Senator Ruderman Hosts Meeting With Governor Abercrombie in Pahoa

Senator Russell Ruderman hosted a meeting with Governor Neil Abercrombie including about twenty-five Puna community leaders. This was the first time in several years that the Governor has visited Puna to specifically listen and address concerns of the district. The meeting was held at Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences school in Kea’au on Saturday, July 12th.

Ruderman Abercrombie

It was a productive meeting, with both the Governor’s staff and Puna leaders expressing great appreciation for the opportunity to meet directly with one another to address community concerns.

Governor Abercrombie intently listened as the issues of the Puna District, such as substandard subdivisions and the problems they are facing including roads and other necessary infrastructure; emergency access; geothermal; need for social & medical services; unsafe highways; safe access to medical marijuana; charter schools; and a variety of other concerns were presented by those in attendance. The governor acknowledged their concerns, asked questions, and agreed that Puna is in need of long-denied attention and resources.

One theme emerged repeatedly, as Senator Ruderman explained, “Puna is the state’s fastest-growing district, and includes some of the state’s poorest population areas, yet it has received less funding than other districts for several decades.”

Ruderman at Haas

One example of the problems this has caused is that Lower Puna has only one road for access and emergencies (Highway 130) and this overburdened highway is the most dangerous road in the state. As Community leader Jon Olson said “We’re dying out here, literally, on the unsafe state highway.”

The Governor stated, “This is the 21st Century, and we need to look at things anew.” The old assumptions about our subdivisions, roads, and what Puna residents deserve must be re-evaluated. The Governor agreed to focus more attention on our needs and will follow up with more communication.

Senator Ruderman coordinated this meeting to create a productive avenue of communication between the administration and the Puna community, which has been lacking in recent years. Senator Ruderman said “For this meeting, we put aside the most contentious issues and focused instead on all the other basic issues so desperately in need of attention in Puna. I am thankful for this renewed dialog between my community and the administration.”

Eleven Highway Bridge Projects To Be Expedited With Innovative Federal/State Partnership

As part of the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (HDOT) goal of improving the state’s highway infrastructure, HDOT is partnering with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Central Federal Lands Highways Division (CFLHD) to deliver 11 bridge projects throughout the state.This partnership will supplement the state’s current project delivery process and get additional projects shovel-ready.

Department of Transportation logo

“Central Federal Lands Highways Division has managed various construction phases of Saddle Road on Hawaii Island with great results,” said Ford Fuchigami, HDOT Interim Director. “Its enhanced role statewide will provide a valuable resource and allow us to complete more needed projects.”

“We have experienced great results because of the strong partnership we have with the HDOT and the incredible support of the Big Island communities. The success experienced reminds us all of the importance of partnerships and how all the right resources from local, State and Federal levels can join forces and make great things happen”, said Rick Suarez, CFLHD Division Engineer. “This represents good government in action. It represents the best interests of those we serve and enables us to be good stewards of limited resources entrusted to us.”

The projects include:

Oahu:

• Interstate H1 Bridge Rehabilitation, Kapalama Canal, (Halona Street Bridge)
• Kamehameha Highway, Kipapa Stream (Roosevelt) Bridge Rehabilitation
• Kamehameha Highway, Replacement of Hoolapa (Nanahau) Stream Bridge
• Kamehameha Highway, Replacement of Kawela Stream Bridge

Hawaii Island:

• Kawaihae Road, Waiaka Stream Bridge Replacement and Realignment of Approaches
• Mamalahoa Highway, Hilea Stream Bridge Replacement
• Mamalahoa Highway, Ninole Stream Bridge Replacement

Kauai:

• Kaumualii Highway, Hanapepe River Bridge Replacement and/or Rehabilitation
• Kaumualii Highway, Route 50, Bridge Rehabilitation, Bridge No. 7E
• Kuhio Highway, Route 56, Mailihuna Road Intersection and Kapaa Stream Bridge Rehabilitation
• Kuhio Highway, Route 560, Bridge Rehabilitation at Wainiha Stream Bridges #1, #2 and #3

The total program cost is estimated to be more than $137 million dollars. These projects are in the preliminary planning phases. There may be additional projects as the HDOT works collaboratively with CFLHD and as funds are available. More information on each project will be available in the coming months as the process continues.

CFLHD operates as part of the Federal Lands Highway Program, serving the needs of the central United States, Hawaii, and American Samoa. CFLHD actively administers the surveying, design and construction of forest highway system roads, parkways and park roads, Native American reservation roads, defense access roads, and other Federal lands roads. About 30 percent of the land in the United States falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal government.

Mauna Kea From Space

Mauna Kea has the largest observatory for Optical, Infrared, and Sub-millimeter Astronomy:
Mauna Kea from above

Report Shows Access Learning Pilot Enhances Teaching and Student Learning

A first-year report on the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (DOE) Access Learning pilot presented to the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) today shows the initiative is helping to reduce burden on teachers, increase student engagement and responsibility, and improve parents’ support of public schools.

Click to view the report

Click to view the report

Last year, the DOE unveiled Access Learning, a pilot project to study the impact of technology and digital curricular resources on teaching and learning, at eight schools. This initiative takes advantage of ongoing Department efforts such as new technology for learning while addressing challenges facing our public schools. Access Learning does not focus on the device, rather on how technology can be a tool to support teachers’ efforts to personalize instruction and engage students.

Monanalua Middle School Principal Lisa Nagamine told the BOE, “Access Learning has enhanced the collaborative learning environment of our school.”

Moanalua Middle is one of the eight Access Learning schools that has incorporated technology for learning at all levels within its campus, not just the student level.

“The dedication and commitment by the school leaders, staff, and students allowed us to see the full potential of this initiative and its impact on student learning,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We appreciate their input and based on the positive results, hope to increase access to digital learning in all schools in the near future.”

Information and data collected from the eight Access Learning schools from October 2013 through April 2014 revealed:

  • Teachers use computers in a wide variety of ways to improve job performance and teaching – and that usage has increased since an initial survey was done last fall.
  • Teachers believe access to technology will benefit English language learners and special education students.
  • Students reported having positive experiences with the program. More than 90 percent of students surveyed say laptops make schoolwork more interesting and better prepare them for the future.
  • Students reported computers help them to be more organized and finish work more quickly and with better quality. Access to technology also made assignments a lot more fun by creating blogs, slideshows, movie trailers, and usage of other media.
  • Laptops allowed for better peer collaboration during project work and completing homework.
  • Parents believe computers help students gain a better insight into the happenings of the classroom and learn essential skills to compete globally.

“The 1-to-1 laptop program has improved education opportunities for students,” noted one parent. “The school has finally caught up with private schools.”

“I have seen increased student engagement in classwork because their computer allows them to have a ‘voice’ at the same time as everyone else. Less students are distracted or off task. (This) has allowed students to work more collaboratively in and out of the classroom setting,” one teacher reported.

The 2013 Legislature appropriated $8.2 million to the DOE for the pilot, which funded computers for teachers and students, technical support, professional development, and also helped offset curriculum and implementation expenses. In addition to Moanalua Middle, Access Learning pilot schools include Keaau Elementary and Pahoa Elementary, Mililani Mauka Elementary, Mililani Waena Elementary, Nanaikapono Elementary, Nanakuli Elementary, and Nanakuli Intermediate and High.

Pilot schools received devices for every student and teacher equipped with Hawaii Common Core-aligned digital curriculum for English Language Arts. The DOE partnered with county police departments to safeguard the computers, all of which are equipped with advanced security tracking software. As a result, the schools reported a combined theft and loss rate of only six computers (less than 1 percent).

Due to funding requirements, the Department was given a very short window to implement the initiative and the report noted those challenges. Teachers expressed frustration with limited time for professional development sessions. View the full report here.

During the past legislative session, DOE requested funding for ongoing Access Learning technical assistance and professional development. The budget request was denied; however, DOE officials worked with and received approval from the BOE to expend funding to continue technical assistance for the pilot schools through FY15. The funding request to the BOE will provide customized professional development for schools, overall and school specific program evaluation for formative purposes, and support for project management. For more information about the program, see the DOE’s Access Learning page.

Big Island Police Need Help Identifying Composite Drawings of Robbery Suspects

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying robbery suspects shown in composite drawings.

Composite Sketch

Composite Sketch

Sketch2
At 2:20 a.m. on June 27, Kona Patrol officers responded to a reported robbery near the intersection of Highway 190 and Loloa Drive in Kalaoa.

The victim, a 27-year-old Kailua-Kona man, had been hitchhiking at the intersection of Palani Road and Henry Street in Kailua-Kona when two men in a dark Jeep Cherokee picked him up. Near the intersection of Highway 190 and Loloa Drive, the Jeep pulled off the road onto an access road to the Department of Water Supply’s pump station. The driver then reportedly exited the vehicle, went to the rear passenger door armed with a knife and robbed the victim of an undisclosed amount of cash. While the victim was walking away from the Jeep, the driver attacked him, causing a stab wound to his right arm and a laceration to his chest.

The victim was able to flee the area and call 911. He was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Following the victim’s lengthy recovery, detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section were able to work with a Police Department forensic artist to produce composite sketches of the suspects. The driver was described as a local male, 6-feet tall, 200 pounds in his early 30s. The passenger, who was only seen from the rear, was described as a heavy-set local male with long hair in a pony tail that had several dark bands.

Police ask anyone with information about this case or the suspects’ identities to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Levon Stevens at 326-4646, extension 275, or lstevens@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number 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.

Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Announces 2014 Pualu Awards

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) recently recognized 11 individuals, businesses or organizations with Pualu Awards at its annual Installation and Membership Banquet at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

“Meaning to “work together,” Pualu Awards were established in 1979 to honor those in West Hawai‘i for their dedication and hard work in the community,” explains Vivan Landrum, Chamber president/CEO. Winners are tapped in seven categories and chosen by an awards committee from nominations received by Chamber members and the general public.

The Community Education Award honors an individual or organization that promotes and supports education and enrichment programs that develop personal skills and lifelong learning. There are three recipients of this award: Kei-Lin Cerf of Kealakehe High School’s Life Plan Youth Mentoring Program, West Hawaii Community Health Center and Jack’s Diving Locker.

Kei Lin

Kei Lin pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Lifeplan pairs community volunteers with high school classrooms to learn about student’s individual values, dreams and goals. These mentors assist in turning these aspirations for students into action steps for success. Currently the program supports almost 650 students with the help of 32 volunteer mentors, 32 homeroom teachers and 42 youth leaders.  At the helm of this program is Kei-Lin Cerf, who, for the past four years, has taken this program to a new level through her innovation, dedication and hard work.

pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

West Hawaii Community Health Center Representative pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

West Hawaii Community Health Center was honored for its Patient Centered Health Care Home program that builds personal relationships through medical providers. These professionals bring education and coaching to high-risk patients with chronic diseases and significant health challenges. This program establishes an ongoing and long-lasting relationship that educates patients on how to self-manage their health care and improve outcomes.

Jack's Diving Reps pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Jack’s Diving Reps pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Jack’s Diving Locker has been offering educational programs in ocean ecology, marine life conservation and environmental stewardship for kids and teens since 1987. Jack’s educational Junior Programs include a six-week Sea Camp for ages 8 – 14 and a Keiki Sea Camp for ages 6 – 8. These camps focus on marine life education and positively impact the lives of many children in the community as well as our ocean resources.

The Environmental Awareness Award taps an individual or organization that exhibits sensitivity and concern for the environment through innovative environmental practices. There are two recipients in this category: David Chai and the Hawaii Wildlife Center.

David Chair pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

David Chair pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Chai has been active in pond and wetland environmental assessment and management plans since the late 1980s. His many projects include restoring water resources and monitoring marine life and water quality at Hawai‘i Volcanoes, Kaloko-Honokohau and Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Parks, plus the shorelines of Makalawaena, Awake’e, Kohanaiki and Kiholo. In addition, one of his projects, a water feature at Ke`olu Golf Course, received one of only two EPA environmental awards in Hawai‘i, and was cited as an example of natural filtration technology and its potential application to keep all Hawai‘i streams, lakes and oceans free of harmful pollutants.

Hawaii Wildlife Center Rep pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Hawaii Wildlife Center Rep pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

The Hawaii Wildlife Center is a non-profit organization that specializes in the conservation of native birds and the Hawaiian hoary bat. It is the first organization of its kind exclusively for native Hawaiian wildlife and is the state’s only organization providing professional wildlife response services exceeding the national standards, including state-of-the-art care and rehabilitation to all species of native birds and bats throughout the Hawaiian Islands. In addition to wildlife treatment, it also provides rescue and response training and research assistance for wildlife response to seabird fallout and contaminant spills and avian diseases.

The Business Innovation Award recognizes a business or organization that is committed to improving or enhancing employee’s lives, or exhibits creative product development, marketing or customer service. The recipient is Interim Dean Farrah-Marie Gomes of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo’s College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS).

UH Hilo Reps pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

UH Hilo Rep and Dean Farrah-Marie Gomes pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

In an effort to ensure the island has a viable workforce, Gomes was proactive in forming creative and innovative credit and non-credit classes and professional development programs to meet new workforce needs. The CCECS program worked with community partners to ascertain the training needs, identify curriculum and forge delivery partnerships to address those needs.

The Lifetime Service Award taps an individual who has made a lifelong commitment to the community exemplified by their personal and/or business achievements. This year’s recipients are Gretchen Lawson and the late Guy Toyama.

Gretchen Lawson pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Gretchen Lawson pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Lawson has dedicated the last 18-plus years of her life to empowering persons with disabilities to live life to the fullest. Under her leadership, the Arc of Kona moved from near bankruptcy to a thriving, financially secure, effective and well-respected organization that employs over 100 individuals, who are offered opportunities for self-improvement and training. Outside of the office, the Holualoa resident has been an avid advocate for the disabled by participating in government and community organizations, including the Hawaii State Rehabilitation Council, the UH College of Education Advisory Board, the State Medicaid Infrastructure Grant Advisory Board and the County of Hawai‘i Community Alliance Partners.

pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

The late Guy Toyama was honored by Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

The late Guy Toyama was dedicated to improving the quality of life in West Hawai‘i. During his short, 42 years of life, his leadership in entrepreneurship, business development, education and policy illustrated his unmatched passion for inspiring our community to be more self-reliant and sustainable. Mr. Toyama organized dozens of conferences and workshops at the NELHA Gateway Center, hosted environmental films for the Kona Earth Festival and helped organize community events. He also helped build relationships between the County of Hawai‘i and Japan and was instrumental in the establishment of a sister-city relationship between KKCC and the Hatsukaichi Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hiroshima.

The Visitor Industry Marketing Award is presented each year to that person or group who diligently works to promote the visitor industry in West Hawai‘i. Congratulations to Gerry Rott of the Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon.

Gerry Rott pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Gerry Rott pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Since its inception in 1997, the number of participants for the Waikoloa Lavaman has grown from 83 to over 1500. Rott’s ingenious job of branding the Lavaman Triathlon series—including the signature petroglyph logo, website, merchandising, vendor exhibits, celebrity participants, creative sponsorship opportunities and ever changing event additions, such as the Friday Night Fun Run and Lavakids—keeps the event fresh and appealing not only to repeat participants, but consistently draws in new athletes, volunteers and sponsors each year.

The Culture & Heritage Award is given to an individual or organization that has exhibited, through its actions, practices that promote island traditions and preserves our multi-cultural heritage. This year’s recipient is Rick Gaffney.

Rick Gaffney pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Rick Gaffney pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Gaffney has undertaken leadership responsibility to promote island traditions and help preserve our cultural heritage by contributing both time and money to the preservation of Hawaii’s unique marine traditions and multi-cultural heritage. While the voyaging canoe Hokulea was in dry dock during preparation for its current worldwide voyage, Gaffney arranged for the donation of a $250,000 sailing catamaran to the Polynesian Voyaging Society to be used as a navigation and training platform. Upon the launch of Hokulea this year, he arranged for the transfer of that sailing catamaran to a local business here and supported the work of the Nakoa Foundation, to continue the training of Kona’s youth in the traditional use of Hawaiian sailing and fishing canoes.

Chamber Member of the Year recognizes the individual who advocates, promotes and supports the mission of KKCC through active participation on committees, events, membership and/or community service. This year KKCC honors Sharon Sakai.

Sharon Sakai pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

Sharon Sakai pictured between Chamber CEO/President Vivian Landrum at left with KKCC Board Chair Tracey

The Hawai’i Island native has been very active in KKCC for 15 years, serving as a member of the Board of Directors for several terms and South Kohala Vice President, and participating on the Marketing & Communications Committee, the Education Resource Group and the Economic Development Committee. She has worked tirelessly as a behind-the-scenes volunteer by staffing KKCC events and offering support and guidance. As KKCC President/CEO Landrum stated, “I couldn’t imagine the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce being where it is today without the support and guidance of Sharon Sakai. She exemplifies service above self and is truly deserving of this award.”

Big Island Man Dies in Crash in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates

A 20-year-old Kaʻū man died Sunday (July 13) from injuries he sustained in a single-vehicle crash late Friday on Hawaiʻi Belt Road and the junction with Ginger Blossom Lane in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates.

Austin Yurong

Austin Yurong

He has been identified as Austin L. Yurong of Hawaiian Ocean View Estates.

Responding to a 11:10 p.m. call Friday (July 11), Kaʻū Patrol officers determined that Yurong, who was the operator and sole occupant of a 1986 Toyota pickup truck, was traveling east on Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Route 11) between the 80- and 81-mile markers approaching the junction with Ginger Blossom Lane when he lost control and veered off the right shoulder, colliding with a lava embankment. The vehicle veered back into the southbound traffic lane and then back into the lava embankment, rolled twice and came to rest upright, straddling the center lane markings.

Yurong was ejected from the vehicle and found lying unconscious on the south shoulder. He was taken to Kona Community Hospital and later transferred to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu, where he was pronounced dead at 12:39 p.m. Sunday.

Hawaiʻi Belt Road was closed to all traffic from about 11:10 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday.

Police believe that alcohol and speed may be contributing factors to this collision.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation and has ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the collision to call Officer Larry Flowers at 326-4646, extension 229.

This is the 8th fatality this year compared with 17 at this time last year.