Volunteer of the Year Named at Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center

Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center honored its valued cadre of volunteers on February 17 with a Volunteer Appreciation Party at Hilo Bay Café.  Forty-seven volunteers, staff, and board members attended the festive event, whose theme for Valentine’s month was, “We Heart our Volunteers.”

Joan Shafer was selected as Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year.

“We were humbled to name Joan Shafer as our Volunteer of the Year for 2016,” said Ku‘ikahi Executive Director Julie Mitchell.  “Joan is one of our most active mediators, helping at small claims court and our offices.  In 2016, she conducted over 40 mediation sessions.  Joan is also a volunteer facilitator and trainer who gives tirelessly of her time, talents, and treasures to helps our communities find solutions and grow peace.”

During fiscal year 2015-2016, 155 volunteers total gave over 2,467 hours of service at the non-profit community mediation center, including 40 mediators and apprentices who gave over 1,370 mediation hours.

“You are the heart of our organization’s efforts to build a more peaceful and collaborative community in East Hawai‘i,” noted board president Jeff Melrose in the event program.  “Thank you for all you do!”

At the appreciation party, Arabel Camblor and Shakti Hoku Douglas were recognized for completing their mediator apprenticeships.

“Most people don’t know that our mediation services are provided entirely by professionally trained volunteer mediators,” Mitchell said.  “These are amazing folks from all walks of life and career backgrounds who donate their time to help community members resolve issues that matter to them.”

Mediators go through a four-day Basic Mediation Training in the fall and then a year-long apprenticeship program before being selected to become Ku‘ikahi mediators.  In addition, mediators take continuing education to increase their skills and knowledge, especially in specialized areas like domestic mediations, employee and employer civil rights cases, and mediations for kupuna and their caregivers.

Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center provides mediations for a wide variety of situations, including divorce, child custody and parenting time, elder issues, neighbor-to-neighbor, consumer-merchant, real estate, landlord-tenant, workplace, business, small and large group facilitations, and more.  For more information, call 935-7844 or visit www.hawaiimediation.org.

Commentary – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: CBO Confirms AHCA Is Bad Deal for American People

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis on the American Health Care Act (AHCA):

“The CBO released the AHCA cost estimate today, confirming what many have been saying—the AHCA is really a handout to insurance and pharmaceutical companies that will further exacerbate the burden on American families. While corporations rake in over $600 billion in tax breaks, our seniors will see their costs rise and low-income Americans will see their coverage drop completely. The proposed AHCA would slash funding for Medicaid by $880 billion over the next decade, threatening the health of millions of vulnerable Americans, and shifting costs to state and local governments that already face tight budgets. Seniors could see their premiums increase up to five times under new age-rating rules that do nothing except continue lining the pockets of insurance companies.

“While I have long called for serious improvements to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is imperative that any reforms to our healthcare system actually serve the health and wellbeing of people. This bill does the opposite—it will have a negative impact on the people of Hawaiʻi and our country. I strongly oppose this harmful legislation, and will continue working for true healthcare reform that puts people above the profits of corporations.”

Click to view report

Background: The AHCA is opposed by AARP, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association, the AFL-CIO, and others.

Entangled Whale Off Maui Cut Free

Sunday, an entangled subadult humpback whale was cut free by a team of trained responders off Maui. The animal was entangled in large gauge electrical cable that was deeply embedded in the whale’s mouth. All gear except what could not be pulled from the whale’s mouth was successfully cut and removed.

The response was part of a two-day effort by responders from the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, U.S. Coast Guard, Maui Ocean Safety, Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, and the West Maui response team. The team of responders are authorized under NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response program (NOAA MMHSRP permit # 18786 and state PMAL-2016-212).

The whale was first reported Saturday, off the Pali lookout. A response was mounted from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s response vessel, Kohola, with assistance provided by a patrol boat from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Maui. Saturday’s assessment determined that the whale was entangled in gear exiting both sides of the mouth and heading straight down to the ocean floor. Initial efforts to cut the gear were unsuccessful.

Sunday, the animal was re-sighted in the same vicinity but headed south before letting the trailing gear settle on the ocean floor in about 60 feet of water off Kamaole Beach I. While underway, several tour operators monitored the animal, including Ocean Odyssey (Pacific Whale Foundation), Quicksilver, Redline Rafting, Blue Water Rafting, and Maui Diamond II.

Sunday’s assessments by the response team revealed that the gear was heavy-gauge (~ 5/8-inch) electrical cable. The team used cable cutters to cut both cables leading to the whale’s mouth. It is estimated that around 500 feet of cable was removed from the animal with little gear remaining. The cable had already embedded itself too deeply at the back of the whale’s mouth to pull out remaining gear. However, this represents a significant improvement and the animal illustrated this in its movements and behaviors afterwards. The source of the gear, which is a PVC-insulated electrical-type cable, is still unknown.

Although the animal is slightly emaciated and has gear embedded at the back of the mouth, its overall present condition is good. With the removal of the gear, the chances of its survival have been greatly improved.

Mariners are asked to keep a sharp lookout for this and other whales in distress, but not to approach closely or attempt to assist them. Only trained and well-equipped responders that are authorized under NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program are permitted to assist whales and other marine mammals.

If you sight any marine mammal in distress, maintain 100 yards distance and please call the NOAA 24-hour hotline at 1-888 256-9840. If unable to call, please radio the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF CH. 16 and they will relay the report.

It is illegal to approach a humpback whale closer than 100 yards by any means by sea and 1,000 feet by aircraft.

Tourist from France Dies on Mauna Kea Access Road

An unidentified woman died following a one-vehicle crash Sunday night (March 12) on Mauna Kea Access Road.

Her name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of her family.

Responding to the 7:30 p.m. traffic crash, Hilo Patrol Officer’s determined that a 2001 Nissan sports-utility vehicle was traveling down Mauna Kea Access Road approximately 1.2 miles below the Visitor’s Center when the vehicle ran off the roadway and overturned several times.

The operator of the Nissan, the unidentified woman, was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead on March 13 at 12:29 a.m.

The front seat passenger, a 35-year old female of Lyon, France was also transported to the Hilo Medical Center in stable condition and later medevaced to Queen’s Medical Center on Oʻahu for treatment to her injuries.

Police have initiated a Coroner’s Inquest investigation and an autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Police believe that speed was a factor in this investigation.

This is the fifth traffic fatality this year compared with five at this time last year.

According to Doug Arnott of Arnott’s Lodge:

OMG…an associate just called and the two girls involved in the Mauna Kea crash were our guests at Arnotts…they had rented a camper truck with a structure on top that folds out. Tragically one was killed in the accident and one is in Queens…They asked about activities to do and I had suggested the Volcano Park and asked them if the truck had 4 wheel drive…they were from Lyon in France and had planned to visit Kauai after the Big Island…

Apparently police were on scene for a previous accident when this one happened literally in front of their eyes…previous reports of one accident above VIS and one below were wrong…both were at the sweeping right turn at the bottom of the very steep paved section immediately below the VIS.

Hawaii Awards Highlight Successes in the Fight Against Invasive Species

Governor David Ige proclaimed the 5th annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW) at a ceremony Friday that included agency leaders, legislators, industry champions, and citizens who help project Hawaii from the impacts of invasive species. The Governor presented the proclamation to members of the Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC), the interagency board responsible for policy direction and cross-sector coordination on invasive species issues. Addressing invasive species is a critical component of this administration’s vision for Hawaii’s future, as described in the recent Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan and the Sustainable Hawaii Initiative.

In partnership with the HISC, legislators presented a series of awards to community members and businesses who have made substantial contributions to invasive species prevention and control. Representatives Richard Creagan, Nicole Lowen, James Tokioka, Dee Morikawa, and Nadine Nakamura joined Senators Mike Gabbard and J. Kalani English in highlighting the importance of this issue for Hawaii. The Governor, legislators, and HISC members were joined by two giant invasive species: costumed versions of a Little Fire Ant and Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle, provided by the Oahu Invasive Species Committee.

The awardees for Greatest Hit of 2017, Community Hero, and Business Leader were selected from community nominations, and County MVP awards were selected by the University of Hawaii’s Invasive Species Committees. An award for the Hottest Pest Hotline Report was nominated by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

“While there is much work to do, this event is an opportunity for us to celebrate successes,” said DLNR chair Suzanne Case. “The awardees today exemplify how much Hawaii’s communities care about protecting Hawaii’s natural resources, agriculture, and way of life from invasive species.”

HISAW is organized in coordination with the U.S. National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) and regional Pacific Invasive Species Awareness efforts. The event promotes information sharing and public engagement in what the Hawaii State Legislature has declared “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people.” In addition to the proclamation from Governor Ige and awards ceremony, HISAW 2017 included a student video contest, community presentations, and numerous volunteer opportunities throughout the state. Full information is available at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/.

2017 HISAW Awards

COMMUNITY HERO

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes The Pacific American Foundation for their efforts to reduce invasive species impacts to the Waikalua Loko I’a. During 2016, the Pacific American Foundation (PAF) diligently worked to reduce the negative impacts of invasive species to the Waikalua fishpond. By positively engaging with the local community, the PAF has shown an outstanding commitment to the continued to protection and preservation this historic community resource.

BUSINESS LEADER

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Serina Marchi, of Seascapes Nursery for her efforts to minimize the introduction and spread of invasive species. Serina is the Owner of Kauai Seascapes Nursery on the North Shore of Kauai. Seascapes Nursery is a family owned business operating on Kauai for over 30 years and is one of the largest nurseries on the island. Serina has shown a very strong interest in helping to minimize the spread and introduction of invasive species by supporting Kauai Invasive Species Committee’s (KISC) Pono Endorsement Program. In April 2016, Seascapes Nursery became one of the first nurseries to become endorsed. When choosing the best management practices for her business to follow, Serina has gone above and beyond the minimum requirements to become Pono Endorsed. She not only chose to immediately discontinue the sale of the Pono Endorsement Program “Black List” plants, but also the “Phase Out” list plants”. Her actions during 2016, and continued dedication to reducing the introduction and spread of invasive species will help to minimize future impacts of invasive species on Kauai.

GREATEST HIT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Solomon Champion for his efforts in stopping the spread of Miconia calvescens on Oahu. During a routine aerial survey, Solomon spotted an immature Miconia tree beneath the canopy on the leeward side of the Ko’olau Range within the Waiawa watershed. This particular individual has been identified as the farthest documented tree within an intact native forest, as well as an extension into a new watershed. By spotting this individual tree, Solomon has helped to protect the Waiawa watershed and prevent the spread of a highly invasive species.

HOTTEST PEST REPORT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Shawn Baliaris for his efforts relating to reporting and stopping the spread of Mongoose on Kauai. As a proactive community member, Shawn promptly reported sighting a Mongoose on Kauai to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA). His diligent action allowed for rapid response from the appropriate agencies, and clearly highlights the usefulness of the 643PEST reporting system, and how the community can personally take actions to protect Hawaii from invasive species.

HAWAII COUNTY MVP

The Hawai’i Invasive Species Council recognizes Carolyn Dillon for her outstanding community efforts and her work controlling Little Fire Ants on Hawaii Island. Throughout 2016 Carolyn has diligently worked to organize her community in a coordinated effort to combat Little Fire Ants (LFA) in her community in Holualoa, West Hawaii Island. Beginning in Late 2015, she became aware of the size of the infestation in her neighborhood and took it upon her to engage community members to treat this pest.  More recently, Carolyn has formed a LFA coalition on the Big Island consisting of members of the County Council and State Legislature, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Department of Health, the Governor’s Liaison, and the Kohala Center, with the express purpose of furthering LFA education and training, as well as mapping the West Hawaii Infestations. The coalition intends to train business owners on LFA best management practices in order to provide treatment services to homeowners. As a community organizer, Carolyn moved extremely swiftly to increase awareness and has brought many organizations to the table to work together. Her actions and continued dedication showcases the need for community involvement in the fight against invasive species.

MAUI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes the Community of Haiku Hill for their efforts to control Coqui frogs on the Island of Maui. Haiku Hill is a small a suburb of 39 properties along the border of Maliko Gulch, the site of a major infestation of coqui frogs on Maui. Over the last decade, the Haiku Hill community has transformed from a group of concerned homeowners reporting frogs to partners in coqui control. In 2016 the community truly took matters into their own hands, building tanks, purchasing sprayers, cutting back vegetation, and advocating to funders to address coqui on Maui. Residents sprayed over 1600 gallons of citric acid on their own properties, facilitated a neighborhood citric and sprayer distribution center, and spent countless hours keeping the coqui from spreading from their neighborhood. Their effort not only reduce the frog density in their community, but also helps to stop the spread of coqui to new areas.

OAHU MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Sandy Webb for her efforts to incorporate invasive species investigations into the Youth Envisioning Sustainable Futures Program. Sandy has encouraged her students to delve deeper into citizen science by incorporating invasive species investigations into the Youth Envisioning Sustainable Futures program (YES! Futures). http://www.yes-futures.org/about/. This interdisciplinary program she helped found with other Mililani teachers allows students to utilize the skills they develop in many of their classes to address problems in their community and build relevance into their educational experience.  For the past two years, Sandy has lead the Little Fire Ant (LFA) Hoike Activity independently in her classes; resulting in the submittal of 269 samples from the Mililani area in the past two years, with 134 samples submitted in 2016 alone. By incorporating invasive species into her teaching, Sandy has encouraged her students to students learn about relevant issues relating to invasive species impacts, and become part of the solution.

KAUAI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Kawika Winter for his efforts to protect priority watershed areas and control the spread of invasive species on the island of Kauai. As part of his role as the Director of Limahuli Botanical Garden and Preserve, Kawika has played a crucial role in the protection and preservation over 1000 acres of priority watershed area on the north shore of Kauai.  In addition, Kawika aims to create a model of a functioning, 21st-century ahupua`a. This model focuses on a mountain-to-sea resource management strategy and includes both modern and traditional techniques. By incorporating landscape scale invasive species control efforts, native plant restoration, sustainable fisheries practices, and community engagement into his management practices, Kawika has demonstrated a lasting dedication to protecting and restoring key resources on the Island of Kauai.