Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015

A vogbow stretches across the Ka`u landscape. Claire Horwell, a researcher from the United Kingdom, asks Ka`u residents to share their experiences dealing with vog. Photo from Vog Talk on facebook
WHETHER OR NOT HAWAI`I COUNTY should accept an attorney’s offer of free representation to defend its law restricting genetically modified crops is on the County Council’s agenda today.
Earthjustice Attorney Paul Achitoff
      An Associated Press story in Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that, according to West Hawai`i Today, Paul Achitoff, managing attorney for Earthjustice’s mid-Pacific regional office, made the offer.
      Attorneys representing groups challenging the law are urging Council members not to accept Achitoff’s offer. Margery Bronster and Rex Fuji­chaku say Achitoff has a conflict of interest because groups opposing genetically modified organisms have a different agenda from the county.
      The county ordinance bans growing GMO crops in open-air conditions, with some exceptions.
      U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren in November ruled the county's law was invalid because state law pre-empts county law on the issue.
      The County Council in December voted 5-4 to appeal Kurren’s ruling.
      See staradvertiser.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Ka`u's Hawai`i County Council member Maile Medeiros David
Image from Hawai`i County
HAVING PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENT applications be reviewed and acted on by either the Leeward or Windward Planning Commission, depending on properties’ locations, got unanimous approval of Hawai`i County Council’s Planning Committee yesterday. Currently, only the Planning director has to approve PUDs, and public notice follows the decisions. Decisions can be overturned by the Board of Appeals and the Third Circuit Court. 
      While the initial intent of the PUD was to make for better planning by avoiding simple cookie cutter developments, PUDs are sometimes used by developers to obtain smaller, more desirable lots for estates and houses.
      “The director-approved process may have worked 30 years ago, but as we grow, I see this as an evolvement, and this is an appropriate time to bring forth a change like this,” said Ka`u’s County Council member Maile Medeiros David.
      Planning Director Duane Kanuha pointed out that in the earlier 1970s the Planning Commission reviewed PUDs, and the Charter Commission moved that responsibly to the Planning Department in the late 1970s or early 1980s. He said the process has gone “full circle.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. Josh Green, M.D.
KA`U’S STATE SEN. JOSH GREEN, M.D., Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, has scheduled a hearing on SB 791, relating to autism spectrum disorders, which would require health insurers to provide coverage for autism diagnosis and treatment.
      The hearing will be held on Friday at 1:15 p.m. in Room 414 of the State Capitol.
      “The autism rate has soared to as high as one in 68 children,” Green said, “and families across Hawai`i are struggling with the enormous costs of the treatment they need to give their kids the best chance to lead healthy, productive lives.”
      Green fought to pass similar legislation during the 2014 legislative session and introduced SB 791 for the 2015 session on Jan. 23. Experts on autism and affected families from Hawai`i and across the country are expected to offer testimony during the hearing.
      “Over 38 states have passed legislation to ensure that treatment for autism is covered by health insurance,” Green said, “because they know the huge financial costs of leaving autism left untreated, both to families and to the state.
      “It’s time for us to do the right thing for Hawai`i’s kids and families struggling with autism.”
      Green is an Emergency Room doctor with 15 years of experience caring for Hawai`i’s families on Big Island, including at Ka`u Hospital.
      For more information, contact Green at (808) 937-0991 or sengreen@capitol.hawaii.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. Russell Ruderman
COFFEE LABELING IS THE TOPIC OF ONE of several bills introduced by Ka`u’s state Sen. Russell Ruderman. SB594 would require a specific listing of the geographic origins of various Hawai`i-grown coffees and the geographic or regional origins of the various coffees not grown in Hawai`i that are included in a coffee blend to be listed on the front panel of a label. The bill also would increase the minimum percentage requirement for coffee blends to use geographic origin in labeling or advertising to 80 percent coffee by weight from that geographic origin. It would be effective Jan. 1, 2016. 
      Other bill introduced by Ruderman include SB322, which would criminalize the sale of aquatic life for aquarium use and establish penalties for first and subsequent violations. It amends existing aquarium fish permit law to conform to the ban.
      SB578 would enable the Office of Elections to implement elections by mail in any interested county, beginning with the 2016 primary election. By 2018, all federal, state and county primary, special primary, general, special general and special elections would be conducted by mail. The bill would enable absentee walk-in voting to continue prior to Election Day. The bill ensures that limited polling sites in each county would remain open on Election Day for absentee walk-in voting and to receive mail-in ballots. It appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election-by-mail program.
      SB586 would appropriate funds to the University of Hawai`i at Hilo for programs and studies related to rat lungworm disease.
      SB591 would make an appropriation to the Hawai`i Invasive Species Council for coordinated management of albizia trees on Hawai`i Island and throughout the state.
      See capitol.hawaii.gov for more information at to provide testimony on the bills.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Claire Horwell, at right, during a vog focus group in Volcano Monday.
Photo by Sher Glass
KA`U RESIDENTS CAN HELP a researcher from the United Kingdom in her study of effects of vog. Claire Horwell, a senior lecturer at Durham University, runs the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, an umbrella organization for all research and information on volcanic health hazards. IVHHN currently involves 31 expert members from 25 international institutions. Members work in diverse scientific disciplines such as volcanology, epidemiology, toxicology, public health and physical chemistry with a common aim of trying to determine the health effects of volcanic emissions, in particular the health hazard of inhaling volcanic ash and gas. 
      Horwell is living on the Big Island for three months and conducting a study on ways people protect themselves from vog and how those methods relate to official advice.
      “I am working with communities and advice-giving agencies,” Horwell said. She has set up a facebook page to let the vog-affected residents tell her how they deal with vog on a daily basis.
      See Vog Talk at https://www.facebook.com/groups/421925067973152/. “Please tell me your stories! Mahalo!” Horwell said.
      Also see www.ivhhn.org.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Chris Eldridge
CHRIS ELDRIDGE, MANAGING PARTNER of biofuels company `Aina Koa Pono, which planned to grow crops in Ka`u to produce biofuel at a refinery above Pahala, and his business partner Dustin Sellers have invested in their first Hawai`i-based company, DR Fortress.
      The two last year founded the investment firm Koa Capital Partners “to invest and to provide operational expertise to small- to medium-sized businesses with Hawai`i ties,” according to a report by Jason Ubay in Pacific Business News.
      “(Koa Capital Partners) have strong local ties, and we wanted a partner that would help us reach into the local community,” DR Fortress president Fred Rodi told Ubay. “They have good relationships with some of the top companies in Hawai`i, and they can help us.” The company operates a data center in Honolulu and provides cloud services.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

VOLCANO ART CENTER’S ANNUAL FUNDRAISER Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at its Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village features silent and live auctions, entertainment, gourmet food, handmade confections, fine wine and champagne. Proceeds help develop future community art education and enrichment programs. $55 members; $65 nonmembers. Tickets are available at Niaulani Campus, VAC Gallery, Banyan Gallery and The Most Irresistible Shop in Hilo. 967-8222 or volcanoartcenter.org.


See kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.pdf and

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