Andrews Gymnasium Reopens

Repairs to Hilo’s Joseph G. Andrews Gymnasium have been completed, allowing the Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation to reopen the popular facility located within Waiākeawaena Park.

Photo of gym interior showing repaired and refurbished floor  Photo credit: Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation

Photo of gym interior showing repaired and refurbished floor
Photo credit: Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation

Old wax buildup was removed from the gym’s floor, which was then sanded and coated with a new layer of wax to protect the playing surface. New lines were painted to accommodate different sports, termite damage repaired and replacement basketball backboards installed. The Department of the Parks and Recreation’s Maintenance staff performed all of the work in-house.

Located at 33 West Kawailani Street, Andrews Gymnasium is open each Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays. Gym programs include the following youth activities:

  • Basketball Shooting Clinic (ages 9-14) Wednesdays 4 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Volleyball (ages 7-14) Thursdays 3:30 to 5 p.m.
  • Craft clubs (ages 5-12) Thursdays 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Speed and Agility workshops (ages 7-14) Saturdays 2 to 4 p.m.

For more information, please contact Maurice Janado at 959-9047.

NELHA, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Jump into Energy Storage Race

The state, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Company announced a strategic partnership to share resources and attract companies interested in testing and evaluating pre-commercial energy storage units at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology (HOST) Park in Kailua-Kona, managed by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

NEHLA Aerial

“This strategic partnership highlights NELHA’s value to our state as a test-bed for new technologies and driver of innovation and economic development,” said Gov. Abercrombie, who last month released more than $13 million for capital improvements at NELHA facilities.

“With the significant cost reduction in clean energy generation over the years, some consider lower cost energy storage to be the ’missing link’ and one of the most challenging elements in the design and function of a clean energy microgrid,” said NELHA Executive Director Gregory Barbour.

Energy storage is a rapidly evolving market and offers significant potential for future growth as microgrids require higher degrees of reliability and power quality, sophisticated generation-load balancing.

According to some reports, the worldwide market for energy storage systems for wind and solar will grow from less than $150 million annually in 2013 to $10.3 billion by 2023 and an installed capacity of projected to total 21.8 GW.

“The good news is that we have already developed the necessary infrastructure to allow for the ‘real-world’ grid connected standardized testing and validation of energy storage devices at HOST Park,” Barbour said. “NELHA plans to offer low-cost outdoor and indoor sites for testing, up to 30kW of power, power sensors, and real-time monitoring data of energy storage devices at no additional cost.”

“Hawaii Island offers an ideal opportunity to develop technologies that will allow more cost-effective, sustainable energy solutions to benefit our residents,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.

“Our mission is to provide secure, clean energy for Hawaii,” said Hawaii Electric Light President Jay Ignacio. “There are great opportunities in energy storage to increase clean energy, support reliability and ultimately lower costs for customers. This partnership will help our efforts to identify economic and reliable energy storage options that support our mission.”

Added Barbour, “Efforts like these are providing a backbone that NELHA can build out further in the coming years and greatly assist in making the critical seawater system more cost efficient for businesses at HOST Park.”

Kupuna Talk-Story Night Offered

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation cordially invites the public to a “Kupuna Talk-Story Night: Perpetuating the Art of Storytelling” event at 5:30 p.m. Friday, February 28, at Waiākea-Uka Park in Hilo.

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Noted kupuna will share their first-hand stories of old Hawai‘i. Admission is free. Families and individuals of all ages are welcome.

Waiākea-Uka Park is located at 1200 Ainaola Drive and includes Stanley Costales Gymnasium. The talk-story session will be held on the gym’s lanai.

For more details, please call Mark Osorio at 959-9474.

 

New Playground Equipment Being Added at Kailua Park

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce the upcoming installation of new children’s playground equipment at Kailua Park, also known as Old Airport Park, in Kailua-Kona.

The A.J. Watt Gymnasium in Mt. View. This playground is similar to the one being added at Kailua Park.

The A.J. Watt Gymnasium in Mt. View. This playground is similar to the one being added at Kailua Park.

Construction work will start Tuesday, February 18, and is expected to be completed by the end of May.

While the park will remain open, the existing playground will be removed and therefore unavailable for use. To protect the public, the contractor’s work area will be fenced off. Park users are advised to be aware of construction activity and equipment.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks the public for its cooperation, patience and understanding as it provides enhanced recreational opportunities for the island’s keiki.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

2014 Focus Luncheon with Mayor Kenoi

Mayor Billy Kenoi and select cabinet members tackle current Hawai`i County issues at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce 2014 Focus Luncheon 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Sponsored by the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, the annual luncheon offers a unique opportunity for the local community to meet with County Department representatives in a casual setting. Attendees will have the opportunity to have lunch with a specific department as well as pose questions to the Mayor and other Cabinet heads. Issues to be included in the discussion include the possible increase of the GET via a county surcharge; the County’s solid waste management plan; the controversial GMO bill; and, the quest to reopen the Kona International Airport international arrivals facility.

Cost for the luncheon is $45 for Chamber and Rotary members, $55 for non-members. No walk-ins allowed. For more information and/or to register, visit kona-kohala.com or call the Chamber office at 808-329-1758.

THE KONA-KOHALA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE provides leadership and advocacy for a successful business environment in West Hawai‘i. The result of KKCC’s work is a community of choice as reflected in our quality of life, business and individual opportunity and manifest respect for our culture and our natural resources. For info, 329-1758 or visit www.kona-kohala.com.

 

New Flood Insurance Rate Maps for South Kona

On February 7, 2014, a FEMA Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) for the areas of Hōnaunau, Keōkea, and a small section of Ki’ilae in South Kona, will become effective and create new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

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The LOMR, submitted to FEMA in early July of 2013, identifies new flood hazards as the area underwent an increase in residential and agricultural development since the orginal FIRMs was revised in 1988.

Structures located within a Zone AE Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) may be required to have flood insurance, if the structure is mortgaged by a U.S. government backed loan. Structures located outside the SFHA, are encouraged but not required to have flood insurance.

Property owners may check the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps at the Department of Public Works, Engineering division in Hilo weekdays, from 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM.

Normal Closing Time for Keōkea Beach Park Following Departure of Endangered Monk Seals

Two endangered Hawaiian monk seals have left Keōkea Beach Park, prompting the Department of Parks and Recreation to return to keeping the North Kohala park open until 11 p.m. each night.

Mom and baby seal

Mom and baby seal

A seal pup was born at the park in November, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, which requested the park be closed at 7:30 p.m. to protect the newborn and its mother.

NOAA has informed the Department of Parks and Recreation that the pup left the park’s shoreline last week and has not been sighted since, eliminating the need for the early closure time.

Hawaiian monk seals are protected under both federal and state laws. Anyone who intentionally harasses, harms or kills a Hawaiian monk seal could be fined up to $50,000 and ordered to serve a five-year prison sentence.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks park users and the general public for understanding the need to protect one of Hawaii’s most unique and loved animals.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Councilman Ilagan to Introduce Bill 185 – Certified Organic Bill

On Tuesday, February 4, Councilman Ilagan will be introducing Bill 185, which further defines agricultural tax incentives to include an organic produce provision. This bill will be heard in the Finance Committee scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m.

Click to read the proposed bill

Click to read the proposed bill

Encouraging the growing certified organic industry is a positive step forward in helping Hawaii County move towards the goal of food self-sufficiency. In conjunction with conventional farming operations, we need to explore and promote all means possible for reducing the amount of food and agricultural products imported into the state.

Bill 185 is a step along this path. Supporting local agricultural activity is not only an economic benefit but can also significantly reduce the threat of importing pests, and lower the possibility of introducing diseases that can threaten native plants and locally produced foods. A thriving agricultural industry is an important part of our island lifestyle, and helping farmers from different agriculture fields will bring us closer to realizing food self-sufficiency on the Big Island.

Highlights of Bill 185:

  1. Certified organic farmers are assessed at the same value as pasture and slow rotation forestry, which is the lowest assessed value per acre for agricultural use.
  2. A certified organic tax relief is based on more intensive agricultural use with limited County agency oversight due to third party enforcement and site inspections.
  3. A tax incentive for certified organic operations will help to enable new farmers to start, and established small farms to continue farming.
  4. Annual recertification process for certified organic operations encourages farmers to continue farming land for intensive agriculture use.
  5. Tax breaks will lessen the burden of certification costs which ranges from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and relatively high production costs due to the increased labor requirements.
  6. Approximately 200 growers are certified organic farmers in Hawai’i, and the median size is 5 acres on the Big Island, according to the 2007 Agriculture Census.
  7. Encourages the establishment of high value niche market products.

For more information call (808) 961-8825, or visit http://puna4.com

Hawai‘i County to Install Two New Playgrounds

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce the upcoming installation of new children’s playground equipment at both Waiākea-Uka and Gilbert Carvalho parks in Hilo.

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Construction work will start Tuesday, January 21, at Waiākea-Uka Park located at 1200 ‘Āinaola Drive. Beginning Thursday, February 20, work will shift to Gilbert Carvalho Park located at 850 Waiānuenue Avenue.

Both parks will remain open for public use during the construction phase. However, the parks’ existing playgrounds will be removed and therefore unavailable for use. To protect the public, work areas will be fenced in. Park users are advised to be aware of construction activities and equipment at both sites.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks park users and the general public for their cooperation, patience and understanding as we provide for enhanced recreational experiences for our keiki.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

 

Free Keiki “Read to Me” Activity Saturday in Hilo

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), in partnership with Read to Me International, is hosting a “Read to Me” activity Saturday, January 18, in Hilo.

Read to Me

Open to children enrolled in kindergarten through the third grade, the free event will be held from 10 a.m. until noon outside the entrance of the Hilo Walmart store located at 325 East Maka‘ala Street. RSVP members will read age-appropriate books to the children, conduct hands-on activities and give participants a free book to take home.

All participating keiki must be accompanied by a parent or authorized guardian.

The Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to thank Read to Me International and the Hilo Walmart store for helping to promote literacy among young readers.

For more information, please call Kaui Paleka-Kama at 961-8730.

White Bengal Tiger Namaste Euthanized at Hilo Zoo

Namaste, a male white Bengal tiger that was the star attraction of the Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens in Hilo for fifteen years, was euthanized this morning.

Namaste

Namaste

Over the past several weeks, Namaste developed multiple health problems that caused his quality of life to deteriorate.

Donated to the Pana‘ewa Zoo in 1999 by Las Vegas magician Dirk Arthur, Namaste was 8 months old when he arrived on Hawai‘i Island. For 15 years, Namaste’s daily afternoon feedings drew a crowd, and his birthday parties held every September attracted hundreds of attendees.

Namaste was buried today in his enclosure, and the spot will soon be marked with a monument. The zoo also has plans to welcome another tiger after making some renovations to the tiger habitat to accommodate a younger animal.

2014 Closure Schedule for Select Hawai‘i County Parks

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to announce its 2014 general-maintenance schedule for ‘Āhalanui Park, Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park, Kahalu‘u Beach Park and Spencer Park at ‘Ōhai‘ula Beach. These parks will be closed from one to three days most months so larger-scale maintenance work may be undertaken without putting park patrons at unnecessary risk or inconvenience.

Located in Puna, ‘Āhalanui Park will be closed from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the following dates:

Puna ClosuresLocated in Puna, Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park will be closed on the following dates and reopened at 1 p.m. on the day after each closure:

Pohoiki closuresLocated in North Kona, Kahalu‘u Beach Park will be closed from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the following dates:

North Kona Closures

Located in South Kohala, Spencer Park at ‘Ōhai‘ula Beach will be closed all day on the following dates:

South Kohala Closures

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks park users and the general public for their understanding and cooperation while the temporary closures are occurring.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

County Acquires Open Space At ‘O’oma – 217-Acre Shoreline Parcel to be Protected in Perpetuity

The County of Hawai‘i’s latest acquisition in the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resource Preservation program will protect 217 acres in Kona, between Kohanaiki Shores and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i.

Ooma
‘O‘oma was the last privately-held open coastline area between Kailua town and the Kūki‘o resort, and was the top-ranked property on the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission’s latest report. The Māmalahoa Trail and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail run through the property, and the preservation of ‘O‘oma also will help preserve ocean quality and contribute to a healthy reef.

“This open space purchase is the culmination of over 25 years of efforts on the part of the Kona community, which held onto a vision of an open coastline at Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma,” said Councilwoman Karen Eoff, who has been involved with the community movement to protect Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma in various capacities over the years. “This is an awesome gift to our community and validates the power in a shared vision.”

The purchase of the ‘O‘oma property closed on December 31, 2013 for $6.2 million, slightly more than half the $12 million asking price. Kohanaiki Shores, the neighboring development that has shown a commitment to preserving the beauty of Kona, assisted the County in the purchase with a $2 million donation.

This acquisition also enhances the public benefit of the 1.5 mile Kohanaiki Beach Park just to the south of ‘O‘oma, which opened to the public in June 2013. The County anticipates preserving ‘O‘oma in its current natural condition as a buffer between the mauka urban area and the ocean, while allowing access for passive recreation and subsistence fishing.

“This open space purchase adds another important, publicly owned shoreline recreational area that will serve many thousands of our residents, and will provide a place for our children and families to enjoy for generations to come,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “This purchase required a cooperative effort by many community members, and we thank them for their efforts.”

Since taking office, Mayor Kenoi’s administration has purchased more than 1,247 acres to preserve shorelines and open space for children, families, and the community. Since 2008, the County has acquired open space at Kāwā (785 acres) in Ka‘ū; Kaiholena (228 acres) and Pāo‘o (10 acres) in Kohala; and La‘aloa (6 acres) and ‘O‘oma (217 acres) in Kona under the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation program.

Hawaii County Plastic Bag Ordinance Transition Period Ends January 17, 2014

The one-year transition period specified in the Hawai‘i County Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance ends January 17, 2014. After that date, businesses on Hawai‘i Island shall not provide plastic checkout bags to their customers. The purpose of the ordinance is to reduce the usage of single-use plastic bags by prohibiting their distribution at store checkouts and encouraging the usage of reusable bags.
Bring your bags

Many stores are choosing to stop using plastic bags and are already encouraging customers to bring their own reusable bags. One high quality reusable bag can replace hundreds of single-use plastic bags over its lifetime. In the long term, the cost of a reusable bag can be lower than the cost of the single-use plastic bags it replaces.

The ordinance exempts plastic bags without handles that are used for retail items such as meat, produce, bulk food items, garments, and prescription drugs. It also exempts non-profit organizations and non-incorporated community booster organizations. Paper bags are still permitted under the ordinance.

If a business violates the ordinance, a warning letter will be issued. A second violation will result in a civil fine of $250 per day. The third violation will result in a civil fine of $500 per day and subsequent violations will result in civil fines of $1,000 per day.

Environmental problems posed by plastic bags warrant the implementation of this type of law and it is consistent with the County’s General Plan, which implores the County to “take positive action to further maintain the quality of the environment.” It is an important milestone on the County’s path toward Zero Waste, a commitment to protecting our island.

Hawai‘i County residents join 54% of the world’s population who live in an area that has plastic bag bans or fees to reduce plastic pollution. All Hawai‘i counties have passed plastic bag reduction ordinances, joining a growing list of cities, counties, and nations around the world taking similar initiatives including 28 entire countries.

For more information, please visit HawaiiZeroWaste.com where the ordinance, rules, and outreach materials can be viewed and downloaded. For questions and additional information about the new ordinance, please contact the Department of Environmental Management at bring-ur-bag@hawaiicounty.gov or (808) 961-8942.

Parks Department to Issue Kohanaiki Beach Park Camping Permits

Starting Monday, January 6, the Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation will begin issuing permits to camp at Kohanaiki Beach Park, also known as “Pine Trees,” located north of Kailua-Kona.

Kohanaiki Beach Park. Photo Courtesy County of Hawaii Parks & Recreation

Kohanaiki Beach Park. Photo Courtesy County of Hawaii Parks & Recreation

People seeking camping permits must apply in person during normal business hours at the Department’s administrative offices located at 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 6 in Hilo and in Building B of the West Hawai‘i Civic Center, 74-5044 Ane Keohokālole Highway in Kailua-Kona. A separate announcement will be issued when permits are made available through the Internet.

Camping fees for Hawai‘i County’s 10 other campgrounds will apply to Kohanaiki Beach Park. Nightly camping fees for Hawai‘i residents are $5 for adults, $2 for junior campers 13 to 17 years old, and $1 for children 12 and younger. The nonresident rate is $20 per night, regardless of age. A valid Hawai‘i driver’s license or state-issued identification is required to verify Hawai‘i residency. First and last names of all campers are required for a camping permit to be issued.

Ehawaii.gov also imposes a nonrefundable $1 per-night processing fee for each adult and junior camper. Ehawaii.gov provides the software program for issuing camping permits and collects the processing fee.

Kohanaiki Beach Park features accommodations for up to 80 campers nightly, ocean access, and both permanent and portable restroom facilities. Operating hours are 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Kohanaiki Beach Park is closed to campers each Tuesday and Wednesday.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

 

Hawaii County Property Tax “Amnesty” Offered for Agricultural Program

On January 1, the County of Hawai‘i Department of Finance will begin additional review of all taxpayers who claim property tax discounts through the Non-Dedicated Agricultural Use Program. During the final weeks in December, the Finance Department is encouraging any taxpayers who believe they may be claiming that agricultural use discount in error to participate in an “amnesty period.”

Hawaii County Logo
Under the agricultural use classification, owners of non-dedicated agricultural lands who are engaging in agricultural activities may receive property tax discounts under the Non-Dedicated Agricultural Use Program. Currently 10,411 properties participate in this program, and the requirements for the program are described in the Hawai‘i County Code Chapter 19-57.

Property owners who participate in the Non-Dedicated Agricultural Use Program but do not comply with the rules of the program are removed from the program, and the Finance Department automatically imposes a rollback of taxes for the current fiscal year. Starting January 1, the Finance Department will begin a new review that will require that property owners who receive the agricultural use discounts provide documentation of their continuous and regular agricultural activities.

Property owners who currently claim the agricultural use discount but believe they do not actually qualify for the Non-Dedicated Agricultural Use Program may voluntarily withdraw from the program in December without penalty, said Director of Finance Nancy Crawford.

“This program is part of our ongoing effort to encourage agricultural activities in this county, but we need to ensure that the owners who receive these generous benefits are actually engaged in active, continuous agriculture,” Crawford said.

For more information, contact the Real Property Tax Office at 961-8201, or visit www.hawaiipropertytax.com

 

First Families Welcomed Home To Kamakoa Nui – Workforce Housing Project in Waikoloa Becomes a Reality

Four families, first-time homeowners employed along the South Kohala coast, got the keys to their new homes at Kamakoa Nui today. Kamakoa Nui, a workforce housing project by the County of Hawai‘i, offers affordable homes with a goal of helping people live closer to work, allowing them to spend more time with their families.

Gerry Durante and Shyanne Parong get the keys to their new home from Hawai'i County Managing Director Wally Lau

Gerry Durante and Shyanne Parong get the keys to their new home from Hawai’i County Managing Director Wally Lau

A key ceremony and new homeowner celebration was held today at Kamakoa Nui featuring remarks by Managing Director Wally Lau, Housing & Community Development Administrator Stephen Arnett, and a blessing by Pastor Lani Larrua of Abundant Life Ministries in Waikoloa.

Managing Director Lau recalled a visit to the Kamakoa Nui site early on in Mayor Billy Kenoi’s administration. “We just envisioned at that time where the park would be, where the homes would be, where the families would be, where the children would be running around. For me and the mayor, it’s always been about healthy families and healthy communities.”

For Gerry Durante and Shyanne Parong, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment they were renting was fine until their second son joined the family three years ago. “We were interested in this project since the early stages. It’s been a long process, but we’re glad it’s done,” Parong said. “We finally have a place to call home.”

Fee-simple homes at Kamakoa Nui, priced between $235,000 and $350,000, are being offered to resident families with household incomes of no more than 140 percent of the area median income. For a family of four, that comes out to $97,440. Additionally, Habitat For Humanity will purchase four lots at Kamakoa Nui. This will allow families with even lower average monthly incomes to be able to afford homes.

A workforce housing project in Waikoloa had been a goal of the County’s since 2005. A previous attempt ended in litigation between the County and the contractor. In 2010, the project was reborn as Kamakoa Nui. The sitework, first model homes, and the community park were completed in 2011 with sales of new homes beginning in 2012.

The first four families at Kamakoa Nui are:
•    Cacoulidis ‘Ohana: Shayne, Purisima and Kijai
•    Corpuz ‘Ohana: Eliezer and Janice
•    Durante ‘Ohana: Gerry, Shyanne Parong, Shayden and Shaztyn
•    Spear ‘Ohana: Peter, Wendy and Shaniah

Third Annual “Magic Of The Season” Begins Tonight

The County of Hawai’i is proud to present the third annual Magic Of The Season holiday open house at the Hawai’i County Building in Hilo, December 9 to 20, 2013. Unless otherwise noted in the schedule, festivities will run 5:30 to 8:00 nightly with free entertainment, activities, and refreshments hosted by your County departments.
Magic of the Season
County volunteers have decorated dozens of trees and lit up the Hawai’i County Building. Members of the public may view the exciting decorations daily starting at 7:45 a.m.

Cyril Pahinui, Mark Yamanaka, Darlene Ahuna and Henry Kapono will be among the Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning performers. Taiko drummers, hula dancers and student musicians also will take turns entertaining audiences. School groups, civic organizations and individuals are invited to experience the holiday offerings by touring the office building located at 25 Aupuni St.

For more details, please contact the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi at 961-8211.

Local Girl and True Blood Star Kristina Anapau made an appearance in 2011.

Local Girl and True Blood Star Kristina Anapau made an appearance in 2011.

Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 113 – Relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants

Kenoi Apec

Aloha, Chair Yoshimoto and Members:

On Nov. 19, 2013 the Hawai‘i County Council adopted Bill 113 Draft 3 adding a new article relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants, and on Nov. 21, 2013 delivered the bill to me for my consideration. After careful deliberation and discussions with members of my administration and the public, I am signing Bill 113.

Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching.

The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai‘i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support. That commitment includes initiatives such as the public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse to support our grass-fed beef industry, and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultural Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land. It also includes support for innovative training programs to grow the farmers of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Korean Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock. It includes completion of the first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai‘i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.

We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector. It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must turn now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.

With my approval of this bill, our administration will launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in our community should take. This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements. We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts.

Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi
MAYOR

Free Surfers Healing Camp for Children With Autism and Other Disabilities

A free Surfers Healing Camp for children with autism and other disabilities will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, December 7, at Richardson Ocean Park in Hilo.

Surfers Healing

Now in its fourth year, the Surfers Healing Camp provides disabled children and their families with the unique experience of surfing with professionals under supervised conditions. Knowledgeable surfing instructors, surfboards and U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vests will be provided at no charge. Complementary drinks, snacks and lunches will be offered to participating children, their families and event volunteers.

Surfers Healing is a national organization started 15 years ago in California to share the joy of surfing with the less fortunate. Its Hawai‘i Island chapter is sponsoring the December 7 drug-, alcohol-, and tobacco-free event. Additional support provided through a partnership with the Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation, HMSA, Hawai‘i Behavioral Health and Hulakai Surfboards.

An estimated 200 people, including approximately 50 keiki, are expected to participate in the Hilo camp. Surfers Healing Camps are held throughout the world, providing more than 3,000 children annually with the opportunity to try surfing.

To register your child and learn more about the camp, please visit www.surfershealing.org. Space is limited, and spots fill up fast.

For more information, please call Kalani Kahalioumi at 315-6380.