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Fall 2002 Newsletter

All of our best wishes to you from the Big Island!

Here are some of our news highlights from the last few months

- We all breathed a sigh of relief when Hawaii was granted an exemption from the West Coast port lockout, but especially deep were the breaths taken by local produce distributors. They had just received word that a much-used airline was going to triple its prices to fly fresh fruits and vegetables during the lockout. Unfortunately, Hawaii gets more than 90 percent of its goods from outside the state. Our first container since the dock shutdown began arrived October 13th.

Travel and Tourism News
- A plan by Aloha and Hawaiian airlines to jointly set the number of passenger seats available on key interisland routes, which they say will "increase efficiency and reduce costs", has been approved for one year by the U.S. Transportation Dept. The anti-trust exemption, which follows the collapse in March of a plan to merge the two airlines, will be closely monitored by the Dept. and the governor.

Aloha Airlines has asked its workers to take a 10 percent pay cut for 3 years to help the airline qualify for a $40 million dollar federal loan that would save the airline "almost $37 million"...The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has announced an agreement with Hainan Airline Group, China's 4th largest airline, to promote tourism from China to Hawaii. HVCB will also help Chinese with applications for tourist visas.

Our international tourism is still way down from Sept. 11th, but domestic tourism is holding steady. Many businesses have not been able to hold on thru the decline, however. Here's a list of some of the casualties, and also announcements of some newcomers to the local business scene...

Long-time favorite pizza/pasta place, Bianelli's, is now missing from The Pines Shopping Center, and that old standby, Kona Ranch House, is also shuttered, as well as Edward's at Kanaloa.
Kona Petroleum Bar & Grill is gone, as is Blimpie's subs.
Kona's 7-11 closed.
The Chart House has reopened as the Beachcomber restaurant, which has more moderately priced dinners than the Chart House, and live music most nights upstairs at their Paradise Bar.

Ambrosia Italian Cuisine has opened at the site of Cassandra's Greek Taverna's old location up an alley off Alii Dr. Sunny's Bubble Teastand is open, across from the seawall near the Pier area.

The popular Royal Thai restaurant has opened an offshoot for pickup or limited delivery, called Royal Thai II Go, in Lani Hau Center next to Sack and Save grocery.

Many people are happy to have a branch of Island Art Supply on the Kona side now; the store is located in the Old Industrial Area, where Kailua-Kona Chevron has also relocated.

Up north, the Kawaihae Harbor Grill has opened a Seafood Bar with light dining and tropical drinks in a "tiki lounge" atmosphere, and Healthways II, a sister property of Kona Natural Foods, has opened in the recently renovated Parker Ranch Center in Waimea. In Hilo, the J.C. Penney store will close January 10th. Maui's J.C. Penney is still open, but two Penneys in Honolulu will be closed at the same time as the Hilo store.

Kona Hawaiian Village, the new time-share development with thatched roofs off Alii Dr., has been purchased by an Orlando, Florida-based company, and they have contracted Outrigger Enterprises to manage the property.

According to an article in West HI. Today newspaper August 9th, the Kona Lagoon is to be razed. You will probably know it as the shell of a hotel next to the Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort that has remained empty, damaged by vandals and fire, for over 12 years.

Hospital News
- Ka'u Hospital is opening a rural health clinic on November 1st. The clinic will be able to do simple medical procedures like biopsies, so the people living down there won't have to drive to Hilo or Kona to have them done. The facility will have one doctor on staff till mid-December, when the number of staff will increase to three, plus a half-time mid-level practitioner.
The physicians will also cover the emergency room at Ka'u hospital, which responds to emergency situations only.
It is hoped that specialists will visit on a monthly basis in the future too.
And speaking of cutting out travel for tests, the new state-of-the-art MRI at Kona Community Hospital's new imaging center should help West side patients in that regard. Hilo Medical Center has received more than $1.2 million in state funds for various improvements to that hospital.
The North Hawaii Community Hospital Sleep Disorders Lab has been nationally accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Visit their web site for more info.

Kilauea volcano has really been putting on a show, with especially easy access to lava flow-viewing over the last six months, and attracting thousands of visitors who want to get very close to an active eruption. (Volcano gift shops were running out of souvenirs!) That helped tourism a bit...The lava completely covered stairs near a former scenic overlook, and crossed and burned the last remaining isolated section of Chain of Craters Road on its way to the stairs and the ocean.

Now we have been informed that Mauna Loa is swelling. To quote Don Swanson, scientist-in-charge at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, "We can say with 100 percent certainty we will see an eruption sometime in the future at Mauna Loa; we have no idea if that is going to take place in a few months, in a few years, or in a few decades." He said that people who live in the "hazardous areas" of Ocean View and South Kona don't need to panic, but should stay alert and visit the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's web site for updates. Mauna Loa is considered to be "the most active shield volcano in the world" by the scientific community.

News of the Land
- The Sierra Club's Hawaii chapter is opposing any restrictions to access of the summit of Mauna Kea. They are stating that the major causes of environmental and cultural damage to the area are from industrialization and commercialization, not by island families residing there.

On Oct. 3rd it was reported that Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra has denied a motion by Hokulia luxury subdivision to reconsider an earlier ruling which found a membership lodge planned for the development to be "spot zoning" and should not have been granted in the first place.
No comment from Hokulia, which, along with the lodge, is planning to develop more than 700 residential lots, a golf course, clubhouse, pavilion, tennis courts and other amenities on 1,540 acres makai of Kealakekua town, adjacent to Kealakekua Bay.

Judge Ibarra, who is "on a roll" as a protector of the laws governing our Hawaiian land, also told Hawaii Electric Light Co. that there would be no reconsideration of an order which forced the utility to stop the expansion of the Keohole Power Station, and said HELCO should not have even asked the court to reconsider a Sept. 19th ruling that the state illegally extended construction permits for the 58-megawatt expansion of the plant.

Puna Geothermal Venture will be able to provide electricity at full capacity once again to HELCO in December, when their new production well will be completed. Their output was cut from 30 to 5 megawatts in April when a liner collapsed, clogging the plant's largest well.

The Trust for Public Land has purchased 238 acres of South Kona shoreline that had been targeted for a subdivision by a Maui developer. The Trust hopes to sell the land to the Nat'l Park Service in the near future for the expansion of Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. The land contains the site of Ki'ilae Village, the ruins of an early Hawaiian settlement that was abandoned in the '30s. Also found on the land is one of the most complete assemblages of the coastal component of the "Kona field system", a highly productive agricultural system which contributed to the strength of local chiefs for at least 200 years. The Nature Conservancy has stepped up their presence on Hawaii island. The Conservancy wants to protect 2 million acres of Hawaii's remaining native forest habitat by 2010, and 1.5 million of those acres are on the Big Island. Robert Shallenberger, Big Island conservation director, is heading up a staff of eight, and is focusing on resource protection, with an emphasis on the development and use of sustainable resources as a means to protect the forests. The Associated Press reports that Governor Ben Cayetano has approved a federal plan to expand the protection of humpback whales in Hawaiian waters to include endangered monk seals and sea turtles.

Hawaii has begun charging beverage distributors a half-cent fee on glass and plastic beverage bottles and aluminum cans under the first phase of the "Bottle Bill" that went into effect on October 1st. The half-cent handling fee, which is scheduled to increase to one cent in two years, is needed to build a fund that will be used to refund deposits to consumers starting January 1, 2005.

According to the 10th Survey of Social Indicators prepared by the Mental Health Assn. of HI. County, Hawaii County, which has 12.3 percent of the state's population is the poorest county in the state, with residents' incomes averaging less than 74 percent of the state average.

The island also has a higher rate of social and mental health related problems than the other Hawaiian islands. A contributing factor to this state of affairs is the fact that, with minor exceptions, hourly wages on the Big Island are lower than state averages, adding to the feeling of "no way up, no way out" among many local residents. That attitude has probably also added to the island's increasing problem with ice (crystal methamphetamine) addiction and an increase in property crimes (a 25.6 percent increase in motor vehicle thefts in 2001, and a 3.7 percent increase in burglaries during the same period). Violent crime is down statewide, however, prompting Paul Perrone, chief of the attorney general's crime research dept. to remark, "People seem more willing to take things that don't belong to them, and less (willing) to use lethal force." Some other good news is the fact that juvenile arrests for serious crime in Hawaii plunged from 7,000 arrests last year to 2,600 this year, which is a happy mystery to everyone. By the way, our Kona police officers will have their own "beats" now, under a new program that has reassigned officers to patrol the same specific areas, instead of rotating thru all 12 areas of Kona. Whenever possible they are assigned to their own neighborhoods, with the hope that the plan will instill more of a sense of community between the officers and the people on their beats, with both getting to know each other in a more personal way, and to enhance "follow up work" and make it easier.

-The fastest growing districts on the Big Island are currently Puna, which has had a 167 percent increase in population since 1980, and South Kohala, which has grown by 185 percent during the same time period.

Re: Incoming birds
-the state Board of Agriculture has approved emergency rules for shipping birds to Hawaii, to prevent West Nile Virus from being introduced here. Before shipping, birds must be isolated in a mosquito-free, mosquito-proof enclosure under the supervision of a vet for 7 days, have import permits from the state vet, and enter Hawaii thru the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility. Grants and Funding

- West HI. Today reports that Maui-based Pacific Wings will continue to receive federal funds to provide 12 flights per week to and from Waimea-Kohala airport.

-The Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture has received a $10,000 Kaulunani Urban Forestry Cost-Share Grant to develop an Artists' Garden at its newly acquired Donkey Mill Art Center on the Mamalahoa Highway south of Holualoa town. A $3,000 grant from the E. Nakamichi Foundation was awarded to Kona Assn. for the Performing Arts for a holiday concert entitled "Handel and Haydn in Hawaii", scheduled for December, 2003.

-The group Pulama Ia Kona Heritage Preservation Council was awarded a $3,500 grant from the Nat'l Trust for Historic Preservations's Hawaii Preservation Services Fund, to help create a brochure about the intended Kona Heritage Corridor (a 10 mile section of the Mamalahoa Hwy. that dates from the 1800's and was once used as a footpath by Hawaiians).

We are proud to announce that Big Island resident and wildlife photographer Jack Jeffrey received the Sierra Club's Ansel Adams Award on September 21st. Jeffrey's specialty is photographing Hawaii's rare forest birds.

On Sept. 29th, Kai Opua Canoe Club's First Open crew, coached by Beanie Heen, "continued its domination of women's long-distance outrigger canoe paddling", winning its third consecutive Na Wahine O Ke Kai title, in the 41 mile race that crosses the Kaiwi Channel from Molokai to Oahu.
Kai Opua's Senior Masters crew, coached by Cap Allen, defended its Senior Masters title as well, finishing 21st overall (54 boats finished the race). Congratulations to all of you!

FYI - Aloha United Way has announced a new phone number for "help" state-wide. You can call "211" to give or receive help for a wide variety of personal, family or community problems (ie. health or human services info. or assistance). It's a free service staffed by 17 counselors who are ready to answer questions or give referrals.

And lastly, here's an easy recipe for an unusual barbecue sauce, in honor of the upcoming annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

*Kona Coffee Smoked Barbecue Sauce

1 cup strong brewed Kona Coffee
1 cup ketchup
6 oz. wine vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup yellow mustard
5 tsp. dry mustard
red pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer until well combined. Pour over chicken, ribs or fish and marinate overnight. Brush meat with extra sauce while barbecuing.

*from the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Cookbook. Recipe created by Casey Nonaka, 1st Place Condiments Winner.

Well, that's all for now.
There will be another newsletter for you in the middle of whale season - January or February!
Take care,