Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Sunday, March 2, 2014

Volcanic landscapes created by Mauna Loa and Hualalai are topics at After Dark in the Park Tuesday. Photo from USDA Forest Service
AFTER NEARLY THREE DECADES, South Point homesteaders who received 99-year leases from Department Of Hawaiian Home Lands are still waiting to be able to use their lands and build homes. DHHL told Honolulu Star-Advertiser delays revolve around lack of funds, lack of water and subdivision of the land.
      “It will cost a lot to serve relatively few” at South Point, according to reporter Rob Perez. To make more homes available to more beneficiaries, DHHL has focused most of its resources on residential lots. “And with more than 26,000 beneficiaries on wait lists for residential, farming and pastoral homestead lots around the state, DHHL said it has had to set priorities for spending its limited funding.
Thomas Kaniho, one of the few DHHL homesteaders with water at South Point, spoke
on the issue at a DHHL meeting in Pahala in Sept. 2012. Photo by Julia Neal
      “In recent years this has meant focusing on housing subdivisions, given that the greatest demand by far is for residential lots and that developing trust property for housing tracts will get more beneficiaries onto the land.”
      The Star-Advertiser quotes Ka`u lessee Mel Davis, who transferred his South Point agriculture lease to his 20-year-old son in 2005 without ever using the land: “We’re always getting bypassed. It’s always the same story: ‘when funds are available.’ But the funds are never available.” Davis, 58, is president of Ha`ao Springs & Mountain House Agricultural Water Cooperative.
      Thomas Kaniho, 85, a lifelong rancher who signed a lease for a 25-acre South Point pastoral lot in 1986, told Perez, “Hawaiian Homes helps us with nothing only giving us the land.” Kaniho was able to connect to county water and built a home.
      According to DHHL spokesman Puni Chee, DHHL cannot complete the subdivision process until water service and roads are in place.
      DHHL is considering relocating the lessees to land in Wai`ohinu that is closer to a water source and is considered more suitable for farming.
      See staradvertiser.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

The 2014 state Legislature is reaching its halfway point, with bills approved by
each chamber crossing over to the other for further consideration.
THE STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES has approved more than 200 bills this session that have crossed over to the Senate for its consideration. 
      HB 1671 HD1 would remove the $93 million cap on the Transient Accommodations Tax allocation to the counties and, instead, establish distribution of these revenues as a percentage of the TAT collected. The measure is expected to produce additional funds for the counties.
      The following bills were part of the joint Senate-House majority package focusing on seniors and the environment. The significance of the joint package is that the bills are considered to have statewide importance and the commitment of the majorities of both chambers.
      HB1713 would provide ongoing financial support to healthy aging programs and services, and require the Executive Office on Aging to conduct a public education and awareness campaign on long-term care.
      HB1715 HD1 would appropriate funds for educational outreach targeted to protect seniors from financial fraud, based on Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ existing investor education programs.
      HB1714 HD1 addresses climate changes and calls for the Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee under the Department of Land and Natural Resources to create sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation reports. It would task the Office of Planning with establishing and implementing strategic climate adaptation plans and policy recommendations based on that report.
      Other notable bills also passed include:
      HB2478 HD1, which would provides a taxpayer who hires an individual with a disability a nonrefundable tax credit for the six-month period after the individual is initially hired by the taxpayer; and
      HB1934 HD1, which would appropriate funds to various programs that provide housing, housing assistance and supportive services to individuals at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
      Progress of these and other bills can be tracked at capitol.hawaii.gov.
      The body will reconvene to take action on additional measures up for third reading on Tuesday at 9 a.m.
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Hawai`i Island security and civil defense relies on high-speed, fiber-optic
communication lines. Image from DCCA
A 22-MILE GAP IN FIBER-OPTIC CABLE from Volcano to Pahala contributed to a 20-hour-long communication outage last September, according to a story in Hawai`i Tribune-Herald. The outage highlighted how the island’s security and civil defense depends on fast, reliable communication. Nancy Cook Lauer reports that the problem, according to a Dec. 20 report by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, is “the Big Island’s fiber ‘ring’ isn’t actually a ring.” 
      When a tree branch in Waikoloa rubbing through a fiber-optic cable caused an outage from there through Kona to Pahala, transmission was unavailable because information was unable to travel the opposite direction to get to its destination.
      Because of the outage, cell phones and landlines wouldn’t work in Pahala. Fire Department employees had to use Ka`u Hospital and Ka`u Police Station radio systems. Fire Department volunteers patrolled the area, and every school in Ka`u had officers stationed to provide radio contact in case of emergency.
      According to Cook Lauer, there hasn’t been enough demand for broadband and high-speed Internet in many remote areas of the county to incentivize private-sector service providers to install cable.
      The report recommends a collaboration of state and county government, along with private-sector providers, to complete the system with fiber-optic cable. Along with providing communication security, the report says building capacity would benefit underserved communities near the gap, such as Volcano Village, Pahala, Na`alehu and the area between Kea`au and Pahoa.
      According to Cook Lauer, Hawaiian Telcom previously sought federal grants to run cable through the area to close the gap, but its request was not approved. Ann Nishida Fry, speaking for the company, told Cook Lauer “one of the biggest problems would be the environmental challenge of installing utility poles in the lava rock terrain in an area spanning Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
      “The report contains a number of proposed solutions, each with its own unique challenges,” Fry said. “A long-term solution is estimated to cost millions and requires collaboration among multiple government, state and private entities. … We look forward to working with all parties on a solution.”
      See hawaiitribune-herald.com.
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

A rummage sale March 21 - 23 supports Discovery Harbour Volunteer Fire Department,
which is looking for one more member. Photo from DHVFD Co. 11C Capt. TJ James
DISCOVERY HARBOUR VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT rummage sale fundraiser takes place Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday, March 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The sale at Discovery Harbour Community Clubhouse and Volunteer Fire Department also features hot dog lunches for $5 on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
      Five new volunteers have joined the department, led by Captain TJ James, to bring the crew up to nine members. The department is searching for one more member to make a complete crew.
      The sale brings in much needed funds to equip new squad members with brush pants and boots, as well as other supplies not provided by the county, such as flashlight batteries and bottled water.
      Discovery Harbour volunteers are excited to welcome a used fire truck from the U.S. Forestry Service. After years of using their faithful yellow 1968 vehicle, this newer truck will help volunteers in their service to the community.
      Items for the rummage sale may be dropped off at the Discovery Harbour Community Clubhouse Wednesday and Thursday, March 19 and 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
      For more information, call Captain James at 895-8133.
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.  

HIGHER EDUCATION ASSISTANCE is available Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Na`alehu United Methodist Church. Kamehameha Schools 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. Call 935-0116.

KA`U TO KONA: STORIES OF LAVA FLOWS AND VOLCANIC LANDSCAPES is the topic at After Dark in the Park Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists Jim Kauahikaua and Janet Babb offer a virtual road trip, during which they talk about the origin and history of lava flows along Highways 11 and 190, and recount the stories of people impacted by the eruptions that created the volcanic landscape seen today.
      $2 donations support park programs; park entrance fees apply.

See the March issue of The Ka`u Calendar newspaper online at kaucalendar.com.


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