State General Fund Ending Balance at $664.8 Million

The State of Hawaii concluded fiscal year 2014 with a $664.8 million ending balance, according to the preliminary close of 2014 accounts by the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS). The Department of Budget and Finance is providing this release as an annual update to the budgetary ending balance concluding fiscal year 2014.
Dags“Our financial house continues to be on a solid foundation, due to strong fiscal management,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “In 2013, we posted an ending balance of $844 million. We have now posted a positive ending balance of $664.8 million for 2014, after contributing $55.5 million to our state reserves via the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund and setting aside $100 million for the state’s unfunded liability for retiree health care benefits.”

DAGS is responsible for reconciling all the revenues and expenditures for every state department.  Based on its calculations, the state ended with $1.1 billion in cash, with $394.3 million in accrued expenses for an unreserved fund balance of $664.8 million.

“The Department of Budget and Finance reviewed the report from DAGS along with data from the state’s Financial System and concluded that of the $664.8 million approximately $126.3 million came from lapses or unexpended appropriations from state departments while still meeting significant financial obligations of the State,” said Finance Director Kalbert Young.  “Our consistent vigilance and administration in ensuring expenses are kept in check with projected revenues has once again assured Hawaii taxpayers that the fiscal condition of the state is and will remain soundly in the black.”

The Department of Human Services Announces QUEST Integration

The Department of Human Services Med-QUEST Division (MQD) is launching a more patient centric Medicaid program to better serve clients.  QUEST Integration effectively combines and replaces the QUEST and QUEST Expanded Access (QExA) programs.

Department of Human Services

“The benefits of QUEST Integration include more health plan choices for aged, blind or disabled individuals, and a greater ability for a beneficiary to remain with the same health plan upon turning 65 or developing a disability,” explained Dr. Kenny Fink, MQD Administrator.  “Additionally, eligible beneficiaries will gain expanded access to home and community based services to prevent decline to institutional level of care.”  QUEST Integration also reduces administrative burden by creating a single managed care program.

The health plans participating in QUEST Integration are AlohaCare, Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA), Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (Oahu & Maui only), ‘Ohana Health Plan and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan.

The open enrollment period for QUEST Integration is September 2 through September 30, 2014.  Enrollment packets will be mailed to all eligible QUEST and QExA members the week of August 25, 2014. To help beneficiaries select a health plan the enrollment packet will include a newsletter and health plan informational flyers.  If beneficiaries want to stay in their current health plan, they DO NOT need to make a plan choice.  All current health plans are participating in QUEST Integration.

Beneficiaries who want to change to a different health plan must notify the MQD by September 30, 2014.  They can notify the MQD by:

  • Returning their completed plan change form to the MQD address provided in the enrollment packet;
  • Faxing the completed form to the MQD at 1-800-576-5504; or
  • Calling the Med-QUEST Enrollment Call Center at 524-3370 or 1-800-316-8005 toll-free

In mid-December 2014, the MQD will mail Health Plan Confirmation notices to eligible beneficiaries.  The notices will identify the beneficiary’s new (if selected) or unchanged QUEST Integration health plan that takes effect January 1, 2015.  The MQD will facilitate transfer of client information from the old health plan to the new health plan, including primary care provider information, specialist care, and special care needs.

The QUEST Integration health plans will mail out identification cards in January 2015.  If beneficiaries must access medical care prior to receiving their plan identification card, providers will accept the Health Plan Confirmation notice.

The MQD took multiple steps to inform the public about QUEST Integration, including holding public hearings, conducting community outreach and soliciting public comments.  The MQD staff made numerous and substantive changes in response to public input.  As a result, QUEST Integration is an innovative program shaped by the community for the community.

For more information about the DHS Med-QUEST Division and QUEST Integration, please visit www.humanservices.hawaii.gov

Successful 2nd Annual Jimmy Yagi Summer Hoops Camp Concludes

A successful 2nd Annual Jimmy Yagi Summer Hoops Camp concluded Thursday, July 24, attracting nearly 150 keiki athletes and coaches to the four-day skills camp held in Hilo.

Can you find my son?

Can you find my son? (Click to enlarge)

Boys and girls 9 to 17 years old received personalized instruction from legendary former University of Hawai‘i at Hilo basketball Coach Jimmy Yagi, who helped guide the Vulcans-Hawai‘i Basketball School for 37 years.

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation offered the camp for the first time in 2013 to honor Coach Yagi and provide a low-cost, end-of-summer program for kids to learn basketball fundamentals.

Teenage campers again played at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, while preteens were assigned to the Pana‘ewa Covered Play Courts. Shooting, defense, proper basketball stance, footwork, dribbling, and teamwork were among the lessons taught to the keiki, who displayed their skills during games played each afternoon.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks Coach Yagi, lead clinician Bill O’Rear, UHH men’s basketball Head Coach GE Coleman, UHH women’s basketball Head Coach David Kaneshiro, Honoka‘a girls basketball Coach Daphne Honma, the County’s Mass Transit Agency for use of a bus, and all the other coaches who volunteered their time and expertise to help the keiki athletes.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tours and Film Share History of World War II Detention Site at Kīlauea Military Camp

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will offer guided tours of the former World War II detention camp site at Kīlauea Military Camp on Tuesday, July 29, and show the documentary, The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i.

Drawing of KMC detention camp by Japanese-American Yoshio "George" Hoshida, courtesy of the Japanese National Museum

Drawing of KMC detention camp by Japanese-American Yoshio “George” Hoshida, courtesy of the Japanese National Museum

The tours and film are free, but park entrance fees apply.

The one-hour tour is at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and will focus on the Japanese residents of Hawai‘i who were detained at Kīlauea Military Camp during World War II. No registration is required. Meet at the check-in area at Kīlauea Military Camp (KMC), near the flagpole. Park archeologist Dr. Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura and archive technician Geoff Mowrer will lead the tours. Limited copies of the new National Park Service cultural resources report, A Silent Farewell, will be available.

Photo of the U.S. Army Signal Corps standing in formation in front of Building 34 at Kilauea Military Camp. Today, the building houses the U.S. Post Office, Crater Rim Cafe and Lava Lounge. NPS Photo Archives.

Photo of the U.S. Army Signal Corps standing in formation in front of Building 34 at Kilauea Military Camp. Today, the building houses the U.S. Post Office, Crater Rim Cafe and Lava Lounge. NPS Photo Archives.

At 1 p.m., the documentary The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i, will be shown at the Lava Lounge, located adjacent to the post office at KMC. That evening, the park will show the film as part of its After Dark in the Park series at 7 p.m. in the Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Filmmaker Ryan Kawamoto and Carole Hayashino, president and director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, will present both showings of the documentary.

While the story of the 1942 mass round-up, eviction and imprisonment of Japanese Americans in California, Oregon and Washington has been well documented, very little is known about the Hawai‘i internees and their unique experience during World War II. This is the first full-length documentary to chronicle this untold story in Hawai‘i’s history.

Second Round of Public Informational Meetings Scheduled for Statewide Transportation Improvement Program

The Hawaii Department of Transportation will be holding its second round of statewide public informational meetings to discuss the fiscally constrained draft of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) for Fiscal Years 2015-2018 (+2). The STIP is a four-year plan that identifies state and county transportation projects to be funded, in part, with Federal Highway and Transit Funds.

Round a Bout

Fiscal constraint of the new STIP was done using technical information from management systems, project schedules and readiness information, and coordination with relevant public agencies and the public. Survey results gathered from the first round of public meetings will be shared, along with information about next steps.

Meetings for the island of Oahu are being scheduled by the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization. For more information, please visit the OahuMPO website at: http://www.oahumpo.org/plans-and-programs/transportation-improvement-program-tip/

Upcoming public meetings on neighbor islands are scheduled as follows:

Pahoa, Hawaii
Monday, July 28, 2014, 6 PM
Pahoa Community Center
15-2910 Puna Road
Pahoa, Hawaii 96778

Hilo, Hawaii
Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 6 PM
Hilo State Office Building Conference Rooms A, B, & C
75 Aupuni Street
Hilo, Hawaii 96720

Kamuela, Hawaii
Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 6 PM
Waimea Civic Center, State Office Building Conference Room
67-5189 Kamamalu Street
Kamuela, Hawaii 96743

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Thursday, July 31, 2014, 6 PM
Kealakehe Intermediate School Cafeteria
74-5062 Onipaa Street
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740

 Kula, Maui
Monday, August 4, 2014, 6 PM
King Kekaulike High School Cafeteria
121 Kula Highway
Pukalani, Hawaii 96768

 Kihei, Maui
Tuesday, August 5, 2014, 6 PM
Kihei Elementary School Cafeteria
250 E. Lipoa Street
Kihei, Hawaii 96753

Lahaina, Maui
Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 6 PM
West Maui Senior Center Cafeteria
788 Pauoa Street
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761

 Kahului, Maui
Thursday, August 7, 2014, 6 PM
Maui District Office Conference Room
650 Palapala Drive
Kahului, Hawaii 96732

More information on the fiscally constrained DRAFT Fiscal Years 2015-2018 (+2) STIP, can be found at http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/stip-fiscal-years-2015-2018-2-development-information/

Comments may also be submitted by August 15, 2014 through E-mail, mail, or FAX to:

E-mail Address: Hwy.Stip.Projects@hawaii.gov

Mailing Address: Highway Planning Branch

869 Punchbowl Street, Room 301

Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Phone: (808) 587-6355

FAX: (808) 587-1787

To request language interpretation, an auxiliary aid or service (i.e., sign language interpreter, accessible parking, or materials in alternative format), contact Tracy Ho at (808) 587-1831 fourteen (14) days prior to the meeting date, if possible. TTY users may use TRS to contact HDOT at 808-587-2210.

More STIP information can also be found at the following web address:

http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/other/other-related-links/stip/general-stip-information/

Big Island Police Searching for Four Wanted for Fraudulent Use of Credit Card

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for three men and a woman who are wanted for fraudulent use of a credit card.

The card was stolen Wednesday (July 23) from a car on Kuakini Highway and then used at a Kailua-Kona business three times.

Colvin Gaspar

Colvin Gaspar

Colvin Gaspar, 22, of Kailua-Kona is described as 5-foot-6, 155 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He is also wanted on eight bench warrants with bail totaling $300,000.

Theodore "Kahui" Casuga

Theodore “Kahui” Casuga

Theodore “Kahui” Casuga, 39, of Kailua-Kona is described as 5-foot-8, 245 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He is also wanted for reckless endangering, reckless driving and resisting an order to stop.

Luke Kaniaupia

Luke Kaniaupia

Luke Kaniaupia 21, of Kailua-Kona is described as 5-foot-6, 165 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

Leilani Parent

Leilani Parent

Leilani Parent, 26, of Kailua-Kona is described as 5-foot-5, 140 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

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

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.

Video – Simulated Mars Mission Complete

The HI-SEAS Crew 2 had a live Google Hangout event today when they returned to “Earth” from “Simulated Mars”.  They have been living in a Mars simulation located on Mauna Loa for the past 120 days.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

Here is the video:
[youtube=http://youtu.be/YvUIh2Y8fns]

“The Feeding Leaf” – New Culinary Partnership Features Hawai’i Island Food From the Source

“He lau ma‘ona” is a Hawaiian expression that means “the leaf that feeds until satisfied,”referring to the kalo plant, a key food source from root to tip. As the new name for an up-and-coming culinary partnership, “The Feeding Leaf” means sharing food rooted in culture, prepared and served with a high level of artistry.

Chef Scott Hiraishi and Tracey Apoliona of The Feeding Leaf, on a learning excursion into Waipi'o Valley.  Anna Pacheco Photography

Chef Scott Hiraishi and Tracey Apoliona of The Feeding Leaf, on a learning excursion into Waipi’o Valley. Anna Pacheco Photography

The Feeding Leaf’s culinary partnership—Chef Scott Hiraishi and mulit-talented event planner Tracey Apoliona—make a strong team, cumulatively bringing decades of creative organizational and culinary skills to the table. Now working with clients on a variety of private parties and social functions, The Feeding Leaf focuses, almost exclusively, on Hawaii’s wealth of local foods.

The idea began with the Hawai‘i Island Ranchers Dinner at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai last March. Hiraishi was Executive Chef, and took a leadership role on the event, supported by Chef Sam. Working with partners in the agricultural and education community, the Ranchers Dinner promoted their joint mission to not only “grow farmers” by nurturing agriculture, but to “grow chefs” who will use these excellent regional foods in their restaurants.

Energized by the sold-out dinner’s success, Hiraishi and Apoliona began to think about a partnership of their own, while planning for the “Roast & Roots” event, collaborating with Hawai‘i Coffee Association, Kamehameha Schools—Land Asset Division, and the Department of Agriculture. Held July 19 at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay – Convention Center, Roast & Roots was the perfect stage to premier “The Feeding Leaf.”

“We want people to understand that there’s a real and significant difference between mainstream and local foods,” said Tracey. “We want the farmers and ranchers to be appreciated for the work they do. We’ve gone to their farms and ranches, and met the people behind the food.”

“Farmers know Scott, and they are understanding of his style of cooking,” said Tracey. “No matter where we go—for example when we went to farmers markets to do food demos—they bring their products and want to give him something to try in his recipes.”

A trip into Waipi’o Valley for a photo shoot turned into an education opportunity, as the crew ventured into the ancient lo‘i amdist centuries-old rock walls. “It was pouring rain and we were drenched, but it all kind of fell into place,” said Tracey. Traditional Hawaiian farmers believed water is life. “It was almost as if Waipi‘o was giving us water, trying to feed us so we could go back and feed other people… The Feeding Leaf is a very good vehicle to teach, not just others, but to teach ourselves,” said Tracey.

Already active in Hawaii’s culinary scene, Hirasishi has been invited to cook for Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival’s exclusive “Pā‘ina on the Pier” event on O‘ahu. And, The Feeding Leaf will participate in Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range, Friday, September 26, 5-8 p.m. at Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Now accepting bookings for the holiday period and beyond, The Feeding Leaf looks forward to bringing Hawaii-raised food to a higher elevation for quality private parties, wine events, weddings, birthdays and other happy occasions. For more information, contact Tracey Apoliona, (808) 960-3094 or Scott Hiraishi, (808) 987-9794, thefeedingleaf@gmail.com, visit www.thefeedingleaf.com, or Facebook.com/thefeedingleaf.

State, Federal, Private-Sector Collaboration Conveys Sign Of ‘Hope’ To Japanese Village

The people of Tanohata Village, in the Iwate Prefecture, on Japan’s northeast coast “are slowly, but surely walking on the path to recovery as a united body,”according to Tanohata Village Mayor Hiroshi Ishihara. The tiny village was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.

Tsunami two

Now, a sign being returned from Hawaii may provide further sense of hope and renewal.  Today, the large wooden sign from the village, which washed up on a beach near Kahuku, Oahu, was loaded into the cargo hold of a Hawaiian Airlines jet and shipped to Sendai International Airport. From there a delegation from Tanohata Village will transport it home.

“This small gesture, a result of cooperation between state and federal agencies, the government of Japan, and Hawaiian Airlines, symbolizes the concern the people of Hawaii continue to have for the victims of the 2011 tsunami,”Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “We hope, in some small measure, the return of this sign from the distant shores of Hawaii will further the healing and recovery of the people of Tanohata Village.”

Return of the Tanohata Sign from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

In a letter sent by Mayor Ishihara, he writes, “Thank you very much for finding and saving the sign –our village’s irreplaceable memento –which was lost during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, from a tremendous amount of debris items –we imagine as many as the number of stars in the sky –that ended up on Kahuku Beach on the Oahu Island. We are truly and deeply moved by the fact that you took the time to deliver the message to us, connecting many people and their compassion. Our village will treasure the memento that is coming back to our hands through your cooperation.”

“The world watched stunned and heartbroken by the devastation the tsunami caused in terms of  loss of life and property,”said William J. Aila, Jr., the chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). “My department has worked closely and in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to track and recover Japan tsunami debris believed to have washed up in Hawaiian waters,”Aila explained. “Debris that makes its way to Hawaii is usually returned at the owner’s expense; however, Hawaiian Airlines volunteered to ship the sign back at no charge.”

The Tanohata village sign is one of fewer than 20 items that have been positively identified as arriving in Hawaii as a result of the Japan tsunami.

Kyle Koyanagi, regional coordinator for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program in Hawaii said, “The websites both NOAA and DLNR established for people to report possible tsunami debris has resulted in numerous small vessels (skiffs) and other items being recovered. People are asked to provide specific information about where they find debris and to take pictures. Based on this information a determination is made about whether further investigation is necessary to prevent the introduction of invasive species or other things that could damage Hawaii’s environment.”

Some of the Tanohata Village sign’s lettering broke off during the tsunami or during its open ocean voyage from Japan to Hawaii. Koyanagi was instrumental in coordinating with the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu to try and identify the origin of the sign.

Consul General of Japan in Honolulu, Toyoei Shigeeda said, “The lettering on the sign, 「しまのこし村営住宅, means “Shimanokoshi village housing.”The people of Tanohata village wanted it returned for an exhibit and to serve as a useful reference for future generations to learn about and understand the tsunami disaster of March 11, 2011. We’re all excited that now, more than three years after the tsunami, this sign can be returned as a reminder and symbol of what was lost.”

The sign was wrapped and crated by DLNR staff before Hawaiian Airlines cargo personnel loaded it onto HA 441 for the direct flight to Sendai. Tim Strauss, vice president of cargo for Hawaiian Airlines, remarked: “We deeply value our relationship with the people of Japan, and it is our great honor to do our part in returning this precious piece of cargo to the people of Tanohata.”

To report large quantities of marine debris, debris with living organisms on it, or debris too large to remove by hand, call (808) 587-0400 and then email any photos to:

DLNR.marine.debris@hawaii.gov  and DisasterDebris@noaa.gov

For more information on marine debris visit: (Hawaii) http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/marine-debris/ or (nationally) http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/

Boaz Johnson Investigator Honored as Officer of the Month

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized Detective Robert Almeida as “Officer of the Month” for June and Officer Eddie Cardines as “Officer of the Month” for July in a luncheon ceremony Thursday (July 24).

Hilo Exchange Club President Andy Iwashita presents an 'Officer of the Month' award to Detective Robert Almeida.

Hilo Exchange Club President Andy Iwashita presents an ‘Officer of the Month’ award to Detective Robert Almeida.

Almeida, who is assigned to the Area I Criminal Investigations Section, was honored for his work as lead investigator of a high-profile murder case. Cardines, a Puna Patrol officer, was honored for helping to save the life of a choking woman.

From the onset of Almeida’s investigation into the strangulation death of a woman whose body was found floating in the ocean off Kalapana, he was able to accurately evaluate the facts supporting his theory of the crime. While the case was still under active investigation, it received nationwide news coverage, much of which contained misinformation and false speculation. Ultimately, scientific and forensic analysis corroborated Almeida’s findings.

According to Lieutenant Gregory Esteban, Almeida’s “unwavering commitment” was instrumental in resolving the case, leading to a Grand Jury indictment.

“Detective Almeida received well-deserved praise from the victim’s family members, his peers, and superiors,” Esteban said. “He is an excellent example of a resourceful and proficient investigator who continues to enhance his skills through application.”

Hilo Exchange Club President Andy Iwashita presents an 'Officer of the Month' award to Officer Eddie Cardines Jr.

Hilo Exchange Club President Andy Iwashita presents an ‘Officer of the Month’ award to Officer Eddie Cardines Jr.

On April 26, Officer Cardines was sent to a home in Mountain View, where a 23-year-old woman was choking and had stopped breathing. When Cardines arrived at the scene, the woman’s frantic mother said her daughter was dying. The victim was lying on her back with a weak pulse and turning blue.

Officer Cardines immediately went into action, taking steps to clear her airway and perform chest compressions. He continued his efforts for four or five minutes until Fire Department personnel arrived and rushed the woman to the hospital.

According to Sergeant BJ Duarte, Officer Cardines considered his response just part of a day’s work as a patrolman and sought no recognition.

“Officer Cardines’ actions and quick thinking on this call likely were key contributing factors in saving the victim’s life, assuring family members that every effort was being made to do so,” Duarte said. “He later learned that the victim was able to make a full recovery from this incident.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Detective Almeida and Officer Cardines are each eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” award is a project of the Aloha Exchange Club