Hawaii Governor Signs Gold Star Proclamation

Hawaii Governor David Y. Ige signed a Gold Star proclamation in the governor’s ceremonial room at the state capitol on May 17. In attendance was Rear Admiral John Fuller, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, Gold star family members from all military services as well as representatives of the Navy Region Southwest Gold Star program and Navy League Honolulu Council. The gold star family program provides long-term support to surviving families of service members who die while on active duty.

Photo by Ensign Britney Duesler

According to the Region Gold Star Coordinator, Hawaii may be the first state to hold such an event this year. Gold Star families from all branches of service will be recognized.

Through the program, families may be afforded long-term assistance through coordinators offering to assist on an array of benefits and entitlements.

In Hawaii the Army and Navy have the only gold star programs in the state. Families from any service can register with either one of the gold star programs.

The gold star first made an appearance during World War I after being placed over a service flag’s blue star when a service member was killed in combat. The gold star signified the family’s pride in the loved one’s sacrifice rather than the mourning of their personal loss.

Today surviving family members are presented with a lapel pin as a sign of remembrance. The pin may feature a gold star on a purple background or a gold star surrounded by laurel leaves.

A gold star on a purple background recognizes combat related losses dating back to World War I, including service members who lose their lives while deployed in support of military operations against the enemy or during an international terrorist attack.

A gold star surrounded by laurel leaves and sprigs of oak that represent the branches of the Armed Forces. It is designated for eligible survivors of service members who lose their lives while serving honorably under circumstances not defined above.  This includes service members who lose their lives while assigned to a Reserve or National Guard unit in a drill status.

Three Dead in Traffic Crash on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway

Three people died in a traffic crash Wednesday morning (May 17) in Kailua-Kona, North of the 92 mile marker of the Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway. Their names are being withheld pending positive identification and notification of next of kin.

Responding to a 6:26 a.m. call, police determined that a 1998 Toyota 4Runner operated by an unidentified male party had been passing several vehicles as he traveled North on the Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway, and as he completed his pass the operator lost control of his vehicle which caused it to veer back into the oncoming (Southbound) lane where it was then involved in a broadside collision with a 2008 Nissan Titan operated by a 37-year-old Kamuela man.

Photo via Dustin Hesse

A 32-year-old female passenger of the Nissan Titan was taken to the Kona Community Hospital for treatment of her injuries of which she is currently in critical condition.

The driver and passenger of the Toyota 4Runner, and the driver of the Nissan Titan were all taken to the Kona Community Hospital where they were pronounced dead on Wednesday (May 17) at 12:20 p.m, 12:21 p.m, and 12:22 p.m respectively.

Police believe speed was a factor in the crash, but is not immediately known if alcohol was a factor.

Autopsies have been order to determine the exact cause of death and to identify the parties.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation and is asking for anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at 326-4646 ext. 229.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo.

This is the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth traffic fatalities this year compared to ten at this time last year.

Hawaii Department of Education Receives National Innovation Award From Education Commission of the States

The Education Commission of the States announced that the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is the 2017 recipient of the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation. The Commission sited the Department’s broadly-supported and impactful education improvement efforts, including focusing school accountability on students’ college and career readiness; teacher and education leader support across the state; development of a comprehensive longitudinal data system; and investing in data literacy as reasons why Hawaii received the award.

“Hawaii worked diligently to positively change the landscape of education in the state and dramatically improved and enhanced the structure of education in its schools, as well as outcomes for its students,” said Jeremy Anderson, president of Education Commission of the States. “The state’s thoughtfully constructed policies, reforms and capacity-building programs provide teachers and education leaders with opportunities to increase the potential for both their professional success, as well as the success of their students, and also support the state in achieving its education goals.”

HIDOE’s suite of data tools includes a longitudinal data system that provides educators with real-time access to data and even allows for targeting underperforming student populations. The Department’s accompanying long-term investment in data literacy is evidenced by their Formative Assessment/Data Team initiative which engages 11,000 teachers statewide to participate in grade-level or content-based data teams using formative assessment data to inform and improve instruction.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education approved the first iteration of HIDOE’s new accountability system, Strive HI, which shifted the system’s focus from 10th-grade proficiency to ensuring all students graduate ready to enter postsecondary institutions or the workforce. The accountability system extends beyond test scores to include broad measures, such as student growth, chronic absenteeism, college readiness and college-going. Results from the new accountability system showed increased college and career readiness from 2011 to 2015: 42 percent increase in the number of students taking Advanced Placement Exams; 74 percent increase in the number of students enrolling in Early College to earn University of Hawaii credits, and about one-third decrease of number of graduates needing remediation upon entering the University of Hawaii colleges.

Through its policy and program efforts, supported by a U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top grant, HIDOE developed a robust support system for its teachers and education leaders. One example is the statewide Induction and Mentoring Initiative, which pairs all first- and second-year teachers with an experienced mentor beginning their first day. This investment increased the five-year teacher retention rate, which rose over six years from 44 percent (2004 hires) to 52 percent (2010 hires). Additionally, HIDOE and the Hawaii State Teacher’s Association agreed to a progressive performance evaluation system based on evidence of both teachers’ practice and student learning and growth. To support school leaders, the Leadership Institute provides training programs with relevant and coherent curricula to the different leadership role groups, which better equips leaders to achieve success in their roles.

“This honor is a testament to the perseverance of our school leaders, teachers and community partners who supported the department in our effort to raise rigor and expectations for our students,” shared Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Thank you to Education Commission of the States for recognizing our hard work and the progress we made transforming public education for Hawaii’s students.”

Education Commission of the States will present Hawaii with the award at the 2017 National Forum on Education Policy, taking place June 28-30 in San Diego.

The Frank Newman Award for State Innovation recognizes a state for any of the following:

  • Education improvement efforts that are replicable and hold valuable lessons for other states.
  • Bold and courageous policies, including existing approaches with evidence of significant impact on student achievement in the state.

Policies or programs that have bipartisan, broad-based support.

These significant efforts to improve education honor the late Frank Newman. For more information about the award, click here.

Reps. Gabbard, Garrett Urge House to Pass Federal Marijuana Decriminalization Legislation

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Tom Garrett (VA-05) hosted a press conference today urging Congress to pass H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. They were joined by Beth Collins and Lisa Smith who shared their personal stories of how by providing CBD oil to their children who suffer from near-constant seizures, they risk Federal prosecution simply due to the conflicting laws between the state and Federal government. If passed, the bill would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list—treating it the same as substances like alcohol and tobacco.

Left to right: Haley Smith, Beth Collins, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Rep. Tom Garrett urge Congress to pass the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Our archaic Federal laws relating to marijuana are hurting people, tearing families apart, turning everyday Americans into criminals, and negatively impacting our economy, all at a tremendous cost to taxpayers as billions are spent on an over-burdened and broken criminal justice system. As the opioid addiction epidemic continues to spread across the country, states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen addiction rates drop and opioid abuse deaths decrease by over 20%. Medical marijuana has helped children like Haley Smith living with Dravet syndrome reduce her seizures and other symptoms. But her mother Lisa lives with the fear of Federal prosecution every day. Our current policy makes no sense. This bill is a bipartisan effort that will be a great step forward in solving many of the fiscal and social challenges that our current policy is causing, and I urge my colleagues to support the passage of this bill.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard supports the full legalization of marijuana on the federal level as part of her overall effort toward criminal justice reform. She recently visited correctional facilities throughout Hawaiʻi, and met with inmates, criminal justice advocates and experts, health professionals, educators and others to discuss reducing recidivism and her continued efforts to pass federal criminal justice reform legislation like the SAFE Justice Act and the Sentencing Reform Act.

This bill would also eliminate key barriers to developing an industrial hemp industry which would create jobs and provide economic opportunity to communities in Hawaiʻi, and across the country. The congresswoman has also supported legislation like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaiʻi and nationwide.

HELCO Conducting Aerial Line Inspections Next Week

To improve system reliability, Hawaii Electric Light Company will conduct aerial line inspections of its major overhead transmission lines from Monday, May 22, to Friday, May 26, 2017.

The islandwide inspections are scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. However, exact times and routes will depend on weather conditions. Inspections will be conducted in a Manuiwa Airways helicopter and require the aircraft to fly low and slow which may cause some noise disturbances.

Hawaii Electric Light apologizes for any disruption this may cause and sincerely thanks the community for their cooperation and understanding.

If there are any questions or concerns, please call 969-6666.

BISAC Homeless Drive Gives Out Kits to Hilo’s Homeless

The Big Island Substance Abuse Council’s (BISAC’s) East Hawaii Intensive Outpatient Program participated in a one month drive to collect toiletry items for an outreach homeless project. Both clients and staff collected over 200 items to make a total of 25 kits which included: tooth paste, tooth brushes, soaps, shampoos, lotions, deodorant, and ponchos. These items were handed out to the Hilo Homeless community.

Kim Krell, Director of the East Hawaii programs reported, “This whole idea was our clients and staff wanting to make a difference in their community and give back.” “To see our clients use their experiences to help others reclaim their lives is just amazing” said BISAC’s CEO, Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita.

Since 1964, BISAC has been inspiring individuals and families to reclaim and enrich their lives in the wake of the ravages of substance abuse and mental health. They offer a continuum of services that are culturally appropriate and aligned with the ever-changing behavioral health field. For more information about BISAC and all of its programs call 969-9994 or visit www.bisac.org.