Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hosts Congress On Your Corner, Addresses Maritime Pilots, Supports Arts Education

This morning on Maui, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard delivered welcoming remarks and a congressional update to 250 maritime pilots who direct ship navigation in and out of Hawaiʻi, as well as the country’s twenty-four ocean-bordering states.

tulsi-maui4She spoke about Hawaii’s rich culture and history based on sea navigation; the importance of safe, environmentally responsible, and efficient maritime commerce; and the effects of dangerous trade agreements on our country. The congresswoman also met with Captain Nancy Wagner, the first female ship pilot in the United States—today, more than sixty women work in this capacity as a senior sea officer in charge of bringing a ship in and out of port and responsible for the safe navigation of huge cargo ships and tankers.

tulsi-mauiIn Congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard serves on the STEAM Caucus, which values the inclusion of Arts Education in conjunction with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Today, she toured the Maui Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) facility and met with its directors to discuss the importance of their arts programs in schools and off-campus, which support literacy through the arts for students in grades 3-12.

tulsi-maui2This afternoon, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard hosted a “Congress On Your Corner” event, where she visited with more than forty people from across Maui, listened to their ideas and concerns, and answered questions about her work in Congress and at home in Hawaiʻi. She also met with constituents and organization leaders in Makawao who are serving the needs of their community in various ways.

Hawaii State Judiciary Thanks West Hawaii Community and Partners in Kona Courthouse Groundbreaking Ceremony

The Hawaii State Judiciary joined its partners in a traditional Hawaiian groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the beginning of construction of the Kona Judiciary Complex. About 200 people gathered under a white tent at the future site of the courthouse, which is a 10-acre site in Keahuolu, North Kona, above the beautiful Kona coastline.

kona-judiciary3The dedication included the traditional pikai (ritual sprinkling of salted waters) with accompanying pule kahea (Hawaiian prayer chants) to sanctify the premises. Kahu Daniel Akaka said a special prayer for the leaders involved in this project as well as the workers who will be involved in the construction of the new courthouse.

kona-judiciaryThe Kona Judiciary Complex will meet the critical needs of the West Hawaii community and provide improved access to the civil, criminal, and family court justice system. Currently, proceedings are held in three different locations in Kona, in buildings not designed to serve as courtrooms.

“This is a momentous day for me, both professionally and personally,” said Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra. “I was born in the courthouse where I work today—it used to be the Old Kona Hospital. But the building is more than 75 years old and we need to be able to provide the infrastructure to deliver justice for generations to come. This groundbreaking symbolizes the future, while bringing with us the solid foundation we have built thus far.”

The Hawaii State Judiciary thanked the legislature for appropriating the $90 million needed to construct the building, which will enable the Judiciary to provide the West Hawaii community with a secure, efficient, and modern court facility that will accommodate the area’s projected growth in population and court caseload.

Artist rendition

Artist rendition

The 140,000 square foot complex will be a three-story facility with five courtrooms, a law library, self-help center, conference rooms, holding cells, witness rooms, attorney interview rooms, and a grand jury meeting room. The design includes space for future expansion or courtroom additions. Plans also provide 290 parking stalls for public and employee vehicles.

“This would not be possible without the support of the Legislature and Governor David Ige,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. “I’d like to especially recognize the leadership of Representative Sylvia Luke and the members of House Committee on Finance; Senator Jill Tokuda and the members of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran and the members of Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor; and Representative Karl Rhoads and the members of the House Committee on Judiciary. I would also like to acknowledge the deep commitment and enormous efforts of Representative Nicole Lowen, Senator Josh Green, the late Senator Gil Kahele, and all the Big Island legislators. These partners were key to providing this much needed courthouse to the people of West Hawaii. Because of their commitment, the people of West Hawaii will have a courthouse that will support our justice system in this community for many, many years to come.”

“On behalf of Governor David Ige, I extend my appreciation to all those who made this project possible,” said Susan Kim, the Governor’s West Hawaii representative. “This area outgrew the Judiciary facilities long ago, and today we celebrate the start of construction on a new courthouse, one that will have the capacity to serve the current and future needs of the people of West Hawaii.”

Rep. Nicole Lowen said, “Since my first day in office, a new Kona Courthouse has been on the top of my priority list. This ceremony represents many years of work and advocacy from the community, from the judiciary, and from myself and my colleagues, and we are all so pleased to see construction finally beginning today. With the growing population here in West Hawaii, a modern, safe, centralized courthouse facility is long overdue.”

kona-judiciary-josh-greenSenator Josh Green said, “This is a very special day for all of us. This project has been among my highest priorities and is critical for my community. The jobs that will be created will be a game changer for Kona in addition to how it will help with public safety.”

kona-judiciary2“I am very pleased that construction of the Kona Judiciary Complex is moving forward,” said Representative Joy San Buenaventura. “This courthouse will ensure that the Judiciary can fulfill its mission of providing justice for the West Hawaii community in a secure and efficient venue.”

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald also thanked members of the bar for supporting this effort, including the West Hawaii Bar Association, the Hawaii County Bar Association, and the Hawaii State Bar Association (HSBA). “I appreciate the support of past and present bar presidents and executive directors who have supported this project over the years.”

Administrative Director of the Courts Rodney Maile expressed appreciation for the continued support of Hawaii County, including: Hawaii County Administration and leadership; Hawaii County Council; Prosecuting Attorney, Mitchell Roth; and the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce. He also thanked the Department of Accounting and General Service (DAGS) for diligently overseeing the project and contract.

“We are committed to delivering this project on time and on budget,” said Frank Oshiro, Vice President of Operations at Nan Inc. “We have a great team of professionals working on this project and we look forward to standing in this same area in 2019 and blessing a brand new courthouse.”

kona-judiciary-bikesThe new complex was designed by Architects Hawaii with the goal of keeping the building’s architecture consistent with the West Hawaii community. In December 2014, Architects Hawaii invited the public to view the preliminary renderings and design plans and solicited its input and feedback. The interior design will reflect local culture, landscape, and values. The building is also designed to be water, energy, and environmentally efficient and sustainable. Please click on this link to view the design plans and renderings.

The Notice to Proceed (NTP) will be formally issued on October 28, 2016, signaling the official start of construction. Nan Inc. is the general contractor and Rider Levett Bucknall was selected to support Construction Management on this project. Construction is expected to be complete in 2019.

A special thanks for today’s program goes to Nan Inc., Kealakehe High School, Lai Opua Community Center, and all those on the planning committee who made this event possible.

UH Hilo Announces Gilman Scholarship Recipients

Four students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo have been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad:

  • Anayah Doi, a linguistics major, is studying at Hokkaido University in Japan
  • Sequoia Marks, a kinesiology and mathematics double major, is studying at Rikkyo University in Japan
  • Keith Nerida, a Japanese studies and computer science double major, is studying at Tokyo Gakugei University in Koganei, Japan
  • Marleena Sheffield, a linguistics major who is also working toward a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate, is studying at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru in South America

benjamin-a-gilman-international-scholarshipThe Gilman scholarship program supports undergraduate students with high financial need and who are underrepresented in education abroad. This scholarship program provides the opportunity to better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in a globally interdependent world.

For further information, contact the Center for Global Education and Exchange at 932-7488 or email uhhglobe@hawaii.edu.

New Zealand Firm to Acquire All Hawaii Taco Bell and Pizza Hut Restaurants

Restaurant Brands New Zealand Limited today announced it has entered into agreements to purchase 100% of the shares in Pacific Island Restaurants Inc for US$105 million.

taco-bell-pizza-hutPIR is the sole Taco Bell and Pizza Hut franchisee in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan. PIR’s store network includes 37 Taco Bell stores and 45 Pizza Hut stores.

Restaurant Brands Chairman Ted van Arkel said “Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are both well-established franchises and are leaders in the Mexican and pizza quick service food categories in Hawaii.

In particular, Restaurant Brands is excited to gain exposure to Taco Bell, a brand with attractive margins and a product offering that has worldwide appeal.

We have nearly 20 years’ experience successfully operating the Pizza Hut brand in New Zealand and will look to leverage this experience to drive the Hawaiian franchise’s continued performance.

Restaurant Brands looks forward to working with PIR’s highly experienced management team to drive the next phase of PIR’s growth in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan.”

The acquisition of PIR would be approximately 6% accretive to earnings (excluding non-trading items) per share, based on unaudited non-GAAP pro forma 12 months to September 2016 results for the Restaurant Brands group and allowing for the new shares issued in the entitlement offer and additional debt funding.

“The acquisition of PIR provides the next stage to Restaurant Brand’s growth platform and aligns with our growth strategy” said Russel Creedy, CEO of Restaurant Brands. “It also provides an entry point into the Hawaiian market, which has a similar total population to Auckland and is currently benefitting from positive economic growth.

We also see a number of other potential bolt-on opportunities in the market that we may look to pursue over time where they make strategic and financial sense.”

Hawaii Awarded $1.5 Million from U.S. Department of Education to Improve Schools in Need

The U.S. Department of Education (DoED) announced today that the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) will receive $1.5 million in School Improvement Grants (SIG). Priority schools in a number of states are recipients of the grant as part of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The program will be phased out next school year with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

doe-logo“Providing the additional supports to schools that need it most is key to their success,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’ve seen the impact extended learning opportunities and professional development for teachers have made. In order to make improvements, we need to provide schools resources. This grant allows us the opportunity to move forward.”

In school year (SY) 2013-14, Waianae Elementary used SIG funds towards extending the school year to enable teachers to participate in professional development and students to learn for an additional 300 minutes each week. Most recently, Waianae Elementary was one of the participating Priority schools actively involved in the national Turnaround Arts Program. The initiative provided monies for in-school Professional Development (PD) embedding the arts into curriculum, summer leadership programs and supplies. At the end of SY 2016, some of the students participating in the program were invited to perform at the White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show.

Dole Middle School received funds in SY 2014-15, which was used to focus on four main areas: 1) development of a multi-tiered System of Instruction and Intervention; 2) increasing student engagement through the integration of technology; 3) increasing PD opportunities for faculty and staff; and 4) building a positive school climate that is safe and conducive to student learning.

Dole used part of the monies to host their first annual Middle School Conference where staff members including teachers, educational assistants and custodians, complex, and Title I State personnel, were invited to participate and share best practices. Similar to Waianae Elementary, Dole students benefitted from extended learning opportunities, while teacher rewards ranged from recognition to attendance to national conferences. Dole combined other resources (Uplinks, Title I, Hawaii Keiki Nurse and other community partnerships) allowing for implementation of the middle school philosophy and addressing student needs.

This year, Kekaha Elementary is an applicant for the part of the $1.5 million awarded to HIDOE. The Department and school are currently in the process of negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hawaii State Teachers Association on how to best utilize the funds.

“We have seen a major shift in the campus culture these past three years including more parent involvement and better student engagement because of the programs and services we have been able to provide through the grant,” shared Waianae Elementary Principal Wendy Takahashi. “The partnerships we have gained through this opportunity from the Hawaii Arts Alliance to celebrities like Jack Johnson, Paula Fuga and Alfre Woodard has helped to energize our students, teachers and school community.”

The SIG program has invested more than $7 billion to transform some of the country’s lowest performing schools. Nationwide, the efforts have been credited with the decline in dropout rates and an increase in graduation rates.

Parker School Announces Scholarship Opportunities and Open House

Parker School announces scholarship opportunities for the 2017-2018 school year, as well as admission events for prospective families.

parker-schoolThe Kahilu Scholarship is a $3,000 grant awarded to two new students entering grades 6, and one current Parker School students rising into grade 6. These three Kahilu Scholarships will be given in recognition of a student’s academic merit, character, and demonstrated passion in an area of interest to the student (for example: sports, the arts, a community organization such as a church or cultural activity, or any other area that is meaningful to the student and in which their participation is notable). The Kahilu Scholarship is renewed each year of the student’s Parker School career based upon academic progress, good citizenship, and upholding the school’s code of conduct.  These awards may be given in conjunction with need-based financial aid.

The Richard Smart Merit Scholarship is a $5,000 grant awarded to students entering their freshmen year. A total of two grants will be given on the basis of exceptional academic merit and potential. Students applying to attend Parker School and returning Parker School students are eligible to apply. The award renews each year of the recipient’s high school career based upon excellent academic progress and an exemplary disciplinary record. These awards may be given in conjunction with need-based financial aid.

Prospective families are invited to attend one of the following admission events to see the campus, meet faculty and students and speak one-on-one about Parker school.

  • K-12 Open House (adults/children welcome):  Saturday, November 5, 2016 from 9:00-11:00 a.m.
  • Kindergarten and First Grade Preview (adults only):  Wednesday, November 9, 2016 from 8:30–10:00 a.m.

To learn more about Parker School’s scholarships or to register for an event, please visit parkerschoolhawaii.org

West Hawaii Little Fire Ant Awareness Forum

WHAT: The Office of the Governor in West Hawai‘i presents:       

Little Fire Ant Awareness Forum

Little fire ants are one of the worst invasive species in the world and one of the most detrimental invasive species in Hawai‘i.

lfa-in-hawaiiThey threaten agriculture, native ecosystems, animals and people. This forum aims to support the community and provide residents with valuable information on how to prevent and control little fire ants.

WHO: Presentations from:

  • Hawai‘i Ant Lab
  • State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture
  • Big Island Invasive Species Committee
  • County of Hawai‘i – Department of Research and Development

WHEN: Thursday, October 27, 2016 – 6 to 8pm (Doors open at 5:30 pm)

WHERE:  Hawai‘i Community College-Pālamanui, 73-4225 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Room 127