Hawaii Celebrates National Child Passenger Safety Week with Free Car Seat Checks Statewide

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) is teaming up with the four county police departments and child passenger safety advocates to promote National Child Passenger Safety Week, September 18-24.

During Child Passenger Safety Week and throughout the year, Hawaii’s child passenger safety technicians are dedicated to helping parents and caregivers learn how to correctly install child safety seats and properly buckle up their keiki, whether it’s in child safety seats, booster seats or when using the vehicle’s seat belts.

“Hawaii’s keiki are our most precious asset, we can and need to do better to give them the future they deserve,” said Ford Fuchigami, Hawaii Department of Transportation Director. “Parents and caregivers can improve their child’s safety by simply using child safety seats, booster seats and seat belts properly.”

In Hawaii, children under 4 years old are required to ride in a child safety seat; children 4 through 7 years old must ride in a child passenger restraint or booster seat. Violators are required to appear in court, and if convicted, must attend a four-hour class. They may also be assessed a penalty of up to $500.

According to 2014 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 24 percent of children ages 4 through 7 years old were prematurely moved to seat belts, and 9 percent were unrestrained. Children should remain in booster seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and can use seat belts correctly without the booster seat.

Before a child can be moved from a child safety seat to a booster seat, parents and caregivers should check for the following:

  • The lap belt fits across the child’s upper thigh;
  • The shoulder belt fits across the child’s shoulder and chest;
  • The child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat when his or her back and bottom are against the vehicle seat back; and
  • The child can stay seated properly during the entire trip.

Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now advising that children ride rear-facing until at least the age of 2. To educate the public about this recommendation and Hawaii’s child restraint law, the HDOT is airing public service announcements on television and in movie theaters statewide. Hawaii’s child passenger safety media campaign is 100-percent federally funded.

Hawaii has more than 340 certified child passenger safety technicians, including firefighters, law enforcement officers, medical professionals and parents. All technicians have been trained to provide instruction on choosing the right car seat, installing it and using it correctly.

“Each county has child restraint inspection stations and community car seat checks to ensure that all children return home safe,” said Fuchigami. “Parents and caregivers should utilize these free resources to better protect their children.”

seat-checksFree public car seat check events will be held on National Seat Check Saturday, September 24, at the following locations and times:  

Waipio Shopping Center, Waipahu
94-1040 Waipio Uka St.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Target, Hilo
391 E. Makaala St., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Target, Kailua-Kona
74-5455 Makala Blvd., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Walmart, Lihue, 3-3300 Kuhio Highway 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A community seat check event will also be held on Saturday,

September 17, at:  Maui

Maui Marketplace, Kahului, 270 Dairy Road,  10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Child Passenger Safety Week is sponsored by NHTSA. For more on child safety, as well as a list of child restraint inspection stations and community car seat check, visit:  www.kipchawaii.org or www.safercar.gov/parents

Hawaii Governor Signs Emergency Proclamation in Wake of Heavy Rains and Flooding

Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation in the wake of heavy rains and flooding that caused extensive damage throughout the state especially the counties of Maui and Kalawao. The counties are expected to need rehabilitative assistance from the state to respond to the damage caused by the severe, sudden and extraordinary rains.

“The severe weather that struck the state this week caused heavy damage, and the state stands ready to support the counties in the recovery effort,” said Gov. Ige.

The disaster emergency relief period began on September 13, 2016 and will be in place for 60 days.


Click to read full proclamation

Flooding Closes Famous ‘Iao Valley State Monument Indefinitely

‘Iao Valley State Monument, Maui, will remain closed indefinitely due to extensive damage from heavy rain and flooding the night of September 13 and early morning on September 14, 2016.  Notice of the park closure is posted at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/.


Photos courtesy of DLNR

The flooding of ‘Iao stream also significantly damaged the Kepaniwai County park downstream and road to the park, which are also closed, as well as a number of residences.  Due to hazardous conditions, access to ‘Iao Valley is currently restricted to residents only. 

“Our inspections show that ‘Iao Stream course has changed and is significantly wider, cutting into state park land that contained public access features. The stream is heavily silted and cobbled with new material and landslides on both sides of the stream are evident,” said Curt Cottrell, Department of Land and Natural Resources State Parks division administrator.

iao-valley-damage2Within the lower portion of ‘Iao state park, sections of the two popular loop trails along the stream have washed away, and there is no longer any remaining land to rebuild them where they originally were.

On Wednesday, clear water in Kinihapai Stream, the smaller stream that passes under the park’s iconic pedestrian bridge, did not seem to indicate any landslides upstream. It seems not to have widened or changed course.  However, during inspections, the stream level remained quite high, covering the base of the foundations for each end of the bridge, preventing inspection of the bridge supports.


The turning area that tour buses take to get to their parking area is just above an area of significant erosion that may have affected the stability of the lower parking lot.

“We are planning to hire an engineering consultant to evaluate the stability of the lower parking lot where tour buses park. An examination is also planned for the footings of the pedestrian bridge,” said Cottrell.

“If the parking lot and bridge both are shown to be intact and stable, State Parks will proceed to remove debris, and allow limited access to portions of the trail, while needed repairs can be started. Access is predicated on Maui County effort to restore safe vehicular use of the lower roadway,” he said.

iao-valley-damage4Park areas not adjacent to either of the streams do not appear to have suffered any significant damage.

Maui State Parks staff have been notifying tour companies of the park closure.

‘Iao Valley is rich in cultural and spiritual values and is the site of the battle of Kepaniwai where the forces of Kamehameha I conquered the Maui army in 1790. (6.2 acres). The park is most famous for a scenic viewpoint of Kuka‘emoku (ʻIao Needle), an erosional feature which abruptly rises 1,200 feet from the valley floor.

“Your Voice” Learn to Legislate – Big Island Workshops Announced

Now is an ideal time to learn more about the State law-making process. There’s enough time to let legislators know what you’d like them to focus on when session begins in January. And it’s a great time to pick up tips on how to add your views when things get rolling.


To help, the Legislature’s Public Access Room (PAR) is offering office hours and a free legislative workshop, “Your Voice,” at numerous locations on the Big Island.

Topics include understanding the legislative process, deadlines, and power dynamics, as well as tips and techniques on effective lobbying, testifying, and communicating with Senators and Representatives. “How-To” guides, informational handouts, and other resources will be available.

Prior to each presentation, there will be an “office hour” for those who want to drop in to pick up information or ask questions.  The one-hour “Your Voice” workshop will follow at the times noted below.

  • Kailua-Kona – Wed., Oct. 12, 6:00 p.m., West Hawai’i Civic Center, Community Hale; 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway
  • Waimea – Thu. Oct. 13, 6:00 p.m., Thelma Parker Memorial Library; 67-1209 Mamalahoa Hwy
  • Volcano – Mon. Oct. 17, 12:00 noon, Volcano Arts Center; 19-4074 Old Volcano Road
  • Ocean View – Mon. Oct. 17,   6:00 p.m., Ocean View Community Center; 92-8924 Leilani Circle
  • Hilo – Tue. Oct. 18, 6:00 p.m., Hilo Public Library; 300 Waianuenue Ave
  • Honokaa – Wed. Oct. 19, 6:00 p.m., North Hawaii Educational Resource Center (NHERC) 45-539 Plumeria Street, Computer Lab
  • Pahoa – Thu. Oct. 20, 6:00 p.m., Pahoa Community Center; Kauhale Street

While registration for the free workshops is encouraged, drop-ins are always welcome. To register, get additional information, or ask about additional workshops during this annual visit, contact PAR ─ 808/587-0478 (toll free from the Big Island= 974-4000, x 7-0478) or [email protected].

Hawaii to Receive $3.8 Million to Protect Threatened and Endangered Species

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, yesterday welcomed more than $3.8 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect threatened and endangered species in Hawai‘i through better land use management. These funds are a part of a $44.8 million investment under the Endangered Species Act grant program that will be distributed among 20 states.

“This new funding will help ensure that threatened and endangered species in our state will be protected for years to come,” said Senator Schatz. “These funds are a strategic investment that will help strike a better balance between human use and wildlife habitats.  By accounting for threatened and endangered species in our land use planning, we can reduce our impact on the environment and allow our state’s unique wildlife to thrive.”

In Hawai‘i, these funds will be allocated to four programs including:

Helemano Wilderness Area (Honolulu County) $2,000,000:

The Helemano Wilderness Area (HWA) project on Oahu will permanently protect over 3,000 acres of habitat for the federally-listed endangered Hawaiian hoary bat. The proposed acquisition will complement mitigation efforts outlined in HCPs for three Oahu wind energy complexes. Half of the acquisition area contains bat habitat with no need for management or restoration and a substantial portion of the remainder will be reforested and incorporated into ongoing research studies on optimal bat habitat and forest design. The HWA project also includes upland portions of the Paukauila and Kiikii Watersheds.  The Paukauila-Kiikii stream drainage basin is the largest on Oahu, supplying drinking water to communities from Pearl Harbor to the North Shore – a third of Oahu’s residents. Thus, in addition to aiding the recovery of the Hawaiian hoary bat, acquiring the HWA will protect and secure clean drinking water for Oahu’s residents.

Kauai Seabird Habitat Conservation Program: Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Habitat Conservation Plan (Kauai County) $906,105:

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is developing the Kauai Seabird Habitat Conservation Program – Kauai Island Utility Cooperative HCP (KIUC HCP) to address incidental take of the endangered Hawaiian petrel, the threatened Newell’s shearwater, and the band-rumped storm petrel, a candidate for listing, due to light attraction and utility line collisions on the island of Kauai. Completion of the KIUC HCP will result in the implementation of landscape-scale conservation to mitigate for island-wide take and a thorough minimization plan for listed seabirds on Kauai. It is critical to the listed seabirds’ survival that landscape-scale breeding colony management takes place to abate the current population declines.

A Hawaii Hoary Bat

A Hawaii Hoary Bat

Hawaiian Hoary Bat Habitat Conservation Plan for Biomass and Timber Harvest in the Hawaiian Islands* (Hawaii, Honolulu, Kalawao, Kauai, and Maui Counties) $395,000:

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, in cooperation with members of the Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association and biomass industry, will develop an HCP to conserve the Hawaiian hoary bat (HHB) during biomass and timber harvest activities in the Hawaiian Islands. The HCP will result in a better understanding of the HHB’s status and distribution in commercial forest stands, reduce and mitigate impacts from biomass and timber harvest operations, and conserve the HHB while allowing sustainable forest management practices, which will allow public and private landowners to meet economic, ecological, and social goals.

Kaluaaha Ranch Conservation Easement (Maui County) $500,000:

The Kaluaaha Ranch Conservation Easement on Molokai Island will permanently protect 969 acres to support the recovery of numerous endangered species, as well as minimize sedimentation of the near shore ecosystem and the Nation’s largest fringing coral reef. Extending from near sea level to over 4,000 feet at the summit of the East Molokai Range, upper Kaluaaha Valley has high-quality native forest currently being degraded by feral ungulates resulting in increased sediments flowing downstream, which smothers the reefs below. The Molokai Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land, and the Hawai’i Division of Forestry and Wildlife will permanently protect the upper Kaluaaha Valley via a conservation easement. Surveys of the property have documented three highly endangered native plant species — one of them having fewer than 50 extant individuals. Kaluaaha Valley also provides habitat for endangered seabirds such as the Newell’s shearwater that nests in extremely steep valley walls as well as the Hawaiian goose (Nene). The Kaluaaha Stream flows year round and ensures the vitality of the forest and its ability to absorb water will sustain the water supply and clean drinking water for East Molokai.

Hawaii DLNR Shares Concerns Over Reports of Sub-Standard Living Conditions on Certain Longline Fishing Vessels

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is aware of media reports regarding living and working conditions on longline fishing vessels that bring catches into Hawai‘i ports. DLNR’S area of responsibility is limited to the ministerial task of issuing commercial fishing licenses to qualified applicants.

dlnr“The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), issues licenses to individual fishermen engaged in commercial catch.  DAR continues to follow long-established statutory and administrative rules which require commercial marine licenses for the taking of marine life and landing it in the state for commercial purposes,” explained DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.  The rules regarding Hawai‘i commercial marine licenses can be found in Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS-189-2 and HRS-189-5).

“We are naturally concerned about press reports pertaining to on-board living conditions, pay disparity and the issue of involuntary labor, and applaud the longline fishing industry for the efforts it is taking to resolve these issues,” Case added.  “Further we are happy to engage with any stakeholders, including lawmakers, commercial fishing interests, and other regulatory agencies, in explaining the current laws and regulations pertaining to licensing of commercial longline fishers and in exploring any legislative or administrative rule changes,” Case said. “While our jurisdiction only extends to the protection of natural resources, we are certainly very concerned about any human rights violations that are reportedly occurring on the longline fishing fleet, and stand ready to assist in any way possible,” she concluded.

THINK Fund Classroom Grants Available for 2016-17 School Year

THINK Fund at HCF has funding available for STEM classroom grants through DonorsChoose.org for the 2016-17 school year.

The classroom grants support projects that boost Hawai‘i Island public and public charter school 3rd – 12th grade students in STEM learning; can include materials, supplies and on-island field trips; and can be up to but not over $2,500.

The Hawai‘i Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund was created by the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) to benefit Hawai‘i Island students pursuing STEM endeavors with an annual contribution of $1 million. TMT selected two Hawai‘i foundations, Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Pauahi Foundation to administer THINK Fund distributions in scholarship and grant making platforms. TMT has so far funded $2.5 million to the THINK initiative on Hawai‘i Island.

The Hawai‘i Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund was created by the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) to benefit Hawai‘i Island students pursuing STEM endeavors with an annual contribution of $1 million. TMT selected two Hawai‘i foundations, Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Pauahi Foundation to administer THINK Fund distributions in scholarship and grant making platforms. TMT has so far funded $2.5 million to the THINK initiative on Hawai‘i Island.

“Many types of projects are part of the STEM learning pathway for our local students, so we support engineering projects such as robotics, engineering design, and aerodynamic design,” says Lydia Clements, Director of Neighbor Islands for the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. “We also encourage projects that expose students to STEM career opportunities like computer programming, environmental science and healthcare.”

Projects can be posted at any time at DonorsChoose.org and requests are reviewed weekly by the THINK Fund at HCF. If a project is selected for funding it usually takes less than three weeks for the students to receive materials in their classroom.

Mrs. Richards’ science class at Keaau High School received a STEM classroom grant in the 2015-2016 school year. Instead of having her students read about decomposition, the students got their hands dirty and created interactive presentations that told the story. “These kids didn’t present dry, written lab reports,” Mrs. Richards said. “They created art to tell their scientific stories. We’re empowering young scientists, thanks to the grant.”

With the classroom grant from THINK Fund at Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF), the students used EcoSTEM Earth Kits to create mini biodome environments to study real-time worm culture, decomposition, soil quality, and planting. But they didn’t stop there. With the Epson 3LCD projector, they told their stories of theory and discovery using interactive technology.

THINK Fund at HCF gets classroom materials into the hands of teachers and students quickly, capturing their enthusiasm while it’s still fresh and getting them out in the field with their projects. The fund’s purpose is to support projects that promote science and math disciplines.

To apply, teachers write up their grant need on DonorsChoose.org, applications are reviewed, projects are selected and funded.

In its first eighteen months, THINK Fund at HCF has committed $150,000 and funded 82 classroom projects for over 8,000 students across Hawai‘i Island. These students have nurtured hydroponics gardens, studied water quality through new lab equipment, and built their own Mars Rover with the help of 3D printers.

The following 29 schools on Hawai‘i Island have received STEM Classroom Project Grants from the THINK Fund at HCF: Connections New Century Public Charter, Hilo Intermediate, Hilo Union Elementary, Ho‘okena Elementary, Innovations Public Charter, Ka ‘Umeke Ka‘eo Public Charter, Kano o ka‘aina New Century Public Charter, K‘au High and Pahala Elementary, Kea‘au High, Kea‘au Middle, Kealekehe Elementary, Kealakehe High, Kealakehe Intermediate, Keonepoko Elementary, Kohala Elementary, Kona Pacific Public Charter, Konawaena Elementary, Konawaena High, Konawaena Middle, Kua o ka La Public Charter, Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter, Paauilo Elementary & Intermediate, Prince Kalaniana‘ole Elementary and Intermediate, Volcano School of Arts & Science Public Charter, Waiakea High, Waiakea Intermediate, Waikoloa Elementary & Middle, Waimea Elementary and Waters of Life Public Charter School.

30-Year-Old Kona Woman Dies in Three-Vehicle Crash

A 30-year-old woman died from a three-vehicle traffic crash Thursday evening (September 15) in North Kona near the 28.5 mile marker of Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Route 190).


She has been identified as Sarah Thurber of Kailua-Kona.

Responding to a 9:26 p.m. call, police determined that Thurber had been traveling north on the Hawaiʻi Belt Road in a 2007 Kia sedan when the car crossed the centerline of the highway and crashed head-on into a 2016 Jeep SUV traveling south and operated by a 50-year-old California woman. The collision caused the Jeep to spin and collide with a 2016 Hyundai SUV, also traveling south, which was being operated by a 49-year-old Nevada woman.

The driver and passenger of the Jeep were taken to Kona Community Hospital, where they both are listed in stable condition.

The driver and passenger of the Hyundai were not injured.

Thurber was taken to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m. Friday (September 16).

It was not immediately known if speed or alcohol were factors in the crash.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation. Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at 326-4646, extension 229. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

This is the 21st traffic fatality this year compared with 15 at this time last year.