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Schatz, Senate Democrats Urge President Obama To Take Robust & Aggressive Actions to Address the Spread of Zika Virus – Comments on Dengue Fever Outbreak

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) joined 45 Senate Democrats today and released a new letter to President Obama urging a coordinated interagency response plan to address the spread of the Zika virus both at home and abroad.

Mosquito Bite

“As the dengue outbreak continues to impact communities on Hawai‘i Island, we need more aggressive action to contain it and to stop the threat of Zika, another mosquito-borne virus that is devastating dozens of countries around the world,” said Senator Schatz. “By increasing funding for critical government research and response programs, we can make real progress toward mitigating the impact of the Zika virus abroad and preventing its spread to Hawai‘i and the United States.”

The letter calls for the President to take a number of new actions, including taking the Zika virus into consideration as the Administration coordinates, and allocates resources in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY16, and moves forward with the President’s upcoming FY17 budget request, or subsequent amendments. Additionally, Senate Democrats are urging President Obama to:

  • Develop a coordinated interagency response plan to address the Zika virus both at home and abroad;
  • Direct USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify key gaps in the international and country-level response in order to best inform our response plan and disseminate, where appropriate, at border crossings and airports;
  • Ensure that federal agencies work with state and local partners to develop a cohesive national strategy for the monitoring, identification, and reporting of domestic Zika infections;
  • Direct HHS and the Department of Homeland Security to develop educational materials to inform travelers regarding the risk of Zika virus exposure;
  • Ramp up research efforts, including at the National Institutes of Health, to better understand the link between the Zika virus, microcephaly, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and other public health impacts and accelerate rapid diagnostic and vaccine development; and
  • Encourage federal agencies to coordinate, collaborate, or share information with their international counterparts.

The Zika Virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti species of mosquitoes, which are also found in the United States. For most, the symptoms of Zika are mild, but when pregnant women become infected, the effects can be devastating. Zika has been linked to microcephaly in developing fetuses, which can lead to below-average head size, developmental difficulties, and brain damage.

The full text of the Senate Democrats’ letter is below:

Dear President Obama:

The ongoing outbreak of the Zika virus requires an urgent and aggressive response from the United States. We are writing to urge you to develop a coordinated interagency response plan to address the spread of the Zika virus both at home and abroad, and protect pregnant women and children. We also recognize that much is still unknown about the Zika virus, and therefore urge you to consider the potential impact the Zika virus will have on the funding needs of the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) Program at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Services Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, and other key programs in Fiscal Year (FY)17. We believe that a well-coordinated interagency response plan, coupled with strong investments in our research and response programs, is critical to addressing the Zika virus.

The Zika virus is transmitted via bites from the same kind of mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. For most, the symptoms of Zika are mild, but when pregnant women become infected, there is early evidence its effects can be devastating. Zika has been linked to microcephaly in developing fetuses, which can lead to below-average head size, developmental difficulties, and brain damage. Scientists are also evaluating a possible link between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare condition that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. These potential impacts have spurred the World Health Organization to declare the rise in Zika-linked birth defects and neurological conditions a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

In the Americas, it is anticipated that the outbreak could infect up to 4 million people. Because Zika is carried by low-moisture dwelling mosquitos, local transmission is predicted to spread to all countries and territories where the Aedes aegypti is found, including the United States. There is a critical and urgent need for a robust and coordinated response at all levels of government, and it is necessary to enhance efforts to control outbreaks, counter the spread of the disease, and ultimately reduce the potential for outbreaks in the United States.

Investing in the effort to combat the Zika virus abroad is one of the most important things we can do to prevent widespread transmission of the virus at home. The USAID’s EPT Program helps developing countries prevent, detect, and control the outbreak of infectious diseases. The program has been able to successfully use the technical expertise of the CDC in African, Asian, and Latin American countries to combat infectious diseases like Zika. CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) further works to protect against the spread of diseases like the Zika virus both at home and abroad, while USDA’s Agricultural Research Services Mosquito and Fly Research Unit also plays a critical role in developing better means of mosquito detection, monitoring, and control.

We urge you to take the Zika virus into consideration as you coordinate and allocate resources in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY16 and move forward with your upcoming FY17 budget request or subsequent amendments.

At this time, it is also critically important that we take additional steps to respond to the ongoing outbreak and work to prevent additional cases of Zika from occurring in the United States. To meet this challenge we urge you to:

  • Develop a coordinated interagency response plan to address the Zika virus both at home and abroad;
  • Direct USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify key gaps in the international and country-level response in order to best inform our response plan and disseminate, where appropriate, at border crossings and airports;
  • Ensure that federal agencies work with state and local partners to develop a cohesive national strategy for the monitoring, identification, and reporting of domestic Zika infections;
  • Direct HHS and the Department of Homeland Security to develop educational materials to inform travelers regarding the risk of Zika virus exposure;
  • Ramp up research efforts, including at the National Institutes of Health, to better understand the link between the Zika virus, microcephaly, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and other public health impacts and accelerate rapid diagnostic and vaccine development; and
  • Encourage federal agencies to coordinate, collaborate, or share information with their international counterparts.

By taking action now, we can make significant progress toward mitigating the impact of the Zika virus abroad and reduce the potential for Zika virus outbreaks in the United States. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Free Chinese New Year Event at The Shops at Mauna Lani

The Shops at Mauna Lani invites the community to its third annual Fortune Festival on Friday, February 19, 5-8 p.m. To ring in the Year of the Monkey, the colorful Lion Dancers of Big Island Shaolin Arts will perform, and participants can “feed” the lions with  red lai envelopes for new year’s blessings.

Lion Dance

Other highlights include martial arts performances, fire blowing, I Ching fortune telling, relaxing Chinese acupressure, and a Chinese Dragon display where visitors can pose for photos. In addition, the shopping center will offer a good luck “Hang Sau Zung Grab Bag” and various Chinese New Year sales at participating locations.

A variety of foods will be available for purchase during the festival including Chinese chicken salad, Dragon Bowls and Chinese snacks to support Hālau Manaola, plus favorite local flavors from Miranda’s Malasadas, Kona Ice Truck, specialty hot dogs from Kona Dogs, and more.

The Fortune Festival at The Shops at Mauna Lani is free, and all are welcome. Additional event parking will be available with continuous shuttle service during the event. For more information, visit www.shopsatmaunalani.com, or call (808) 885-9501.

Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Hawaii State Senator Gilbert Kahele

As a mark of respect for the late Hawai’i State Senator Gilbert Kahele, Gov. David Ige has ordered the flags of the United States and State of Hawai‘i shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard, from sunrise to sunset on Monday, February 8, 2016.

Hawaii Flag Half Staff

“Senator Kahele was a dedicated public servant who spent the last few years working for the good of his beloved community at the Hawai‘i State Legislature. He was a respected and influential leader both in the legislature and in his hometown community of Hilo. On behalf of the people of Hawai‘i, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Kahele ‘ohana,” said Gov. Ige.

Sen. Kahele grew up in the fishing village of Miloli‘i on Hawai‘i Island and graduated from Hilo High School. He enlisted and served in the U.S. Marines and worked for the Hawai‘i Department of Defense for more than three decades.

Kahele was appointed to the Hawai‘i State Senate in 2011 by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie. He served as chairman of the Tourism and International Affairs Committee.

Kahele worked to strengthen Hilo’s economy and was instrumental in obtaining funding to build the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. He was also a staunch supporter of the School of Aviation at Hilo International Airport.

Previously, Kahele served as chairman of the Hawai‘i County Police Commission and vice chairman of the Democratic Party for East Hawai‘i.

Note: Flag orders are issued to coincide with the day of the memorial service.

Commentary – Shocked that Judge Acquitted TMT Protestors

TMT Hearing

TMT Hearing held at University of Hawaii Hilo

I’m utterly shocked that Judge Takase acquitted several Thirty Meter Telescope protesters of obstruction. These protesters were obviously breaking the law by purposely blocking a publicly accessible roadway. However, Judge Takase accepted the protesters defense of their actions. The protesters assert they were preventing the desecration of Mauna Kea by blocking access to the mountain.

It boggles my mind that she accepted the protesters defense of their actions. The TMT project has followed the law every step of the way. The project’s EIS was accepted in 2010, and it had a valid conservation district use permit until the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated it in December. The court took this action because the petitioners due process rights were violated.

In short, Judge Takase took it upon herself to determine the TMT project is a desecration to Mauna Kea. This is an utter travesty, as there is nothing officially that would support this position.

I suspect she was more afraid of being charged with a possible “war crime” instead of following the law.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Notice – Attorneys Interested in Providing Legal Services to DLNR as Hearing Officer in Thirty Meter Telescope CDUP PERMIT Contested Case

In anticipation of the need for the Board of Land and Natural Resources to hold a  contested case hearing on In Re Petitions Requesting a Contested Case Hearing Re Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) for the Thirty Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, Kaohe Mauka, Hamakua District, Island of Hawaiʻi, TMK (3) 4-4-015:009, the Department of Land and Natural Resources now seeks qualified applicants to provide professional legal services as a hearing officer in this potential case which is pending a remand to the Board by the Third Circuit Court of the State.

TMT laser

Qualifications

An applicant must possess the following basic qualifications:

  • Being an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Hawaiʻi and in good standing;
  • Being able to serve with strict impartiality and no conflicts of interest or appearance of conflict;
  • Being available to devote a substantial amount of time in the next six to twelve months; and
  • Willing to accept the prevailing charge rate relevant to the professional service as a hearing officer, as determined by the Department.

Other desirable qualifications include civil litigation experience, practice in administrative law and process, familiarity with government proceedings and procedures, and knowledge of the Hawaii Revised Statutes and Hawaii Administrative Rules administered by the Department.

Submittal Requirements

Qualified parties interested in being considered for selection are invited to submit a letter of interest with a curriculum vitae or resume to:

Department of Land and Natural Resources
Attn: Administrative Proceedings Office
1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 130
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Facsimile: (808) 587-0390
E-Mail: DLNR.CO.APO@HAWAII.GOV

Applicants from the same company or law firm must submit separate applications to the Department.  Applications may be submitted by mail, facsimile or electronic mail.  The Department will not be responsible for lost or misdirected mails.

All submittals must be received by the Department or postmarked by Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 4:30 p.m. to be considered.

One Arrested, 70 Cited, and Tons of Trash Airlifted Out of Napali Coast and Kalalau Beach

Combined law enforcement and clean-up operations at the world-renowned Kalalau Beach in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai over the past month, have resulted in dozens of citations, an arrest, and the airlifting of tons of accumulated rubbish from the area.

Na Pali Arrest

On Thursday, Jan. 4, 2016, Francis “Alekai” Kinimaka of Hanalei was arrested by DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources (DOCARE) officers after he landed a jet-ski on Kalalau Beach, a closed area, without a permit.  He was cited with a total of four petty misdemeanors.  The jet-ski he was operating was taken into evidence. “We want people to know that we have a zero tolerance attitude toward any type of unlawful activities along the Napali Coast,” said Francis “Bully” Mission, DOCARE Kauai Branch Chief.  Kinimaka’s passenger was also cited for not having a permit to be in the area.

During four separate enforcement visits in January and February, DOCARE officers issued nearly 70 citations to hikers and backpackers who did not have state-issued camping permits.  These permits allow a maximum of 60 people to camp in designated areas fronting Kalalau Beach for five days at a time. Suzanne Case, DLNR Chair said, “The Kalalau region is remote, and that’s precisely what makes it a world-class destination for backpackers.  This remoteness gives it its wilderness character.  My administration is committed to restoring the entire Napali Coast to the kind of condition all of Hawaii can be proud of. The Napali Coast is perhaps the most photographed area in all of Hawaii. It is heavily used and this is the reason we have laws that balance visitation with protection of natural and cultural resources along the coast and within the Napali’s stunning valleys.”

Maintenance crews from the DLNR Division of State Parks fly into Kalalau at least once a month to maintain overtaxed composting toilets, to perform trail maintenance and to fly out tons and tons of trash. DLNR State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell explained, “It is clear that most of the rubbish being flown out of Kalalau was not carried in on someone’s back.  Plastic lawn chairs, gallon glass bottles of alcohol, huge pop-up tents, full-sized air mattresses, and other non-backpacking materials have been found in unpermitted camps in some of the most prime designated camping spots along Kalalau Beach. All Hawaii state taxpayers are helping cover the costs of supporting these cleanups and it is not fair to them or to the many legal campers who get permits and practice a wilderness “pack-it-in, pack-it-out, ethos.”

During this week’s clean-up operation, a dozen unpermitted camps and abandoned property were removed.  These camps were posted with “notices to vacate” several weeks ago.  Items taken from the camps will be stored for 30 days and unless rightful owners reclaim their items, they will be discarded.

The largest camp dismantled this week is believed to be Kinimaka’s base camp. Campers report men coming through the designated campground early each day asking if anyone wants a ride out. One camper told DLNR that she accepted the offer and paid $125 for a jet-ski lift, because she was tired after the 11-mile one way hike into the valley.  The first two miles of the Kalalau trail are open to anyone to hike; beyond that requires a state permit.

DOCARE Chief Thomas Friel stated, “We are serious about shutting down the illegal commercial activity which is despoiling the landscape, impacting sensitive cultural sites, and often creating a very unpleasant experience for legal campers.  We’re putting the illegal operators on notice right now, that if you continue, you will be caught, cited, and could face criminal penalties.”

Kalalau Ops Media Clips 2-5-16 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Hawaii List of Applicants Applying for Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today posted the list of applicants for Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses. A total of 66 applications were received during the application period of Jan. 12, 2016, 8 a.m., Hawaii Standard Time (HST) to Jan. 29, 2016, 4:30 p.m. HST.

“The department has posted the names of applicants in accordance with Chapter 11-850, Hawaii Administrative Rules,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance. “All other information on dispensary applications is confidential as we move into the evaluation and selection process.”

Click to enlargee

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The medical marijuana dispensary law, Chapter 329D, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), allows DOH to award a total of eight licenses initially: three licenses for the City and County of Honolulu, two dispensary licenses each for the County of Hawaii and the County of Maui, and one dispensary license for the County of Kauai. Each dispensary licensee will be allowed to operate up to two production centers and two retail-dispensing locations.

DOH expects to select and announce licensees by April 15, 2016. A dispensary licensed pursuant to Chapter 329D, HRS, may begin dispensing medical marijuana not sooner than July 15, 2016, with the approval of the Department.

For more information about the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing Program, go to http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana/

Hawaii Kupuna Caucus Unveils 2016 Legislative Package

The Hawai‘i State Legislature’s Kūpuna Caucus today unveiled the package of bills that are being introduced in the 2016 Legislative Session.

Kapuna Caucus

The bills address a wide array of issues that impact our seniors’ health and safety, including funding for kūpuna care and aging and disability resource centers statewide. Measures to provide caregiver training and financing, as well as long term care services with a half percent General Excise Tax increase is also included as part of the package, along with bills aimed at supporting health care services for Hawai‘i’s aging population.

One such bill, SB2064 and its companion bill HB1881, appropriates funding to restore staff and long-term care services at Leahi and Maluhia hospitals within the Hawai‘i health systems corporation.  Both hospitals serve the highest number of individuals on Medicare and Medicaid, while reimbursements for care provided continue to decline. Both hospitals were forced to cut 64 staff positions and temporarily halt new admissions to remain operational due to an estimated $3.7 million deficit in fiscal year 2016.

“Our population is aging. Right now more than a third is 50 years old or older. We need to ensure there are enough facilities to assist our kūpuna so they can enjoy their golden years as best they can,” said Sen. Chun Oakland.

“Our seniors are the treasures of our community,” said Sen. Les Ihara, Jr. “Establishing the proper resources and services they need to live healthy, prosperous lives is what we intend to accomplish with these bills.”

“We need to increase the amount of services we provide to seniors because more and more seniors are living longer, living more healthfully, and living independently,” said Kūpuna Caucus co-convener, Rep. Gregg Takayama. “The resources we provide them as a state will enable them to continue to live independently for as long as possible.”

The Kūpuna Caucus, now in its 11th year, is comprised of a bi-partisan group of 18 House and Senate state legislators.  Members of the Kūpuna Caucus include a broad array of community organizations, government departments, and individuals concerned about the well-being of the elderly in our community.

Other bills included in the 2016 Kūpuna Caucus Package include:

  • SB2085/HB1878  RELATING TO AGING – Part I: Appropriates $5,100,000 for the Kūpuna Care program. Part II: Appropriates $1,710,000 for the aging and disability resource center. Part III: Appropriates $32,000 for fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly. Part IV: Appropriates $485,880 for the healthy aging partnership program. Part V: Appropriates $70,000 for an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia services coordinator position and appropriates $200,000 for an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia public awareness program.
  • SB2072 MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE KŪPUNA CARE PROGRAM – Makes an appropriation for the Kūpuna Care program to provide a safety net for all kūpuna and their caregivers.
  • SB2071  MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE AGING AND DISABILITY RESOURCE CENTER – Makes an appropriation for the aging and disability resource center.
  • SB2074  MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR FALL PREVENTION AND EARLY DETECTION SERVICES FOR THE ELDERLY – Makes an appropriation for fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly.
  • SB2073/HB1884  MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE OFFICE OF THE LONG-TERM CARE OMBUDSMAN – Appropriates $300,000 to the office of the long-term care ombudsman for three full-time (3.0 FTE) ombudsman specialist positions; one each on Kauai, Maui, and Hawai‘i.
  • SB2065  MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE HEALTHY AGING PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM – Makes an appropriation for the healthy aging partnership program of the Department of Health’s executive office on aging.
  • SB2066/HB1880  MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS – Makes an appropriation for grants to various senior centers, Lanakila Multi-Purpose Center, Kapahulu, Mo‘ili‘ili, and Waikiki Community Center.
  • SB2075  MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR AN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND RELATED DEMENTIA PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN – Makes an appropriation for an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia public awareness campaign.
  • SB2067/HB1876  RELATING TO HEALTH – Requires the Department of Health to require dementia training for caregivers. Requires the Department to establish training criteria and annual review the training program.
  • SB2070/HB1877  RELATING TO HUMAN SERVICES – Appropriates funds to the Department of Human Services to create one full-time program specialist position for Maui County within the adult protective and community services branch to oversee the foster grandparent program and senior companion programs on Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lana‘i.
  • SB2068/HB1882  RELATING TO COLLEGE SAVINGS PROGRAM TAX DEDUCTION – Provides an annual maximum deduction of $5,000 per individual or $10,000 for a married couple filing jointly for contributions made to the Hawai‘i college savings program.
  • SB2207/HB1883  RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII CENTER ON AGING – Appropriates funds for a permanent full-time associate professor and permanent full-time assistant specialist position within the University of Hawaii center on aging.

Big Island Chocolate Festival Salutes Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Centennial

With the theme, “Lavalicious – A Chocolate Salute to the 100th Birthday of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” the fifth annual Big Island Chocolate Festival is May 13-14 with events headquartered from the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Indulge in the alluring, rich taste of chocolate—in both its sweet and savory forms—while participating in a host of delicious, fun and informative chocolate-themed activities.

Chocolate fest 2013 a

The two-day chocolate extravaganza includes a cacao plantation tour at Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, a college culinary competition and several public foodie and agriculture-themed seminars. Activities culminate 5:30-9 p.m. Saturday, May 14 with the indoor-outdoor festival gala—enjoy a host of sweet and savory culinary stations presented by top isle chefs, chocolatiers and confectioners.

General admission tickets to the gala are $75 and VIP tickets are $100 and include early event access at 5 p.m., table seating and specialty wines.

This year’s event celebrates the 100th birthday of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and culinary booths will be judged on how they best depict the event theme that could include Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, Hawaiian culture and the park’s native plants and animals. Biology, geology and culture define the 333,086-acre national park, which was established August 1, 1916.

Chocolate Demo

Culinary stations will also be vying for awards in a variety of categories judged by a panel of celebrity chefs: “best” bonbon, savory, bean-to-bar, plated dessert and Hawaiian cacao. Attendees can get in on the friendly voting by casting a ballot for two People’s Choice Awards: Best Savory and Best Sweet.

Festivities will include fine wines and handcrafted ales, chocolate sculptures—including one of the largest volcanoes ever created using fine chocolate, chocolate body painting, live entertainment, dancing and a silent auction.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), event proceeds benefit the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn./University of Hawai‘i endowment fund for the culinary program at Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui and programs at Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.

Chocolate Festival Chefs

“We are happy to commemorate the centennial of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at the Big Island Chocolate Festival,” says KCA President Farsheed Bonakdar. “We look forward to the new booth decorating contest and how our theme will inspire participants.”

Find ticket info at www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com. Special room/ticket packages for two start at $396.20 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and can be conveniently booked through the Festival website under “Tickets.” Special room rates can be reserved directly at the hotel at www.HapunaBeachPrinceHotel.com/events or calling 1-888-977-4622 and mentioning “Big Island Chocolate Festival Group Rate.”

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on the Big Island of Hawaii Rises to 250

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total confirmed amount of cases rose by 1 more since the last update bringing the total amount of confirmed cases to 250.

Mosquito Bite

As of February 5, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 1 new case of dengue fever.  Currently,  as many as 3 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

Potentially infectious individuals
3 Illness onset 1/26/16 to 2/1/16
Cases no longer infectious
247 Illness onset 9/11/15 to 1/25/16
Past and present confirmed cases (Cumulative TOTAL)
250

Of the confirmed cases, 226 are Hawaii Island residents and 24 are visitors.
205 cases have been adults; 45 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 2/1/16.

As of today, a total of 1109 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

Hilo Municipal Golf Course to be Shortened, Remain Open During Renovation Project

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation announces it will shorten the Hilo Municipal Golf Course and open temporary greens so golfers may continue using portions of the links while it is undergoing major renovation.

Hilo Golf Course

Starting Monday, February 8, play will be limited to the front 9 holes and a temporary 9th green opened to accommodate construction work. When renovation of the back 9 holes is completed, they will be opened for play and the front 9 holes closed so renovation work may shift to that section of the course. Temporary greens will be opened at the 17th and 18th holes until new grass is established on the reconstructed greens. Also, temporary tee boxes will be opened at the 15th hole to allow for construction access.

These rotating partial closures are expected to continue through mid-May. During that period, tee times will be modified to allow golfers to play two rounds and create the equivalent of an 18-hole golfing experience.

Course renovation work will include the following upgrades:

  • Reconstructing the 9th, 17th and 18th greens
  • Constructing a new 14th green and using the existing green as a temporary green
  • Replacing all course waterlines
  • Installing new accessible drinking fountains throughout the course
  • Constructing new accessible shelters at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 13th and 18th tees
  • Constructing new accessible restrooms at the 4th and 12th tees
  • Performing structural and safety repairs to the course bridges
  • Tree removal

The Department of Parks and Recreation understands the inconvenience the ongoing construction work will cause, and sincerely appreciates patrons’ patience and understanding.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.

Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance Offers United Voice on Bishop Museums Announcement to Sell Its Waipi‘o Valley Lands

On January 8, 2016, Bishop Museum issued a public announcement they are moving forward with the sale of the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Capt. Cook and 537 acres of land in Waipi‘o Valley.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

While the news has taken most of Hawai‘i by surprise, it is not the case for the Waipi‘o Valley community. Over the past 20 years, the Museum has periodically considered selling it’s Valley holdings, and there have been several proposals by State legislators for the state to purchase the lands, the most recent in 2014.

Since 2013, the Waipi‘o community has undergone major changes, with three of the most committed groups becoming more organized and actively seeking ways to work together collaboratively on matters that impact the Valley and surrounding communities.

In late 2015 the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association, the Waipi‘o Community Circle and Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley formed the Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance as a mechanism to reach general consensus and provide a unified voice when communicating with government officials, Bishop Museum and the general community.

Founded in 1989, the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association (WTFA) is the oldest active organization in Waipi‘o Valley. The Association is made up of generational taro farming families who lease the majority of Bishop Museum ’s lands in the Valley. WTFA represents the surviving edge of the Native Hawaiian culture in Waipi‘o Valley and serves as Bishop Museum ’s primary land managers and local community advisors.

Formed in 2000, at the request of 13 community members, the Waipi‘o Community Circle (the Circle), serves as a general community forum. The Waipi‘o Valley Information & Education Officer Program was created by the Circle, as were the five large interpretive signs at the rock wall near the pavilion. A small group of Circle volunteers provided general oversight of the Information & Education Officer program from 2007 until 2014 when the program moved to the Department of Parks & Recreation. This group also represents the efforts of Auntie Ku’ulei Badua who was responsible for initiating “Friends of the Waipi‘o Community Park ” (the former Rice/Thomas property, at the Waipi’o lookout).

Founded in 2014 Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley (Ha Ola) is a membership organization of Valley residents, farmers, cultural educators and practitioners, and Waipi‘o tour operators. The organization is guided by elected Officers with support from the County of Hawaii , the State of Hawaii , Kamehameha Schools and Friends of the Future. Ha Ola was formed to provide representation for Valley stakeholders who were not recognized in the State’s 2013 proposed Senate Bill to purchase Bishop Museum’s lands in Waipi‘o. Among Ha Ola’s current projects are River Maintenance in collaboration with WTFA, stewardship of Kamehameha Schools Valley beach parcels, eradication of Little Fire Ants in the Valley and a 2016 Kalo Festival.

The Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance, combines the strengths of all available community and advisory resources and is committed to protecting current lessees and ensuring the community has a lead voice in proactively engaging Bishop Museum in discussions about the future stewardship of its’ Waipi‘o Valley lands.

For more information about the Alliance contact:

Alliance Community Liaison: Jim Cain, Cell: 333-0457 kinglaulau@hotmail.com

Alliance Culture & Education Liaison: Ka‘iulani Pahio, Cell: 960-5272 kaiulani@kalo.org

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on the Big Island of Hawaii Rises to 249

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total confirmed amount of cases rose by 1 more since the last update bringing the total amount of confirmed cases to 249:

Mosquito Bite

As of February 4, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 1 new case of dengue fever.  Currently,  as many as 3 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

Potentially infectious individuals
3 Illness onset 1/23/16 to 1/28/16
Cases no longer infectious
246 Illness onset 9/11/15 to 1/24/16
Past and present confirmed cases (Cumulative TOTAL)
249

Of the confirmed cases, 225 are Hawaii Island residents and 24 are visitors.
204 cases have been adults; 45 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 1/28/16.

As of today, a total of 1100 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

Honolulu Selected for “Local Foods, Local Places” Federal Initiative

On behalf of the White House Rural Council, six federal agencies joined to announce 27 communities selected to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative that helps communities increase economic opportunities for local farmers and related businesses, create vibrant places, and promote childhood wellness by improving access to healthy local food.

Local Foods Local Places

“Local Foods, Local Places helps people access healthy local food and supports new businesses in neighborhoods that need investment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The program is good for the environment, public health and the economy. By helping bring healthy local food to market and offering new walking and biking options, Local Foods, Local Places can help improve air quality, support local economies, and protect undeveloped green space.”

Honolulu was one of the cities selected in 2016 from EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region:

Honolulu, Hawaii – The Hawaii Community Development Authority will focus their Local Foods, Local Places efforts on plans to identify food-based projects that will spur greater investment and stewardship in the Kakaako Makai community; enhance local food production; integrate food security initiatives with community and transit-oriented development planning; and reduce stormwater runoff and vulnerability to sea level rise.

The selected communities were chosen from more than 300 applicants.

Each Local Foods, Local Places partner community works with a team of experts who help community members recognize local assets and opportunities, set goals for revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods, develop an implementation plan, and identify targeted resources from the participating federal agencies to help implement those plans.

Local Foods, Local Places is a partnership among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority. The initiative was launched in 2014 and has already helped 26 communities make a difference in people’s lives.

Local Food, Local Places is one of the administration’s community-based initiatives in action across the country. In these places federal experts are working side by side with residents and local leaders to create customized solutions; bolstering coordination across agencies and improving how we interact with communities as a ‘one Government’ partner; and relying on valuable data to help inform solutions and evaluate what is working and what is not.

A complete list of communities participating in the Local Food, Local Places Initiative can be found at http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places-summary-reports

Security Guards Indicted for Taking Bribes at Honolulu Airport

An Oahu grand jury indicted four Securitas law enforcement and traffic control officers for accepting bribes from taxi and shuttle drivers at the Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin announced.

SecuritasDeputy Attorney General Albert Cook said, “Securitas employees Ruben Corpuz Alonzo, Ranie A. Ilagan, Gay Manicia Gatchalian and Euriphides Magalang allegedly solicited and accepted more than three thousand dollars in monetary payments from taxi and shuttle drivers at the airport. In exchange the defendants provided customers to these drivers and allowed the drivers to circumvent the rules and regulations relating to taxi and shuttle drivers and ground transportation at the Honolulu International Airport.”

“These indictments followed a months-long, complex undercover investigation conducted by the FBI in conjunction with Special Agent Investigators at the Attorney General’s office. Taxi drivers complained about certain officers at the airport taking bribes and showing favoritism to those willing to pay,” said Attorney General Chin.

The four Securitas employees were indicted for bribery, a violation of section 710-1040, Hawaii Revised Statutes. This is a class B felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine.

The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Securitas receives about $33 million a year to provide security.

Updated Map Shows New Risk Areas for Potential Dengue Infection – Spraying at 2 Kona Schools Saturday

An updated map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases has been released:Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This map should not be used to exclude any areas of the island from proactive mosquito control measures. All residents islandwide are encouraged to Fight The Bite by reducing mosquito breeding grounds and protecting themselves from mosquito bites.

As of 1:00PM today the Department of Health reported 2 additional confirmed cases since yesterday and the total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the outbreak is at 248. These cases include 224 residents and 24 visitors.

As a proactive and preventative measure, the Department of Health will be conducting spraying or treatment of the Kealakehe Elementary and Intermediate Schools in Kona this Saturday, February 6th. 

 

Building and Design Expo Feb. 12-14 – Live Cooking Demo and Book Signing with Sam Choy

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce presents the 11th annual Building & Design Expo February 12 – 14 at the Sheraton Kona Resort at Keauhou Bay‘s Kaleiopapa Convention Center.

Celebrity Chef Sam Choy, known for his Hawaiian cuisine, will feature his newest kitchen accessories line, Sam Choy’s Hawaiian Kitchen. He will also do a live cooking demo and book-signing.

Abbas Hassan of Tiki Shark Art, Sam Choy and Kirstin Kahaloa, Executive Director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce

Abbas Hassan of Tiki Shark Art, Sam Choy and Kirstin Kahaloa, Executive Director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce

Touted as “Hawai‘i Island’s largest home show,” more than 40 vendor booths will exhibit their goods and services in the three-day event. From general contracting and materials to home design and décor including fine art, the expo often features furnishings, blinds and shutters, window-tinting, kitchen countertops, cabinets and flooring, pest control PC solar and financing.

Event sponsors include Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Hawaii Gas, P.A. Harris Electric, Renewable Energy Services, Sam Choy & Tiki Shark Art and West Hawaii Today. Contact the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce office at marketing@kona-kohala.com or 808.329.1758.

“25 by 25” Bill to be Heard by Public Safety Committee

“OCCC is severely overcrowded and in disrepair. Native Hawaiians are over represented in our prison population. One third of Hawaii’s prisoners are housed in Arizona. Over 60% of the inmate population in the U.S. are non-violent, primarily for drug related offenses. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate on any nation in the world.

None of this is new information, but what are we doing to address these issues?” states Rep. John M. Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley and portions of Lower Kalihi) who introduced HB2001 with a provision to reduce the State’s prison population by 25% by the year 2025. “We have already set a goal for renewable energy for the State; it is time to set a goal for our prison population that is currently costing state taxpayers millions of dollars every year and has been one of the fastest growing segments of the state budgets.”

House Bill 2001 (HB2001) will be heard tomorrow – February 4th – at 10:00am at the State Capitol conference room 309 by the Public Safety Committee.

Stolen StuffMichael Kitchens, creator of the 42,000 strong community watch group, Stolen Stuff Hawaii, believes in striking at the core of the problem. “We have to attack the root cause for crime…the factors that drive someone to relapse into crime even after punishment.  This commission will study these factors and offer alternative strategies that can combat recidivism and provide opportunities for the misguided to become productive members of society.”

“In reviewing the State’s probation system, the commission that would be established by the bill could evaluate current practices relating to incarceration, crime prevention and education with a focus on reducing spending on corrections and reinvesting the savings gained in strategies that will increase public safety and reduce recidivism.

The Governor in his recent State of the State Address noted the need to tear down the Oahu Correctional Facility in Kalihi and build a new facility in Halawa ‘to take advantage of all that we have learned about incarceration, and the need to give inmates a real opportunity to change their lives.’ recognizing that the current facility is ill equipped to effectively lower the recidivism rate in the State. We need to develop effective programs that offer greater opportunities for offenders’ rehabilitation”

Breakdancing, Hip Hop, and Gender Roles in Opposing Forces

Kahilu Theatre presents AmyO’Neal’s Opposing Forces.

In Amy O’Neal’s Opposing Forces, five B-Boys from different generations and cultures come together in curiosity, strength, vulnerability, and grace in this dance performance that has one foot squarely in street style dance (hip hop) and one foot in contemporary dance story telling.

In Opposing Forces, choreographer Amy O’Neal examines the paradoxical nature of B-Boy culture as it relates to femininity and the value systems of dance battling, commercial dance, stage performance, and freestyle cyphers (jam circles). How do these different environments affect expression? Where are stereotypes changing and where do they remain the same? O’Neal pries open these topics and more via conversation, collaboration, and transfixing dance moves.

Breakdancing

Opposing Forces Performers and Movement Collaborators consist of:

  • Alfredo “Free” Vergara Jr.
  • Brysen “Just Be” Angeles
  • Fever One
  • Michael O’Neal Jr.
  • Mozeslateef

Amy O’Neal is a dancer, performer, choreographer, and dance educator based in Seattle. For fifteen years, she has taught and performed throughout the US, Japan, Italy, and Mexico, and she has choreographed for stage, commercials, rock shows, galleries, dance films and music videos. Her work is an amalgam of her diverse movement and life experiences presenting social commentary with dark humor and heavy beats.

She teaches Contemporary Dance and Urban Styles at Velocity Dance Center and House dance at The Beacon: Massive Monkees studio in Seattle. She teaches dance composition and improvisation for Seattle Theater Group’s “Dance This” program. She spent seven years developing and teaching for Young Choreographer’s Lab and Seattle Youth Dance Collective. She hasworked extensively with musician/comedian Reggie Watts since 2002 both on stage and screen.

Amy O’Neal will also give a Master Class on Friday, February 12 at 4pm. Their master class will provide lessons in stylistic and cultural differences between Hip Hop (which is Breaking, Popping, Locking, and Party Dances), House, Vogue, Whacking, Commercial Hip Hop, Street Jazz, and Amy’s signature amalgam of all these things. The cost is $10, and reservations are available online.

This presentation of Opposing Forces by Amy O’Neal was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as sponsorship by the Western Arts Federation.

Kahilu Theatre doors open at 6pm for evening shows, with food and beverages available for sale.

Tickets are $68 / $58 / $47 / $20 and available for purchase online at www.kahilutheatre.org, by calling (808) 885-6868, or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office, at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela, HI 96743, Monday-Friday, from 9am to 1pm.

Coming Up – Award Winning Magicians at the Honoka’a Peoples Theatre

Award-winning magicians Bruce and Jennifer Meyers will bring their amazing feats of original magic to Honoka’a Peoples Theatre on Sunday, February 28 at 4 p.m., presented in collaboration with the Peace Committee of Honoka’a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.

Magician Bruce Meyers

Magician Bruce Meyers

Designed with keiki in mind, the creative show involves the audience in surprising ways—as Bruce might levitate children in the audience, cut a local politician in half, make dozens of roses, or chickens, appear and disappear. As a prelude to The Magic of Bruce Meyers, aerial artist Luna Sophia will “fly” above the audience in a gracefully athletic performance on the aerial silks.

“Our goal is to provide positive, affordable activities for kids and youth,” said Peace Committee Chair Miles Okumura, “We have this in common—we value the next generation, and depend on them to carry on the traditions, values and messages we share today. And that’s the magic.”

To help further that goal, the team has reached out to the Hamakua Youth Center (HYC), who will be assisting with ticket sales from their Mamane Street location. They are also recruiting business and individual sponsors to help send children and youth to the performance. A $100 donation can provide a classroom of students, a sports team or school club with tickets to attend.

Bruce Meyers Magician

In addition to performing, Bruce and Jennifer run four-day Magic Camps for keiki age 6 and up, where they learn multiple tricks and illusions, and build their own magic kit to take home and practice for a lifetime. (For information on Magic Camp, please call 982-9294.)

“For children, as with music, magic can be an inspiring and fun way to share wonder and learn about achieving goals, to build self-esteem, poise, confidence and teamwork. The mystery of magic inspires children to want to know more and to learn and to do. It inspires that thirst for knowledge. They learn that to give and share wonder is an act of kindness,” says Bruce.

Bruce continues, “We are constantly and diligently involved in providing pathways and direction for the young to carry the torch as the wonder workers and peacemakers of tomorrow. It is they who will spread happiness and joy and remind the audiences of the future that, despite all of its faults, it’s still a breathtakingly beautiful and mysterious world.”

On Bruce’s website is the Hawaiian phrase, “Aka‘aka Loko I Ka Ike A Ke Aloha,” which translates to; “The secrets within me are seen through Aloha.”

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, available online at www.BruceMeyers.com or at Hamakua Youth Center, 775-0976. For information on sponsoring a classroom, club or team contact Miles Okumura, misterokumura@yahoo.com .