Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016

Signs along the Ka`u Scenic Byway portion of Hwy 11 will inform travelers of dates when lava flows occurred.
Photo from Ka`u Scenic Byway

AS KA`U NEARS THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY of the last sugar company to close down on the Big Island – at Ka`u Sugar – the corporation operating the last sugar company in the state has announced it will shut it down. 
      Ka`u Sugar shut down in April of 1996. Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. will phase out by the end of this year, its owner, Alexander & Baldwin announced yesterday. A&B is the state’s fourth largest private landowner and one of the state’s most active real estate investors.
      A&B said it plans to pursue a diversified agricultural model for its 36,000-acre plantation on Maui. The transition to a new model will occur over a multi-year period. The plantation will be divided into smaller farms with varied agricultural uses, potentially including energy crops, food crops, support for the local cattle industry and development of an agriculture park.
      “The roughly $30 million agribusiness operating loss we expect to incur in 2015, and the forecast for continued significant losses, clearly are not sustainable, and we must now move forward with a new concept for our lands that allows us to keep them in productive agricultural use,” A&B executive chairman Stanley M. Kuriyama said.
Alexander & Baldwin said its central Maui sugar plantation will transition
into diversified agriculture. Photo from A&B
      “This is a sad day for A&B, and it is with great regret that we have reached this decision,” said Christopher J. Benjamin, A&B president and chief executive officer who ran HC&S as its general manager from 2009 to 2011. “Having had the privilege of working alongside the employees of HC&S for two years, I know firsthand the professionalism and dedication with which they perform their jobs. The longevity of the plantation is a testament to their resourcefulness and hard work. This transition will certainly impact these employees, and we will do everything we can to assist them. The cessation of sugar operations also will have a significant impact on the Maui community, and we will do our best to minimize that impact. A&B remains committed to Maui and will continue to be a significant corporate supporter of Maui charities and organizations.”
      Government officials responded quickly and pledged support for plantation employees.
      “It is with sadness that I received the news that Alexander & Baldwin will transition out of sugar farming after 145 years,” Gov. David Ige said. “This is a significant historic marker for Hawai`i, the end of an era that touched the lives of generations of hardworking, local families. My administration will work with A & B to help guide the transition. Rapid Response teams from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations will be deployed to assist displaced workers with unemployment compensation, career transition, training for new jobs and job placement. DLIR will also work with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
      “A & B has played a significant role in the state’s economy and has supported our local communities for many years. The state will continue to partner with A & B to ensure its success.”
      Sen. Brian Schatz said, “I am deeply saddened by today’s announcement that sugar operations at HC&S will close this year. For over 130 years, sugar production on Maui was more than a business, spawning a way of life and generations of hard working women and men who made our state remarkable and great. I will work with Gov. Ige and other public officials to ensure that we honor the legacy of these generations by finding opportunities for those affected by the closedown. Similarly, it is essential that we work with Alexander & Baldwin in a coordinated effort to keep these extraordinary lands in active agriculture.”
      Sen. Mazie Hirono said, “Today’s announcement marks an end to plantation agriculture that shaped our state’s history. Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company has been a source of economic stability for the County of Maui, pioneered technical innovation in the field of agriculture and served as a catalyst to a labor movement that improved working conditions for Hawai`i families. We must ensure that the individuals and families affected by the cessation of sugar operations are provided the assistance they need during this transition. While today’s announcement marks the end of an era, it demonstrates that agriculture in Hawai`i continues to evolve. I will work with HC&S, ILWU and other local, state and federal partners to aggressively promote food and energy security and create new opportunities on Maui and throughout the state.”
      Ka`u’s state Sen. Josh Green, MD said, “It is a relief to so many that the air quality on Maui will improve as a result of no more cane burning on the island. We will be vigilant until we are certain that there is no more air pollution possible. I have legislation set to go forward in case anything changes.
      “In light of this change on Maui, it is also important to be supportive of neighbors who make their living working on the plantation as they make changes in the coming year. We are all here with our families together and need each other to make Hawai`i special.”
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LAVA FLOW SIGNS WILL BE ERECTED along Ka`u Scenic Byway. Hawai`i Tourism Authority’s Natural Resources Program awarded $3,000 for 24 signs that will inform travelers heading each direction on Hwy 11 of years when 12 lava flows occurred, according to Rich Morrow, of Ka`u Scenic Byway Committee. 
      HTA President and CEO George Szigeti said, “We are excited about your project and believe it is the kind of work that can help to make a difference in Hawai`i.”
      Morrow also reported that an information kiosk is expected to be placed in Na`alehu Park soon. A blessing will be held upon completion of the project.
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

Kai Kahele testified before Hawai`i County Council yesterday.
Image from Hawai`i County
HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL YESTERDAY approved Ka`u Council member Maile David’s resolution to provide Pa`a Pono Miloli`i with $5,000 to fight dengue fever. Miloli`i resident Kai Kahele, who has spearheaded the nonprofit’s efforts to protect residents from mosquitoes, said the funds would be used to cover and repair water catchment tanks at several homes. He said uncovered tanks are primary breeding grounds for mosquitoes. 
      Five more cases of dengue fever have been confirmed on Hawai`i Island. Yesterday, Hawai`i Department of Health reported a total of 207 cases, with six being potentially infectious. Of the confirmed cases, 187 are Hawai`i Island residents, and 20 are visitors.
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

TODAY, REP. TULSI GABBARD ANNOUNCED her support for the bipartisan Zero Tolerance for Terror Act, introduced in response to Iran illegally launching two ballistic missiles in October and November 2015. After investigating the Oct. 10 launch, United Nations Security Council found that the launch violated UNSC Resolution 1929, but the Council did not take action against Iran. Gabbard is an original co-sponsor of the legislation, which would allow Congress to quickly impose sanctions if the Iranian government commits an act of terror, provides support for terrorist organizations or violates international law by acquiring ballistic missile technology. While the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will scale back nuclear sanctions, it does not limit the ability of Congress to enact new sanctions related to acts of terror or development of ballistic missiles.
Following UNSC's finding that Iran's launch of ballistic missiles violated its resolution,
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard supported the Zero Tolerance for Terror Act.
      “It’s been just six months since Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activity and end its pursuits to develop a nuclear weapon,” Gabbard said, “and Iran is already using other means to threaten our allies and violate its international commitments, including two recent ballistic missile tests that directly violate UN Security Council Resolution 1929 and were aimed at threatening our allies in Israel and the Arab Gulf. If we fail to take action to hold Iran accountable now, ensuring there are consequences to their actions, all future efforts to enforce the terms of these agreements will ring hollow.”
      Gabbard is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

I OLA NA `AINA MOMONA HOLDS a strategy and informational meeting on Sunday, Jan. 17 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House. The nonprofit works to help Ka`u farmers achieve land security. 
      Topics at the meeting include legal structures for holding property, partnerships with Hawai`i Island Land Trust or Trust for Public Land, donor recruitment and funding strategies.
      Attorney Steven Strauss, of Hilo, will offer advice and answer questions. Strauss enjoys working with land use and civil rights matters and has worked at all levels of Hawai`i state courts as well as the Court of Appeals for the U.S. Supreme Court.
      Everyone is welcome to attend. Pupus will be served.

PANCAKE BREAKFAST RETURNS to Ocean View Community Center Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Call 939-7033

PARTICIPANTS LEARN ABOUT THE VITAL role of `ohi`a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, its many forms and flower on an easy, one-mile walk Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

NA`ALEHU ASSEMBLY OF GOD presents the movie War Room: Prayer is a Powerful Weapon Saturday at 6 p.m. Donations are $5 per adult, $3 ages three to 11 or two non-perishable food item per adult and one per child.


See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.swf
and kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf.
See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_December2015.pdf.

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