National Science Foundation Awards $20 Million Dollar Grant to UH System for Clean Water Research Project

Today, Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $20,000,000 grant to the University of Hawaii System for a clean water research project. The project, titled Ike Wai from the Hawaiian words for knowledge and water, will address the critical needs of the state to maintain its supply of clean water, most of which comes from groundwater sources.

Ike Wai

“This grant will greatly improve our understanding of one of Hawaii’s most precious natural resources,” said Representative Mark Takai (HI-01). “Through public-private collaboration with federal, state and local agencies, we can increase the efficiency of our state’s water management, and ensure that we have the federal resources necessary to promote a workforce capable of conducting this type of research for generations to come.”

“Due to our volcanic origins, our system of aquifers is far more complex than we once thought,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). “This grant will allow scientists to use modern mapping tools to provide policymakers with critical information about our water resources, and help ensure that there is enough for the needs of people, agriculture, and future generations.”

“Hawaii’s water is a precious resource, and this competitive funding will support the University of Hawaii’s research into protecting our fresh water sources for future generations,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power. “Ike Wai and other projects that build an innovative, sustainable future are essential to understanding and finding solutions for our island state’s unique needs, and also underscore the importance of significant federal investments in research in these critical areas, something that I strongly support.”

“Pollution, fracking, unsustainable farming practices, and over development have put serious pressure on our clean water supply across the globe. It is essential that we protect and maintain access to fresh and clean water in Hawaiʻi due our isolated location in the Pacific,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “There is still much unknown about how water flows through the unique landscapes and volcanic foundations of our islands. This grant from the National Science Foundation will help us to better understand how to use our precious natural resources to ensure a continuous and high quality water supply.”

Ike Wai Valley

The Ike Wai project, awarded under the NSF’s Research Infrastructure Improvements Program, will greatly improve understanding of where the water that provides for the needs of Hawaii’s cities, farms, and industries comes from and how to ensure a continued, high quality supply. This supply is under increasing pressures from population growth, economic development, and climate change. The funding provided by the NSF will encourage collaboration with federal, state, and local agencies and community groups concerned with water management.

Lawmakers Pass Resolution to Preserve Kapua Lands

Members of the Senate Committee on Water, Land and Agriculture today voted to pass Senate Resolution 46.

sr46SR46 requests the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to engage in negotiations with the current land owners of the makai lands of Kapua to acquire the lands on behalf of the state or to lease those lands in perpetuity on behalf of the state.

“Our late colleague, Senator Gil Kahele, had the dream of the state purchasing the Kapua makai lands. This resolution will make it possible to see this dream become reality,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Water, Land and Agriculture committee, in recommending the resolution be passed.

As one of his last actions as a state legislator, the late Senator Gilbert Kahele signed SB3071 for its introduction during the 2016 session, which would have required the DLNR to engage in negotiations to acquire the Kapua makai lands. Kaiali‘i Kahele was appointed to the seat vacated by his father, following his death in January. SR46 was drafted by Sen. Kahele who was determined to ensure the process to preserve the lands would continue, despite the SB3071 being stalled in conference.

“This is not just for my dad, but for generations of keiki,” said Sen. Kahele. “This area has significant archeological and culturally historical value and must be preserved.”

SR46 is the final resolution to be heard this legislative session and will be voted on the floor on Thursday, May 5, 2016.

29-Year-Old Man Survives Two-Months at Sea – Three Others Perish at Sea

A 29-year-old man arrived in good condition to Honolulu Wednesday aboard a Coast Guard small boat after being rescued by merchant mariners in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean and surviving a two- month ordeal at sea.

coast guard rescue man

A Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Honolulu safely transported the man from the motor vessel Nikkei Verde offshore of Honolulu to the Coast Guard Base Wednesday morning to meet awaiting EMS in stable condition.

“This mariner had great fortitude and is very fortunate the crew of the Nikkei Verde happened upon him as the area he was in is not heavily trafficked,” said Lt. Cmdr. John MacKinnon, Joint Rescue Coordination Center chief with the Coast Guard 14th District. “The Pacific is vast and inherently dangerous and all mariners respect that. These merchant mariners did the right thing in rendering assistance and most mariners heed the obligation to render assistance at sea, found in the Safety Of Life At Sea Convention, out of a sense of duty and understanding rather than required compliance.”

JRCC watchstanders in Honolulu received notification April 26, from the master of the motor vessel, reporting while on their voyage to China his crew had located a man stranded at sea aboard a 23-foot skiff. They brought him aboard and requested medical advice and assistance to return the man to his home country. They were located about 2,150 miles southeast of Hilo, but still within the Coast Guard’s area of responsibility for search and rescue at the time of the report.

A Coast Guard flight surgeon provided medical advice to the crew. Coast Guard officials worked with the Nikkei Verde crew to arrange a transfer near Honolulu and coordinated with the Colombian consul in San Francisco who arranged for transportation, Customs clearance, lodging, any hospital care, and an escort ahead of his arrival to Honolulu.

According to the survivor he and three companions set out from Columbia more than two months earlier. Once the skiff’s engine became disabled they were adrift. He said he caught and ate fish and seagulls to stay alive. The three other men reportedly perished at sea. Their bodies were not aboard the skiff when located by Nikkei Verde’s crew; however, the survivor did surrender their passports to officials.

The Coast Guard assisted in the man’s rescue but is not investigating the case as the circumstances fall outside Coast Guard purview.

The Nikkei Verde is a Panamanian-flagged 618-foot bulk carrier. JRCC Honolulu is located at the Coast Guard 14th District in Honolulu and has responsibility for search and rescue across 12.2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean to include the Main Hawaiian Islands, Guam and Saipan extending out in all directions. The Coast Guard maintains several search and rescue agreements with sovereign Pacific Island nations and regional partner countries.

Officer Mike Thompson Named “Officer of the Month”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Mike Thompson as “Officer of the Month” for May in a luncheon ceremony Wednesday (May 4) at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona.

Officer Mike Thompson

Officer Mike Thompson

Thompson was honored for an act of kindness his supervisor described as “far beyond compassion.”

On December 19, 2015, an 88-year-old woman called 911 just after noon to report that Meals on Wheels had missed a 9:30 a.m. delivery and she was hungry. Dispatchers attempted to contact the appropriate agency but were unable to reach anyone, so Officer Thompson was assigned to check on the woman’s welfare and determine whether she needed medical attention.

On his way to the caller’s house, Thompson stopped at his own home and gathered food items from his pantry to share with her. He then went to her house and prepared her a meal. When he learned that she was unable to open cans on her own, he opened additional cans of food and placed them in her refrigerator in plastic containers for future use.

Sergeant Grad Elarionoff nominated Thompson for the award. “In a time when police officers are becoming increasingly hardened, a simple gesture of aloha reminds us all that police officers are people too, caring people,” Elarionoff wrote in nomination papers. “I’m at a loss for words.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Thompson is eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawaiʻi.

Hawaii Chief Justice Seeks Public Comment on Judicial Nominees

Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald announced today that he is seeking public comment on judicial nominees for two vacancies – one in the District Court of the First Circuit (Island of Oahu) as a result of the appointment of the Honorable Shirley M. Kawamura  to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, and one in the District Family Court of the Third Circuit (Island of Hawaii) as a result of the appointment of the Honorable Melvin H. Fujino to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit.
JudiciaryThe names submitted for these vacancies by the Judicial Selection Commission, in alphabetical order, are:

District Court of the First Circuit (Island of Oahu)

Brian A. Costa
Mr. Costa is currently employed at Costa & DeLacy, L.L.L.C, and serves as a Per Diem Judge of the District Family Court of the First Circuit.  Costa is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 2001.

Timothy E. Ho
Mr. Ho is currently employed as Chief Deputy Public Defender with the State of Hawaii Office of the Public Defender.  Ho is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1987.

Ronald G. Johnson
Mr. Johnson is currently employed as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii.  Johnson is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1987.

James S. Kawashima
Mr. Kawashima is currently employed at James S. Kawashima, Attorney at Law, and serves as a Per Diem Judge of the District Court of the First Circuit.  Kawashima is a graduate of the University of Southern California and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1992.

Trish K. Morikawa
Ms. Morikawa is currently employed at Gallagher Kane Amai, and serves as a Per Diem Judge of the District Family Court of the First Circuit.  Morikawa is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1995.

Rowena A. Somerville
Ms. Somerville is currently employed as a Hearings Officer with the State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.  Somerville is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1996.

District Family Court of the Third Circuit (Island of Hawaii)

Thomas A.K. Haia
Mr. Haia is currently employed at Thomas A.K. Haia, Attorney at Law, and serves as a Per Diem Judge of the District Court of the First Circuit.  Haia is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii Bar in 1995.

Kevin S. Hashizaki
Mr. Hashizaki is currently employed as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the County of Hawaii Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.  Hashizaki is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1995.

Peter K. Kubota
Mr. Kubota is currently employed at Peter K. Kubota, Attorney at Law, A Law Corporation.  Kubota is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1989.

Michelle K. Laubach
Ms. Laubach is currently employed at Laubach & Frenz, Attorneys At Law, L.L.L.C.  Laubach is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 2003.

Laureen L. Martin
Ms. Martin is currently employed as Corporation Counsel with the County of Hawaii.  Martin is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School, Boston, Massachusetts, and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1993.

Jeffrey W.S. Ng
Mr. Ng is currently employed as a Deputy Public Defender with the State of Hawaii Office of the Public Defender.  Ng is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 2002.

Because the Chief Justice has the discretion to assign judges to the district or district family court calendar, comments about the qualifications and character of any of the nominees with regard to either calendar assignment may be sent, in writing, to:

Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald
Supreme Court of Hawaii
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI  96813

Fax: 808-539-4703
Email: [email protected]

Comments must be post-marked, emailed, faxed, or hand delivered no later than Monday, May 16, 2016.  All comments will be kept confidential.

The individuals selected by the Chief Justice are subject to Senate confirmation.