Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hawai`i Tourism Authority reported that the number of visitors to Hawai`i Island continues to increase.
Photo of South Point Blowhole by Peter Anderson
EAST KA`U’S STATE SENATOR may run for mayor, West Hawai`i Today reported this morning. According to reporter Bret Yager, Sen. Russell Ruderman confirmed that he is considering running for the office being vacated by Mayor Billy Kenoi. Ruderman was elected as state senator in 2012, and his four-year term in the Senate ends next year.
Sen. Russell Ruderman is considering a run for Hawai`i County Mayor.
Photo by Julia Neal
      Yager said former Hawai`i County Council member Pete Hoffmann is also considering running for mayor. Hoffmann told Yager his decision won’t be based other candidates entering the race because he doesn’t see himself as running against other candidates or the current administration.
      “I want to run for effective solutions going into the future,” Hoffmann said.
      Both candidates told Yager it could be months before they make final decisions.
      Candidate can file for the August 2016 primary election from Feb. 1 through June 7.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I DIVISION OF CONSERVATION and Resources Enforcement yesterday arrested eleven adults during a protest to stop construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea. Hawai`i County Police made one arrest.
      “The arrests are unfortunate,” said Gov. David Ige, “but the state’s number one priority is the safety of the people on Mauna Kea – from TMT workers to protestors who are exercising their first amendment rights to peaceably assemble and protest in a civil manner.
Human blockades prevented the restart of Thirty Meter Telescope
construction yesterday. Photo from Big Island Video News
      “We are disappointed and concerned that large boulders were found in the roadway leading to the summit of Mauna Kea. This action is a serious and significant safety hazard and could put people at risk.
      “Because of this, we are making an assessment to determine how to proceed. We will be working to clear the roadway tomorrow. Therefore, construction is on hold until further notice.”
      “This is a difficult day for Hawai`i and TMT,” said Henry Yang, Chair of TMT’s International Observatory Board. “As we attempted to begin our work today, we were met by protests that regrettably resulted in some arrests. Boulders blocked our access to the construction site, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources deemed it unsafe for us to proceed. For the safety of our team, we made the decision to bring them off the mountain, and we are planning to resume when the issue is resolved.
      “We want to thank the state and county police officers for protecting the safety of our team and the protesters and extend our gratitude to them, as well as to all of our supporters in Hawai`i.
      “We want to acknowledge and reach out to those who disagree with our project. We respect their views and, looking toward the future, we hope we can work together to find common ground.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in a decision today.
Photo from wikipedia
THE U.S. SUPREME COURT SHOWED its support for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in a decision today. At question was whether or not subsidies for the program apply to health insurance in states that do not operate exchanges that allow people to compare and purchase insurance plans. In those states, people use a federal exchange to buy insurance. 
      In its six-to-three ruling, the court affirmed that subsidies are available for insurance purchased through any exchange, whether state or federal. “The Act indicates that state and federal exchanges should be the same,” according to the decision. “But state and federal exchanges would differ in a fundamental way if tax credits were available only on state exchanges — one type of exchange would help make insurance more affordable by providing billions of dollars to the states’ citizens; the other type of exchange would not. Several other provisions in the Act … would make little sense if tax credits were not available on federal exchanges.”
      “After two Supreme Court victories, we can confidently declare that the Affordable Care Act is no longer just a law to be debated – it is woven into the fabric of our society and how we care for each other,” said Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee. “As a breast cancer survivor, I know what it means to have the peace of mind that you can afford needed treatment and won't be turned away down the road for having a pre-existing condition. As a mother, I know I can rest assured that my children will have a safety net in place as they go out into the world, starting their own careers and families without having to worry about whether they will be able to get the care they need.”
      Sen. Brian Schatz said, “This decision is a victory for all Americans across the country. Because of the Affordable Care Act, more people have access to quality health care, the number of uninsured is falling, and health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in a generation. It is clear that the ACA is a success, and today’s Supreme Court ruling will ensure every American will continue to have access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve. The debate is over. It’s time for Congress to come together and work to build on the successes of the ACA.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

TWO WEEKS REMAIN TO APPLY for Section 8 housing. Citing a waiting list of more than 7,000 applicants and a waiting period of more than five years, Hawai`i County will put a freeze on applications for the federally subsidized rental assistance program as of Friday, July 10, according to a story by Nancy Cook Lauer in West Hawai`i Today
      Hawai`i Island currently has 715 units in 20 public housing projects. The county receives approximately $2.5 million annually for Community Development Block Grant projects. This year, funds are allocated for housing rehabilitation, renovation of rental units for seniors and rental assistance similar to Section 8, Cook Lauer reported.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

STEADY GROWTH IN EXPENDITURES is a positive sign that this year will be another successful one for tourism, Hawai`i Tourism Authority President and CEO George Szigeti announced. Year-to-date, visitor spending has contributed $121 million more into the state’s economy compared to last year, and state tax revenue reached $660 million, up two percent year-over-year.
George Szigeti
      For the first five months of 2015, visitor arrivals are up across the Hawaiian Islands compared to the same period last year. “We continue to focus on distributing visitors statewide through increased direct air access and highlighting the unique attributes of each of the islands as visitors look for authentic experiences,” Szigeti said.
      The depreciating Japanese yen and drop in outbound travel from Japan has been affecting the state’s largest international market. However, Szigeti expects that pre-clearance at Narita Airport and Gov. David Ige’s recent trip to Japan will help to boost travel from the market to neighbor islands. Ige met with Japan’s Prime Minister and key tourism stakeholders on his trip last week.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I’S ANNUAL SEAT BELT SURVEY begins tomorrow. Sponsored by the state Department of Transportation, the survey is conducted by the University of Hawai`i’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning.
      Hawai`i County Police advise motorists to be on the lookout for survey teams standing along major streets and highways tomorrow through Tuesday, June 30.
      The survey involves stationing trained observation team members to monitor seat belt use at various sites around the island. Team members will park and situate on the side of the road to ensure continual traffic flow and safety. They will be wearing safety vests and helmets.
      In conjunction with the survey, police remind motorists that the driver is responsible for all other vehicle occupants. If the driver is stopped and any passenger is not using a seat belt, car seat or booster seat — whether in the front seat or back seat — the driver will be the one cited.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U AGRICULTURAL WATER Cooperative District meets Saturday at 8 a.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill. For more information, call Jeff McCall at 928-6456 

KA`U AGRICULTURAL WATER Cooperative District members are invited to a conflict resolution workshop Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ka`u Coffee Mill. The workshop, sponsored by The Kohala Center, presents skills that current and future board members need in conflict prevention, management and resolution in order for co-ops to be effective.
      Scott Enright, Chair of Hawai`i Department of Agriculture, will present an update on water access through state agencies.

PARTICIPANTS LEARN ABOUT THE VITAL ROLE of `ohi`a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, the many forms of the `ohi`a lehua tree and its flower on an easy one-mile walk Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Free. Call 985-6011 for more information.


See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf and
See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_June2015.pdf

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