• 04 Nov 2014 /  Uncategorized

    The Hawaii Office of Elections has a handy page where you can find exactly where to your local precinct’s polling place is based on your address, and also view a sample ballot before you go to the polls.  Ironically, it isn’t that easy to spot from their home page, so here is the URL.

  • After Hawaii’s dismal primary turnout, which actually settled many elections–only two of Hawaii County’s  council seats remain to be determined, and many state-level candidates in this overwhelmingly Democratic state  faced serious opposition only in the primaries–today is your last chance to influence who represents you for the next two years or four years. All polling places are open, even in the lava zone.  Since the lava still hasn’t crossed the Highway but election officials weren’t sure that it wouldn’t, those registered to vote at Pahoa Community Center will be allowed to vote either there or at Hawaii Paradise Parks.

    The two remaining County Council seats that will be determined today are District 9. where incumbent Margaret Wille  faces Ronald S. Gonzales, and District 5, where our own Tiffany Edwards Hunt is squaring off against Daniel K. Paleka, Jr.  All other races were determined in the primary because Council races in this county are non-partisan, and any candidate in a council race who wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary is considered to be elected outright.  Only Districts 5 and 9 were those conditions not met–most of the incumbents won with landslides, and two ran unopposed. In the District 9 race, Wille has faced a media blitz from agribusiness interests who oppose the law that she authored, limiting the planting of genetically modified crops here, making that race the most expensive in County Council history on this island.  We’ve abstained from reporting on the race between Ms. Hunt, who owns the Chronicle, and Mr. Paleka, who is running with heavy union backing, because of our inherent conflict of interest.  But it’s obvious where our sympathies lie.

    The other big race on the ballot is for Governor, where David Ige, who upset incumbent Neil Abercrombie in the primary. is in a three-way race with with Republican Duke Aiona and Indepent Mufi Hannemann.  Frankly, I’m not that impressed with any of them.  Ige’s campaign literature emphasizes his background as an electrical engineer; it’s pretty obvious where his sympathies are going to lie on development issues.  But Hannemann has even more aggressively pro-construction record, and I was not at all impressed with him when I was reporting as his machinations as a plantation boss in Kau, when he bussed in plantation workers to pack hearings on a resort that later failed. Aiona is what passes for a moderate Republican circles these days, but his stances on social issues are anything but progressive.  So Ige will be getting my vote by default.

    We’ll cover the elections here  this evening as the returns come in.  It’s going to be a late night.

     

     

     

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  • 04 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    The flow front remains stalled, but the flow continues to fatten up behind the front. Civil Defense reports ” Additional breakouts upslope of the flow front”  but says “those breakouts currently do not present with an immediate threat to area residents.  The upslope breakouts are located approximately .7 to 1.5 miles above the Apa’a Street area and along the north side of the flow and moving in a north/northeast direction.”

    Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has not filed a report yet this morning.  Last night, it noted,  “the most significant activity was a small finger of lava advancing downslope along the north edge of the private property that the flow entered last week.” As of  five o’clock last night, that flow  was about175 yards behind the stalled front and  was advancing at a rate of  about 11 yards per hour since Monday morning. ”

     

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  • 03 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    While the leading edge of the flow in Pahoa remains stalled, a finger of lava is moving along the Kea’au-side edge of the flow; as of about 5 p.m. today, it was about 175 yeards above the stalled leading edge and had been moving at  about 11 yards per hour since this morning.  Pictures that appeared on the net this afternoon showed lava invading one corner of  a shade house for plants on private  property that the flow invaded last week.

    Hawaiian Volcano Observatory also  reported  “minor expansion of the flow field has occurred in the pasture below the P?hoa cemetery,”  and “very little activity” in the lobe that  reached the boundaries of the old  transfer station yesterday. HVO’s latest map shows the pocket containing part of the Pahoa Japanese Cemetery continuing to fill in, with only a narrow band of the cemetery on the Kalapana side remaining uncovered by lava.

    Slight inflation continued at the summit throughout the day.

    Hawaii Volcano Observatory’s Nov. 3 map. “The area of the flow on November 1, 2014, at 11:00 AM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on November 3 at 11:30 AM is shown in red.”

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  • Press release from Kohala Center:

    KAMUELA, Hawai‘i—November 3, 2014—A program aimed at beginning farmers and ranchers on Hawai‘i Island is seeking applicants for an upcoming classroom and on-farm mentorship initiative beginning in November.

    The Kohala Center’s Beginning Farmer-Rancher Mentorship Program is accepting applications from prospective students for its first cohort. The re-vamped program consists of ten full-day classroom and hands-on sessions held one Saturday per month in Honoka‘a, and 160 hours of on-farm mentorship with a successful farmer or rancher. More information and application materials are available online at http://kohalacenter.org/farmertraining/mentorship or by calling The Kohala Center at (808) 887-6411. The deadline to apply is Friday, November 14.

    Although no previous farming or ranching experience is required, program applicants must meet the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) definition of a socially disadvantaged group or a socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher or be a United States military veteran in order to apply. Prospective applicants who have questions about their eligibility are encouraged to contact The Kohala Center. The course covers a wide range of critical subject areas such as soil management, irrigation, composting, cover cropping, and pest management, as well as the “business” side of farming—marketing, accounting, budgeting, and record-keeping. Students who successfully complete the course and create viable farm and business plans will be eligible for additional support services from The Kohala Center, including access to leasable farmland, technical assistance in agricultural businesses development, and guidance through additional support programs administered by the USDA.

    The Beginning Farmer-Rancher Mentorship Program represents a unique partnership between The Kohala Center, local government agencies, academic institutions, and leading agricultural professionals. The program is funded primarily by an initiative of the United States Department of Agriculture that supports outreach and assistance for farmers and ranchers who are socially disadvantaged and/or U.S. veterans.

    The USDA estimates that 50 percent of farmers in the United States will retire in the next decade. Since 2012, the agency has awarded $37.2 million in grants to farmer training programs across the country in an effort to enlist and support new farmers and ranchers. “The average age of our farmers is increasing, while the number of farms locally and nationally is declining,” said Nicole Milne, associate vice president for programs at The Kohala Center. “Meanwhile, Hawai‘i imports nearly 90 percent of its food. This program seeks to train new farmers and ranchers—particularly those who may have societal or economic barriers to entering agricultural careers—and move Hawai‘i toward greater food self-reliance and security. By increasing the volume of food grown and produced locally, we can decrease our dependence on imports, create jobs, and diversify Hawai‘i’s rural economy.”

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  • 03 Nov 2014 /  letters
    Dear Editor,
    Now that the lava is crossing Pahoa, and we are under martial law, we desperately need county council/ mayor’s office on the SouthEast side of the flow.  Where will the new County offices be if and when the conditions force moving from the current location?  I would like it known that we residents of the cut off section of lower Puna are very aware of our inalienable rights as human beings and do not take lightly to this test “occupation” at all.  It would be prudent to focus all this military might in the vacant neighborhoods where the looting/squatting/pillaging and the attendant crack/meth houses are operating in their norma full openness instead of the usual financial extortion of us poor citizens by the continuing seatbelt/registration/safety checkpoints, wasting our valuable police resources, and ticketing of persons trying to see the lava.   
     
    At this time I would like you to urge the police and national guard on duty to continue act friendly towards the local residents and realize that laws aimed at keeping people safe from a lava flow moving a few feet an hour,  instead of allowing walk up access on paved county road leading directly to the flow, will only lead people who have come from all over the world, and local residents alike, to risk their lives and the lives of potential rescuers, all for some weird homeland security power trip over Pele and Puna that’s happening now. 

    Sincerely,

    Sara Steiner
    Pahoa

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  • 03 Nov 2014 /  Uncategorized

    As of this morning, the leading edge of the flow was still stalled about 480 feet above Old Government Road in Pahoa, where it has been since Thursday. Hawaian Volcano Observatory personnel have observed breakouts of lavabehind the stalled flow front and along the side margins of the flow, and interior areas of the flows continue to inflate. A lava flow lobe north of Kaohe Homesteads contiuned to be active, but doesn’t pose any immediate risk to dwellings.

  • 02 Nov 2014 /  Lava Reports, news

    The Office of Hawaiian Affairs have announced programs to provide some financial help to Puna residents affected by the lava flow.

    The OHA program would provide one-time $500 grants to households within  mandatory evacuation zones if a household member is either Native Hawaiian or the parent or guardian of a Native Hawaiian. Those wishing to apply must submit proof of Native Hawaiian blood (a birth certificate AND government issued photo ID) or an OHA Hawaiian Registry Card. They most also prove registry by submitting a utility bill, mortgage statement, rental agreement, rental agreement, rental receipt with an address, a letter from a landlord, a bank statement, a car registration, a 2013 tax return or proof of voter registration. They also need to turn in a completed application form (available HERE) and a completed  OHA W-9 form, a “Request for Identification Number and Certification.” For more information, go to an OHA office (the nearest is in  Hilo at 162-A Baker Avenue) or call (808) 920-6418.

    KHON Channel 2 has reported that Bank of Hawaii is offering financial programs  to supply special loans or relief on existing loans for those affected by the lava. The programs would  supply low interest loans, loans with payments deferred for the first three months, “fast approval and quick funding,” and loans with “reduced payments for the first sixty months.” The loans would be up to $25,000.

    Oddly enough, the Chronicle didn’t find a press release about this program at Bank of Hawaii’s own press page.  But the programs appear very similar to those  that Bankoh offered to victims of Tropical Storm Iselle last August.

     

     

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  • 02 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, History, Lava Reports, news

     

    As of Sunday morning, the leading edge of the  lava flow remained stalled approximately 170 yards above Pahoa Village Road (Old Government Road). Activity behind the lava flow’s leading edge continued, with localized breakouts of molten lava within the flow’s interior and along its side margins.   As of approximately 5 p.m. on  Saturday, November 1, observers spotted  lobes advancing  along the flow margins at roughly 5.5 yards, per hour  that “could plausibly merge with the stalled flow front,” according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Hawaii Civil Defense reported that  “Smoke conditions are light to moderate with light trade winds from the northeast pushing the smoke in a south southwest direction.”   Residents with respiratory problems are still advised to “take necessary precautions and to remain indoors. ”

     

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  • 01 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    The leading edge of the lava flow is still stalled, but advancing breakouts on both side are broadening the swath of destruction. As of 5:15 p.m., one lobe of lava on the Kea’au-side flank of the flow was within about 219 yards of catching up with the stalled flow front, and one on the Kalapana side was within 55 yards of the flow front.  The Kea’au-side lobe was moving at abut four yards per hour; the Kalapana-side lobe,  about 6 yards per hour.  Hawaiian Volcano Obervatory noted that the Kalapana-side lobe was ” being confined by artificial barriers, which may be influencing its advance rate. ”

    Another  breakout,  descending through pasture below the cemetery was described as “weak to moderate, with a minor amount of expansion of the flow margin.” That flow had not  “advanced significantly, and  remained about 109 yards from a house next to the pasture, according to HVO.

    HVO reported that  final lobe of lava was stalled at its margin of the old transfer station.

    Civil Defense has not issued any reports since about 8 a.m.

    http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/maps/uploads/image-181.jpg

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  • by Alan McNarie

    Puna is becoming two towns. County Officials are already referring to the “North Puna Fire Station,” for instance, for the new station on the Kea’au side of where Pele is expected to drive her lava wedge through the village, and plans are underway for separate police and fire stations on the Kalapana side of the flow.   If the Pele Partition comes down where it’s expected to,  then she could not have split the town in two much more neatly: on one side, the shopping centers clustered around the bypass; on the other, the old downtown and its funky little private businesses and family restaurants, the labors of love and the personal dreams. But that division started long before Pele made her appearance. It began when the bypass was put around the town, really for no good reason except to create some prime real estate property. You could call the two towns “North Pahoa” and “South Pahoa,” but I think better names would be “New Pahoa” and “Old Pahoa.”

    I arrived in Pahoa–Old Pahoa–yesterday morning for the first time since the lava crisis started.  I’d been working frantically from my home in Volcano, trying to get people the best possible information based on press releases and phone interviews, but that is just not the same as being there.  It was time to see for myself.

    What surprised me, actually, was how normal the town seemed on the surface, despite the police barricades and the incessant drone of helicopters.  Some children were already out in Halloween costumes, taking advantage of the lava-related school closings to do some early trick-or-treating. Most of the businesses remained open.  Some had posted defiant signs, stating their determination to stay and their love of the town:  Dr. R. J. Lozano, for instance, has posted a red heart-shaped sign outside of Pahoa Chiropractic with the message “WE ARE STAYING.”  Next door, Jeff Hunt Surfboards, where I was  headquartering for the day, supplemented its sale signs with a little hand-written sign that said, “We Love Pahoa.”   All of the restaurants except Sukothai and Ning’s were open, and a sign on Ning’s announced they would reopen on Nov. 1.  Employees at many other businesses, including First Hawaiian, told me they’d keep their doors open “As long as we can.” As they said it, they were usually smiling, but with sad eyes.

    The ones who who  appear least committed to the community seem mostly to be involved  with loans or pawn. Pahoa Buy and Sell has a notice on its door that reads: “Due t the lava flow, hours may change or be closed due to the emergency.”  Pay Day Loans has already bailed out: A sign on their former door says, “Due to the lava flow, our office will be closed until further notice,” and refers customers to their office on Pauahi St. in Hilo, where customers’ personal files have already been moved.

    Those who remain face some real challenges, even if the flow doesn’t swallow downtown.  Catarina Zaragoza of the Locavore Store, which sells only locally grown food,  noted that when Pele finally came down, many of her store’s suppliers would be on the other side of the lava divide, and the the store would face uncertainties about everything from power  to electronic banking: “Logistically, it becomes very hairy,” she summarized.  So yesterday was the last day for Locavore’s  brick-and-mortar (well, wood and tin)  store in Pahoa.  They’re looking for a new retail space in Kea’au or Hilo.  But they’re not abandoning their customers and suppliers on the other side of the Pele Divide.

    “We’re going mobile,” says Zaragoza.  The  business will  make deliveries on the Old Pahoa side and pick up produce from their suppliers there.  “We do have a plan,” she emphasizes.  “We’ve not forgotten. We’re not bailing.”

    Some have  even seen the lava crisis as a business opportunity.  Pahoa Video has just opened in a new, more spacious location in the building that formerly housed the Emporium.  And the used book store has reopened under a new owner: Roy Lozano’s son Arjuna.  The former owners are keeping their Hilo store on Waianuenue Street,  and moved some of their stock there, but you couldn’t  tell from the shelves of the Pahoa store: they’re as crammed with books and DVDs as ever. Napa Auto Parts remains undeterred in its plans to open its new Pahoa Store, too: front end loaders were busily stacking big boxes of inventory in front of the store yesterday.

    And the town has lost none of its trademark quirkiness.  At the 3 p.m. Civil Defense press briefing, one resident showed up carrying his pet chicken; another appeared in a white ski-mask  with a Guy Fawkes mustache drawn on it. The latter might have caused a police overreaction in other places, but county and state officials handled it without losing their cool; a National Guard officer  moved over to where the man sat, asked a couple of smiling questions, and wished him a happy Halloween.

    At the briefing, officials fielded questions not only about the current status of the lava, but about the  future of services for the estimated 8,200 to 9,000 residents expected to be left on the Old Pahoa side of the flow. Civil Defense Chief Darryl Oliveira said three helicopters would be available for medical evacuations, and  starting on November 1st a third fire company would be stationed at  “North Pahoa Fire Station; if and when lava crossed the road, a 7-man fire company would be stationed on the Old Pahoa side.  Oliveira didn’t have exact figures for police presence on the far side of the flow, but he expected police to be putting a “full force’ there–a statement that didn’t offer much comfort to some residents, who have complained for years that the entire Puna district was under-served.  Social media in recent days have carried several reports of looters, suspected looters,  people arming themselves to loot, and people arming themselves to deter looters.  I sent HPD spokesperson Chris Loos an e-mail, noting those reports and asking if the police had any plans for bolstering their presence in Lower Puna.  Her response: “Those FB looting stories don’t seem to be true.  Police report that burglaries in the area are down from last year at this time.”

    Time will tell what happens as the lava advances and more houses are left empty. Meanwhile, Punatics seem to be exercising their usual mix of individualism, self-reliance and aloha. There could be a lot worse traits to have in a situation like this.

     

     

     

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  • 01 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    According to  Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, as of the leading edge of the flow had not advanced, but scattered breakouts had been observed in “numerous areas behind the stalled flow front.” The lobe extending  from downslope of the Pahoa cemetery and had “reached private property on Friday afternoon continued to advance by about 5 meters (6 yards) per hour overnight,” according to HVO . “Additional breakouts in the pasture along the flow’s southeast (Kalapana) side have been particularly active overnight,” moving downslope at about 11 yards per hour during early morning hours this morning.  Breakouts  the north edge of Kaohe Homesteads have extended by an 380 yards.  But County Civil  Defense maintained, in its 8 a.m report, that none of the breakouts presented “an immediate threat to area residents.”

    According to HVO, the summit deflation of yesterday began reversing itself, late yesterday afternoon and, but the levels of the lava lake in Halemaumau remain substantially below what they were before the deflation episode began.

     

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  • 31 Oct 2014 /  Uncategorized

    The lava flow front is still stalled, though a number of breakouts are active upslope, including one about 40 yards fro a residential structure on the south side of the flow and another is about 25 yards from the fence of the transfer station on the north side. The couple residing in the residence has moved out.

    At the summit, the lava lake continues to recede. According to Jeff Sutton of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, summit deflation can correlate with reduced activity at the end of the flow within a couple of days.

    Despite efforts to protect power poles on Apa`a Street, lava still burned through the base of one pole.  HELCO crews managed to cut the pole loose from the line,  and the line remains suspended above the flow. Extra protection is being added to threatened  neighboring poles.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • 31 Oct 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

     

    The leading edge of the flow remains stalled about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road (Old Government Road, but the flow is fattening up upslope, threatening structures there.  According to Hawaii Volcano Observatory, “The lobe downslope from Volcano Observatory was active overnight in a forested area, burning trees and causing “numerous” methane explosions. A new, small breakout on the Pahoa side of the flow above Apa`a Street burned a cattle shed that held salt blocks. A lobe on the north side on the Kea’au side of the flow advanced overnight to within 44 yards of the old Transfer Station  and the street, but was advancing at the rate of only a little over a couple of yards an hour.


    From Hawaii Volcano Observatory: the flow as of yesterday.  The active lobe near the old Transfer Station, lower left, has advanced since this map was made.

     

  • 30 Oct 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    According to Hawaii Volcano Observatory,  as of five p.m., the current leading edge of the flow remained stalled about 170 yards above Pahoa Village Road (Old Government Road).  But the leading edge was still “inflated” with some small breakouts just behind it, so “it is possible that the flow may advance again without warning.” Meanwhile a lava hand pushed its way out of the Kea’au-side edge of the flow about 110 yards downslope from the already-inundated  Pahoa Cemetery, and was coming down alongside the existing flow.  HVO called that breakout the “major locus” of the flow at present. Another breakout near the old Pahoa Transfer Station was also still active, advancing at a rate of 8-9 yards per hour.  It was about 110 yards above Apa`a Street as of 5 p.m.

    The lava pool at the summit was deflating  today, with a drop of several yards in the lava lake at Halemaumau. Such deflation,  HVO noted, was “often linked with a decrease in the eruption of lave from Pu`u O`o”–the eruption that’s feeding the lava flow near Pahoa–which could lead to less activity at the flow front “in coming days.”‘

    County Civil Defense has issued no new bulletins about the flow since 2:45 this afternoon.

     

     

     

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  • According to a mid-afternoon report from Civil Defense, the flow “continues to remain active  however has not advanced since 6:30 this morning, the front area has shown signs of widening with breakouts along the flanks or margins. Currently the flow front is approximately 60 yards wide. The flow front is currently 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road. A new breakout located upslope from the flow front on the north side is active and advancing in a northeast direction and will be monitored closely.”

    There have been no updates from Hawaii Volcano Observatory since early this morning.

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