Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wildfire preparedness is the topic of workshops tomorrow at Cooper Center in Volcano Village and Monday at Pahala Elementary School. Ka`u wildfire photo from Hawai`i County Fire Department
FOUR OF THE FIVE CANDIDATES FOR STATE HOUSE District Five discussed agricultural issues at Konawaena Elementary School yesterday.
Dave Bateman
      Regarding labeling of coffee blends as 10 percent, Republican candidate Dave Bateman, who grows coffee in Kona, said he would support designating the blends as 90 percent foreign, reported Bret Yager for West Hawai`i Today. “I’d like to get all sides together and resolve this once and for all,” he said.
      Democrat incumbent Richard Creagan, of Na`alehu, agreed that the labeling issue needs to be resolved, Yager said. “I’d be glad to sponsor and introduce such legislation, but it would require strong backing by the coffee industry if it’s to get any further than it has in the past,” he said.
      Gene “Bucky” Leslie, a Democrat from Holualoa, said, “The purity of the Kona coffee brand needs to be protected. But until broad federal legislation can be completed, farmers need to exert their own strong quality control.”
      Non-partisan candidate Randy Ruis, of Ocean View, also agreed that protecting the name of 100 percent Kona coffee is important. “I am in favor of labeling the source of the other 90 percent,” he said.
Rep. Richard Creagan
      All candidates agreed that more needs to be done to battle invasive species. Bateman called for “more robust inspections at entry points and in the field.”
      According to the story, Creagan said the state has been penny-wise but pound-foolish in its fight against invasive species. “We’re heading for major disaster,” he said. “You can’t pick coffee in a field with fire ants. We need to jump on the fire ant problem immediately.”
      Leslie said the state needs to add agricultural inspectors and restore inspection of green coffee. “We need to take mandatory inspections seriously,” he said. “We need ag inspectors at every port.”
      Ruis said, “I believe the state must do a much better job to protect ag lands and residents from invasive species.”
      How to encourage more agriculture in the state and House District Five, which stretches from Na`alehu into Kona, was another topic.
Gene "Bucky" Leslie
      Bateman called for two-year agriculture degrees that would qualify young farmers for low-cost agriculture loans, He also wants to eliminate general excise tax on farm products. Encouraging farmers markets would be “one way to get our ag products out there,” Bateman said.
      Yager said Creagan called for a “rural renaissance” to support dwellings for farmers who are working to take over the land from older farmers. He called for farmers market vendors to be exempt from excise tax for unprocessed food sales and for markets to be permitted on agricultural land.
      Yager said Leslie proposed working with landholders to encourage a new generation of farmers. While calling for better access to water and other resources, “it’s not possible for the state to guarantee affordable lands,” he said.
Randy Ruis
      Ruis suggested that the state build an inventory of ag land and offer long-term leases to young farmers. The state must also protect agricultural land from development, he said. He also said he wants to limit permits required for vendors at farmers markets.
      Libertarian candidate Jon Lalanne, of Ocean View, was on the mainland and did not participate in the forum.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

REOPENING OF KULANI CORRECTIONAL FACILITY can proceed following Hilo Circuit Court Judge Glenn Hara’s granting of a summary judgement against `Ohana Ho`opakele. The Hawaiian group had sued the Department of Public Safety, saying the state’s environmental assessment didn’t consider a pu`uhonua.
      John Burnett, of Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, reported Hara saying, “I basically believe the state’s position is the correct … statement of the law.” The judge noted he previously “made a statement to the effect that if this isn’t a proper purpose, I don’t know what was … in respect to the land being used for a prison and public safety.”
      `Ohana Ho`opakele representatives said they’ll appeal the decision.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. David Ige
Gov. Neil Abercrombie
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR debated issues on the Big Island yesterday. Gov. Neil Abercrombie and his challenger, Sen. David Ige, met in Waimea.
      Tom Callis, reporting for Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, said the candidates had few major policy differences and emphasized their leadership abilities and knowledge of neighbor island needs.
      Regarding the high cost of electricity, both said geothermal could help reduce it and that utility companies need to change the way they do business. Ige said, “I think the real key is really challenging the pricing model the utility uses,” which involves “requiring them to change from a generation and distribution of energy to primarily the distribution of energy.”
      Abercrombie said if the electric utilities don’t reform themselves, “we will do it for them.”
      Both candidates agreed that more needs to be done regarding invasive species.
      Ige said the state needs a comprehensive biocontrol program to intercept invasive species. Abercrombie referred to little fire ants as “terrorists not open to group discussion.”
      Ige pledged to listen to communities on all the islands, while Abercrombie said, “You know if there was an issue to be faced … you know Neil Abercrombie was there.”
      See hawaiitribune-herald.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

BrandUSA promotes tourism in Hawai`i and the entire country.
THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS PASSED legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa to reauthorize BrandUSA, a public-private partnership that promotes U.S. travel to the global community. The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4450) was introduced by members of the Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus. It will reauthorize BrandUSA for five years and will add several accountability and transparency measures. The bipartisan legislation passed 347-57.

      “Tourism is the most powerful driver of our local economy in Hawai`i, as we welcome visitors from countries in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world,” said Gabbard, a member of the Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus. “We need this commonsense legislation because if Congress supports tourism, we create jobs, grow our economy, and increase opportunity in our communities across the country. In Hawai`i, we are uniquely positioned to take full advantage of the BrandUSA reauthorization and the public-private dollars that will be spent to promote the U.S. abroad.”
      Last year, tourism in Hawai`i contributed $1.5 billion in total state tax revenue and supported 168,000 jobs, making it the largest generator of jobs across the islands.

      BrandUSA’s work is supported through a combination of private sector contributions and matching funds from an existing international visa fee. In fiscal year 2013, BrandUSA’s marketing efforts generated one million incremental visitors, which resulted in $7.4 billion in total sales and supported more than 53,000 new U.S. jobs.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I WILDFIRE MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION hosts a free community wildfire preparedness workshop tomorrow at Cooper Center in Volcano Village from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Topics include how to mitigate wildfire issues through proper home landscaping techniques and home structure modifications, how to develop a clear and achievable family emergency plan and what actions to take during a wildfire and proper evacuation procedures. 
      For more information, email pablo@hawaiiwildfire.org, call 808-885-0900, or see hawaiiwildfire.org.

COOPER CENTER IS THE NEW VENUE for Volcano Rotary Club’s forum featuring County Council District Six candidates Saturday at 8 a.m. It was originally to be held at Volcano House in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Candidates on the primary election ballot for Aug. 9 are Richard Abbett, Maile Medeiros David and Jim Wilson.

PATRICIA HOBAN TEACHES PROCESS PAINTING Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Hoban guides participants as they experiment, explore, discover and play with paint. No previous art experience needed. Register at 967-8222.


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