Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015

The search is on for the next Miss Ka`u Coffee and Miss Peaberry, with the pageant scheduled for Sunday, April 26. Miss Ka`u Coffee 2014 Amery Silva (back center) and Miss Peaberry Madison Okimoto (front center) join other pageant participants who received education scholarships last year. Photo by Julia Neal
MAYOR BILLY KENOI HAS SUBMITTED HIS BUDGET to the County Council, which has until June 30 to pass it or have it automatically go into effect July 1.
Mayor Billy Kenoi
      “This proposed budget represents our departments’ best efforts to meet the needs of our growing community in a timely and fiscally responsible fashion,” Kenoi said in his budget message as reported by Nancy Cook Lauer in West Hawai`i Today. “Our economy is in a state of gradual recovery. We believe our investments in infrastructure, renewable energy and parks and recreation are critical to the future of Hawai`i Island.”
      The budget keeps taxes and fees at current levels while allotting funds for federal and state mandates. A $1 million increase goes to federal mandates for transportation services for the disable, and a 1.2 million increase funds medical benefits for retired county union members.
      Most of the $17.8 million total increase goes to employee contracts negotiated at by the state. The raises are implemented throughout the system, including over $4 million for police and over $6 million for the Fire Department.
      Estimated income reported in the budget includes $7.4 million in property taxes, $3.1 million from federal and state grants, $1.2 million from charges for services and $3.6 in carryover from the current year.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION will not respond to Hawaiian Electric Company’s request for approval of a lower buy-back rate from customers with rooftop solar systems. Under HECO’s current net energy metering program, customers can use their solar systems to lower their electric bills by selling energy back to the utility.
PUC Chair Randy Iwase
Image from KITV4
      The decision is part of an agreement regarding HECO’s delays in approving applications for grid-connected rooftop systems. HECO claimed in the past that connections had to be stopped based on safety issues. Last month, HECO said it had found that increasing capacity by as much as 250 percent would still be safe.
      PUC Chair Randy Iwase told Brenton Awa, of KITV4 News, that the commission “‘has its hands on HECO’ and reminded the energy giant that it needs to keep its customers ‘best interest’ in mind.” 
      Life of the Land Executive Director Henry Curtis told Awa that the PUC “stepped in and did the right thing.”
      Leslie Cole-Brooks, of Hawai‘i Solar Energy Association, told Awa, “It’s really good news. We should see improvement. These customers that have invested money in our green energy infrastructure should get to move forward.”
      See kitv.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I’S ECONOMY WILL CONTINUE its stable growth in 2015 and beyond, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism’s first quarter 2015 Statistical and Economic Report.
Luis P. Salaveria
      “We are happy to see that our labor market has fully recovered from the 2009 recession, and in 2014 we had an historical high level of civilian labor force, civilian employment and payroll job count. Our unemployment rate was the sixth lowest in the nation,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “2014 was a record year for visitor arrivals as well. With the strong growth in the U.S. economy, we expect our visitor industry to continue to grow in 2015, especially in the U.S. markets.”
      In 2015, the U.S. economy is expected to grow by 3.2 percent, a rate which has not been seen since 2005. This growth will likely encourage more Hawai`i visitation by U.S. visitors, the report states.
      As a result of lower price levels due to slow growth of inflation, consumers are expected to have more purchasing power in 2015, which can be translated into an increase in real income if income as measured by nominal dollars remains unchanged. According to the report, lower inflation is resulting in lower prices for gasoline, apparel, household furnishings and supplies.
      Real personal income is expected to grow by 2.8 percent, and real gross domestic product is expected to grow by 3.1 percent in 2015. This economic growth rate for Hawai`i is similar to the economic growth rate projected for the nation in 2015.
      DBEDT expects healthy economic growth to continue into the future, projected to be at 3.0 percent in 2016 and 2.9 percent in 2017.
      See dbedt.hawaii.gov.

Anjulie Larson, with Chair Lee McIntosh,
won a Chamber scholarship last year.
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT APPLICATIONS for Ken Wicks Ka`u Chamber of Commerce Scholarships is Friday, May 1. High school seniors and adults seeking to re-enter the educational system are encouraged to apply. Applicants are asked to write an essay about how their educational experience will benefit Ka`u. Preference will be given to those who intend to remain in or return to Ka`u and live here. 
      Scholarship money can be used for all college and vocational training and will range from $250 to $1,000. Visit kauchamber.org to download the application form. Call Lee McIntosh at 929-9872 with any questions.

THE SEARCH HAS BEGUN for the New Miss Ka`u Coffee. On Sunday, April 26, Miss Ka`u Coffee & Miss Peaberry Pageant will be held at Pahala Community Center. To sign up for the Miss Ka`u Coffee competition, contestants must be 17 to 24 years of age. For Miss Peaberry, contestants must be seven to nine years of age.
      Contenders will display their talents, intelligence and grace in four categories: Talent, Public Speaking, Gown and Sportswear. The pageant involves training in dance, stage performance, fashion, poise and knowledge to celebrate the Ka`u Coffee industry.
      Practices begin a week from tomorrow on Sunday, March 8 at the Old Pahala Clubhouse.
      The Miss Ka`u Coffee Pageant also raises scholarship money for the young women and girls.
      To enter, contact chair Gloria Camba at 928-8558 or director Nalani Parlin at 217-6893. Applications are available at www.kaucoffeefest.com.
      To donate to the scholarship fund, contact Julia Neal at 928-9811.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

`O Ka`u Kakou Treasurer June Domondon, President Wayne Kawachi and Ka`u
High Athletic Director Kalei Namohala congratulate St. Joseph's Manato Fukuda
and Ka`u High's Buddy Flores on winning the half-court basket challenge
during Homecoming. Photo from Nalani Parlin
KA`U HIGH’S BUDDY FLORES and St. Joseph’s Manato Fukuda both made challenging half-court shots on Homecoming night held Feb. 13. Since last year, OKK has sponsored a half-court basket contest during basketball season to support Ka`u High’s athletic department. Interested contestants put in their names at select basketball games, and participants are drawn to compete. For each shot made, OKK donates $500 to Ka`u High Athletic Boosters Club to be used to support expenses for any Trojan sporting team. Both winners also won $20 Wal-Mart gift certificates. 
      Principal Sharon Beck was also put to the half-court test but did not make the shot. However, as she exited the court, she threw an over-hand shot and made the basket much to the surprise of the crowd.
      June Domondon said the coincidence was so great that OKK decided to donate an extra $1,000 for Beck’s unexpected basket. This brings the total half-court donations this year to $2,000. Last year, contestants earned the Booster Club $3,000 with a total of six baskets.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U RESIDENT TONY BOY ANDRADE is an enthusiastic member of the Hawai`i Drag Racing League. Andrade started racing back in 2012 when he and his father built his 1968 Chevy Nova in their family shop South Side Repair Services from the ground up and named it It's About Time. The Hawai`i Drag Racing League has monthly races at the Hilo Drag Strip. The races are held by veteran racer Mr. Keith Aguiar, his family and many friends.
Ka`u's Tony Boy Andrade races his 1968 Nova, named It's About Time.
Photo from the Andrade family
      Andrade said his dragster is the “quickest true stock chassis 1968 Nova on the Big Island.” His fastest time is 11.1 seconds in a quarter mile. “Racing is a good stress release. It’s an expensive sport, but something worth getting into.” He said this sport needs to be in a safe environment, on racing tracks that are supervised and cared for.
      Andrade encourages Ka`u residents to make the drive to Hilo to support his sport. An event takes place next weekend on Saturday and Sunday, March 7 and 8.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

DR. CLAIRE HORWELL CONTINUES here vog survey a week from today on Saturday, March 7 at Ocean View Swap Meet. She is researching how residents protect themselves and how those methods relate to official advice. Surveys take 10 – 15 minutes. Ka`u residents can also share their vog stories at https://www.facebook.com/groups/421925067973152/.


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