heavy duty trucks and some other equipment off their taxes, up to $500,000 total per year. This has led to businesses buying new trucks each year. The deduction goes down to $25,000 on Jan. 1, and dealers have seen a last minute upsurge in truck sales.
      Regarding deduction for education tuition and fees, households with under $160,000 in adjusted gross income can take a deduction for a dependent. The deduction can reach $4,000 for those with income below $130,000, but expires tonight. Spring tuitions must be paid before 2014 to enjoy the deduction.

Testing of drones may take place at Pohakuloa Training Area.
Photo from Wikipedia
POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA MAY BE A POSSIBLE SITE for testing commercial drones, state Sen. Will Espero told Pacific Business News. The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that the University of Alaska, one of six institutions nationwide that have been chosen to research the technology, plans to conduct testing in Hawai`i as well as Alaska and Oregon. 
      Espero, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety and Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, said drones could help Hawai`i’s efforts regarding disaster response, invasive species control, weather and marine research, and search and rescue operations.
      “This research has the potential to grow and diversify our economy, bringing high paying jobs to our residents. It will enhance Hawai`i as a test site for technology and robotics,” Espero said.
      Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies.”
      The FAA announced that it has established requirements for each test site that will help protect privacy. Among other requirements, test site operators will be required to comply with federal, state and other laws protecting an individual’s right to privacy; have publicly available privacy policies and a written plan for data use and retention; and conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment.
      See bizjournals.com/pacific.

WITH THE HUMPBACK WHALE SEASON UPON US, officials at Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary remind ocean users to keep a safe distance from the mammals. Humpback whale season in Hawai`i generally runs from November through May, peaking between January and March. More than 10,000 humpback whales winter in Hawaiian waters each year.
Federal regulations call for vessels to stay at least 100 yards away from
humpback whales. Photo from NOAA
      Endangered humpback whales are protected in Hawai`i. Federal regulations prohibit approaching within 100 yards of whales when on the water. These and other regulations apply to all ocean users, including vessel operators, kayakers, paddle boarders, windsurfers, swimmers and divers throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
      “It’s important for everyone to be extra cautious during whale season, for their own safety and the protection of the animals,” said Ed Lyman, marine mammal response manager for the sanctuary. “Collisions with vessels are a major source of injury and death for humpback whales in Hawai`i.” Calves are particularly vulnerable to vessel strikes because they are difficult to see and must surface more frequently.
      A 45-ton wild animal can pose a significant hazard to ocean users, and vessel-whale collisions can result in death or injury to boaters.
      Humpback whales congregate in ocean waters less than 600 feet deep throughout the main Hawaiian Islands. “An extra set of eyes scanning the waters ahead and to the sides of a boat can prevent collisions with marine life, marine debris, divers and other vessels,” Lyman said. “Be on the lookout, especially during whale season.”
      Lyman also stressed the importance of ocean users helping monitor humpback whales in the sanctuary. “By locating distressed animals, reporting and providing the initial documentation and assessment on the animal, ocean users are the foundation of our conservation efforts,” he said.
      Anyone who comes across an injured or entangled marine mammal should maintain the required safe distance and call NOAA’s Marine Mammal Hotline at 888-256-9840 immediately, or the U.S. Coast Guard on channel 16.

VOLUNTEERS AND LEADERS are needed for the annual Whale Count by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. People will scan the waters off Ka`u and nearly 60 other locations. The counts take place on Saturdays, Jan. 25, Feb. 22 and March 29. Whales come to Ka`u and other nearshore waters in Hawai`i to winter, give birth, care for their young and breed before heading back north for the summer.
      Volunteers record whale activity such as breaching and slapping tails. Researchers record whale songs and other sounds. More than 2,000 volunteers participate in the program statewide.
      Register and see more at hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/involved/ocwelcome.html.

Fireworks are prohibited at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
Photo from NPS
HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK REMINDS visitors that federal law prohibits fireworks in all national parks. “Our priorities as caretakers for these public lands are to keep the public and our natural, cultural and historical resources safe,” said Fire Management officer James Courtright, “We wish everyone a safe and healthy 2014.”

FIREWORKS PERMITS ARE AVAILABLE through midnight today. Each permit costs $25 and entitles the holder to purchase 5,000 individual firecrackers. Multiple permit purchases are authorized. Permits shall only be issued to persons 18 years of age or older, are non-transferable and non-refundable.
      Hawai`i Fire Department asks everyone to kokua in helping prevent fires and also to avoid the unnecessary injuries caused by fireworks each year.
      Regulations and recommendations regarding fireworks are available at hawaiicounty.gov.
      For more information on purchasing fireworks permits, or use of fireworks, call the Fire Prevention Bureau at 932-2912 (Hilo) or 323-4760 (Kona).

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 http://snack.to/fzpfg59c.


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