Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, May 21, 2015

Visitors to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park gather after dark at Jaggar Museum observation deck to observe the glow from a lava lake within Halema`uma`u Crater. Photo courtesy of Alex Werjefelt
HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL’S first June meeting will be broadcast from the old state courthouse in Na`alehu following a move of the teleconferencing facility from Ocean View Community Center. Ka`u’s Council member Maile David said this morning she is happy that the facility on Hwy 11 will have a new purpose and provide a centralized location for the community to witness and provide testimony at council committee and regular council meetings. She said the state has agreed to allow the county to use it rent-free and that it may become available for other community meetings.
      David researched use of courthouse when she worked for the Legislative Research branch of the county and recently looked back at the records to restart the conversation with the state to reopen it.
Services at Ka`u Hospital will continue as HHSC East Hawai`i Region facilities
face layoffs and cutbacks. Photo by Julia Neal
      David also noted that for Na`alehu ballpark, she purchased a scoreboard with her contingency funds, approved last month.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U HOSPITAL’S emergency department, acute care, clinic, X-ray and other services will continue as before, Administrator Merilyn Harris said in response to Hawai`i Health Systems Corp.’s announcement of impending layoffs and cuts in services in its East Hawai`i Region.
      According to Harris, the main impact will be having to limit the number of long-term care residents at the facility to 13 instead of 16. “That is because we will only have staff enough to safely care for that number,” Harris said.
      Currently, the hospital houses 14 long-term residents. “The hospital won’t be asking anyone to leave who resides with us now,” Harris said. “Reducing our long-term care beds has been a terribly difficult decision for us to take, but we cannot continue to ignore the reality of insufficient funding.”
      Harris also confirmed that none of the hospital’s permanent staff will be losing their jobs as a result of this service cut, but some temporary positions will not be extended.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS THE TOPIC of a Ka`u Community Development Plan focused discussion Tuesday, May 26, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center.
      The purpose of focused discussions, which have so far been held about agriculture, coastal management and proposed development at Discovery Harbour, is to explore specific topics of interest in-depth. They are opportunities for community members to expand their understanding of the CDP and the rationale behind particular strategies. It is also an opportunity to provide new information, suggest alternative CDP strategies and propose additional areas of analysis.
      During the economic development discussion, anticipated topics include the role of government in a market economy; foundations for opportunity (resource protection, public infrastructure and services); room for growth (residential, commercial, industrial and resort); regional coordination; and sector-specific innovation and initiatives (agriculture, renewable energy, health, education, community tourism, retail).
      County planners familiar with these issues will be on hand and equipped with background material to support the discussion.
      Participants’ questions, comments and suggestions will be documented. As appropriate, the CDP Planning Team will use outputs of the discussion to do additional analysis, refine the CDP rationale and/or recommend CDP revisions.
      Public input on the draft Ka`u CDP is due June 1. The CDP is available at local libraries and community centers and online at kaucdp.info.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Camping fees at Hawai`i Volcanoes National park will increase.
Photo from NPS 
HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK will incrementally increase entrance and camping fees over the next three years in order to fund deferred maintenance and improvement projects within the park, and to meet national standards for parks with similar visitor amenities. Entrance fees for recreational use have not increased since 1997. 
      Beginning June 1, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park will increase its per-vehicle entrance fee in $5 increments from the current price of $10 per vehicle to $15 per-vehicle this year, $20 in 2016, and $25 in 2017. The vehicle pass is valid for seven days. The per-person entrance fee (the rate bicyclists and pedestrians pay) will increase from the current rate of $5 to $8 on June 1, $10 in 2016, and to $12 in 2017. The motorcycle fee will go up from $5 to $10 on June 1, $15 in 2016, and to $20 in 2017.
      One significant modification to the new fee structure was based on public input. The annual Tri-Park Pass, considered by many as the kama`aina, or residents pass, will remain at the current rate of $25 for 2015 and 2016 and will increase to $30 in 2017. Based on public input, the park proposed a $30 fee for the Tri-Park Pass, instead of the national standard of $50. The annual Tri-Park Pass is available to all visitors and allows unlimited entry for one year to three national parks: Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park and Haleakala National Park.
      New fees are also slated for all backcountry and front-country campsites, including Kulanaokuaiki Campground, and will be $10 per site per night. Backcountry campsites will have a stay limit of three consecutive nights, while the front-country campsites will have a stay limit of seven consecutive nights. Currently, camping is free, except at Namakanipaio Campground, which is managed by Hawai`i Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC. The new camping permit fees are similar to other public camping fees statewide.
      “The increases over the next few years will enable us to continue to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors, while upgrading some basic services like our campgrounds,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We reached out to our community for their feedback on the new fees, and many comments were supportive of the increase as long as the Tri-Park Pass continued to be offered,” she said.
      Recreational entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years old or holders of the Tri-Park, America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Senior, Access or Military passes. These passes may be obtained at the park or online.
Richard Wallsgrove
      The current National Park Service fee program began in 1997 and allows parks to retain 80 percent of monies collected. Projects funded by entrance fees at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park include ongoing trail maintenance, cabin repairs, hike pamphlets, restrooms, picnic tables and more. The transformation of the 1932 Administration Building (`Ohi`a Wing) into a cultural museum that visitors will soon enjoy is also a fee-funded project. Entrance fees also protect the Hawaiian ecosystem by funding fencing projects that prevent non-native ungulates like pigs and goats from devouring rare native plants.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS IN HAWAI`I are questioning the state Legislature’s approval of a tax break on coal while expanding taxes on oil, propane and liquefied natural gas. 
      AES Hawai`i, Inc, which uses coal to produce 20 percent of O`ahu’s electricity, lobbied for the tax break, according to a story in Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Jeff Walsh, the company’s president and general manager, said AES sells power to Hawaiian Electric Co. by contract at a fixed price, and the company would have no way to pass the cost of a new tax on to HECO or the utility’s customers.
      Walsh claimed in the article that power the company produces with coal is “by far” the cheapest electricity being produced in the state. He described AES as “the bridge and the backbone of the grid.”
       Life Of The Land Executive Director Henry Curtis said, “Fossil fuel is fossil fuel. Coal, oil and natural gas should all have the same tax rate imposed on them.”
      Richard Wallsgrove, program director for Blue Planet Foundation, said, “It seems pretty nonsensical to me.” Blue Planet is a nonprofit organization that promotes use of clean energy.
      See staradvertiser.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U AG WATER COOPERATIVE DISTRICT meets today at 4 p.m. at Royal Hawaiian Macnut Office in Pahala. Call Jeffrey McCall at 937-1056 for more information.

KAHO`OKAHI KANUHA and Lanakila Mangauil present information about the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea today at 6 p.m. at Wai`ohinu Park. For more information, call Nohea at 808-205-9843.

EARTH MATTERS FARM invites Ka`u residents to share their garden eats at the monthly Ka`u Farmers Union United meeting and potluck Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The farm is at the corner of South Point and Kama`oa Roads.
      Speakers include Bob Shaffer, a soil consultant; Gabriel Howearth, founder of Seeds of Change; and Anna Lisa Okoye, from The Kohala Center.
       For more information, call HFUU Ka`u Chapter President Greg Smith at 443-3300.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_May2015.pdf.
See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf and

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