New Stop Added to UH Hilo Bus Service

UH Hilo Moniker

The County Mass Transit Administration has revised its bus service for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College to include an additional stop at the new UH Hilo Bookstore by the University’s main Kawili Street entrance, effective Monday, April 14, 2014.

The Hele-On Bus timetable runs Monday through Saturday and offers services to and from the University and HawCC within Hilo. Visit www.heleonbus.org for schedules, including transportation to Kona, Pahoa, Volcano, Pahoa, Keaukaha and other areas.

Video: County of Hawaii Proclaims “Max Unger Day” – HPA Retires Jersey

Deputy Director of Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Robert A. Fitzgerald proclaimed April 2, 2014 as Seattle Seahawk’s “Matt Unger Day” in the County of Hawaii.

HPA Retires Alumnus Max Unger's Number

HPA Retires Alumnus Max Unger’s Number

Fitzgerald also happens to be Unger’s former coach here on the Big Island.

Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA), the high school that Max attended, then retired his number from ever being used again by another player at the school.

Waiākeawaena Park Playground to Close During Equipment Replacement Project

Hilo’s Waiākeawaena Park playground will be closed for renovation from Monday, April 7, through early June. The project is a partnership between the Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Hawai‘i State Department of Education (DOE) that will provide a safe, modern playground for both the community and Waiākeawaena Elementary School students to enjoy.

Mt. View's new Playground

Mt. View’s new Playground

The park’s ball fields and gymnasium will remain open and available for use during the construction phase, although the work will have a slight impact on part of the main ball field’s right field area.

The DOE has hired contractor Pacific Recreation Co. LLC to build a replacement playground designed for keiki 2 to 5 years old and an adjacent play area for children between the ages of 5 and 12. Features include multiple slides, covered decks, climbing walls and a safety surface. Waiākeawaena Elementary School, which is located next to the park, is providing two park benches that will be installed as part of the overall project estimated to cost approximately $220,000.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks state Sen. Gilbert Kahele for helping secure state funding needed to replace the aging playground, along with Mayor Billy Kenoi and Hawai‘i County Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi for their valuable support of this needed project.

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

Ainaloa Boulevard Sidewalks Getting Extended to Highway

New sidewalks are being constructed along both sides of Ainaloa Blvd in Puna.

Ainaloa Way

The sidewalks will connect to Highway 130.

The County of Hawaii, Department of Public Works Highway Maintenance Division is constructing these sidewalks.  They are excavating the roadway shoulders in increments of 500-feet to 1,000-feet, and closing lanes to allow for equipment.  The alternating lane closures are Monday-Friday 8:00 – 2:00 PM.  Sidewalk completion is scheduled for mid-April 2014 weather permitting.

New Honoka‘a Park Playground Opens March 25

A blessing and dedication ceremony for Hawai‘i Island’s newest public playground will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 25, at Honoka‘a Park.

The public is invited to join Mayor Billy Kenoi, Hāmākua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter and other dignitaries in opening the new Honoka‘a Park playground. Refreshments will be served.

Located next to the park’s gymnasium, the playground features a play area designed for children 2 to 5 years old and another for bigger keiki between the ages of 5 and 12 years old. Multiple slides, climbing rings, covered decks and a grass-like safety surface comprise the playground’s modular design.

Mt. View's new Playground

Mt. View’s new Playground

William C. Loeffler Construction Inc. built the playground, landscaped the area, and installed benches, safety fencing, railings and accessible walkways as part of its $295,422 contract with the Department of Parks and Recreation.

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

 

Today at the Hawaii County Council Meeting – Re: VOLCANO-PĀHOA Emergency Road Project

Here is what was scheduled to be discussed at today’s Hawaii County Council meeting (note agenda item 4):

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Committee Index ~ March 18, 2014 ~ Kona Council Chambers

9:00 a.m.         GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

1.   Comm. 10.15:       HSAC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES

2.   Comm. 10.16:       HSAC SPECIAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES

9:45 a.m.         AGRICULTURE, WATER and ENERGY SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE

3.   Comm. 721:          PRESENTATION BY PETER YOUNG, RE: KEAUHOU AQUIFER SYSTEM

Comm. 721.1: Submit power point presentation materials by Peter Young, from Dru Kanuha

12:45 p.m.       PUBLIC SAFETY and MASS TRANSIT COMMITTEE

4.   Comm. 697:          Discussion and Formation of AD HOC Re: VOLCANO-PĀHOA Emergency Road Project

1:15 p.m.         PLANNING COMMITTEE

5.   Comm. 729:          NOMINATION OF MR. JAY UYEDA TO THE WATER BOARD

6.   Comm. 730:          NOMINATION OF COLLIN KAHOLO TO THE LEEWARD PLANNING COMMISSION

7.   Bill 211:                Re: SLU, AG TO URBAN AT KEONEPOKO, PUNA, Applicant:  Jerry Souza, 1 acre

Bill 212:          REZONE, A-1a to CV-20, Applicant: Jerry Souza, 1 acre

8.   Bill 213:                REZONE, Time Ext., RS-10 to MCX-20 at Waiakea, Applicant: Waterfall Ent., 21,000 sf

9.   Bill 214:                REZONE, RM 2.5 to RM-1.5, at Waiakea, S. Hilo, Applicant: Vincent Tai, 3.2 acres

3:00 p.m.         PUBLIC WORKS and PARKS AND RECREATION COMMITTEE

10.  Bill 200:               RELATING TO 20 MPH Speed Limit, adds Haunani Road, Puna

11.  Bill 201:               RELATING TO SPEED LIMITS, amends provision re portion of Haunani Road, Puna

12.  Bill 202:               RELATING TO MOVING VEHICLES, adds portion of Ka’alaiki Road, Ka’u

13.  Bill 203:               RELATING TO NO PARKING AT ANYTIME, adds portion of West Kawili, S. Hilo

14.  Bill 204:               RELATING TO BUS STOPS AND PUBLIC ROAD TAXI STANDS, portions of Banyan Drive

15.  Bill 205:               RELATING TO PARKING, revises re prohibited parking along Banyan Drive

16.  Bill 206:               RELATING TO PARKING, revises re prohibited parking during certain hours on Banyan Drive 17.  17.  Bill 207:                      RELATING TO FREIGHT LOADING ZONES, revises freight zone locations on Banyan Drive 18.  18.  Bill 217:             RE: PARKS & REC FACILITY, names Honoka‘a stadium, “Rose Andrade Correia Stadium”

3:45 p.m.         FINANCE COMMITTEE

19.  Comm. 3.31:        REPORT OF CHANGE ORDERS AUTHORIZED:  JANUARY 16 – 31, 2014

20.  Comm. 3.32:        REPORT OF CHANGE ORDERS AUTHORIZED:  FEBRUARY 1 – 15, 2014

21.  Comm. 7.24:        REPORT OF FUND TRANSFERS AUTHORIZED:  JANUARY 16 – 31, 2014

22.  Comm. 7.25:        REPORT OF FUND TRANSFERS AUTHORIZED:  FEBRUARY 1 – 15, 2014

23.  Comm. 117.1:      FAIR SHARE ANNUAL REPORT AS OF JUNE 30, 2013           From Duane Kanuha

24.  Comm. 272.3:      Submits Report from TIH Re: Procedures for Clerk and Elections Re: 2012 Primary and Elections

Comm. 272.4: Submits Summary of Findings by TIH from Lane Shibata

25.  Comm. 704:         2013 ANNUAL REPORT OF PONC COMMISSION, Mayor Kenoi

26.  Res. 308-14:         AUTHORIZES PAYMENT for PERSONAL COMPUTERS AND LAPTOPS FOR I.T.

27.  Res. 316-14:         AUTHORIZES PAYMENT FOR INTERNET FIREWALLS FOR I.T.

28.  Res. 318-14:         ACCEPTS DONATION OF PARCEL FOR MANONO STREET from Violet Camara

29.  Res. 329-14:         Authorizes R&D to award funds to HCEOC, $113K for Transmedia Accelerator Program

30.  Res. 330-14:         AUTHORIZES PAYMENT for NEW PHONE SYSTEM FOR Pros. Atty, Hilo Office

31.  Res. 332-14:         AUTHORIZES FINANCE FOR ACQUISITION OF BANYAN TREES PARK, N. Kohala

32.  Bill 181:               RELATING TO THE CODE OF ETHICS

33.  Bill 210:               Re: OP BUDGET, Approp. $70,000 to purchase equipment for terrorism & other hazards.

34.  Bill 215:               RELATING to Appropriation Of Funds to NP Organizations, (property to belong to the NP)

 

Hawai‘i County Fights Fire Ants at Hilo Beach Park

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation will close Hilo’s Richardson Ocean Park, weather permitting, at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, so maintenance personnel may apply a second round of baiting treatments designed to combat fire ant infestations. The park will reopen at 7 a.m. the following morning. Signs will be posted starting Monday, March 24, to inform park patrons of the temporary shutdown.

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

The Department of Parks and Recreation has partnered with the University of Hawai‘i to establish an effective strategy for reducing fire ant colonies at Hawai‘i County parks. Fire ant populations at Richardson Ocean Park decreased by more than 50 percent following the placement of nontoxic baited vials at the park in mid-January.

The Department of Parks and Recreation apologizes for any inconvenience the short closure may cause.

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

Hilo’s NAS Swimming Pool to Close for Repairs

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation will close Hilo’s NAS Swimming Pool from Monday, March 17, through Friday, March 28, in order to perform necessary repair work.

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The temporary closure is needed to replace a leaking mechanical seal and worn bearings that are part of the pool’s circulation system.

The Department of Parks and Recreation apologizes for any inconvenience the shutdown may cause and thanks the public for its understanding while the repairs are being made.

The NAS Swimming Pool is expected to reopen for public use on Monday, March 31. Operating schedules for all nine Hawai‘i County swimming pools are available at: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/pr-aquatics/.

For updates on the status of the pool, please call 961-8697.

Commission Seeks Nominations for Open Space Purchases

The County of Hawai‘i Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission (PONC) is inviting the public to propose properties that should be purchased and preserved for open space. Forms to suggest properties can be downloaded from the County of Hawai‘i website at:  http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/Weblink8/1/doc/64139/Electronic.aspx or by obtaining a form at the address below. Suggestion forms are due by June 30, 2014, and may be included in the commission’s annual prioritized list and report to the Mayor.

Hawaii County LogoCommissioners review the suggestion forms submitted by the public, and consider the significant factors of each property such as historic and culturally important features; opportunities for outdoor recreation and education; public access to beaches or mountains; preservation of forests, beaches, coastal areas, and natural beauty; protection of natural resources and watershed lands; potential partners for management; and the general benefits to the public.

Potential acquisitions are then prioritized and listed in a report that is sent to the Mayor at the end of each year. The Mayor then forwards his recommendations to the Hawai‘i County Council, which adopts resolutions to authorize property purchases. For more information on the process, go to:  http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/WebLink8/DocView.aspx?id=67307&dbid=1 

Past open space purchases total 1,249 acres, and include Kāwā oceanfront parcels in Ka‘ū; Kaiholena and Pa‘o‘o oceanfront parcels in North Kohala; Kipapa Park (mauka of Magic Sands Beach Park in Kailua-Kona); property near Waipio Lookout in Hāmākua; and the newly acquired ‘O‘oma oceanfront parcel in North Kona.

PONC funds are derived from 2% of Hawai‘i County’s annual real property tax revenues.  The County has also been able to obtain more than $7.5 million in matching funds and donations from other sources to help purchase open space properties.  A Maintenance Fund has also been established to maintain properties that are acquired with PONC funds.

The nine PONC commissioners represent each of the nine County Council districts on Hawai‘i Island. To find out the commissioner for your district go to: http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/WebLink8/DocView.aspx?id=67300&dbid=1  The Commission meets every other month at the Hilo County Building or the West Hawai’i Civic Center, and   public testimony is welcome.

If you need further information or are interested in becoming a commissioner, please contact Alexandra Kelepolo of the County of Hawai‘i Property Management Division, County Building on 25 Aupuni Street, Suite 1101 at (808) 961-8069 or visit the website at: http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/Weblink8/browse.aspx?dbid=1&startid=13770

County of Hawai’i Offering Home Repair Loans

The Office of Housing and Community Development is currently accepting applications to its’ Residential Emergency Repair Program (RERP).

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The RERP program was established in 1997 to make low interest loans available to low-and moderate-income homeowners who are interested in repairing and improving their primary residence. The RERP loan can be used for roof repairs, electrical and plumbing work, sewer improvements, termite treatment and damages caused by termites or wood rot and the installation of a solar water heating system.

Loans range from $2,500 to $25,000 at 3% interest. Loan payments are deferred for 15 years, at which time full payment will be due. Applicants 62 years or older or with special needs, may have 30% of the principal balance of the loan forgiven as a grant.

For more information or an application packet contact Brandi Ah Yo at 959-4642. Application packets can also be found on-line at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/office-of-housing.

Hilo’s Pi‘ihonua Gym Closing for Renovations

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation will be closing Pi‘ihonua Gymnasium starting Monday, March 17, so it can renovate the popular Hilo facility located within Gilbert Carvalho Park.

Gilbert Carvahlo Park

Gilbert Carvahlo Park

Pi‘ihonua Gymnasium is expected to be reopened at the end of May.

County personnel will repair the gym’s floor, apply a fresh coating of protective wax, install new baskets and backboards, and add more interior lighting.

The Carvalho Park baseball field, parking lots and pavilion will remain available for public use while construction is occurring. However, the park’s playground is being replaced with new keiki equipment, so that area is currently closed to protect the public.

For more information, please contact Chris Drayer, recreation director assigned to Gilbert Carvalho Park, by calling 961-8737.

County of Hawai‘i Releases Stage 1 Request for Proposals for Waste Reduction Technology

Mayor Billy Kenoi officially launched the drive to develop a clean, modern and efficient waste reduction technology for the County of Hawai‘i with the release of Stage 1 of the county’s request for proposals (RFP) on March 3.

The RFP process will allow the county to select a proven, economically viable and environmentally friendly process for managing solid waste from East Hawai‘i for at least the next 20 to 30 years, Mayor Kenoi said.

Public Landfill

“For the past two decades this county engaged in study after study to determine the best way to cope with the required closure of the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill,” Mayor Kenoi said.  “It is now time to act. We are inviting the best and brightest in the industry to submit their proposals for a state-of-the-art facility that will benefit our community, and allow us to transform our solid waste from a liability into an asset.”

The county will continue its commitment to recycling, including a program to provide mulch made from green waste for agricultural and other uses. In 2013 the county recycled more than 217 tons of materials per day, including metals, glass, plastics and green waste. The waste reduction project will not affect those efforts, Mayor Kenoi said.

The design-build-operate RFP calls for a facility that can accommodate about 300 tons of solid waste per day. The facility will be built near the existing county Sort Station, and will be privately financed. Stage 1 of the RFP will identify the most qualified teams and technologies for the project.

Mayor Kenoi briefed the Hawaii County Council Committee on Environmental Management on the county plan on Feb. 4, and briefed the county Environmental Management Commission on the project and process on Feb. 26.

Communications from potential vendors regarding the project must be directed to county Purchasing Agent Jeffrey Dansdill at jdansdill@hawaiicounty.gov.  Responses to Stage 1 of the RFP are due on April 15.

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