Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, April 11, 2014

It's time to enter the Ka`u Coffee Festival 2014 Triple C Recipe Contest, once again being held at Ka`u Coffee Mill. Photo by Julia Neal
A CONFERENCE COMMITTEE WILL DECIDE THE FATE of a bill to raise Hawai`i's minimum wage. After receiving an amended bill from the state House of Representatives, the state Senate decided to disagree.
      The amended version of Senate Bill 2609 called for incremental raises of the minimum wage to $10 by 2018 and expansion of the tip credit to 75 cents for workers who earn at last $7 more than the minimum wage.
      According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Senate leaders recommended accepting the House version of the bill, but after a private caucus, decided to send the bill to conference committee.
      Pacific Business News reported Sen. Clayton Hee, chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, saying that while the bill is headed for conference committee, the Senate could also choose to accept the House version before the Legislature adjourns on May 1.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Rep. Bob Herkes
Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
“I WOULD GO BACK IN TIME” to improve the tourism industry, said Ka`u’s former state Rep. Bob Herkes before the Senate Tourism Committee, which on Monday unanimously supported his nomination to the board of directors at Hawai`i Tourism Authority. A video of Herkes testifying is available at bigislandvideonews.com.
      Herkes envisions a program, perhaps called Aloha `Oe, where hotels in the state “go back to the old days,” work with Hawaiian communities and embrace Hawaiian values and hospitality.
      Herkes was in the visitor industry for more than 40 years. He said such a program helped make the 550-room Kona Surf Hotel successful during his tenure in management there. He said his orchid service carried throughout the hotel. All arriving guests received lei, coffee in the morning and champagne in the afternoon, and in the evenings, rooms were decorated with orchids strewn across beds, pillows and counters. Entertainment featured soft, Hawaiian music. Herkes said that the hotel easily outsold its competitors.
      The full Senate must approve Herkes’ nomination.
      Interested parties can offer testimony on GM694 at capitol.hawaii.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

VOTER REGISTRATION UPDATE CARDS were recently sent to registered voters throughout Ka`u, Miloli`i and Volcano through the U.S. mail. The bright yellow and black card stock mailer in English, Ilocano, Japanese and Chinese includes a voter registration update postcard to send back to the County Clerk should an update address or cancellation of voting on this island be needed. The mailer includes helpful hints to avoid delays when voting, including reporting to the correct polling place on election day. There were numerous polling place changes throughout the state. It also recommends bringing a picture ID to the polling place. See hawaiicounty.gov/elections-voter-info or call 961-8277.
      The front of the card has the voter’s name and polling place and the dates of the elections. The primary is Aug. 9, and the general is Nov. 4. Deadlines to register to vote are July 10 for the primary and Oct. 6 for the general. However, those wanting permanent absentee registration status have until Aug. 2 for the primary and Oct. 28 for the general. To register, a voter must be a citizen of the U.S., a legal resident of Hawai`i and at least 18 years of age. Young voters can pre-register from age 16 but must be 18 by the election day on which they begin to vote.

KA`U HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR MERILYN HARRIS has provided more information regarding Hawai`i Health System Corp. East Hawai`i Region’s request for an almost $5 million emergency appropriation from the state Legislature. Harris said the amount that would go to Ka`u Hospital is over $200,000, with the majority of costs being salaries. “Our staffing is already cut to the bone so there is no ‘fat’ to trim,” she said. “We have had to be very careful with money this year. We have not been able to add extra nursing staff even though we are busier than we have ever been, seeing record numbers of patients in our Emergency Department, our acute care beds and our clinic.
      “We are very much integrated with Hilo Medical Center, and when they are strapped for cash, we feel the impact as well, as they are unable to provide us with the degree of support that we need to meet the needs of our community. A great example of that is inpatient therapy services. Hilo Medical Center has been sharing their physical, occupational and speech therapists with us so that we can provide more rehabilitation care in our hospital. When they are short-staffed, they cannot provide this support, and the consequence is that we can’t admit patients who require that type of care. For local families who have a relative that has to be in hospital for long periods for rehabilitation after a stroke or some other debilitating illness, the cost and stress of having to travel to Hilo or Kona to visit their loved ones and participate in their care is really a hardship.”
      Harris pointed out that ongoing building improvements at the hospital use state capital improvement funds that were approved several years ago and cannot be used toward anything else. “We want to be able to continue to improve and expand our services as well, but without this appropriation, we will be hard-pressed to continue the level of service that we have now.”
      Status of SB2866 and other bills can be tracked at capitol.hawaii.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I IS NUMBER FIVE in the 2014 Locavore Index, a Vermont-based group’s annual ranking of states based on the availability of local food to the average citizen.
      Four publicly available statistics per state make up the index: number of farmers markets, number of CSAs (consumer-supported agriculture programs), number of food hubs (facilities that handle aggregation, distribution and marketing of foods from a group of farms and food producers in a region) and percentage of school districts with farm-to-school programs.
      The group offers 10 reasons to consume local foods: 1) Supports local farms; 2) Boosts local economy; 3) Less travel; 4) Less waste; 5) More freshness; 6) New and better flavors; 7) Good for the soil; 8) Attracts tourists; 9) Preserves open space; 10) Builds more connected communities.      See strollingoftheheifers.com/locavoreindex.

Carl Okuyama was a judge at last year's Triple C
Recipe Contest. Photo by Rachael Sauerman
THE TRIPLE C RECIPE CONTEST is coming up on Sunday, May 4 at Ka`u Coffee Mill, and the entry deadline has been set for April 30. Participants can earn up to $500 in prizes for the best recipes in adult and student categories. The venue will be Ka`u Coffee Mill, where the judges will make their choices. The registration form can be printed out from these news briefs or from kaucoffeefestival.com.
      For more information, call Ka`u Coffee Mill at 928-0550.

HAWAI`I ISLAND POLICE ARE INCREASING enforcement of distracted driving as part of a national campaign called “U Drive U Text U Pay” which runs through Tuesday, April 15.
      The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration finds that the task of driving requires a driver’s full attention in focusing on the roadway and driving maneuvers. Any distraction that diverts a driver’s attention from the primary tasks of maneuvering the vehicle and responding to critical events increases the driver’s risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. A distraction is anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, mind off the road or hands off the wheel.
      On July 1, 2013, the state of Hawai`i enacted a law prohibiting the use of cellular phones and other mobile electronic devices while operating a vehicle, with certain exceptions, and to specifically prohibit activities such as texting, instant messaging, gaming and e-mailing, which take a driver’s eyes off the road, mind off the road and hands off the wheel.

Halau Na Kipu`upu`u with Kumu Micah Kamohoali`i presents Hula Kahiko
tomorrow. Photo from VAC
HULA IS FEATURED TOMORROW at events in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Native Hawaiian culture specialist Loke Kamanu and her `ohana present Na Mea Hula: All Things Hula, tomorrow from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the lanai of the Volcano Art Gallery. Kamanu shares a variety of instruments, implements and lei styles that play integral roles in the life of the hula practitioner. This demonstration is hands-on and family-friendly. 
      Halau Na Kipu`upu`u with Kumu Micah Kamohoali`i performs hula kahiko tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. on the hula platform near the gallery.
      Both programs are free; park entrance fees apply.

HA`AO SPRINGS AND MOUNTAIN HOUSE Ag Water Co-op invites the public to a presentation at 2 p.m. at Green Sand Community Park. Bill Savage, member and director in the co-op, will be guest presenter. Councilwoman Brenda Ford will be in attendance. Light pupus and drinks will be provided.

MONGOLIAN BBQ TAKES PLACE TOMORROW from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Cooper Center in Volcano Village, when chefs wok up your choice of ingredients over an open flame. Cost of 75 cents per ounce includes beverage and dessert. Call 985-9908 for more information.

A BOOK SALE AT PAHALA PUBLIC & SCHOOL LIBRARY will be Tuesday, April 15 from noon to 7 p.m. (closed 3 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.) and Wednesday and Thursday, April 16 and 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed 12:30 p.m - 1 p.m.). Donations of books, CD/DVDs and magazines are welcome. Drop off at Na`alehu of Pahala libraries during working hours.
      Sponsored by Friends of the Ka`u Libraries. To help or for more information, call 987-7448.

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