Capital Improvement Funds Released for Kohala Elementary and Honoka’a High School

Senator Malama Solomon, District 4 – Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona, today commended the release of $7.73 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) supporting student education in Hawaii.

Sen. Malama Solomon

Sen. Malama Solomon

Portions of these funds will go toward work in District 4, including:

  • Kohala Elementary, for American with Disabilities Act (ADA) projects, portion of $7,554,000
  • Kohala Elementary, for a special education portable, $80,000
  • Honoka‘a High School, for science lab upgrades, $100,000 for design work

“Supporting schools in my district is one of my main priorities as a lawmaker,” said Solomon. “The Legislature secured the funds for these very important projects last session and I’m glad to see the monies released so that work can get started. It’s imperative that we continue to provide students, teachers and staff with the resources for a favorable learning environment.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces the Creation of Agency’s First-Ever Office of Digital Engagement

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced today the creation of the agency’s first-ever Office of Digital Engagement. This new office – housed within the Office of Public Affairs – serves as the frontline for digital communication with consumers, businesses, and other key Department stakeholders.

Commerce Digital Engagement

“I am proud to announce the launch of the first-ever Office of Digital Engagement within the Department of Commerce. The Office of Digital Engagement is an important component of our ‘Open for Business Agenda’ and will help us engage in a two-way, 21st Century dialogue with America’s business community,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “By using the power of digital media, the Department of Commerce and our bureaus are working together to ensure that American businesses have access to more agency information and resources that can help them grow and hire.”

To further amplify the “Open for Business Agenda” and the priorities of the Department of Commerce, Secretary Pritzker has used LinkedIn, Vine, Youtube and other platforms and hosted a number of digital events including Twitter and Facebook chats that attracted interest from a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including small business owners, exporters and venture capitalists. The Office of Digital Engagement also launched Secretary Pritzker’s Instagram account last month, making her the first-ever Cabinet official to have an Instagram account.

The Office of Digital Engagement is directed by Director of Digital Strategy, Mike Kruger, and Deputy Director, Rand Ruggieri.  The office is part of the Department of Commerce Office of Public Affairs, run by former technology communications executive Jim Hock.  The team also includes Quintin Haynes in the Office of the Secretary and a Digital Engagement Council made up of representatives from the following Commerce bureaus:

•             Ryan Poole, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

•             Lisa Wolfisch, U.S. Census Bureau

•             Chris Higginbotham, International Trade Administration (ITA)

•             Tami Holzman, Economic Development Administration (EDA)

•             Lucas Hitt, Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA)

•             Alicia Sowah, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

•             Mark Esser, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

•             David Miller, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

•             Juliana Gruenwald, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

•             Paul Rosenthal, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Follow Secretary Pritzker on:

•             Twitter – www.twitter.com/PennyPritzker (@pennypritzker)

•             Instagram – www.instagram.com/PennyPritzker

Find out more about the Department of Commerce at:

•             www.commerce.gov/blog

•             www.twitter.com/CommerceGov

•             http://www.linkedin.com/company/u.s.-department-of-commerce

•             https://www.facebook.com/Commercegov

•             https://www.youtube.com/user/CommerceNews

Hawaiian Family AfFair to Honor Na Pua No`eau Alumni

Na Pua No`eau, the Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children, is calling on all of its former students to come and be recognized at this year’s 22nd Annual Hawaiian Family AfFair.

UH Hilo Moniker

The free, public event will be held on the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo campus on Saturday, March 1, from 9- 3 p.m. This year’s theme is “E Ola Koa: Living long and strong like a koa tree in the forest.”

Activities include various exhibit booths, free health screenings, a keiki fitness center, arts and crafts booths, make and take workshops, entertainment, food booths, and more.

More than 16,000 Native Hawaiian children from across the State and around the globe have participated in a Na Pua No`eau activity since its first event was held in 1990. The Center provides educational enrichment that guides students to learn through the Hawaiian culture.

“The best way to describe the program’s impact on students is that the students create a healthy life and lifestyle for themselves, their family and their community,” said Executive Director Dr. David Sing. “The Center helps them define and understand themselves as Hawaiians and to build a future that acknowledges and embraces who they are in the evolving world.”

Sing said the Center wants to celebrate the lives its alumni have made for themselves, their families and community. Approximately 18-percent of the native Hawaiian students currently attending UH Hilo and 17-percent attending Hawaiʻi Community College are products of the Na Pua No`eau pipeline.

For more information, call 974-7678.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Update

Kahaualeʻa 2 flow still active northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō

View of the flow front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, looking west. The flow front has focused into a new lobe that is slowly migrating through thick forest, triggering scattered forest fires. The smoke from these fires seems to be “seeding” the cloud above it. The active flow front was 7.4 km (4.6 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Mauna Loa can be seen in the distance.

Top: Looking northeast from Puʻu ʻŌʻō, the smoke coming from forest fires at the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow can be seen in the distance. In the foreground, thick fume is coming from the Kahaualeʻa 2 lava tube, which is supplying lava to the flow front. Bottom: View of the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. This small cone is also the vent area for the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. The cone has recently hosted a small lava pond, but today this seemed to be crusted over. See the time-lapse sequences below to see recent activity at this cone.

Thermal image of the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. Yellow and white areas depict active breakouts, while red areas are cooler, inactive portions of the flow. Over the past week a new lobe has pushed east, between lobes that were active in November and January. The tip of this new lobe was 7.4 km (4.6 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Compare this view to the February 20 map (see link above).

Spattering and gas pistoning in the northeast cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō

This selection of images shows activity at the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō over the past two weeks. The lava pond was undergoing gas pistoning, a gradual buildup and release of gas in the lava pond that is often associated with spattering and lava level changes. For scale, the lava pond is about 10 m (30 feet) across.

More images of the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō, taken with a time-lapse camera.

This Quicktime movie shows a time-lapse sequence of activity at the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater on February 9-10. Rapid fluctuations in the height of the lava pond are caused by gas pistoning, which is the gradual buildup and release of gas in the pond. Mauna Kea is visible in the upper right portion of the frame. The sequence was captured by an inexpensive time-lapse camera, whose plastic housing was warped by the extreme heat.

Department of Education Convenes Working Group to Review “Pono Choices” – A Sexual Health Education Curriculum

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) yesterday convened a working group to review Pono Choices, a sexual health education curriculum taught in some middle schools as part of a research study by the University of Hawaii’s (UH) Center on Disability Studies.

DOE ReleaseOn Feb. 4, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE), a discussion of sexual health education curriculum drew additional comments regarding Pono Choices. The BOE received more than 100 written testimonies expressing concerns over the UH pilot curriculum. As a result, the DOE convened a working group comprised of diverse stakeholders to review Pono Choices and make a recommendation on whether it meets statutory requirements and applicable BOE policies regarding sexual health education curriculum.

The group, chaired by DOE Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe, includes:

  • Darrin Araki, executive director, Hawaii Pastors Roundtable
  • Dr. Robert Bidwell, associate clinical professor of pediatrics and director of adolescent medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, UH Manoa
  • Karen Ginoza, representative of He’e Coalition and Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE)
  • Kimberly Kepner-Sybounmy, parent representative
  • Noella Kong, state adolescent health coordinator, Hawaii State Department of Health
  • Justin Mew, principal of Kaiser High School; former principal of Niu Valley Middle School and former science teacher
  • Donna Rodenhurst, health teacher, King Intermediate School
  • Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu, director of culture, Halau Lokahi Public Charter School

The working group meets again on Feb. 27 and welcomes public input through noon on Feb. 26 via email at hipublicschools@gmail.com. All feedback will be logged and shared with group members. Individuals should not resubmit testimony already provided to the BOE.

The working group will spend as much time as necessary to conduct a thorough review of Pono Choices prior to issuing a public report.

In November, the DOE temporarily placed Pono Choices on hold to address concerns about whether the curriculum was aligned with health education state law and policy. A subsequent UH review of its copyrighted curriculum concluded Pono Choices met the standards.

Senator Malama Solomon on the Hawaii Business News “Geothermal Article”

Senator Malama Solomon responded to the following Hawaii Business News article:

Click to read article

Click to read article

Your report on geothermal energy (HB November 2013, “Geothermal is a Red-Hot Topic”) failed to make some very important points about why geothermal would improve the quality of life for all of us in Hawaii.

• Geothermal is used worldwide and can be applied to Hawaii. According to the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, there are several regions worldwide with geothermal and geologic conditions very similar to Hawaii, such as Iceland and New Zealand. Both nations benefit from electrical rates of up to 12 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to Hawaii’s average of 32 cents/kwh. DLNR also points out that these two countries, plus Japan and Indonesia, have seen decades of safe and economical use of geothermal energy.

• Safeguards are already in place. “The State of Hawaii has developed a thorough series of procedures to review, regulate and oversee the development of geothermal resources,” says DLNR Chair William Aila. “This includes the drilling of all geothermal wells, the protection of underground sources of drinking water, safe well construction techniques, and seismic monitoring.”

Also, geothermal development projects are required by Chapter 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to develop an Environmental Impact Statement, which includes public disclosure of potential impacts and proposed mitigations measures that are subject to public hearings and a public comment period before any project can proceed forward. “These processes are already in place ensure the protection of the environment, natural and cultural resources, and the public’s health and safety,” Alia says.

• Geothermal has Hawaiian support. “Hawaiians have supported and continue to support geothermal development on Hawaii Island,” says Mililani Trask of the Innovations Development Group. She points out geothermal development has received support by the largest Hawaiian organization, the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Hawaiian energy producers and land owners, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, who has also invested in a Hawaiian company seeking to develop the resource on Hawaii Island.

We have a great opportunity to responsibly develop geothermal to provide clean, renewable and firm power to our homes and businesses at a lower cost.

Sen. Malama Solomon

Senate District 4 (Hilo, Hāmākua, Waimea, Kohala, Waikoloa and Kona)

Sam Choy’s Poke Contest Coming Up

Put your braggin’ in the bowl and enter your favorite poke recipe to win cash and prizes at the third Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest Sunday, March 16. Public tasting is 12:30 p.m. at the Convention Center at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

Sam Choy Poke Contest 131

Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Keauhou Resort’s annual Kamehameha III celebration March 14-17 that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli.

Other festivities include:

• Free Puana Ke Iki Lecture by Lily Dudoit, “Keauhou-Where the Current Continues to Renew Itself,” 5:30-7 p.m. March 14 at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay.

*Lani Kauikeaouli Canoe Race, 7 a.m. March 15 at Keauhou Bay, hosted by Keauhou Canoe Club

• Free 14th annual Kamehameha III “Lani Kauikeaouli” Concert, 4:30-10 p.m. March 15 on the lawn at Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay. Emcees Skylark Rossetti and Kimo Kahoano with Punahele, Mailani, Nina Kealliwahamana, Marlene Sai, Sonny Lim, Ladies of Na Lei O Kaholoku, Mark Yamanaka and Kapena.

• Free Daughters of Hawai‘i Tribute, 10 a.m. March 17 at Keauhou Bay with Royal Order of Kamehameha and 200 Kamehameha Schools Ipukukui students.

Sam Choy Poke Contest 158

Poke contest fun is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and includes Hawai’i Island Marketplace, a “Poke Throw Down,” a celebrity “Poke Chop” cookoff, guest speakers, entertainment by Royal Hawaii Band Kona and others, cultural demonstrations and delicious poke tasting.

Contest competition is in five categories: traditional, cooked, poke with Aloha Shoyu soy sauce, non-seafood and a new category—poke with Hamakua Mushrooms. Suisan Company Ltd. will donate 15 pounds of fresh filet ahi to the first 50 entrants using fish. It contestant wants additional ahi, it will be offered at wholesale price. Suisan also offers seafood to contestants at a wholesale price. Contest entry deadline is March 10; find forms at www.SamChoysKeauhouPokeContest.org.

Entry fee is $15 for amateurs and $30 for professionals—culinary students can participate for free. High schoolers can enter in a new High School Division and college culinary students are welcome to again vie in the non-professional category.

Chefs from Facebook’s campus restaurants on the Mainland are bringing a contingent to again vie in the professional division. Last year’s overall contest winner was ‘Umeke’s of Kailua-Kona.

Public admission to all contest activities is $5 (limit of five poke tastes) or $10 for an event bag and unlimited tastes until gone.  Keiki under 12 are free). Proceeds benefit the $150,000 Equip the Kitchens Campaign for the future Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui campus. Last year’s contest donated $5,000 to the effort.

Sam Choy Poke Contest 180

A free trolley will operate from Keauhou Shopping Center (pickup near Longs Drugs) 4-10:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Keauhou Resort’s annual Kamehameha III celebration March 14-17 that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli. The contest is sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, Aloha Shoyu Company, Suisan Company Ltd., Hawaiian Springs, Hamakua Mushrooms, West Hawaii Today, the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, Fresh Island Fish, Coca Cola, BMW of Hawaii, Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering, Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Roberts Hawaii, Bacardi, Sun Dried Specialties, Kapa Radio and Young’s Market Co.

Grassroot Institute Issue Brief Looks at the Minimum Wage Debate

A recent Issue Brief from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii considers the effects of an increase in the minimum wage, concluding that the raise in the minimum wage currently before the Hawaii Legislature will not advance the goal of improving the plight of Hawaii’s working poor.

Click to read brief

Click to read brief

The report, entitled Four Things You Should Know About the Minimum Wage Debate in Hawaii, identifies four key areas of concern that are at odds with the objectives of the legislation. They are:

  • Raising the minimum wage will benefit less than 4%of low-income working families.
  • The current proposed minimum wage raise increases the costs of low-skilled labor by 39%.
  • Raising the minimum wage will not lift working families out of poverty.
  • Raising the minimum wage is expected to reduce teenage employment.

Though the intent of a minimum wage increase is to lift Hawaii’s working families out of poverty, the brief concludes that such legislation will do little to achieve this objective while placing a substantial burden on Hawaii’s small businesses and employers. In effect, states the brief author, “[a]n increase in the minimum wage would accomplish no more than to increase benefits for a handful of low-income working families at the expense of teenage workers and small business owners. The one thing that the minimum wage proposal does accomplish, however, is to effectively divert the political narrative away from the real causes of poverty and inequality in Hawaii.”

“The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii continues to advocate for free market solutions to our state’s economic problems,” states Dr. Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “Unfortunately, the proposed raise in the minimum wage is nothing more than a band-aid solution that will burden Hawaii’s businesses without effectively helping our state’s working families. What we really need is a reduction in the obstacles that the state places on business and entrepreneurship in Hawaii, as a vibrant and growing economy is the best way to improve the situation of low-wage workers.”

You can read or download this brief in its entirety at: http://new.grassrootinstitute.org/2014/02/four-things-you-should-know-about-the-minimum-wage-debate-in-hawaii/.

Big Island Police Looking for Missing 65-Year-Old Woman

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 65-year-old Nāʻālehu woman who was reported missing.

HPDBadgeMaffriette Silk was last seen in Kona on February 5 wearing a white leather jacket and a beige dress. She has a medical condition that requires medication.

Silk is described as African-American and 5-foot-4 with a muscular build. She is bald but wears a blond wig. She has the name “Jesus” tattooed on her left shoulder blade and the name “Maffriette” tattooed on her right bicep.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

China and Hawai’i Linked by Sister Park Agreement

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Wudalianchi National Park in China have announced a sister park agreement to strengthen their shared volcanic heritage by promoting international cooperation and support for the mutual benefit of both parks.

Courtesy photo of the five barrier lakes of Wudalianchi/Mr. Guo Bailin provided by Wudalianchi National Park in China

Courtesy photo of the five barrier lakes of Wudalianchi/Mr. Guo Bailin provided by Wudalianchi National Park in China

Both Hawai‘i Volcanoes and Wudalianchi national parks feature active volcanoes and are celebrated throughout the world for their geological, biological, and cultural attributes. In Hawai‘i, Kīlauea volcano, which is currently erupting from two locations, and Mauna Loa, which last erupted in 1984, draw more than 1.5 million visitors a year to the park. Wudalianchi has 14 volcanoes, two of which are active but not erupting. The last significant eruptive period from Laoheishan and Huoshaoshan volcanoes occurred between 1719 and 1721, resulting in large quantities of lava that formed a plateau in the center of the park, and blocked the north-south flowing Shilong River in several places – forming a string of five lakes, which translates to “Wudalianchi.” The Chinese park is also known for its mineral springs, giant boulders, and lava  tubes. Approximately a million people a year visit Wudalianchi National Park, which is located in northeast China in the Heilongjiang province, near the Russian border.

The sister park relationship enables both parks to enrich their personnel through projects of international cooperation, accomplished primarily through the exchange of managerial, technical and professional knowledge, information, and data technology.

Halema‘uma‘u Crater in Kīlauea Volcano, framed by ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree. NPS photo/Jay Robinson

Halema‘uma‘u Crater in Kīlauea Volcano, framed by ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree. NPS photo/Jay Robinson

“As an International Biosphere Reserve and the first World Heritage Site in Hawai‘i, our responsibilities transcend national boundaries,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes Superintendent, Cindy Orlando. “Working with colleagues from around the world, through sister park agreements, we are able to share best practices and programs that encourage biodiversity recovery and ecosystem protection.”

While not “twins,” the two parks share enough in common to be “sisters,” according to the sister park agreement, which is posted on the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park website. The heart of the mission of both parks is to protect the geological and biological resources that not just belong to the parks, but to the entire world.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park also has a sister park agreement with Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes in South Korea. Like Hawai‘i Volcanoes, Jeju is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.