Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015

Humpback whales are returning to Hawai`i, and boaters are asked to observe safe practices.
National Marine Fisheries Photo by R. Cartwright
HUMPBACK WHALE SEASON IS HERE, and to ensure the well being of both ocean users and whales, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary asks boaters to observe safe practices. Remain vigilant, keep a sharp lookout, keep a speed of 10 knots or less to reduce injury to whales, stay at the helm with hands on the wheel and throttle, and keep the legal distance of 100 yards away from sighted whales.
Viewing humpback whales from the side is an acceptable maneuver for boats.
Image from HIHWNMS
      Thousands of humpbacks come to Hawai`i each year, primarily between November and May, and vessel-whale collisions happen each year.
      More information is available in the Boating and Ocean use Guide at hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.
      “Thank you for helping to ensure the continued protection of Hawai`i’s humpback whales,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Malia Chow.
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THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE and Consumer Affairs’ Cable Television Division conditionally approved the merger transferring control of Oceanic Time Warner Cable, LLC’s six cable franchises to Charter Communications, Inc.
      Charter provides entertainment and communications services to approximately six million customers in 28 states. Charter and Time Warner Cable, Inc., the parent company of Oceanic, filed an application in July to indirectly transfer control of Oceanic’s cable franchises statewide, pursuant to a merger transaction between Charter and TWC.
      “After an extensive review of the merger transaction application, which included statewide public hearings, we determined that the proposed transfer of Oceanic’s Hawai`i cable franchises to Charter, with the conditions imposed on by the state, is in the public’s best interest,” CATV Administrator Ji Sook “Lisa” Kim said. “As outlined in the Decision and Order, Charter is committed to improving cable networks in Hawai`i and providing a low cost broadband service for Hawai`i’s low-income consumers.”
      Requirements outlined in the Decision and Order include:
      1) Provide a broadband service for low-income consumers in Hawai`i (providing families with children participating in the National School Lunch Program and seniors, age 65 and older who are eligible and receive federal Supplemental Security Income benefits, with broadband service initially for $14.99/month, at speeds up to 30 megabits per second download, and four Mbps upload) within three years of the close of the merger transaction.
      2) Invest $10,000,000 to build out its networks in Hawai`i and build out 1,000 new line extensions of its networks to homes in its Hawai`i cable franchise areas within three years of the close of the merger transaction.
      3) Provide 1,000 new public WiFi access points within three years of the close of the merger transaction, 100 of these new access points to be deployed at public parks, civic and community centers and other public open areas and gathering places at the direction of DCCA.
      4) Within 30 months after the close of the merger transaction, transition virtually all of OTWC’s cable systems to all-digital networks and, upon the conversion, Charter/OTWC shall provide, among other things, subscribers two digital transport adaptors or “basic boxes” free of charge for a period of two years and make them available at OTWC’s customer service centers and delivery by mail (including pre-paid return service).
      5) Promote and make available energy efficient set-top boxes (within three years of close of merger transaction, at least 90 percent of newly deployed boxes shall meet energy star requirements), and Charter/OTWC is encouraged to: (1) partner with community organizations to educate and promote the use energy efficient set-top boxes; and (2) develop an economically feasible program to trade out old boxes with efficient ones.
      The merger and transfer of Oceanic’s Hawai`i franchises will not take place until federal regulatory review of the merger transaction is completed. As of today, Dec. 18, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission is on its 98th day of review of the Charter and TWC merger.
      Decision & Order No. 366 giving DCCA’s conditional approval for the merger can be viewed at http://cca.hawaii.gov/catv.
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

The federal solar tax credit has been extended.
Photo from Revolusun
SOLAR INVESTMENT TAX CREDITS were extended for five years Friday as part of negotiations that passed the federal budget for 2016. The 30 percent federal tax credit was to sunset at the end of 2016. The 35 percent Hawai`i state solar tax credit also continues. 
      According to a Duane Shimogawa story in Pacific Business News, the federal extension was “likely to spur more investment in this industry in Hawai`i.”
      The spending bill also includes tax credits for other renewable energy sources, including geothermal, hydro and wind.
      PBN reported that “the extension of the federal solar tax credit is expected to result in $130 billion in total investment in the United States through 2020, with more than $40 billion being directly attributed to the passage of the extension, according to GTM Research.”
      See bizjournals.com/pacific.
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U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
REP. TULSI GABBARD VOTED IN FAVOR of the Fiscal Year 2016 omnibus spending and tax extender legislative packages that passed yesterday. Both were considered as amendments to H.R. 2029, which the Senate then took up and passed by a vote of 65-33. The President signed the legislation into law shortly afterward. 
      “Today, we averted a potential government shut down,” Gabbard said. “I voted to keep the government open, take care of 9/11 first responders, protect our environment and empower working families and small businesses, encouraging long-term growth across the country. The year-end omnibus spending bill and tax extender packages are far from perfect, but they represent a compromise between both parties and a strong economic package. They avoid the detrimental alternatives of either a shutdown or a continuing resolution, which would have had a devastating impact on our communities, and on our military and national security.
      “There are critical investments across the state of Hawai`i that are funded in this bill, such as rural development projects that serve local businesses and communities, maintenance and improvements for our highways, public transportation and infrastructure, land and water conservation projects for at-risk forests on Hawai`i Island and O`ahu, and education grants for Native Hawaiian students and families, to name just a few.
      “One in eight of our keiki in Hawai`i live in poverty, and the permanent extension of the Earned Income and Child Care Tax Credits will help thousands of middle- and low-income local families pay their bills and put food on the table. Local businesses, students, teachers, working families and the environment will benefit from the extension of tax credits for higher education, energy efficiency, renewable energy, research and development, and more.”
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, Tutu & Me Traveling Preschool encourages families to “enjoy these precious years and make time for your `ohana to share a few simple pleasures. It is also a great time to keep up with special family traditions or even start new ones!” 
      Ideas that families shared include making homemade cards with keiki, taking a holiday photo, decorating and eating holiday cookies, taking a walk on the beach, spending an hour or two playing ball outside, visiting with family and friends, sending out a family newsletter, enjoying holiday lights, watching a favorite movie, donate food and toys, inviting cousins for a sleepover, sitting out in the yard and gazing at the stars, and hugging, loving and appreciating one another.
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP’S Crater Rim Café in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park offers Mongolian BBQ today from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for $.85 per ounce, including protein, veggies, rice and a beverage. Call 967-8356 for more information.
      KMC is open to authorized patrons & sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply. 967-8371.

KAHUKU UNIT of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park presents its Palm Trail Hike tomorrow from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The moderately difficult, 2.6-mile loop trail provides one of the best panoramic views Kahuku has to offer.


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