Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014

Quilt Shop-Hoppers came to Pahala Quilting & Creative Sewing Center yesterday during one of several tours of island quilt shops which run through Feb. 20. For information, see facebook.com/BigIslandQuiltShopHopHawaii. Photo by Ron Johnson
FOLLOWING KA`U’S REJECTION OF A SPACEPORT years ago, state officials are considering Kona Airport to become the state’s first certified spaceport. According to a story in West Hawai`i Today, suborbital space flights could begin as early as next year. Future possibilities include long-distance flights across the planet and launching of satellites from aircraft.
      Jim Crisafulli, state Office of Aerospace Development director, told reporter Tom Callis that the airport has been selected among 27 potential locations across the islands as the best home for space tourism based on its runway length, location away from highly populated areas and uncongested skies.
Suborbital space flights could begin taking off from Kona International Airport
as soon as next year. Image from XCOR
      Crisafulli called space tourism the “third dimension” of Hawai`i’s visitor industry, and he told Callis that he believes the state should be at the forefront.
      According to the story, the office is conducting several studies, including an environmental assessment, so it can seek Federal Aviation Administration approval. Crisafulli told Callis he expects to start the FAA application process later this year, with certification coming in the “first or second quarter of 2015.” Crisafulli said he believes impacts of the current proposal would be minor. “A more time-consuming Environmental Impact Statement won’t be needed if the assessment doesn’t find any significant impacts,” reported Pacific Business News previously, referencing Crisafulli. “Other studies around the country for these so-called ‘spaceports’ haven’t required an EIS,” PBN reported. A public review process, however, is required.
      Space tourism flights reach an altitude of about 61 miles, Crisafulli said, which is far enough from the planet to experience weightlessness.
      Hawai`i Tourism Authority chief Mike McCartney had previously told Pacific Business News that a spaceport would support luxury resorts, high-end restaurants and other enterprises catering to the ultra-rich.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.

A PISCES project studies using material from lava rock to build a sidewalk.
Shown here is Ala Kahakai Trail in Ka`u. Photo by Julia Neal
PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL SPACE CENTER for Exploration Systems is researching how to turn regolith, found in lava rock and moon rock, into usable material. The material is similar to the basaltic rock that makes up the islands, and PISCES executive director Rob Kelso told Tom Callis, of Hawai`i Tribune-Herald that the material can be used for building materials as well as to make fuel. 
      Using a three-dimensional printer, PISCES plans to combine basaltic dust with a binding material to form a hard surface and build a sidewalk as a demonstration project.
      Kelso told Callis it is partnering with Hawai`i County Public Works Department on the project in March. A location has not been selected.
      Another project being considered would demonstrate how rovers could extract regolith and, along with other machines, turn it into fuel or other material that it can use. “If a part breaks, you can’t send a repair mission,” he said. “But if it has a 3-D printer, it can scoop up some regolith, and it could in theory be able to repair itself.”
      See hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Sen. Russell Ruderman
Sen. Josh Green
KA`U’S STATE SENATORS Josh Green and Russell Ruderman have introduced legislation that would increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, from 18 to 21. SB2029 passed hearings at Senate Health and Commerce & Consumer Protection Committees Thursday. A hearing by the Judiciary & Labor Committee has yet to be scheduled. The bill follows Hawai`i County’s approval of a similar law in December of last year.
      Unlike Hawai`i County’s law, which subjects distributors, but not purchasers, of tobacco or electronic cigarette products to fines, this proposal would fine both parties. The bill calls for any person under twenty-one years of age who purchases tobacco products to be fined $10 for the first offense. “Any subsequent offense shall subject the violator to a fine of $50, no part of which shall be suspended, or the person shall be required to perform not less than forty-eight hours nor more than seventy-two hours of community service during hours when the person is not employed and is not attending school.”
      This and other bills are available at capitol.hawaii.gov.

KAHU-FM 91.7, NOW BROADCASTING Hawai`i Public Radio’s HPR2 programming, aired a feature last week called How American Food Companies Go GMO-Free in A GMO World. The producers interviewed farmers who are making money selling to Japanese and other buyers who want GMO-free food. It is all about the market driving a desire for GMO-free food, the NPR report stated.
Pahala Quilting owner Donna Masaniai, at left, greets a Shop-Hopper at yesterday's stop.
Photo by Ron Johnson
      Dan Charles, of NPR, spoke with Lynn Clarkson, who was at the forefront of the non-GMO market. When Clarkson was looking for buyers of his corn, he recognized a problem food companies were having. When the companies processed corn, they were getting inconsistent results because of too much variation in raw materials. Clarkson told them the cause was simple; they were getting many different genetic types of corn in each shipment.
      Clarkson said the solution was to buy “a single variety, a single hybrid, delivered at any one time, so you’re not mixing different cooking characteristics.”
      To be able to deliver grain the companies wanted, Clarkson signed contracts with farmers and agreed to pay them a premium for specific corn hybrids or varieties of soybeans.
      He delivered this uniform, predictable grain to food companies, first in Chicago and then to foreign buyers, particularly in Japan.
      When GMO crops became available about 20 years ago, his Japanese customers didn’t want them. Clarkson told Charles that Japanese food companies were suspicious of the new technology and didn’t want to risk a hostile consumer reaction.
      To accommodate these customers, Clarkson made sure the farmers he bought grain from grew varieties that weren’t genetically engineered.
      According to the report, most of these farmers don’t object to genetic engineering, and most of them grow both GMO and non-GMO crops.
      Doing so requires extra work, cleaning machinery between harvests of different fields and keeping crops separated by at least 100 feet. While the separation doesn’t always work perfectly, Clarkson said the food industry knows small traces of GMOs must be tolerated. “It always comes down to: How do you define GMO-free?” he told Charles. “What’s the tolerance level? If it’s zero, we might as well have a drink and part friendly, because we can’t do business. We cannot hit a zero standard.” According to Clarkson, in the U.S., “GMO-free” means that the product contains no more than 0.9 percent GMOs.

ROMANCING THE LEAF is the topic Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. JoAnn Aguirre discusses how tea has served as the foundation for romance in the arts. Free to VAC members; donations welcome. 
      For more information, email teaquiero77@gmail.com.

HIGHER EDUCATION ASSISTANCE is available Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Na`alehu United Methodist Church. Kamehameha Schools East Hawai`i Resource Center representatives meet with students who want to pursue education beyond high school and families who want help with summer program applications and more information about resources. 
      Services include help with admission applications for summer programs, financial aid and scholarship services, Ho`oulu Hawaiian Data Center forms and general information about Kamehameha Schools programs and resources. For more information, call Nikki or Noelani at 935-0116.

AT AFTER DARK IN THE PARK TUESDAY at 7 p.m., Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park archaeologist Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura shares a presentation of the challenges faced by the National Park Service before, during and after World War II at Kilauea, in what was then called Hawai`i National Park.
U.S. Army Signal Corps in the 1940s at Kilauea Military Camp. Photo from KMC
      The findings of Moniz-Nakamura’s extensive research were recently published in the Hawaiian Journal of History. The program takes place at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium. $2 donations support park programs; park entrance fees apply. 

SEE THE DIRECTORY 2014 ONLINE. For a page-turning version, see kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.swf. For a pdf version, see kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.pdf.


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