Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016

Hawai`i Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary reports that growing numbers of the mammals are being sighted. Photo from NOAA
HAWAI`I HUMPBACK WHALE NATIONAL Marine Sanctuary responded to recent news stories expressing concern about apparent low numbers of humpback whales appearing this season in Hawai`i.
      “We can’t say that there are lower numbers, just later numbers,” Sanctuary Superintendent Malia Chow said. “Total numbers would require dedicated research. Anything else is observational or anecdotal.”
      Chow confirmed that whales are being observed daily in growing numbers.
Malia Chow Photo from NOAA
      Whale season is normally November through May. The peak is February and March. “Whales don’t have watches or calendars, so they might not exactly follow human expectations,” Chow said.
      “They were a bit later this year than in recent years but are now arriving, and our experts were out yesterday and saw a large number of whales off Maui,” Chow said. Local tour operators have also reported seeing normal numbers of whales recently.
      This year’s arrivals appear to be in keeping with long-term historic observations. Recent years have had whales arriving early, making a “normal” arrival appear to be late.
      HIHWNMS conducts Ocean Count, a citizen science volunteer effort to count whales, every year at the end of January, February and March. Numbers in February and March are typically higher than January.
      Numbers of whales usually gradually increase in January and February, since whales don’t all come in a mass at the same time, Chow said.
      The Sanctuary, administered by a partnership of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the state of Hawai`i through Department of Land and Natural Resources, protects humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaiian waters where they migrate each winter to mate, calve and nurse their young.
      For more information and to sign up for Ocean Sanctuary Counts, see hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

HAWAI`I PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION is allowing NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Co. to admit into evidence revised commitments during hearings regarding the companies’ proposed merger. The companies filed their new commitments on Nov. 27, the Friday before evidentiary hearings began. 
      PUC Commissioners Michael Champley and Lorraine Akiba voted to admit the revisions into evidence.
      Although Chair Randy Iwase disagreed with admission of the applicants’ changes, he said, “I concur with the majority’s decision to establish additional prehearing deadlines so that the reasons underlying applicants’ decision to revise their transaction commitments can be explored.”
Hawai`i PUC Chair Randy Iwase
      The commission will permit additional discovery and testimony by parties other than applicants regarding the changes.
      Applicants modified certain existing transaction commitments and put forth several new commitments, resulting in a total of 95 transaction commitments, compared to the 85 commitments previously set forth.
      According to applicants, revisions reflect “three main changes, all favorable to positions advocated by various parties in this proceeding. Specifically, applicants stated that revisions favorably affect issues of Clean Energy, Certainty of Rate Credits for Customers and Local Management, Corporate Governance and Ring-Fencing. Applicants maintain that because revisions only add to the applicants’ commitments previously submitted, all in the direction favored by other parties as noted above, and witnesses are available for examination in relation to revisions at the evidentiary hearing, no party is prejudiced by admission” of the revisions.
      Applicants’ attempt to admit revisions into evidence on the eve of the evidentiary hearings “violates the spirit and letter of the commission's orders,” Iwase wrote. “Applicants’ last-minute submission left the other parties with no reasonable opportunity to review, much less respond to,” the revisions.
      “These transaction commitments have been hotly contested and scrutinized in the pre-hearing stage leading up to the evidentiary hearings,” Iwase said. “A significant amount of the parties’ pre-hearing testimony specifically discussed the proposed transaction commitments listed in applicants’ original (commitments). Likewise, the parties prepared for the evidentiary hearings under the reasonable assumption that they would be cross-examining applicants’ witnesses on the transaction commitments contained in applicants’ original (commitments). By changing their transaction commitments at the eleventh hour, applicants have attempted, either explicitly or implicitly, to negate the other parties’ evidentiary hearing preparations.
      “If applicants are free to continually modify their commitments, this undermines the certainty of this proceeding.”
      Summarizing the decision published on Monday, commissioners stated that “the commission’s concern is that the record is complete with all relevant, material and necessary evidence before it makes a decision as to whether the merger application is in the public interest.”
      See puc.hawaii.gov.
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

VOLCANO RESIDENT ROSS RAMMELMEYER shared his thoughts about Pres. Barack Obama’s recent executive actions regarding gun control.
Kona Hema Preserve's champion koa.
Photos from DLNR
      “After a mere seven years of deliberation and 231,000 American men, women and children shot to death during that time, the President of the United States has put forward a modest proposal of gun control measures designed to slow the tsunami if deadly weapons breaking over the U.S.,” Rammelmeyer said. “Meanwhile, the bought and paid for United States Congress remains paralyzed regarding reasonable gun control measures. Assuredly, the National Rifle Association, the NRA, will quickly vigorously oppose the presidential measures as they counter to the wishes of the deadly weapons industry whose interests they represent in our country.”
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

THE START OF A NEW YEAR MARKS the beginning of the annual Hawai`i Big Tree Competition. Sponsored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and American Forests, the Big Tree program focuses attention on the largest trees of particular native species as a way to raise awareness about the importance of healthy trees and forests.
      The public is invited to find champions for 21 eligible species acknowledged by American Forests.
Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park's
champion manele.
      To replace a current champion, the challenger tree must have more total points. Total Points = Trunk Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + one quarter Average Crown Spread (feet).
      To nominate a tree, contact Krista Lizardi at 808-587-0164 or Krista.M.Lizardi@hawaii.gov and provide the tree height, trunk circumference, and average crown spread. Also, know your tree’s specific location. GPS coordinates are appreciated.
      Current champions include a koa in The Nature Conservancy’s Kona Hema Preserve and a manele in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
      For more, see dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/info/big-tree and americanforests.org/bigtrees/bigtrees-search.

HAWAI`I POLICE DEPARTMENT has released statistics for 2015.
      DUI arrests decreased by 8.1 percent, with 1,064 compared with 1,158 in 2014.
      Drivers arrested for driving under the influence of an intoxicant who were involved in traffic accidents in 2015 numbered 318, compared with 304 in 2014, an increase of 4.6 percent.
      There were 79 drivers arrested for driving under the influence of an intoxicant who were under the age of 21 in 2015 compared with 68 in 2014, an increase of 16.2 percent.
      There were 1,541 major accidents in 2015 compared with 1,530 in 2014, an increase of 0.7 percent.
      Fifteen fatalities on Hawai`i Island (three of which had multiple deaths), resulted in 19 fatalities in 2015 compared with 11 fatal crashes resulting in 11 fatalities in 2014. This represents an increase of 36.4 percent for fatal crashes and 72.7 percent for fatalities.
      Impairment was a factor in 13 fatalities in 2015. Of those, one involved alcohol, seven involved drugs and five involved both drugs and alcohol.
      DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue island wide.
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

WEDNESDAY IS GAME NIGHT at Discovery Harbour Community Hall. Tonight and on the first Wednesday of each month, potluck begins at 5 p.m., with fun games and great conversation from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Open to the public.

OCEAN VIEW NUTRITION SITE and Senior Club hosts activities at St. Jude’s Church on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. and provides lunches from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for seniors 60 and older. Donations requested. On Thursday, the program takes seniors to Kailua-Kona for doctors appointments, grocery shopping and to pick up prescriptions.
      For more information, call Dick Hershberger at 989-4140.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_January2016.pdf.

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

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