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Hokulea Makes its Way Through First Lock of the Panama Canal

Famed voyaging canoe Hokulea has begun her journey through the Panama Canal lock system, following a one-day delay due to maintenance on the waterway.
In preparation for the next set of locks, Hokulea has been moored in Lake Gatun for the night and will continue her transit through the man-made waterway towards the Pacific Ocean tomorrow. Crews are expected to arrive in Balboa, Panama tomorrow, Jan. 11.

Hokulea will be welcomed by Panama’s indigenous organizations and community leaders after her arrival in Balboa. The crew will prepare and restock the vessel for her departure to the Galapagos Islands and then Rapa Nui, paying close attention to hull cleanliness to assure respect and care for these vibrant ecosystems.

To follow the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, visit http://hokulea.com/track-the-voyage

State of Hawaii Ready to Implement Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan

The State of Hawai‘i, in a broad coalition of stakeholders led by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Land and Natural Resources, has finalized the State’s first interagency and comprehensive biosecurity plan to protect Hawai‘i’s agriculture, environment, economy and health. In the past, individual federal, state, and local agencies have tried their best to address and manage the issues related to biosecurity within the context of their own agencies.

Click to read the plan

“The State of Hawai‘i now has a coordinated comprehensive plan to tackle the threats and harms from invasive species,” said Gov. David Ige. “I’m proud to announce that over the last year, several of my key state agencies have been working together with public and private stakeholders to develop the first Interagency Biosecurity Plan. This plan will provide a 10-year framework to prevent invasive species from entering our borders, detect them once they have entered the state, and better manage the established invasive species that are already within our state.”

The threats of invasive species are real and threaten our way of life. The Islands are home to more endangered species than any other state. These invasive species threaten Hawai‘i’s economy and natural environment and the health and lifestyle of its people and visitors. They replace native ecosystems, diminish fresh water quality and quantity, and increase disease and other human health concerns.

Invasive species have devastating impacts on our $600 million agricultural industry through crop damage and costly mitigation measures. Stinging ants, biting snakes, and other pests are also a threat to our $14.9 billion tourism industry.

The scope of the Hawai‘i Interagency Biosecurity Plan addresses all three biosecurity areas including pre-border (for example, agreements on handling and treatment of products before they enter the state), border (for example, inspection authorities and technologies), and post-border (for example, tools and capacity for response after invasive species have become established). The benefit of a comprehensive interagency plan is that it facilitates actions and policies across a wide range of agencies and partners. The plan includes roughly 150 action items assigned to various agencies and stakeholders, with specific details on how and when to best implement each action.

“We have to be smarter in using state resources by working together and collaborating across and within their agencies.  We just don’t have the financial and human resources to do it by ourselves, the problem is much greater than just a Department of Agriculture issue,” emphasized Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. “This plan gives us the framework or path to better address and manage the problems of invasive species.”

“This is really an example of many hands working together to achieve the best outcome,” said Suzanne Case, chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. “Our environment, our food, and our people are all interconnected. Using a cross-sector approach is the best way we can work to protect Hawai‘i.”

The Hawai‘i Interagency Biosecurity Plan may be found on the HDOA website:

http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/blog/main/biosecurityplan/

$65,000 Settlement in Hilo Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) Executive Director William Hoshijo today announced the settlement of a complaint brought by an employee against a Hilo business, alleging that her employer failed to reinstate her after a pregnancy-related disability leave, denied her a reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy-related disability, and terminated her because of her pregnancy.

The employee claimed that after she informed her immediate supervisor that she was pregnant, her manager made negative and derogatory comments about the inconvenience caused by her pregnancy.  She was told by her manager that the company could not hire temporary employees to accommodate her need to take pregnancy-related leave.  Approximately 1½ weeks after beginning unpaid pregnancy-related disability leave, she was told to remove her things from the workplace to “make room” for two newly hired employees.  After giving birth and after being released to return to work by her physician, the company refused to reinstate the employee and terminated her employment.

Click to learn more

Hawaii’s fair employment law protects pregnant employees by requiring employers to provide leave for an employee who has a pregnancy-related disability, with or without pay, for a reasonable time to be determined by the employee’s physician.  State law also requires reinstatement to the pregnant employee’s original job or to a position of comparable status and pay when the employee is released to return to work after pregnancy-related disability leave.  Finally, state law prohibits termination because of pregnancy.

Employers are allowed to require a pregnant employee to obtain medical verification of her inability to work due to pregnancy-related disability.

Under the terms of settlement, the employer agreed to pay $65,000 to the employee, adopt a non-discrimination policy, and provide non-discrimination training for its supervisors and managers.  The case was settled in conciliation, after a determination that there was reasonable cause to believe that illegal discrimination occurred, but before litigation and before a final decision was issued by the Commission.

“Although the identity of the parties is confidential at this stage,” explained HCRC Executive Director Hoshijo, “the settlement serves as an important reminder that pregnancy discrimination is unlawful.” Hoshijo added, “We used to see more pregnancy discrimination complaints, but now see fewer as employees and employers learn more about their rights and responsibilities under our civil rights laws.”

The Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission is responsible for enforcing state civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and state-funded services.

If you feel you have been subjected to discrimination or harassment because of your sex, based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related disability, contact the HCRC at:  telephone (808) 586-8636, or email DLIR.HCRC.INFOR@hawaii.gov.

For more information on pregnancy discrimination, go to the HCRC webpage at:  http://labor.hawaii.gov/hcrc/files/2013/01/INFOpreg1.pdf.

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

Waimea Independent Schools Announce 2017-18 Application Deadline

Three independent, private schools in Waimea have announced February 6, 2017 as their common priority deadline for applications for the 2017-18 school year. In an effort to simplify the process for families applying to multiple schools, Waimea Country School (WCS), Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) and Parker School have aligned due dates. Families will also receive notification of admission decisions from the three schools at the same time—February 27 for kindergarten and March 6 for all other grades.

Parker School students Lyle Coffee and Malia Dills (both grade 10)work in a kalo field while participating in the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress on O’ahu in September.

“Many families are unaware that the deadline to apply for the next school year occurs in February,” Emily Pagliaro, Admissions Director at Parker School, said. “We want to get the word out so that those who are interested in an independent school education have as much information as possible about how and when to apply.”

All three schools have a similar admissions process. Generally, they each require an application and fee, school records, teacher references and a student test or assessment. “This can create a big to-do list for parents, especially when applying to multiple schools. Having ample time to prepare is helpful,” Pagliaro said.

Getting to know the educational options on the Big Island is useful in determining the best path for each student. Private schools often offer school tours or open houses so that students and parents can see first-hand what each school’s “personality” is and what their unique offerings are. “In education, one size does not fit all. It is important for each family to find the right environment and program that will best meet the needs of their child, so we encourage families to visit,” said Amy Salling, WCS Head of School.

HPA and Parker School both offer kindergarten through high school programs, and HPA infuses their day student program with boarding students at the high school level. Waimea Country School offers kindergarten through fifth grade, and the multi-age classroom is the cornerstone of their program.

Visiting schools and meeting with representatives of each can also be helpful in understanding what financial assistance may be available. “Sometimes families don’t think they can afford a private school education. There is actually quite a bit of need-based financial aid available, and there are flexible payment plan options. If a family has an interest in our schools, it is definitely worth having the conversation,” said Joshua Clark, director of admission at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.

Visit each school’s website for more information: Waimeacountryschool.org, Hpa.edu and Parkerschoolhawaii.org.

Two Nene Goslings Featured in Video Struck and Killed by Cars

Two of three baby Nene photographed grazing in lush grass alongside the Hanalei River last month were killed by cars as they attempted to cross a highway.  Video shot by DLNR and distributed to media across the state on Dec. 28, 2016, showed a family of Nene; mother, father and their three goslings resting and eating on the stream’s bank underneath the Hanalei Bridge.  The deaths of the two goslings happened last week.

Jean Olbert, a biologist with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, specializes in protection of Nene on Kaua‘i.  She said, “Many of these deaths are preventable if drivers would simply heed warning signs, slow down, and exercise caution in areas where Nene families commonly breed, nest, and raise their young.”

Olbert and other state biologists continue to look for novel ways to get the word out about Nene road strikes. Our first goal is to increase awareness to visitors on the island who may be less familiar with the native wildlife. Road strikes happen on other islands, but have been particularly bad on Kauai recently with eleven birds struck and killed by vehicles since last December. More than 50 birds have been killed in this manner in the past two years. On Kaua‘i, the worst locations for Nene deaths are around the Hanalei Bridge, on Kilauea Road near the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, and on the west side of the island.

The greatest number of road deaths occur between December and April during the peak breeding and molting season. During this time both adults and goslings can’t fly and especially vulnerable to passing cars and trucks.  Nene like to forage for food along highway edges and ditches that are regularly mowed.  Runoff from paved surfaces helps grow especially desirable grass in these areas. DLNR is opening discussions with the Dept. of Transportation and Kaua‘i County to explore reducing and/or changing roadside vegetation that isn’t as attractive to Nene.

Olbert said most birds are killed on roads in the early morning and evening hours. “There’s a Nene crossing warning sign within 25 feet of where video and photographs of the family were taken.  We really implore all drivers on Kaua‘i to watch for the signs, the Nene, and drive safely.”

Hawaii Representative Sponsors $15 Minimum Wage Bill

State Representative Kaniela Ing (D-South Maui), is sponsoring legislation to increase Hawaii’s minimum wage to $15 by 2019 and $22 by 2022. The bill will also tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index and eliminates the exemption for tipped employees. Ing says the bill will be the nation’s most progressive “living wage” law, and encompasses the spirit of the grassroots Fight for $15 movement.

“Hawaii is the most expensive state in the nation. Other high cost of living states and cities like Seattle, California, and New York have already passed $15 minimum wage laws,” said Ing. “Working families are struggling, so we as legislators have a moral obligation to act. The evidence shows that raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour is the single most impactful policy for Hawaii’s most vulnerable.”

Ing said that jurisdictions that have already won their “Fight for $15” are seeing businesses thrive, new restaurants open, and reduced income inequality. Hawaii is late to the party, and we need the raise desperately.

“I expect various big-money special interests to oppose the bill, but my hope is that empirical facts, popular opinion, and baseline morality will in prevail in the end,” he said.

For more information please see http://Hawaiifightfor15.com or its Facebook page at http://Facebook.com/fightfor15hawaii.