Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015

Volcano Art Center offers guided walks through Niaulani Rain Forest each Monday. Photo from VAC
A PATCHWORK SOLAR ENERGY project proposed at Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos was the subject of much public testimony and discussion during Ka`u Community Development Plan Steering Committee’s meeting yesterday. Except for one person who said the project would provide jobs, all who testified at Ocean View Community Center opposed the project that would install arrays of solar panels on 26 mostly three-acre parcels in the ag-zoned residential subdivision. The company plans to sell electricity created by the solar arrays to Hawaiian Electric Light Co. State law permits such use on ag land as part of the state’s push for more renewable energy sources. 
      Residents expressed many concerns, including public safety issues. One resident said solar panels are fire hazards that contain lead, cadmium and chromium. Marta Randall said loose debris that could gather around the arrays could add to the fire hazard. She also questioned whether there would be a reliable means of shutting off power at the arrays in case of emergency. She said the project has the “potential of adding to large-scale fires” in the fire-prone area. Another resident suggested that the county put the project on hold and take mitigating steps regarding safety.
Ka`u CDP Steering Committee members discuss proposed options
with residents. Photo by Ron Johnson
      Phil Sharkey asked the committee to warn the state about unintended consequence created by the law. He said the law allows energy projects without oversight and that hazards to endangered species are not being addressed.
      Residents expect property values to lower if the project goes through. Linda Requinio said she “will have to endure an eyesore from her retirement home.” She asked, “Who will buy it?”
      Craig Bishop said, “I’m sure an industrial use of such a magnitude was never envisioned.”
      Another resident pointed out the lack of community input on the project. The plan “was formulated without community consent,” she said. “This committee has the power to add another layer” of oversight, she said, urging the Steering Committee to “be good stewards and do what’s right for the community.”
      One resident questioned whether the project would be successful. “The energy may not be needed,” she said. “HELCO can only use what is needed. Because it is not needed, it would not be used.” She said HELCO often turns away power produced by windmills at South Point. She also questioned what would happen if the arrays are not needed. “Will the company remove the panels?” she asked and compared the situation where unused windmills remained at South Point. 
      Increased ground, air and light pollution were more concerns brought up.
      Many residents expressed gratitude for a newly created policy in the CDP that addresses such unintended consequences. Policy 135 calls for use permits for renewable energy and other potential incompatible uses on ag land. Ka`u CDP Project Manager Ron Whitmore suggested changing zoning as an option. Changing from Ag to Rural at state and county levels would prohibit incompatible uses and eliminate danger of further subdivision of lots, Whitmore said. He also suggested adding other potentially incompatible uses to Policy 135, such as mills and major processing facilities.
      However, Whitmore said it is too late for Policy 135 to effect the Ranchos solar project because of the time required to make changes such as zoning. If adopted, the policy would put more oversight mechanisms in place for future proposed projects. He said residents could pursue a range of other options outside of county jurisdiction regarding the solar project. 
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I BOARD OF EDUCATION has launched a new initiative to allow the public to listen to live audio broadcasts of its committee and full board meetings. 
      There are three options for listening:
  1. Call in using a land line or cell phone; 
  2. Join the WebEx meeting on a computer (speakers required); or 
  3. Listen using the WebEx app on cell phones. 
      BOE said listeners have experienced the best audio quality by calling in using a land line or listening over a computer that is connected to the Internet via a hard-wire (not wifi).
      Generally, there are two to three meetings throughout the day. There is only one WebEx meeting set up, so listeners should be able to use the call and log in information to access any meeting while meetings are in session. Agendas and meeting material can be accessed on the board’s website.
      A meeting-specific number and access code will be generated for each meeting. This information will be posted on the board’s website when meeting agendas are posted six days before the meeting date.
      This program is only for listening to the meeting; it is not being used to accept testimony.
      The next meeting is this Tuesday at 9:15 a.m.
      For more information, see http://www.hawaiiboe.net/Pages/ListenLivetoBoardMeetings.aspx, or email boe_hawaii@notes.k12.hi.us.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Online voter registration is now available. Image from Hawai`i Office of Elections
KA`U RESIDENTS CAN NOW REGISTER to vote online. The system also allows registered voters to confirm and update their records and to request to vote by mail. Users need a current Hawai`i driver’s license or state ID and Social Security number. 
      The 2012 state Legislature passed a law requiring the online system to be in place by 2016.
      See elections.hawaii.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

GUIDED NATURE WALKS through the rain forest at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village are offered on Mondays at 9:30 a.m. The one-hour, free guided walks introduce individuals, families and groups to the most diverse, intact and accessible old-growth koa and `ohi`a rain forest remaining in the state.
      No reservations are required for groups of five or less. Donations are greatly appreciated. For further information, email: programs@volcanoartcenter.org

KA`U RESIDENTS CAN PARTICIPATE in Hawai`i County Council meetings held at Council Chambers in Hilo this week. Committees meet Tuesday. Governmental Relations & Economic Development Committee meets at 9 a.m.; Environmental Management, 9:30 a.m.; Public Works & Parks and Recreation, 11 a.m.; and Finance, 1 p.m. Environmental Management Committee continues its discussion of a bill that would limit county use of herbicides.
      The full council meets Wednesday at 9 a.m.
      Meetings are streamed live at hawaiicounty.gov. Click on Council Meetings. Agendas are available on website.
      Na`alehu State Office Building offers videoconferencing as a means to testify without traveling to Hilo.

Ka`u High Alumni & Friends return for their 14th annual Community Potluck
Reunion next Sunday. Photo by Julia Neal
KA`U HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI AND FRIENDS’ 14th annual Community Potluck is a week from today. Everyone is invited to bring a favorite dish to Pahala Community Center on Sunday, Aug. 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a day of fun, good food and live music. 
      The theme is Back to the Future. All attendees will be going back in time to their high school days to celebrate their sixteenth birthday. The Class of 1958, celebrating their 75th birthday, is donating a cake with 16 candles.
      Chase Cabudol’s group will start the entertainment, blending old melodies and more recent ones. Makanau, led by Barbara Baruz and her daughters Sophia and Denise, will follow and take the crowd back to the good old days and stir up memories. Ernest Kalani will join in and add to the nostalgia. Pahala Kupuna Halau will be performing a few hula numbers. Others are welcome to join in and share their talents.
      For more information, call Margaret Ann Cabudol at 928-8164 or James Yamaki at 969-6828.


BUSINESS SPACE IS AVAILABLE for rent at the open location where Kama`aina Kuts and Styles by Elise are located in Na`alehu. Call Corrine at 937-1840 for more information.

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