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About Town 1-29-14

January 28, 2014 - 5:12pm

County offers home repair loans

The Office of Housing and Community Development is accepting applications to its Residential Emergency Repair Program. The 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 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 percent 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 percent 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 online at hawaiicounty.gov/office-of-housing.

253 whales spotted during annual count

More than 800 volunteers gathered data from the shores of Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii Island during Saturday’s annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. The count is a yearly shore-based census that provides snapshot data on humpback whales. Participants tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey.

Volunteers collected data from 60 sites statewide. A total of 253 whales were seen during the 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. time period. Weather conditions were favorable for spotting whales in some areas, however, many sites were affected by gusty winds.

Preliminary data detailing whale sightings by site location is available at sanctuaryoceancount.org/resources.

Additional counts are scheduled to take place Feb. 22 and March 29. For more information on becoming a Sanctuary Ocean Count volunteer, visit hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov or sanctuaryoceancount.org or call 268-3087.

VFW announces two events this weekend

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12122 is hosting a Mexican enchilada casserole dinner with rice, beans, salad and dessert from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the VFW Post center on Makala Boulevard in Kailua-Kona. Johnny Shott Band will perform. The cost is $15.

A community swap meet will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the post.

For more information, call Bev Skarnes at 818-599-3297.

National park lists February programs

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park programs with the community and visitors in February. All programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Programs are co-sponsored by the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association, and a $2 donation helps support park programs.

• “What We Don’t Know About Hawaiian Volcanoes,” from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Kilauea Visitor Center auditorium, features U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist Mike Poland discussing the big issues faced by volcanologists studying Hawaii’s volcanoes today, from the source of magma deep within the Earth to predicting eruptions — or determining when an ongoing eruption will end.

• “Up in Arms! The Struggle to Preserve the Legacy of the National Park Service During Wartime” is from 7 to 8 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Kilauea Visitor Center auditorium. Park archeologist Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura shares a revealing presentation of the challenges faced by the National Park Service before, during and after World War II at Kilauea, in what was then called Hawaii National Park.

• Sam and Edna Buldado share the cultural uses of the kalo (taro) plant from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 13 at the Kilauea Visitor Center lanai.

• Russell Mauga presents an evening of contemporary Hawaiian music from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Kilauea Visitor Center auditorium.

• Master lei maker Kilohana Domingo demonstrates the intricate art of lei hulu, or feather lei making from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 26 on the Kilauea Visitor Center lanai.

Gabbard listens to farmers’ concerns

Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. representative for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, met with a group of Kona Coffee farmers Thursday at Cuppa Kona Farm in Holualoa. Gabbard had requested a meeting with her farmer constituents to discuss the coffee berry borer emergency, as well as other issues faced by Kona coffee farmers.

The coffee berry borer is a small and destructive beetle discovered on Hawaii Island in 2010 that is causing damage to coffee to a degree that raises concerns about the continuing economic viability of coffee as a commercial crop in Hawaii County. The Kona farmers expressed thanks to Gabbard for her work in helping secure initial emergency funding for research and pest mitigation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo. Gabbard was encouraged to continue efforts to bring further funding to the scientists at the center to continue the battle against the pest.

Other issues raised by the coffee farmers were their more than 20-year effort to reform Hawaii’s 10 percent coffee blend law and the increasing presence of black twig borer on the west side of Hawaii Island. The black twig borer is another pest that is posing challenges to Kona coffee farmers by reducing harvest levels.

County parks to close for maintenance

The Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation has announced its 2014 general maintenance schedule for Kahaluu Beach and Spencer parks. 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 North Kona, Kahaluu Beach Park will be closed from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Feb. 4, March 4, April 1, May 6, June 3, July 1, Aug. 5, Sept. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 4 and Dec. 2.

Located in South Kohala, Spencer Park at Ohaiula Beach will be closed all day on the following dates: Feb. 12 and 13, March 12 and 13, April 15 and 16, May 13 through 15, Sept. 9 through 11, Oct. 15 and 16, Nov. 12 and 13 and Dec. 10 and 11.

For more information, contact Jason Armstrong, public information officer, at 345-9105 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Water Commission nominees sought

The nominating committee for the state Commission on Water Resource Management is accepting applications for one position on the commission, starting July 1. The nominating committee will review the applications and send the names of not less than three qualified individuals to the governor, who will nominate one person for the vacant position. Appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

The Water Commission is composed of seven members. The commission has jurisdiction and final authority on matters relating to the State Water Code. The governor appoints five members. The chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the director of the Department of Health are voting ex-official members.

State law requires that each member have “substantial experience in the area of water resource management.” Commission members serve without pay except for reimbursement for expenses. Each serves a four-year term.

Applications and resumes may be sent to Nominating Committee, Commission on Water Resource Management, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 227, Honolulu, HI 96813. Applications should be postmarked no later than Feb. 7.

To apply online, visit boards.hawaii.gov/apply.apply-for-a-board. More information can also be found on the commission’s website at state.hi.us/dlnr/cwrm/aboutus_commission.htm.