Public Comment Period Reopened on Proposal to Designate Critical Habitat for Three Plant Species on Hawai‘i Island

U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold an additional public informational meeting on a proposal to designate almost 19,000 acres of land on the Big Island as critical habitat. USFWS will also reopen the public comment period until September 3, 2013.

Mezoneuron Kavaiense. Photo credit: C. Harrington/USFWS

Mezoneuron Kavaiense. Photo credit: C. Harrington/USFWS

“I am pleased USFWS will continue to seek community input about this proposal and help address some of the public’s unanswered questions,” said Hanabusa. “I had a very productive meeting with Director Dan Ashe last month about this issue, and I appreciate his support in establishing a positive relationship between USFWS and affected stakeholders. We are committed to finding a compromise that provides for our communities and protects our native species.”

On the Big Island, USFWS has proposed designating approximately 18,766 acres of land as critical habitat for three endangered plant species. More than 1/3 of the proposed lands are in private ownership and about 12,000 acres are owned by the State of Hawaii.

A public meeting was held on May 15, 2013, but interested parties were left with unanswered questions and concerns. The newly announced second meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at the West Hawaii Civic Center from 3-5 p.m.

For more information about the critical habitat proposal and the draft economic analysis, click here: http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/.

AnnouncementAnnouncement

 

Governor Abercrombie Enacts Legislation Relating to Transportation of School Children

Announces Appointment of New BOE Members

Gov. Neil Abercrombie attended the Board of Education (BOE) meeting today, publicly signing two bills relating to the state Department of Education (DOE) and transportation for Hawaii’s public school students.

“These measures will help to control the escalating cost of student transportation,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.  “These laws were established with the cooperation of the BOE and DOE, which will provide more control for fiscal responsibility.”

SB1082 (Relating to Transportation of School Children) simplifies Section 302A-406, Hawaii Revised Statutes.  The bill allows for more flexibility by the BOE and DOE regarding contract requirements.  This measure will provide the DOE with a tool to control costs of school bus transportation by removing statutory requirements related to school bus procurement.

SB1083 (Relating to Transportation of School Children) exempts contracts for transportation for school services from Section 103-55, Hawaii Revised Statutes.  Under the provisions of this bill, the DOE will not need to require school bus contractors to certify that they pay same wages as public officers and employees. The bill removes the statutory requirements related to school bus procurement.

“The board is most appreciative of the support of the Governor and Legislature,” said BOE Chair Don Horner. “These bills will provide the Department with tools to more efficiently and effectively manage our rising transportation costs in order to sustain this vital service to our students.”

“These bills help the department in its move to improve the efficiency and control the cost of student bus transportation system,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.  “The support of the legislature is much appreciated.”

At today’s signing ceremony, the Governor thanked outgoing BOE members Kimberly Gennaula and Charlene Cuaresma (terms ended July 14), and announced his appointments of Patricia Halagao and Amy Asselbaye to the BOE (effective July 15).

Patricia Halagao (At Large) is an Associate Professor in Curriculum Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education. She also serves as the lead in developing educational initiatives for the proposed Obama Presidential Center.  She was recently awarded the UH Board of Regents Medal for Excellence in Teaching in 2012. Halagao is helping to coordinate education programming for the Hokulea’s worldwide voyage.  She was previously a teacher in the Oakland Public Schools system.

Amy Asselbaye (Oahu) is the Director of Strategic and Community Development at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and a small business owner. She served as a congressional staffer, including Chief of Staff, to Governor and Congressman Neil Abercrombie and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Asselbaye served as school community council chair at Wailupe Elementary School and is currently a parent representative on the school community council for Aina Haina Elementary School where her three children attended school.

Bills Relating to Taxation and Firearms Also Signed

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed one bill relating to tax deductions resulting from donations to charitable organizations and two bills related to law enforcement.

HB430 (Relating to Taxation) exempts charitable deductions from the itemized state income tax deduction caps.

“With the state economy and revenue picture greatly improved since I took office, we now have an opportunity to further support nonprofit and charitable organizations in their efforts for the greater good,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “The measure is a result of a partnership between charitable organizations, the Legislature, and the Administration.”

SB69 (Relating to Firearms) closes a loophole regarding fingerprint, photograph and background checks for those bringing firearms into Hawaii, providing consistency with firearms obtained locally.

SB2 (Relating to Simulated Firearms) amends the offenses of terroristic threatening in the first degree and robbery in the first degree to include the use of simulated firearms.

“These bills assist law enforcement in their duty to serve the public and keep people safe,” explained Gov. Abercrombie.

 

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to Host 33rd Annual Cultural Festival

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will host the 33rd Annual Cultural Festival on Sat., July 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The festival is free, and park entrance fees are waived all day.

Artwork by Dietrich Varez

Artwork by Dietrich Varez

This year’s festival will be presented at the park’s Kahua Hula (traditional hula platform) at Ka‘auea, south of Kīlauea Visitor Center.  This annual, one-day gala event is extremely popular with the Hawai‘i Island community and visitors alike. As many as 5,000 people are expected to attend.

Festival entertainment is an extravaganza of traditional Hawaiian culture, and includes performances by such notable hula groups and entertainers as Keiki o Hālau o Kekuhi, Hālau Ulumamo o Hilo Palikū, Hula Hālau Ke ‘Ōlu Makani o Mauna Loa, Leabert Lindsey, Ben Ka‘ili, and Diana Aki.

Festival participants can learn to strum the ‘ukulele, play Hawaiian games, weave a coconut basket and lauhala bracelet, make feather kahili, and traditional lei. They can savor the flavors of Hawaii by sampling taro, sweet potato, sugar cane, and breadfruit. Skillful cultural practitioners will demonstrate how to beat kapa, weave a lauhala hat, sew a feather lei, plant a native garden, use plants as medicine, and more.

This event honors, preserves and perpetuates Hawaiian culture and supports Hawaiian programs, practitioners, hālau and musicians. Wear sunscreen and a hat. Bring water, rain jacket, and ground mat or chair.  No pets. Hawaiian crafts, plate lunches, non-alcoholic beverages, and festival T-shirts will be offered for sale.

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/havo or call (808) 985-6011.

DLNR Announces Resignation of State Historic Preservation Division Administrator

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) today announced the resignation of State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) administrator Pua Aiu. The announcement follows the release last Thursday of a report by the National Parks Service (NPS) that was critical of the division’s efforts under a two-year corrective action plan to address operational problems that jeopardize continued federal funding from NPS. Aiu has been the SHPD administrator for five years.

Pua Aiu

Pua Aiu

“We believe that SHPD has made progress in a number of areas, including hiring of qualified staff and addressing a backlog of review and compliance tasks,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “However, we take this report seriously, and given the importance of SHPD to the state, we need to change the leadership in order to move forward to implement the recommendations. So we’ve accepted Pua’s resignation, and are working on a process to select a new administrator in the next three months.”

“The State Historic Preservation Division is important to the preservation and protection of historic and cultural sites of Hawaii. It also plays a significant role in the state’s economy. Addressing and balancing these complex issues is the job of the SHPD administrator and staff,” said Aila. “We plan to bring in an interim administrator by the end of July, and at the same time set up a selection committee to review applications and interview candidates. We invite qualified applicants to submit their resumes to the Chairperson at William.J.Aila@hawaii.gov”

 

18th Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) Conference and 5th Cupping Competition

The 18th Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) Conference and 5th Cupping Competition is July 18-20 at the Kauai Beach Resort. Offering a full lineup of informative activities, the annual event attracts statewide coffee industry growers, processors, roasters, wholesalers and retailers.

2010 Cupping Winner

2010 Cupping Winner

The gathering is also open to the public and the 2013-2014 season marks the 200th anniversary of coffee cultivation in Hawaii.

The conference includes workshops covering green grading, label compliance, quality control of roasting and packaging, cupping and eradication of the coffee berry borer beetle. Also on tap are legislative updates and reports from UH’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) and the Synergistic Hawaii Agriculture Council (SHAC).

Other activities include an expo, silent auction, election of HCA officers, tour of Kauai Coffee Company and networking reception at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Winners of the cupping competition are announced Saturday at a dinner headlined by TV business reporter Howard Dicus.

The prestigious, annual cupping competition is an evaluation of coffee based on flavor, aroma, “mouth-feel,” acidity, sweetness and aftertaste. Last year, a panel of three lead judges, using standardized blind procedures, cupped a field of 117 Hawaiian coffees hailing from eight districts. Top honors were given to Heavenly Hawaiian Farms in Kona and the Big Isle’s Wood Valley Coffee Co. in K’au.

For more information and to register, visit www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org/Events.

The Hawaii Coffee Association’s mission is to represent all sectors of the Hawaii coffee industry, including growers, millers, wholesalers, roasters and retailers.  The HCA’s primary objective is to increase awareness and consumption of Hawaiian coffees.  A major component of HCA’s work is the continuing education of members and consumers. The annual conference has continued to grow each year and has gained increased international attention. For information, visit www.hawaiicoffeeassociation.com.

 

 

Hulihe’e Event Remembers Palace Builder John Adams Kuakini

The Daughters of Hawai‘i and Calabash Cousins present Afternoon at Hulihe‘e 4 p.m. Sunday, July 21 at Hulihe‘e Palace to remember the late John Adams Kuakini. Enjoy the voices of the Merrie Monarchs and Hawaiian performing arts by Kumu Hula Etua Lopes and his Halau Na Pua Ui O Hawai‘i.

 Kuakini, 1791-1844. Governor of Hawaii Island. Original sketch by Rev. William Ellis (Hawaii State Archives)

John Adams Kuakini, 1791-1844,  Governor of Hawaii Island.
Original sketch by Rev. William Ellis (Hawaii State Archives)

Afternoon at Hulihe‘e is part of the palace’s series of free monthly events that honor Hawai‘i’s past monarchs and historical figures; donations are appreciated. Kindly bring a beach mat or chair as seating won’t be provided.

Kuakini was a cousin to Kamehameha I and governor of Hawai’i Island. A Russian explorer, Captain Otto von Kotzebue, described Kuakini in 1816 as a “herculean figure.”

“Kuakini first built Moku‘aikaua Church, finishing in 1837,” details Casey Ballao, Hulihe‘e docent coordinator. “That same year, he started construction on Hulihe‘e, with the excavation of the cellar. Kuakini employed craftsman and laborers that had jumped sailing ships to build his grand home and it was completed in 1838. It was a great source of pride.”

Kuakini didn’t enjoy his mansion for long; he died at the age of 54 in 1844. His obituary stated he was “the sole survivor of the iron-hearted chiefs that constituted the household of Kamehameha I.”

Hulihe‘e Palace is open for docent-guided and self-guided tours. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; with the exception of the palace open 1-4 p.m. the Monday following the monthly Kokua Kailua Village stroll.  Palace admission for a self-guided tour is $8 for adults, $6 for kama‘aina, military and seniors, and $1 for keiki 18 years and under. Docent-guided tours are available upon request. For details, contact the palace at 329-1877, the palace office at 329-9555 or visit www.daughtersofhawaii.org. The gift shop, open 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, can be reached by phoning 329-6558.

Caretakers of Hulihe‘e Palace are the Daughters of Hawai‘i. The organization was founded in 1903 and opens membership to any woman who is directly descended from a person who lived in Hawai‘i prior to 1880. Helping the Daughters in its efforts since 1986 are the Calabash Cousins; membership is available to all.

Annual HPD Backpack Drive

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is proud to participate again in a backpack drive for children who cannot afford to buy them. As in previous years, all police stations around the island will double as drop-off points for persons interested in helping children in need. Backpacks may be dropped off between July 8 and August 30.

Backpacks donated in 2012

Backpacks donated in 2012

Backpacks have been identified as the most requested non-food item for charities in Hawaiʻi. The donated backpacks will be distributed to children at women’s shelters, homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities around the Big Island.

This is the fifth consecutive year the Police Department has worked in partnership with HOPE Services Hawaiʻi (formerly known as the Office of Social Ministry) and From Kids For Kids in the collection and distribution of these items.

Hope Services Hawaiʻi provides a continuum of homeless and transitional programs from outreach to emergency shelters, including permanent supportive housing placements.

From Kids For Kids was founded in 2006 by Big Island resident Nani Welch-Keliihoomalu, then 10, who was responsible for distributing backpacks containing books, clothing, art and school supplies.

Police Chief Harry S. Kubojiri offers police stations as drop-off points to make it convenient for anyone who wishes to donate backpacks for the project. “I again ask anyone who has backpacks their child is no longer using to donate them to this worthy cause,” Kubojiri said. “In past years your generosity has proven that the aloha spirit is alive and well when it comes to opening our hearts to children in need.”

Two Big Island Men Charged in Slaughter of Calf

Police have charged two Paʻauilo men in connection with the theft of a calf over the weekend in the Hāmākua District.

On Sunday (June 30) at about 11:30 a.m., police were contacted by a 54- year-old Honokaʻa resident, who reported that while checking his pasture land on private property, he discovered two individuals on the property and in possession of a firearm, along with a portion of a calf carcass that had recently been slaughtered.

The remaining carcass was recovered by police and was identified by its owner.

Lonnie James

Lonnie James Knutson

Later that afternoon, police arrested 22-year-old Lonnie James Knutson and 25-year-old Jason James Williams. They were taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

Jason James Williams

Jason James Williams

At 5 p.m. Monday (July 1), after conferring with prosecutors, detectives charged Knutson and Williams with one count each of livestock theft, a class C felony. Their bail was set at $2,000 each. Both men are scheduled to make their initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon (July 2).

Volta Expanding Free Electric Vehicle Charging Station Network

Ulupono Initiative today announced it has invested $175,000 in Volta Industries to help expand its Hawai‘i network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. This investment will help Volta more than double its current network in Hawai‘i with 15 new free-to-use charging stations planned for 2013 statewide.  To date, Volta and its sponsors have given away more than 120,000 miles of free charging to Hawai‘i EV drivers.

Volta

“Mass adoption of electric vehicles has the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of fossil fuels imported to Hawai‘i for passenger cars and trucks,” said Murray Clay, managing partner of Ulupono Initiative. “One of the most important reasons consumers say they don’t choose EVs is concern about their limited range. Increasing the number of stations statewide means more consumers will be able to easily charge their vehicles and avoid range anxiety. This investment will increase the total number of EV charging stations in the state by 6 percent and help support an estimated 2,500 electric vehicles projected on Hawai‘i’s roads by the end of this year. By increasing adoption of EVs, we’re helping achieve our goal of reducing our dependence on imported oil with more efficient technology.”

Volta designs, installs and maintains public EV charging networks, and provides the energy to the EV driver, all free-of-cost to both the driver and the community.

Volta

Companies sponsor each Volta station – providing free EV charging as a service to the community. The stations are designed and built by Volta and provide approximately 15 to 20 miles worth of range per hour of charging.

“Currently we have 14 active charging stations with another 15 in the pipeline on Oahu and Maui, all of which help facilitate the adoption of this clean technology,” said Scott Mercer, Volta CEO and Co-Founder.  “With the investment funds, we can speed up our plans to expand our network to reach more EV owners statewide.”

“We want this to create a greater impact than just providing a service to EV drivers,” said Steve Markowitz, Volta Vice Chairman. “Our goal is to excite people about electric vehicles and clean-tech in general.”

Volta

Electric vehicle sales have been strong in Hawai‘i; the state saw the highest per-capita sales of electric vehicles in the nation in 2011. There are 1,437 electric cars registered on O‘ahu, according to state figures as of May 2013. To compare the efficiency of electric vehicles to conventional vehicles, the state Department of Business, Economic  Development and Tourism has tracked mileage for  the last two decades in Hawai‘i and estimated an average of 19 miles per gallon in 2011. The average mile per gallon equivalent for electric vehicles now on the road ranges from 90 to 115.

Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Hosts Silent Auction After Volcano Parade

On Thursday, July 4 from 9:00 am to 11:30 am, Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park hosts its Silent Auction after the Volcano parade.

Join us July 4 from 9:00 – 11:30 am for FHVNP’s Silent Auction after the Volcano Parade.

Join us July 4 from 9:00 – 11:30 am for FHVNP’s Silent Auction after the Volcano Parade.

The auction, held at the Cooper Center in Volcano will benefit Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, the Volcano Community Association and the Cooper Center.

This year, we have over 200 items up for auction – Fine art, vacation packages, jewelry, helicopter tours and so much more.

Please join us directly after the Volcano Parade.