New Administrator for Plant Industry Division of Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Hawaii entomologist, John McHugh, Ph.D., has been appointed as the administrator of the Plant Industry Division of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. His duties will include overseeing the Plant Quarantine, Plant Pest Control and Pesticides Branches. The appointment is effective December 1, 2016. He succeeds Dr. Neil Reimer, who retired in
April 2016.

John McHugh, Ph.D.

John McHugh, Ph.D.

“Dr. McHugh is known for his aptitude in solving a variety of agricultural problems that affect Hawaii farmers,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The department is truly fortunate to have his experience, expertise and dedication in helping to move agriculture forward in our state.”

Dr. McHugh received his bachelor’s degree in General Tropical Agriculture and a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He also received a Doctor of Philosophy in Entomology which focused on integrated pest management of the diamondback moth from Purdue University in May 1994.

He has 42 years of wide-ranging experience in agriculture as an entomologist, educator, manager and consultant and has taught at Leeward Community College and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.  He has also worked at DuPont Pioneer, Hana Hou Seed Harvest, LLC, Sumida Farm, Inc. and Crop Care Hawaii, LLC.

Dr. McHugh has been active in the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation since 1975 and served as the chair of the Environmental Stewardship Committee. He also served as a board member of the Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council, as well as director and board member of the West Oahu Soil Conservation District. In addition, he served three terms as a member of the State’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

Big Island Police Warning About Increase in Counterfeit Money in Circulation

Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about an increase in counterfeit money in circulation. Kona police officers have been responding to numerous calls about fake $100 bills. The phony money looks, feels and appears to be real even after using the test pen, so police advise businesses and individuals to look for security features on the bank note itself.

c-note

  • Locate and read the plastic embedded security thread. It should say “USA” and the bill’s denomination.
  • Use an ultra-violet light to detect the thread glow color. The $5 dollar bill should glow blue, the $10 bill should glow orange, the $20 bill should glow green and the $50 bill should glow yellow. In older versions, the $100 bill should glow pink, while the current $100 bill has a 3-D ribbon.
  • Hold the bill up to a light to check for a watermark.
  • Tilt the bill to examine the color-shifting ink.
  • With a magnifying glass, locate and examine the micro-printing.

More information on detecting counterfeit money and security features can be found at www.uscurrency.gov.

Citizens and businesses are reminded to treat the fake bill as evidence by placing it into an envelope and to call the police immediately.

New Map of Lava Flow Field Shows New Flow

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of November 3 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of November 29 is shown in red.

The new flow branch east of Puʻu ʻŌʻō started from a breakout at the episode 61g vent on November 21. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow lines (dashed where uncertain) show the mapped trace of lava tubes as determined from aerial thermal imaging and ground mapping.

hvo-112916-mapThe blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to Offer Free Admission on 10 Days in 2017

There are 10 more reasons to enjoy Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2017! The park will offer free admission to all on 10 days in 2017.

Visitors observe the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater from the Jaggar Museum observation deck at dawn.  NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Visitors observe the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater from the Jaggar Museum observation deck at dawn. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

The 2017 entrance fee-free days are:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents Day
  • April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

“We encourage everyone to take advantage of the free entry days, and come visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “The park is a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, and is easily explored on foot or by vehicle,” she said.

Usually, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle and the pass is good for seven days. (The entrance waiver does not include camping fees). Park visitors can also purchase the annual Tri-Park Pass for $25 and enjoy Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and Haleakalā National Park for less than seven cents a day. The annual Tri-Park Pass, which is good for one year from the date of purchase, is available at the entrance stations of all three parks.

An NPS report shows that 1,832, 660 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 spent $151,246,200 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,834 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $189,391,100.

Congresswoman Gabbard Op-Ed: Giving Voice to Millions of Americans – End U.S. Wars of Intervention

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s op-ed on ending U.S. wars of intervention published in The Nation today:
tulsi-bannerI recently met with President-elect Donald Trump to give voice to the millions of Americans, including my fellow veterans, who desperately want to end our country’s illegal, counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government. We had an hour-long, meaningful, back-and-forth discussion about the problems with current U.S. policy in Syria and where to go from here.

I felt it critical to meet with him now, before warmongering neocons convince him to escalate this war that has already taken more than 400,000 lives and left millions of Syrians homeless and in search of safety for themselves and their families.

I conveyed to the President-elect how the post-9/11 neocon agenda of interventionism and regime-change has left U.S. foreign policy absurdly disconnected from our actual security interests. Our actions to overthrow secular dictators in Iraq and Libya, and attempts now to do the same in Syria, have resulted in tremendous loss of life, failed nations, and even worse humanitarian crises while strengthening the very terrorist organizations that have declared war on America.

Since 2011, the United States—working with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey—has been providing support to “rebel groups” fighting to overthrow the government and take over Syria. A recent New York Times article reported that these “rebel groups” supported by the U.S. “have entered into battlefield alliances with the affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, formerly known as al-Nusra.”  How the United States can work hand-in-hand with the very terrorist organization that is responsible for the killing of 3,000 Americans on 9/11 boggles my mind and curdles my blood.

This absurd alliance has allowed terrorist groups like al-Qaeda to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo, where they are now using the civilian population as human shields and their deaths as propaganda tools.

Additionally, escalating this regime-change war by implementing a “no fly/safe zone” in Syria would not only be ineffective, it would put the U.S. in direct military confrontation with nuclear-power Russia, require tens of thousands of ground troops and a massive U.S. air presence, and commit us to yet another endless war in the Middle East that does not serve American or Syrian interests.

In short, even if the U.S.-Saudi alliance were successful in overthrowing the Syrian government, we would be saddled with the responsibility of building a new nation in Syria. Trillions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, and who knows how many American lives, will be lost, and there will be little to show for it. As was true in Iraq and Libya, the U.S. has no credible government or leader able to bring order, security, and freedom to the people of Syria if Assad is overthrown. To maintain order after Assad’s fall would require at least 500,000 troops in a never-ending occupation.

The most likely outcome of this regime-change war is that it will open the door for ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups who are the most powerful fighting forces on the ground, to take over all of Syria, amass powerful weapons (many of which will have been provided to them by the U.S.), and pose a far worse threat to the Syrian people, religious minorities, and to the world.

The crux of my advice to President-elect Trump was this: we must end this ill-conceived, counterproductive regime-change war immediately. We must focus our precious resources on investing in and rebuilding our own country and on defeating al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups that pose a threat to the American people.

Tulsi Gabbard

Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit Brings Together Latest Science & Policy

Lead scientists in the fight against Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death on Hawaii’i Island joined Governor David Ige and other top policy makers for the first-ever Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit, today at the Hawaii’i State Capital Auditorium. Speakers provided situation reports on the disease and presented the recently completed, strategic response plan which will guide the statewide response to this dire threat to Hawaii’s most iconic tree species.

rapid-ohia-deathThe fungal disease has devastated more than 50,000 acres of native ʻōhiʻa, one of Hawaii’i’s most prized and culturally important forest trees. Understanding the disease and how to prevent or slow further spread is a top priority of the Executive Branch.  Gov. Ige, who provided the welcome and opening remarks said, “Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death” has prompted the mobilization of several state and federal agencies and is a top priority for leading researchers who are learning more about this disease as they work to stop it from spreading.”

The Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit, was open to the public, and included a presentation on the biocultural importance of ʻōhiʻa by Dr. Samuel M. ‘Ohukani‘ōhi‘a Gon III, of The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi. Dr. Gon explained that the primary cultural underpinnings of ʻōhiʻa support the notion that it is perhaps the most significantly cultural tree in Hawaii’i. He traced the cultural importance of the species as a physical manifestation of the Hawaiian deity Ku and as a tree used for weapons, tools, building, hula dancing sticks, lei, food for birds and medicines for people. It is considered the most important tree for the protection of Hawaii’i’s forest watersheds.

A panel of state and federal experts discussed and updated the latest research and management actions. Dr. Lisa Keith of the U.S. Department of Agricultural Research Service explained, “The identification of the ceratocystis fungus used to take two-four weeks to confirm in the lab.  We can now test very small samples of a tree’s DNA and determine within 24 hours if this fungus is killing it.” “Unfortunately” she continued, “there is no silver bullet (for a treatment) and the science is important for informing management decisions.”

Dr. Flint Hughes with the U.S. Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry painted a grim picture for the future of native ʻōhiʻa forests if the disease continues unchecked.  He said, “We currently have 52, one-quarter acre monitoring plots on Hawaii’i island. These are in places where the fungus has killed trees and our data shows that 11% of the ʻōhiʻa, on average, in these plots, will die each year.  If there are 100 ʻōhiʻa in each plot, this means in about a decade all of the trees there will be dead.” In some areas the mortality has been 100%.

Dr. Gordon Bennett of the UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is one of the researchers collaboratively investigating the linkage between non-native beetles and the spread of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death. He explained that these wood boring beetles are attracted to unhealthy trees and set up homes (galleries) in them.  Currently he and other researchers are looking at pest control and management strategies based on science.  Bennett said, “We’re just starting in this area.  It’s a new challenge.”

Dr. Greg Asner of Stanford University’s  Carnegie Airborne Observatory detailed the use of laser guided imaging spectroscopy to produce 3D imaging that shows the size and precise location of trees to within six inches. He explained, “We’re trying to use this technology to look ahead in time. This technology even allows us to measure 15 different chemicals in tree foliage, which is like going to a doctor for a blood test.” Data from the 3D aerial surveys conducted in January of this year is currently being analyzed and results are expected to be available around the first of the year.

Rob Hauff, a forester with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, wrapped up the morning session by revealing the newly developed Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Strategic Response Plan, which is guided by the bicultural significance of ʻōhiʻa. Hauff explained, “The goal of this plan is to provide a roadmap that conveys what the situation is and where we need to go to manage this.”  To implement the plan, it calls for funding of a little more than $10 million over the next three years for research, response, recommendations, outreach, and management strategies.

Today’s presenters were a few of the front-line researchers, forest managers and policy makers, who’ve been working since late 2014 to try and identify the cause of the disease and how it spreads.  Their findings prompted a strict state Dept. of Agriculture quarantine which restricts movement of all ʻōhiʻa wood, soil, and Metrosideros species plants and plant parts from Hawaii island to the other islands. The state also has publicized and distributed protocols to inform the general public and forest users about steps they can take to further prevent the spread of this disease (see www.rapidohiadeath.org).

Hauff and Christy Martin of the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS) organized the Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit.  Martin said, “This is the first time we’ve had all the principal players in the fight against this disease in one place, to provide background to decision-makers and the public.  People are eager to understand what’s happening to ʻōhiʻa, and what more they can do.”

Big Island Police Searching for 16-Year-Old Girl Missing Since October

12-12-2016 UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 16-year-old Alexia Galeon of Kamuela, who was reported missing.  She was found in Puna on December 4.  

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 16-year-old Kamuela girl who was reported missing.

Alexia Galeon

Alexia Galeon

Alexia Galeon was last seen in Honokaʻa on October 21.

She is described as 5-foot-2 to 5-foot-3, 150-160 pounds with brown eyes and long brown hair. She may be in Captain Cook.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts 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.

Hawaii County Celebrates New Micro Units to Address Chronically Homeless

Representatives from social service agencies joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Council Chair Dru Mamo Kanuha today for a ceremony to dedicate Hale Kīkaha, the County of Hawaiʻi’s newest housing project with 23 micro units to address a critical need in Kailua-Kona, particularly amongst the chronically homeless.

micro-unitsNumbers of homeless are increasing statewide. The January 2016 point-in-time count showed nearly 1,400 homeless people on Hawaiʻi Island, an increase of 10% from 2015. Of those people, about 500 were unsheltered in West Hawaiʻi.

“Our families who are homeless need a sense that they have a chance. They can believe that because they can sleep in a clean, safe place,” Mayor Kenoi said. “We’re creating a puʻuhonua, a safe haven, a place of refuge where people can walk around with dignity and respect.”

The $2.5 million Hale Kīkaha is on Pāwai Place in Kailua-Kona’s industrial area, adjacent to the area’s emergency homeless shelter. Hale Kīkaha will provide on-site wraparound social services to residents to increase their chances of success.

Kīkaha means to soar, and the name Hale Kīkaha represents the County’s hope for and commitment to the residents that will call the project home. Design and engineering work was done in-house. General contractor Kona-Kaʻū Construction and a number of sub-contractors completed the project in nine months.

The County recognizes that housing is a primary need, especially in West Hawaiʻi. The County has worked to address homelessness through the nationally recognized best practice Housing First model with a number of projects during Mayor Kenoi’s administration.

West Hawaii Emergency Shelter

West Hawaii Emergency Shelter

Recognizing the most immediate need, the County constructed the $1.8 million, 31-bed West Hawaiʻi Emergency Shelter and opened it in November 2010.

The Homes of Ulu Wini provides 96 units for families, a mix of transitional housing and affordable rentals for families with low-moderate income, or no higher than 80% of the area median income. Construction of the $23.7 million project’s phases were completed throughout Mayor Kenoi’s administration.

The Homes at Ulu Wini.

The Homes at Ulu Wini.

Kamakoa Nui offers affordable home ownership to working families along the Kohala Coast. The Kenoi administration restarted a previous attempt to build workforce housing in Waikoloa Village, and the first families were welcomed into their homes in 2013. To date, all 91 lots at Kamakoa Nui have been sold and 69 homes have been built. Construction continues on the remaining homes, which include six participants in a self-help housing program by Habitat for Humanity. Kamakoa Nui offers fee-simple home ownership to families between 100-140% of the area median income.

A home at Kamakoa Nui.

A home at Kamakoa Nui

In addition to County-built housing, the Office of Housing & Community Development administers programs to assist tenants renting existing housing. Over 2,000 people and families receive over $14 million in assistance every year through Tenant-Based Rental Assistance and the Housing Choice Voucher programs.

“We are measured not by what we do for those who have the most, we are measured by what we do for those who have the least,” Mayor Kenoi said.

Gabbard-Stewart Bill to Expand Veterans’ Healthcare Passes House

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the statement below after the House unanimously passed the Veterans TRICARE Choice Act (H.R.5458). The congresswoman introduced the legislation with Rep. Chris Stewart (UT-02) in 2015. The bill expands veterans’ healthcare options by allowing veterans to temporarily pause their TRICARE benefits to participate in an employer’s Health Savings Account (HSA) program if they so choose. Under current federal law, it is illegal for a TRICARE-eligible veteran to participate in an HSA program.

gabbard-health-bill“As a soldier and a veteran, I have seen firsthand the tremendous sacrifice our veterans and their families make in service to our country. That service should never limit their access to quality healthcare, and the ability to make decisions about their own health,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “The Veterans TRICARE Choice Act gives our veterans the ability to choose the best healthcare options for themselves and their families.”

“Our veterans deserve our most profound gratitude,” said Rep. Chris Stewart. “Nothing about their military service should prevent them from accessing the same benefits as their non-veteran co-workers. The very least we can do is ensure they receive the benefits we’ve promised them, and that the process goes as smoothly as possible.  We still have a lot of work to do on that front, but the passage of this bill is a great step in the right direction.”

Background: Health Savings Accounts have proven to be an effective way to pay for medical costs and proactively save for future medical expenses. Employees invest and save tax-free money in HSAs, which are then used to pay for qualified medical expenses. These have become increasingly popular healthcare plans in the private sector.

Under current federal law, it is illegal for a TRICARE-eligible veterans to participate in an HSA program. The Veterans TRICARE Choice Act simply gives veterans the choice to voluntarily pause their TRICARE benefits in order to participate in an HSA program.

The Veterans TRICARE Choice Act is supported by the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN) and the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS).

House Passes Gabbard-Cook Bill Encouraging Employers to Hire More Veterans

The HIRE Vets Act (H.R.3286), introduced by Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Paul Cook (CA-08), unanimously passed the House today. This bipartisan bill would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program. Specifically, it would create a medallion program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. This bill will now move to the Senate.

gabbard-vet-bill-passRoughly 500 veterans return to civilian life every single day, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans that have returned home since 9/11. While we’ve taken some important steps to encourage employers to hire more veterans, more than 400,000 veterans across the country are still unemployed today,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Through their service, veterans develop unique skills, experiences, and leadership training that make them especially valuable to employers. The HIRE Vets Act incentivizes employers to hire veterans, and recognizes employers that provide a supportive work environment to retain veteran employees.”

Background: The bipartisan HIRE Vets Act would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and efficient program. Specifically, it would create an awards program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. Cook and Gabbard designed the program to be self-funded.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a four-tiered system – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum – associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

The program also establishes similar tiered awards for small and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.

Annual Closure of ‘Ama‘ama (Striped Mullet)

Spawning season is here for ‘ama‘ama (striped mullet), which puts the popular nearshore fish off-limits from December through March.  “‘Ama‘ama are about to enter their peak spawning season, which increases their vulnerability to fishing pressure,” said Bruce Anderson, DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources administrator.  “The annual winter closure is designed to help the fish reproduce successfully and protect the species from overfishing.”

amaama-striped-mullet‘Ama‘ama was one of the most important fish species in traditional Hawaiian culture.  Young fish were caught in nets along the shoreline, then raised in the many fishponds throughout the islands.  After being fattened in the fishponds, they were harvested and eaten raw with seaweed added, or wrapped in ti or ginger leaves and broiled or baked.

There are three species of mullet in Hawaiian waters, but the closed season applies only to the striped mullet ‘ama‘ama.  There are no regulations pertaining to the other two species: uouoa (sharp-nose mullet), which is native, and kanda (summer or Marquesan mullet), which is introduced.  Differences between the species can be seen at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/files/2016/11/mullet_handout_estuaries.pdf.

During the open season, the minimum size for ‘ama‘ama is 11 inches (fork length), and a bag limit of ten per day applies in Hilo Bay only.  The season will re-open April 1, 2017.

“We ask the public’s compliance with the closed season,” Anderson said. “While it’s DLNR’s job to protect our marine resources, everyone shares in the responsibility to take care of important fish species like ‘ama‘ama to ensure healthy populations into the future.”

There are two kinds of penalties, criminal and civil for seasonal violations.  The criminal penalty is a petty misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $500 per violation and/or 30 days in jail.  There is no per specimen fine.  First offense civil penalties are up to $1,000 per specimen and $1,000 per violation.

Copies of statewide fishing regulations for ‘ama‘ama and all other marine species are available in Honolulu at the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) office, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 330, and at all neighbor island DAR offices.  Fishing regulations can also be found on the DAR website at dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar.  To report violations of fish catch size or net use, call the DLNR enforcement hotline at (808) 643-DLNR (643-3567).

State Civil Rights Commission Calls on Hawaii to Oppose National Trend of Discriminatory Harassment

The Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) today announced that Chair Linda Hamilton Krieger called on the people of Hawaiʻi to stand against the reported rise in the incidence of discriminatory harassment and intimidation.

hawaii-civil-rights-commission“National reports of a spike in anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, and anti-woman harassment in the wake of the Presidential election raise serious concerns,” said Krieger. “But our values are different here in Hawaiʻi, and we must be vigilant in protecting them. In our diversity, we must continue to embrace the value of human dignity expressed in the Native Hawaiian saying, ʻaloha aku, aloha maiʻ – to respect and to receive respect. When things get tough, we must resist the temptation to turn on the most vulnerable among us and instead live the value, ʻmālama kekahi i kekahiʻ – to care for one another.”

“In these trying times, minorities face attacks not seen since post-9/11 attacks on Muslims and Arab Americans.” added HCRC Executive Director William Hoshijo. “Those who share a commitment to civil rights must stand up for those who cannot stand alone.”

“It is offensive that proponents of a ‘Muslim registration’ system cite the World War II internment of Japanese Americans as precedent to justify government targeting of an unpopular minority, in this case based on religion rather than race or ancestry,” said HCRC Commissioner Liann Ebesugawa. “Our Constitution guarantees equal protection of the laws to all. Never again should we make exceptions on the basis of race, national origin, or religion.”

The Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission is responsible for enforcing, and will enforce, state civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and state-funded services. The HCRC stands in opposition to discriminatory harassment, whether in schools, workplaces, places of business, or in our communities.

If you feel you have been subjected to discrimination or harassment because of your race, ancestry, sexual orientation, religion, sex, including gender identity, or other prohibited bases, contact the HCRC at:  telephone (808) 586-8636, or email DLIR.HCRC.INFOR@hawaii.gov.

For more information, go to the HCRC webpage at:  http://labor.hawaii.gov/hcrc/.

Equal Opportunity Employer/Program Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.  TDD/TTY Dial 711 then ask for (808) 586-8866

Senator Kaialiʻi Kahele to Chair the Senate Committee on Higher Education

Newly elected State Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele (Dist. 1 – Hilo), was selected to Chair the Senate Committee on Higher Education (HED) by Senate leadership earlier today. Sen. Kahele will fulfill the final two years of his late father’s term in the Senate representing the residents of Hilo after being elected to the seat on November 8, 2016.

senator-kai-kahele-profileSen. Kahele, a 1992 graduate of Hilo High School, pursued his higher education at Hawai‘i Community College, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and received his Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 1998.

As Chair of HED, Sen. Kahele will oversee the formulation of legisation for the University of Hawai‘i System – including three baccalaureate universities, seven community colleges and four educational centers across Hawai‘i. In addition, his committee purvue includes the Senate confirmation of the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents.

Sen. Kahele will also serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Education (EDU) with Chair, Sen. Michelle N. Kidani.

“It is an honor and I am humbled to represent the residents of Senate District One in Hilo,” said Sen. Kahele. “I appreciate the trust and confidence the Senate Leadership has in me with these important committee assignments. I have a passion for education and providing quality, affordable education for all keiki, at all levels, across our State. Working together with Senator Kidani, I am looking forward to reshaping P-20 education throughout Hawai‘i and providing opportunities for our children to compete in the global arena as well as giving them the tools to shape the future of our Island home.”

Hawaii State Senate Confirms Standing Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs for 29th Legislature

The Hawai‘i State Senate today confirmed the Senate Standing Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs for the 29th Legislature.

capital“These committee assignments reflect the best use of the broad experience and expertise our Senators bring to this legislative body,” said Senate President, Ronald D. Kouchi.  “We’re looking forward to a synergetic and productive session.”

Senate Leaders, Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs are as follows:

Senate Leadership

  • President: Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi
  • Vice President: Sen. Michelle N. Kidani
  • Majority Leader: Sen. J. Kalani English
  • Majority Caucus Leader: Sen. Brickwood Galuteria
  • Majority Floor Leader: Sen. Will Espero
  • Majority Whip: Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz
  • Assistant Majority Whip: Sen. Brian T. Taniguchi

Agriculture and Environment (AEN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Mike Gabbard
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Gil Riviere

Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health (CPH)

  • Chair:  Sen. Rosalyn H. Baker
  • Vice Chair: Sen. Clarence K. Nishihara

Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology (ETT)

  • Chair:  Sen. Glenn Wakai
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Brian T. Taniguchi

Education (EDU)

  • Chair: Sen. Michelle N. Kidani
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele

Government Operations (GVO)

  • Chair: Sen. Donna Mercado Kim
  • Vice Chair: Sen. Russell E. Ruderman

Hawaiian Affairs (HWN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Maile S.L. Shimabukuro
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Brickwood Galuteria

Higher Education (HRE)

  • Chair:  Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele
  • Vice Chair: Sen. Michelle N. Kidani

Housing (HOU)

  • Chair:  Sen. Will Espero
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Breene Harimoto

Human Services (HMS)

  • Chair:  Sen. Josh Green
  • Vice Chair: Sen. Stanley Chang

International Affairs and the Arts (IAA)

  • Chair:  Sen. Brian T. Taniguchi
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. J. Kalani English

Judiciary and Labor (JDL)

  • Chair:  Sen. Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Karl Rhoads

Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs (PSM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Clarence K. Nishihara
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Glenn Wakai

Transportation and Energy (TRE)

  • Chair:  Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz

Water and Land (WTL)

  • Chair:  Sen. Karl Rhoads
  • Vice Chair: Sen. Mike Gabbard

Ways and Means (WAM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Jill N. Tokuda
  • Vice Chair: Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz

New Guided Tours to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Vacationers and residents on Hawaii island now have a new way of discovering the island and the famous Kilauea Volcano with the recent debut of Kilauea Summit Adventures.

kilauea-summit-adventuresCreated by Pat Wright, founder and owner of Mauna Kea Summit Adventures (the leading activity outfit for guided tours to Mauna Kea for 30 years), Kilauea Summit Adventures offers small group excursions along the Hamakua Coast to Volcanoes National Park.

summit-adventureProfessional guides with over 50 years of combined experience share their expertise in the history, culture and geology of Hawaii island, leading guests through the diverse climates unique to the island, starting at Waipio Valley lookout, along the Hamakua Coast, including Rainbow Falls, and to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  They journey around Crater Rim Drive, getting up close to steam vents and lava tubes, with a final visit to the Jaggar Museum and Overlook which provides a panoramic view of Kilauea caldera and Halemaumau crater.

waipio-lookoutThe new operation is managed by Mike Sessions, who has been working with Pat for 10 years. Guests are shuttled in micro coach vans with huge windows for viewing and coach-style seating for comfort. The 10- to 12-hour excursion includes admission to the national park, dinner, gourmet hot beverages, drinking water, rain ponchos, umbrellas, flashlights and convenient resort pick-up points at most locations along the west side of the Big Island.

summit-adventure-2For more information on booking a reservation, restrictions, and details of the tour, visit their website kilaueasummit.com.

Big Island Police Warning About Resort Awards Telephone Scam

Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about a series of telephone scams by callers claiming to represent resort hotels.
scam-alertA recorded messages claims that the recipient is an awards member of the resort and has earned either free accommodations or a discounted vacation package. The recipient is then asked to press “1” after which a live person makes a presentation that ultimately ends with a request for the recipient’s credit card number.

The caller ID on these calls shows up as a local telephone number but detectives have determined that the callers are using phone applications that alter the caller’s true phone number.

Police urge the public to hang up if they receive such a call and not to provide any personal information.

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Don Young Introduce Bipartisan Resolution on #GivingTuesday

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Congressman Don Young (AK-AL) introduced a bipartisan resolution today recognizing #GivingTuesday, a global day of charitable giving and volunteerism. #GivingTuesday, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, begins the holiday season in the spirit of service, following widely-recognized shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The resolution recognizes that philanthropy and charitable giving transcend party divides and unite people across boundaries.

“Too often, we focus on the issues that divide us, rather than those that unite us. #GivingTuesday highlights the principles of service, volunteerism, giving back to our communities, and helping those in need,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Every single day, each of us can choose to be of service, whether it’s helping a friend or family member, caring for our community and our planet, having a positive impact on those around us, or giving our time to a cause we care about. #GivingTuesday recognizes our opportunity to put service before self and to be a force for positive change in the world.”

“As we kick off the holiday season, it’s extremely important to recognize the hard work and dedication of our many service organizations and non-profits,” said Congressman Don Young. “Because of your tremendous support and generous donations, these organizations are able to assist countless families and communities across the nation. Alaskans are often recognized for our hospitality and goodwill, and I encourage everyone back home to take part in this special day and share what you can with your local charity or non-profit.”

Click to read the full resolution

Click to read the full resolution

Background: #GivingTuesday was launched by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation in 2012, and has since become a worldwide movement, harnessing the power of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change. In its first year, #GivingTuesday brought together more than 2,500 organizations in all 50 States, and it has continued to gain momentum every year since, with more than 35,000 partners in the United States and around the world.

Remembering Hawaii’s Largest Earthquake – 7.2 Magnitude, Tsunami and Two Deaths

On this day in history, the largest earthquake in over a century struck Hawaii the morning of November 29, 1975, at 4:48 AM HST. The earthquake was of magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale.

largest Hawaii Earthquake

It was centered about 5 km beneath the Kalapana area on the southeastern coast of Hawaii, the largest island of the Hawaiian chain  and was preceded by numerous foreshocks.

The event was accompanied, or followed shortly, by a tsunami, large-scale ground movements, hundreds of aftershocks, an eruption in the summit caldera of Kilauea Volcano.

The earthquake and the tsunami it generated produced about 4.1 million dollars in property damage, and the tsunami caused two deaths.

Community Opens Waimea District Park

Mayor Billy Kenoi, Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter, and Councilman-Elect Tim Richards joined the Waimea community today to celebrate the completion of the 24-acre Waimea District Park, offering new, diversified indoor and outdoor recreational facilities for keiki, kupuna, and families in North Hawaiʻi.

waimea-park-1The first phase includes a covered play court building with three courts, a multi‐purpose field with spectator seating and lighting for nighttime use, a playground, and parking. The park is adjacent to the Parker Ranch rodeo arena, accessed off Ala ʻŌhiʻa.

“These facilities are the heart of our communities. This is where are kids come and grow up. This is where families build relationships,” said Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter.

waimea-park-2Land for the project was provided by Parker Ranch to fulfill prior rezoning commitments made to the County. Through the efforts of the Legislature spearheaded by Senator Mālama Solomon, the State provided $5.5 million toward the project. The County provided the remaining $18.5 million of the $24 million project.

waimea-park-3Mel Macy of the Waimea District Park Builders, a community group that advocated for the construction of the park, credited Mayor Kenoi with pushing the project to the finish line. “From the time he took office, we had his full support. Not only was he responsible for the majority of the funding, but his get-it-done attitude helped keep things moving forward.”

In the park’s environmental documents, the first phase of the park was contemplated to be completed in 2020. By working in concert with Parker Ranch and the Waimea community, ground was broken for the park in November 2015. General contractor Nan, Inc. and a number of sub-contractors completed the work in a year.

waimea-park-4“We all know we live in a special place, and it isn’t just about facilities,” said Mayor Kenoi. “This is for family. This isn’t only for our kids. Our kūpuna will have yoga and Zumba in here. When we adults stand on the sideline to wait for our kids to finish a game or practice, that’s when we strengthen our community.”

The next planned phase will include a community center, a comfort station, and a baseball field.

VIDEO: Rockfall Triggers an Explosive Event in Summit Lava Lake

Video clip captured by HVO webcam on Monday, November 28, 2016 at 11:59 a.m. shows a rockfall from the south wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater triggering a small explosive event in the summit lava lake.

The explosion threw spatter (fragments of molten lava) onto the rim of the crater, mostly to the west of the former visitor overlook.

hvo-112816

This area has been closed to the public since 2008 due to ongoing volcanic hazards, including explosive events like the one that happened today.