Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Monday, Dec. 14, 2015

Santa and helpers ride the sleigh to give Merry Christmas candies and holiday greetings to Pahala villagers during yesterday's annual Christmas parade. Photo by Julia Neal
STORING ENERGY AS HEAT IN ROCK is the new approach for a commercial solar demonstration project on the Big Island. Edisun Heliostats, of Pasadena, CA, plans to concentrate energy from the sun through mirrors into rocks that would heat up to 900 degrees and store the energy for hours. A heat exchanger would use the heat to make electricity on demand – particularly when the sun doesn’t shine. The project would be installed on four acres next to Kona Airport at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai`i Authority campus, which has given preliminary approval.
Curious George cheered keiki during the parade.
Photo by Michael Worthington
      The idea is to lower cost by using rock as a less expensive storage medium than batteries.
      In a West Hawai`i Today story this morning, writer Chelsea Jensen reports Peter Stricker, Edisun’s chief commercial officer, saying that “we are trying to do inexpensive but smart. We are trying to use every engineering tool and cost to make it economical.”
      See more at westhawaiitoday.com and edisun.com.
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DOUBLING DOWN ON KILLING `OHI`A TREES is a second strain of fungus causing Rapid `Ohi`a Death. USDA researchers announced their findings on Friday and also noted that humans play a role in spreading spores that have already killed tracts of `ohi`a forest on the island. Both strains of Ceratocystis fimbriata are transmitted through the soil and can enter the trees through damaged places in the bark, scientists have concluded. Bringing in `ohi`a wood to Ka`u for fence posts, fires and other uses from diseased and dying forests elsewhere will rapidly spread the fungus throughout some of the most intact native forests in Hawai`i, they warn. The spores can also be carried on footwear, clothing, tools and vehicles. Beetles and pigs are also suspected as vectors for transmitting the disease. Closest to Ka`u, the fungus has been identified in Volcano Village and South Kona. See rapidohiadeath.org.
Ka`u Coffee Mill's float featured Darth Vader
and crew. Photo by Julia Neal
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PAHALA CHRISTMAS PARADE, famous for winding through the village past many outdoor family gatherings, marked its 39th year yesterday. It is organized by Eddie Andrade, family and friends, with support from the Edmund C. Olson Trust and Holy Rosary Church, which sponsors the post-parade celebration. Parade participants stopped in at Ka`u Hospital to entertain patients, long-term residents and staff. Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative with Miss Ka`u Coffee Maria Miranda, Tutu & Me, Pahala Filipino Community Association, Holy Rosary Choir, Pahala Preschool, Ka`u Coffee Mill and local police and fire departments were among the many who joined the parade.
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U.S. SENATE VETERANS AFFAIRS Committee approved two of Sen. Mazie Hirono’s proposals to improve services for veterans and their families as part of S. 425, the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act. Hirono’s provisions expedite the Department of Veterans Affairs survivors benefits claims process and improve VA practices to recruit physicians.
Bobby Gomes sings and plays
for the parade. Photo by
Julia Neal
Miss Ka`u Coffee Maria Miranda and friends greet
parade watchers. Photo by Cheryl Weaver
      “The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act makes progress on ensuring that veterans and their families receive the care and services that they have earned,” Hirono said. “My provisions will eliminate cumbersome paperwork from the survivors’ claims process and ensure that VA physicians have more flexible schedules like their private sector colleagues, making VA service more attractive for health professionals. I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this bill through the full Senate.”
      S.425 is a wide-ranging omnibus bill that also expands support for homeless veterans, restores GI Bill benefits for those affected by closure of educational institutions such as Heald College, supports caregivers and improves VA health care’s pain management guidelines.
Parade sponsor Ed Olson confronts a Christmas Icon.
Photo by Julia Neal
      The bill incorporates two bills authored by Hirono, S. 1450, the Department of Veterans Affairs Emergency Staffing Recruitment and Retention Act, and S. 1451, the Veterans' Survivors Claims Processing Automation Act.
      S. 1450 allows VA Medical Centers to implement flexible physician and physician assistant work schedules. Currently, the VA’s policies don’t sync up with how private sector medical professionals manage their schedules. Hospitalist and Emergency Medicine physicians who specialize in the care of patients in the hospital often needing to work irregular work schedules to accommodate the need for continuity of efficient hospital care. Hirono’s provision would give the VA authority to align VA policies with the private sector, facilitating the recruitment, retention of emergency physicians and the recruitment, retention and operation of a hospitalist physician system at VA medical centers.
      S. 1451 eliminates the need for survivors or spouses of deceased or totally and permanently disabled veterans to file a formal claim before the VA settles and pays claims for survivors benefits. Right now, survivors or spouses of veterans have to file a formal claim and go through an often lengthy process in order to receive VA survivors benefits, like burial/funeral benefits or disability pensions, for veterans who are deceased or totally and permanently disabled. Hirono’s provision would give the VA authority to pay a survivors claim without a formal application when sufficient evidence is already on record. The authority would allow automation of the following benefit categories: VA burial/funeral benefits, VA dependency and indemnity compensation, VA Survivors Pension and VA payment of certain accrued benefits upon death of a beneficiary to survivors.
Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative
parades for Christmas.
Photo by Julia Neal
Tutu & Me invites families to its
educational services for young
children. Photo by Julia Neal
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U.S. REP. TULSI GABBARD VOTED IN FAVOR of H.R.158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. Gabbard has repeatedly called for a temporary suspension of the Visa Waiver Program for specific countries with a high number of citizens identified as ISIS foreign fighters and introduced such legislation over a year  ago.
      VWP allows citizens from 38 countries from around the world, including the United Kingdom, France and Belgium, which have all identified thousands of their passport holders to have traveled to fight with extremist grounds in Iraq and Syria, to enter the U.S. without a visa.
Holy Rosary sponsored floats and after-parade gathering
at the church. Photo by Julia Neal
      H.R.158 requires dual-citizens of VWP countries and Iraq, Syria or other state-sponsors of terrorism, as well as those who have visited Iraq and Syria since 2011, from entering the U.S. through the VWP and to instead go through the regular visa application process, which provides for more security screening measures. In addition, it requires all travelers from VWP countries to have an e-passport with relevant biographic and biometric information to make it harder for people travel under a false identity and requires VWP countries to certify that their ports of entry can validate these e-passports.
      “I am pleased that leaders in both parties have grown to recognize the important necessity of addressing and fixing the vulnerabilities that exist within the program,” Gabbard said. “Following last month’s tragic attacks in Paris, many European leaders have raised concerns over their own ability to collect critical intelligence information and monitor European passport holders who travel freely in and out of Syria through open borders with Turkey and then throughout Europe among countries that make up the borderless Schengen zone. As the U.S. looks to develop long-term changes that can better identify those coming into our country that present a threat to our national security, this legislation will help to address some of the security gaps that exist through this program. However, more must be done to address the gaping hole in Turkey’s border with Syria, which still allows European foreign fighters to travel in and out of Syria to fight alongside ISIS, without a trace.” 
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OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP is bringing holiday cheer to the Marshall Island atolls. The U.S., Australian and Japanese Air Forces are delivering fishing nets, food, soccer balls, toys and other goodies that land in giant packages on the islands via parachutes. The tradition began in 1952 and is the longest-lived humanitarian relief mission led by the U.S. military. The targets for gift giving include 56 islands in the Marshalls, Micronesia and Palau and some 20,000 people, some of them living on remote atolls with populations as small as 300. Pilots often fly low enough to see the islanders waiving. In some situations, islanders swim out to retrieve Santa’s deliveries.
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IN SPORTS, Ka`u High boys soccer team travels to Kamehameha tomorrow for a match at 3 p.m. On Saturday, Trojans hosted Makua Lani and lost 8-0.
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KENNETH MAKUAKANE PERFORMS Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
      Free; park entrance fees apply. See nps.gov/havo.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_December2015.pdf.

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

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