Upcountry Ag & Farm Fair

The 32nd Upcountry 4-H Ag & Farm Fair, a weekend of music, ‘ono food, games, exhibits, a rodeo–and the makings of great memories–will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Oskie Rice Field & Arena on Olinda Road above Makawao. This year, the fair will honor Maui’s paniolo with a “Keeping the Spirit Alive” theme.

In partnership with Upcountry Fair, the Maui 4-H Livestock Association, a nonprofit organization specializing in youth and agriculture, will present its 2012 4-H Livestock Show & Auction beginning at 8 a.m., on Saturday, when 4-H members will show their goats, lambs, market hogs and beef steers. The auction begins at 1 p.m.

4-H projects and activities help youth develop life skills through livestock projects in which they take on the responsibilities of feeding, managing and exhibiting their animals. Students acquire knowledge and skills in selection, production, processing and marketing, which will help them establish future careers.

4-H members’ efforts culminate in the Maui 4-H Livestock Show, which provides opportunities for them to gain experience in showmanship and judging of an animal while practicing leadership and program planning skills.

Cooperative support from the business community and public agencies make these events possible. By purchasing an animal, your business can help a 4-H member meet the objectives of his or her livestock project and encourage him or her to become a responsible, productive individual.

The annual Upcountry Fair Ranch Play Day features the ‘Ohana Ranch Rodeo, which spotlights the ranching community’s paniolo heritage with two action-packed days of challenging events and competition that combine ranch skills, horsemanship and family games

Plans for Waikamoi flume unveiled

MAKAWAO – The leaking, redwood Waikamoi flume would be replaced with an aluminum channel supported by an aluminum truss along its entire 1.1-mile length, retaining precious surface water for drought-plagued Upcountry residents and providing a safe working platform for employees of the Department of Water Supply.

The flume channels water from the Haipuaena Stream to the vicinity of Waikamoi Stream and eventually into the water department’s upper Kula system, which supplies water to residents of Kula, Waiakoa, Keokea, Ulupalakua and Kanaio.

The $10 million to $15 million flume replacement project, which is pending necessary approvals, is expected to begin in the last quarter of this year and take about two years go complete, according to plans submitted to the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

The office published the department’s draft environmental assessment and anticipated finding of no significant impact last week in its current issue of The Environmental Notice. It is available online at oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%Documents/Environmental_Notice/current_issue.pdf.

Public comments are due June 22.

Maui County Council Member Joe Pontanilla, chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, said Saturday that more than $10 million has been appropriated for the flume replacement project in the current county budget.

Located in the Koolau Forest Reserve, the flume was originally built in the 1930s out of redwood timbers and rock and concrete masonry foundations, according to the draft environmental assessment. In 1974 and 1975, the flume box was replaced with redwood planking, although portions of the timber bridges that were built in the 1930s were kept in place.

Farmers urge more review of tax system

WAILUKU – Maui County Council members heard from farmers this week asking them to take more time before making changes to the county’s agricultural property tax laws.

The council Budget and Finance Committee met Tuesday to discuss a proposal that would carve out the land under a home on agricultural property and require it to be taxed in the same way as any other residential lot. Council members supporting the measure said it would make the property tax system more fair and equal for all residents.

But many farmers said they were concerned about any changes that would likely increase what they pay in property taxes.

“We have a tax equity issue,” said Darren Strand, president of the Maui County Farm Bureau and Haliimaile Pineapple Co. “As a business operator, that’s not my issue. My issue is, any increase in taxes is going to hurt my bottom line.”

He echoed others in calling for more review.

“There just hasn’t been enough time for us to process (this) and really get the information out,” he said.

Council members agreed, deciding to defer discussion of the issue and schedule nighttime meetings in the community before taking action.

“There’s a lot of concern out there, and I’d like to take a little extra time to have people get their questions answered,” said Council Member Mike White, who introduced the legislation and has spearheaded discussion of disparities in the agricultural property tax system.

Under White’s proposal, the county would tax the “house lot” on agricultural property based on its fair market value, as if it were a stand-alone lot.

That would be a significant change from the current system, in which the county estimates the value of the house lot only as a percentage of what the entire property is worth.

The change would likely increase property taxes on a number of agricultural house lots, which under the current system often pay less in taxes than lots of the same size in residential areas.

“It gets back to a fairness issue,” White said.

Faye Blackstone, rodeo trick rider, dies at 96

Faye Blackstone, a rodeo trick rider who was elected to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and was best known for her saddle-dangling signature move, the reverse fender drag, and who helped launch the career of country singer Reba McEntire, died Aug. 30 at a hospital in Bradenton, Fla.

She was 96 and had complications from cancer, said her great-niece Deanna Blackstone.

Mrs. Blackstone was 3 when she began riding horses on her family’s Nebraska ranch. She taught herself how to do tricks while riding her horse to school.

She and her late husband, Vic, a bow-legged bronc rider from Texas, married in 1937 on horseback in the center of a rodeo arena in Bladen, Neb. They performed on the rodeo circuit during the 1940s and ’50s. During that time, she also rode in a traveling show with Gene Autry and entertained crowds in New York’s Madison Square Garden and as far as Havana with her gymnastic feats.

Mrs. Blackstone could do headstands while her quarter horse galloped at full stride. She could drop down from the saddle, let her boots kick the arena dust and spin to the horse’s other side.

Diana Vela, the associate executive director of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, said that Mrs. Blackstone is credited with inventing three maneuvers: