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Hilo Community Supports State Efforts to Redevelop Banyan Drive and East Hawaii

Tonight at the Hilo Innovation Center in downtown Hilo business leaders, community leaders, tenants and lessees came together to listen to the Hilo Economic Development Plan presented by Jim McCully, spokesman of the Kanoelehua Industrial Area Association (KIAA).

Nearly 100 folks crowded the center and listened to presentations by McCully, HPM Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Jason Fujmoto and later on Senator Kai Kahele dropped in to say a few words.

SB1292/HB1479RELATING TO THE HILO COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DISTRICT.

Establishes the Hilo Community Economic District located in East Hawai`i and places it under the jurisdiction of the Hawai`i Community Development Authority.

SB1184/HB1310RELATING TO THE WAIAKEA PENINSULA REDEVELOPMENT DISTRICT.

Establishes the Waiakea Peninsula Redevelopment District, Planning Committee and Revolving Fund.

Jason Fujimoto opened the meeting explaining why the meeting was called together. Fujimoto stated, “I know to some that the words economic revitalization may sound big and scary but in my mind it really boils down to the definition of community and community is a place where we live, where we work, where we learn and where we play and all of the components that make that happen.”

Fujimoto turned the microphone over to Jim McCully who explained some of the history of Banyan Drive and why economic development throughout all of Hilo, especially areas like KIAA are so important.

Senator Kai Kahele was able to make the end of the meeting and he stressed how important it was for the community to stand behind all the bills introduced this session and to contact our State legislators that will hear the bills in committee. He also thanked the broad range of community members that attended and also thanked his fellow Hawaii Island Legislators, Hawaii County Council members as well as the County of Hawaii Planning Department for their support and collaboration.

Mauna Kea Recreation Area Closed Until Further Notice for Maintenance Issues

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation announces that the Mauna Kea Recreation Area is closed on until further notice due to maintenance issues.

The Department of Parks and Recreation apologizes for any inconvenience the closure may cause.

For more information please contact the Brittany Kaleohano at 961-8311

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Announces She Will Personally Reimburse Cost of Trip to Syria

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) announced today she will personally reimburse the cost of her trip to Syria.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has stated that she will personally cover the costs of her Syria trip.

Though the trip has met every requirement of the House Ethics Committee, the congresswoman has decided to reimburse AACCESS-Ohio for the trip because it has become a distraction from the important issue at hand—do the American people want their taxpayer dollars to continue to be used in support of militant groups working hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda and ISIS in the effort to overthrow the Syrian government? Contrary to baseless claims in the media, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is beholden to no one in the region, her views on the situation are her own, and her determination to seek peace is beyond question.

Background: As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard traveled to Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut from January 14-22, 2017 to see and hear firsthand the impact of the war in Syria directly from the Syrian people. For more information on the trip, click here. Earlier this year, the congresswoman introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608), legislation that would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to support al-Qaeda, ISIS, or other terrorist groups.

Ground Crack at Kīlauea Ocean Entry is Cause for Concern

Due to the instability of the sea cliff above the ocean entry and other hazards created by molten lava flowing into the sea, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has established a viewing area (noted by yellow arrow in photo) from which the ocean entry can be seen in relative safety.

A thermal image taken during HVO’s overflight of Kīlauea Volcano’s ocean entry on Jan. 25, 2017, revealed a hot ground crack in the sea cliff just above where lava is flowing into the sea.

Because the crack suggested an unstable sea cliff, HVO geologists briefly visited the site on foot for closer observations and measurements this past weekend.

Carefully approaching the site in protective gear on Jan. 28, HVO geologists determined that the eastern end of the hot crack was about 30 cm (11.8 in) wide and deeply cut into recent lava atop the older sea cliff.

The western end could not be accessed due to poor air quality, spatter fallout, and other safety concerns. This crack could be a precursor to collapse of an unstable section of the sea cliff, making the site extremely dangerous for anyone who ventures too closely to the ocean entry by land or by sea.

Using a thermal image of the crack above Kīlauea volcano’s ocean entry (steam from lava flowing into the sea is visible at the top of the left photo), HVO geologists determined that the temperature within the eastern end of the crack is up to about 220 degrees Celsius (428 degrees Fahrenheit).

At Kīlauea’s ocean entry on Jan. 28 and 29, the interaction of molten lava flowing into cool seawater caused pulsating littoral explosions that threw spatter (fragments of molten lava) high into the air.

During one exceptionally large burst, spatter was thrown about twice the height of the sea cliff. These ocean entry littoral explosions, both large and small, create hazardous conditions on land and at sea.

Some of these incandescent clasts fell on top of the sea cliff behind the ocean entry, forming a small spatter cone.

Hawaii State Land Board Approves Carbon Credits Initiative

Growing Trees will Provide Opportunity for Purchase of Credits

If you drive a car, fly in a plane, use air-conditioning to cool your home, or engage in other activity powered by fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gas, you may soon have new ways to offset your emissions locally, by supporting Hawaiian forest restoration.

On Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, the State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved Hawai‘i’s first ever carbon offset project in State forests. DLNR and its Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will now issue a request for proposals for private entities to create a carbon forestry project in the Pu’u Mali Restoration Area in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve on Hawai‘i island.

Pu’u Mali Forest Restoration Area. All images courtesy: Hawaii DLNR

BLNR and DLNR Chair Suzanne Case explained, “Creating new ways to fund restoration of Pu’u Mali and other State forests is a win-win for the public, foresters, and our watersheds.”

DLNR is also in the process of creating a carbon offset pilot project on southern Maui, where carbon credits will be sold directly by the State to buyers.

The Kahikinui State Forest Reserve (SFR) and the adjacent Nākula Natural Area Reserve (NAR), high on the south slopes of Maui’s Haleakala, are steep, generally dry, and windswept. Over the course of many decades, uncontrolled grazing by introduced invasive hooved animals, like goats and cattle, virtually destroyed the native koa and ʻōhiʻa forest in this area. This has caused serious erosion, loss of native habitat for endangered plants and animals, increased wildfire threats, and reduced watershed function.

Kahikinui State Forest Reserve

DOFAW Administrator David Smith explained, “Ultimately this will give individuals, organizations, and companies the opportunity to purchase credits directly from the State to offset their greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming. Trees and forests store carbon, so the way we remove it from the atmosphere is by planting more trees.” The carbon offset pilot project is proposed for funding from the Hawai‘i State Legislature.

Philipp LaHaela Walter, DOFAW’s Resource and Survey Forester said, “Both the Pu’u Mali and Maui carbon forestry projects will help implement Governor Ige’s Sustainable Hawaii Initiative and the Aloha+ Challenge, by mitigating climate change, restoring forest and native species, and enhancing watersheds.”

The Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, a voluntary watershed protection alliance of 11 public and private landowners encompassing 43,000 contiguous acres, has led forest restoration at Kahikinui and Nākula to date. Over the last three years DOFAW and its partners have constructed more than 7 miles of ungulate proof fencing, removed 700 invasive animals, and planted 45,500 native plant seedlings in the Kahikinui SFR and 71,000 trees in the Nākula NAR.

On a recent visit to Kahikinui SFR, Maui-based DOFAW forester Lance DeSilva had a gleam in his eye as he surveyed young koa trees, that six months ago were barely a foot tall and now have grown to 4 to 5 feet.  DeSilva said, “From the last time I came out here, you could barely see the seedlings that our crew had planted. Ample rain has helped. It’s very promising. It’s a feel-good moment to see this. It’s really nice.”

Volunteers and staff have primarily planted koa along with māmane, ʿaʿaliʿi, pilo, ʻōhiʻa, ʻōlapa and other native understory plants. It’s all in an effort, as DeSilva explained, “to return Kahikinui back to its native condition, which started with fencing, invasive animal removal, and planting native plants. The goal is to one day have this functioning as a fully intact and productive watershed.  Eventually we’d like to look at reintroducing some of the native birds here, but first the habitat for them has to recover.”

Smith pointed to the many benefits of both the Big Island and Maui restoration and carbon offset projects, saying, “We and our partners look forward to converting degraded pastureland or forests back to native forest, to store carbon, reduce erosion, increase water supply recharge, re-establish endangered species habitat, mitigate wildfire threats, and support many other natural and cultural benefits.”

Hawaii State Legislative Candidate Charged for Distribution of Unauthorized Mailers

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that Eric H. L. Ching, a candidate in 2016 for the state house of representatives district 31 seat (Moanalua, Red Hill, Foster Village, Aiea, Fort Shafter, Moanalua Gardens, Aliamanu, Lower Pearlridge), was charged yesterday with two misdemeanors for sending mailers without identifying the individual or organization that had paid for it. Incumbent state representative Aaron Ling Johanson defeated Ching in the general election.

Click to read the complaint

The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission required Ching to pay a civil penalty of $25 on four previous violations. After repeatedly being warned to follow the same campaign law related to advertisements. Ching sent two more mailers that lacked the required disclaimers. The Commission only referred the matter to the Attorney General’s office for criminal prosecution after the fourth civil fine was assessed.

Ching is now charged with two counts of Unauthorized Advertisements, in violation of sections 11-391(a)(1) and 11-412(a) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. The maximum penalty for each count is a $2,000.00 fine and up to one year in jail.

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “Campaign laws keep Hawaii elections fair and transparent.”

Office of Consumer Protection Announces Settlement with Western Union

The State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection today announced a settlement with Colorado-based The Western Union Company, resolving a multistate investigation which focused on complaints of consumers who used Western Union’s wire transfer service to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers.  In addition to Hawaii, 48 states and the District of Columbia participated in this settlement.

“Scammers prey on our citizens with bogus telemarketing and mail scams on a daily basis.” “We believe that the anti-fraud program outlined in this settlement will make it harder for them to succeed,” said Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director, Stephen H. Levins.

According to Levins, “The biggest sign of a scam is if someone asks you to wire money to recover your winnings.” “This is the reason why Federal law bars telemarketers from receiving payments through money transfer, such as provided by companies like Western Union or MoneyGram.”

The settlement requires Western Union to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent incidents where consumers who have been the victims of fraud use Western Union to wire money to scam artists.

That anti-fraud program, which Western Union has agreed to evaluate and update as warranted, includes the following elements:

  • Anti-fraud warnings on send forms that consumers use to wire money;
  • Mandatory and appropriate training and education for Western Union’s agents about fraud-induced wire transfers;
  • Heightened anti-fraud procedures when warranted by circumstances such as increased fraud complaints;
  • Due diligence checks on Western Union agents who process money transfers;
  • Monitoring of Western Union agent activity related to prevention of fraud-induced money transfers;
  • Prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against Western Union agents who fail to follow required protocols concerning anti-fraud measures;

Western Union also has agreed to pay a total of $5 million to the states for the states’ costs and fees, from which Hawaii will receive approximately $46,000. In addition to this settlement with the states, Western Union also settled claims related to fraud-induced transfers with the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice that was announced on January 19, 2017.  As part of those related settlements, Western Union has agreed to pay $586 million to a fund that the Department of Justice will administer to provide refunds to victims of fraud induced wire transfers nationwide, including victims in Hawaii.

In addition to Hawaii the following participated in the settlement: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

Bills to Ban Coral-Killing Sunscreens Move Forward

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection today passed House Bill 600, introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen (District 6, Kailua-Kona, Holualoa), which would prohibit the sale of sunscreens containing the chemical oxybenzone.

The bill was introduced in response to recent studies that have concluded that oxybenzone disrupts coral development and growth.

“Our reefs are an essential economic driver of our tourism industry, they sustain our fish populations for fishermen, and are home to many species found nowhere else in the world. Safe, effective, and affordable alternatives to oxybenzone are available already. How can we, in good conscience, continue to needlessly allow the use of this chemical that we know causes damage to coral?” said Rep. Lowen.

The committee also moved a bill forward that would allow continued sale of oxybenzone products, but impose new labelling requirements. HB 600 will next go to the House Floor and then to the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.

Kona Historical Society Welcomes Baby Donkey – Public Can Submit Names

Charlie, the approximately 30-year-old donkey at the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, got a late Christmas present. His new bestie, an estimated 6-month-old female donkey, arrived Jan. 31, 2017, at Kona Historical Society’s 5.5-acre historic farm in Captain Cook.

This new donkey is part of Kona Historical Society’s first-ever crowdfunding campaign, “Charlie Needs A Bestie,” which project aimed to get Charlie a friend and an upgraded home. At the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, these donkeys are ideal ambassadors for helping tell the story of Kona Nightingales.

“Donkeys were a crucial part of Kona coffee farm families in the early 20th century. Coffee farming was and is labor-intensive and would have been near-impossible without donkeys,” said Kona Coffee Living History Farm Museum Manager and Kona Historical Society Assistant Program Director Gavin Miculka. “I’m very excited about bringing a second donkey to the farm. Our campaign inspired interest from visitors from all over the world. I know that they will all be pleased to know that Charlie has a bestie!”

Yamagata Farms, a South Kona family farm started in 1898, donated the young donkey to Kona Historical Society on Dec. 27, 2016. Yamagata Farms has been paying for its feed, board and training with Kala’i Nobriga of K.N. Performance Horses at Mahealani Ranch. Nobriga is an established horse trainer in the state of Hawaii. Over the past couple of weeks, he has been teaching the baby donkey to lead, as well as to be comfortable when handled and when surrounded by crowds. He thinks the donkey is adjusting well and describes her as shy, but curious.

The baby donkey was brought this week to the Kona Coffee Living History Farm for some acclimation. Later in February, she will be receiving additional training with Nobriga at Mahealani Ranch. Following this training, she will make a permanent return to the farm. Kona Historical Society plans to eventually use her to demonstrate some of the jobs Kona Nightingales performed on coffee farms, such as hauling coffee and other farm goods. Until the donkey is deemed ready, she will mostly serve as Charlie’s companion and visitors to the farm will be able to observe the budding friendship from afar. Kona Historical Society staff believe the good-natured Charlie will befriend her and can serve as a mentor to the juvenile donkey as she grows into an adult.

This new donkey will soon reach one of her most important milestones yet — getting her name. She will be named on March 1, 2017. From now until Feb. 5, 2017, the public is invited to submit names on Kona Historical Society’s Facebook Page. A Kona Historical Society committee will select the top three to five names, which will be announced on the Society’s Facebook Page, website and at the farm. Fans worldwide will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite name by making a $1 donation at the farm or on Kona Historical Society’s website. All donations will be used for the support and care of animals at the farm. Voting opens Feb. 7, 2017, and closes Feb. 27, 2017.

Kona Historical Society, a community-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the Kona districts and their rich cultural heritage within Hawaii, launched the “Charlie Needs A Bestie” campaign Dec. 9, 2015, on Razoo.com. By January 31, 2016, Kona Historical Society raised roughly $9,658.16 for the project from more than 90 donors.

Over the course of a year, the farm’s pasture was transformed, thanks to community collaboration and partnerships. During the summer of 2016, Steven Equipment cleared the farm’s pasture areas that were once overgrown with invasive plants while Affordable Tree Care trimmed overgrown trees and removed unwanted trees. A group of teens and their leaders from Wilderness Adventures spent a couple of hours removing weeds around the hitching post and in the farm’s front entrance pasture that Charlie likes to spend time in. This fall, Paradise Lawn & Garden Care installed the new fencing and utilized the 70 kiawe posts, which were donated by The Nature Conservancy from its Kiholo Preserve and delivered to Kona Historical Society by volunteers. Kona residents Aaron Mitchell and Kai Auld, updated the plumbing and installed a self-watering trough. A crew of volunteers from Ali’i Woodtailors cleaned up the stall area and built the hitching rails. Hardwoods Hawaii donated wood for rails, which Kona Historical Society volunteers Jack Nessen, Ted Quist and Stephen Ratcliff installed to enclose the pen.

In the future, Kona Historical Society hopes to make improvements to stone walls in the pasture area and expand the stall for feed and equipment storage. The Society will likely start planting grass, particularly suitable for the donkeys’ diets, in the lower pasture later this spring.

“The community was a crucial component in making improvements to our pasture and bringing the second donkey to the farm,” Miculka said. “We’re excited to now have the community play an active role in naming her.”

The award-winning Kona Coffee Living History Farm tells the stories of Kona’s coffee pioneers during 1920-45. It is the only living history coffee museum in the U.S. Located at 82-6199 Mamalahoa Highway in Captain Cook, near mile marker 110, this historic farm is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

For more information, call Kona Historical Society at 808-323-3222 or visit www.konahistorical.org. To get the latest updates regarding Kona Historical Society programs, historic sites and special events, “LIKE” Kona Historical Society on Facebook.

Parents Asked to Provide Feedback on Their Child’s Public School

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) begins its annual School Quality Survey (SQS) this week to gather important feedback from students, parents/guardians and staff about our public schools. The deadline to complete and return the SQS is March 17, 2017. All responses will remain anonymous.

The survey provides information on how schools are doing with respect to school culture, satisfaction, safety and engagement.  The feedback gathered is used to support school planning and improvement efforts, and meet legislative and Board of Education requirements.​

  • Students in grades 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 11 will take the survey online at school, as will teachers, administrative office staff, and instructional support staff.
  • A parent or guardian of the students in the surveyed grades will have the option to take the survey online or via a paper format.  Each school communicates to parents on how to complete the SQS whether digital and/or hard copy.

“We’re hoping to get more responses from parents this year, as last year’s return rate was only 25 percent,” said Tammi Chun, assistant superintendent, Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance.  “This feedback goes towards improving our schools and the learning experiences of our children and we ask parents to take the time and submit their opinions.”

The public can view the SQS for their community schools and statewide results via the Report Finder on HIDOE’s website: bit.ly/ReportFinder. Search for “School Quality Survey” and add the name of a school for school-level results.

Anyone with questions about the survey is encouraged to contact HIDOE at 808-733-4008 (Neighbor Island toll-free at 855-276-5801) or via email: SQS@notes.k12.hi.us.