Bikeshare Hawaii Island Now Available in Kona

Kailua-Kona now has a new, viable transportation option that provides economic, health and ultimate convenience benefits. Bikeshare Hawaii Island is now available for residents and visitors alike along Kailua Village and points of interest. For anyone who wants to leave their car parked during a short trip, or enhance their transportation options Bikeshare is for you. In other cities with a bikeshare system, local businesses also benefit, with an increase in visibility on the street-level, because people are out of their cars and more aware of the shops around them.

Prices start at $3.50.

Bikesharing encourages a healthy and fun way to get around, and helps promote the continuous development of appropriate infrastructure for biking, bike safety and bike ridership on Hawai’i island.

Bikeshare Hawaii Island is a non-profit 501(c)3 program created through the joint efforts of the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development, the Mayor’s Active Living Advisory Council and PATH. Bikeshare Hawaii Island advances Mayor Billy Kenoi’s vision of healthy and active Hawaii Island communities.

Get the latest in Bikeshare news by checking out our Facebook page. Website: https://hawaiiislandbikeshare.org/.

For sponsorship information, call contact Tina Clothier at 808-561-9212 or email share@hawaiiislandbikeshare.org.

Bikeshare Hawaii Island’s first few Tweets:

  • Kona Ground Transportation has never been so easy!
  • Bikeshare is now available in Kona! Just swipe and bike Ali’i Drive!
  • Three bike kiosks now on Ali’i Drive in , swipe a cc to get a bike. $3.50 will get you to most popular beach destinations!

Hawaii Students Create Star Wars Simulation on World’s Best Hybrid Visualization System

In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa engineering graduate student Noel Kawano and computer science student Ryan Theriot created a 3D immersive visualization project—Star Wars Squadron and Tatooine.

Developed at the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications (LAVA) by MS graduate Noel Kawano and MS candidate Ryan Theriot. “Star Wars Squadron & Tatooine” immerses users in a real-time interactive action game in the newly developed Hybrid Reality Environment, Destiny CyberCANOE.

Users can battle with lightsabers or dogfight through a universe filled with starfighters, TIE fighters and an armada of star destroyers.

The (research and fun) possibilities are endless now that UH Mānoa is home to the best hybrid visualization system in the world that combines immersive virtual reality with ultra-high-resolution display walls. The Destiny-class CyberCANOE, which stands for cyber-enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment.

“We wanted to take advantage of the [Destiny-class CyberCANOE’s] capabilities and make something really cool,” Kawano said.

CyberCANOE users can go under the sea, explore outer space and probe microscopic elements of the human body without leaving campus.

Computer and Information Sciences Professor Jason Leigh is the system’s creator. His students were deeply involved in the design and construction of the CyberCANOE with investment and partnership from the National Science Foundation and the UH Academy for Creative Media System.

With 256 megapixels, the cylindrical CyberCANOE is the ultimate tool for scientists and researchers to visualize big data at resolutions that are 100-times better than commercial 3D displays. The diameter is 16 feet, and the walls are eight-feet high.

The Destiny-class cost about $250,000 to build and is actually the seventh and best CyberCANOE Leigh has built in Hawaiʻi over the past couple of years. His Laboratory for Advanced Visualization Applications (LAVA), where the Destiny-class CyberCANOE is housed, is planning to hold an open house in August 2017.

EPA Announces $900,000 to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to Assess and Clean Up Contaminated Sites on Oahu

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) will receive a total of $900,000 in federal grant funds for brownfield site revitalization efforts. These grants are part of the $56.8 million awarded nationally to 172 recipients to assess and clean up historically contaminated properties, also known as brownfields, to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies.

“EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop Brownfields sites which have plagued their neighborhoods. EPA’s Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies and creating an environment where jobs can grow. I am very pleased the President’s budget recognizes the importance of these grants by providing continued funding for this important program.”

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) will receive two EPA Brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties in Oahu.  Both grants support development of the future Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project. EPA’s $300,000 Brownfield Assessment grant will focus on properties along the City Center section of the transit corridor. This grant-funded effort aligns with previous EPA funding awards that support transit-oriented redevelopment efforts along the transit line. HART will use the second $600,000 EPA grant to remove soil contaminated with arsenic and metals from three properties, which will be redeveloped into a rail station known as the Iwilei Station.

Revitalization of the brownfield properties along the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project will support sustainable, compact and mixed-use development that encourages higher densities and energy conservation, as well as promoting the use of transit, walking and cycling.

Overview of the funds being announced today:

  • $25 million to communities who are receiving assessment and cleanup funding for the first time
  • $17.5 million of the assessment and cleanup funding will benefit small and rural communities with populations less than 10,000
  • Recipients will each receive approximately $200,000 – $600,000 in funding to work on individual sites or several sites within their community
  • These funds will provide communities with resources necessary to determine the extent of site contamination, remove environmental uncertainties and clean up contaminated properties where needed.

Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15.2% within a 1.24-mile radius of that site. A study analyzing data near 48 brownfield sites shows that an estimated $29 to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to those brownfields.

As of May 2017, more than 124,759 jobs and $24 billion of public and private funding has been leveraged as a result of assessment grants and other EPA Brownfields grants. On average, $16.11 was leveraged for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA Brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.

View the list of the FY 2017 applicants selected for funding here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-list-fy17-grants-selected-funding

More on EPA’s Brownfields program:  https://epa.gov/brownfields

More on successful Brownfields stories: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-success-stories

Hawaii State Announces Details of Japan Airlines’ New Daily, Non-Stop Service to Kona

New flights expected to bring in nearly $10 M in annual tax revenue

Gov. David Ige, Japan Airlines and the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation announced details of JAL’s return to the Kona International Airport at Keāhole on Hawai‘i Island. JAL is starting a new daily, non-stop service between Narita International Airport in Tokyo and the Kona International Airport.

The new service is an addition to JAL’s six current non-stop flights between Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Honolulu.

“Japan Airlines has offered continuous service to the State of Hawai‘i for more than 60 years now. Over the years, JAL has played a significant role in the expansion of our state’s tourism industry, economy and the cultural exchange we enjoy with Japan. We are excited about the new daily service to Kona, which is well on its way to becoming Hawai‘i’s second major international port of entry,” said Gov. Ige.

“Japan Airlines is pleased to announce return-to-service between Narita and Kona International Airport at Keahole (starting September 15, 2017),” said Yoshiharu Ueki, President of Japan Airlines. “For over 60 years, JAL has been serving and promoting travel to the beautiful state of Hawai‘i and this latest route gives our customers based in Japan and in other Asia gateways a second destination in addition to our six daily flights from Narita, Nagoya and Osaka to Honolulu.”

JAL’s new service is expected to result in about $84.2 million in visitor expenditures and about $9.8 million in state tax revenue, according to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. The service will also support about 900 jobs on Hawai‘i Island.

The Narita/Kona flights will operate with fully revamped JAL SKY SUITE 767 (767-300ER) aircraft and will be fitted with the airline’s most current interiors. The aircraft seats 199 passengers.

The flights will depart Narita at 9:25 p.m. and arrive in Kona at 10:15 a.m. Service from Kona will depart at 12:15 p.m. and arrive in Narita at 4:00 p.m. the next day. Schedules are subject to government approval.

The new daily flights are set to begin on Sept. 15, 2017.

Victim Identified and Driver Charged Following Fatal Wreck in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The man killed in a single-vehicle accident Sunday night in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has been identified as John Ashley Becker, 48, of Texas.

The driver, Kenneth J. Ewing, 43, of Pāhoa, has been charged in federal court with negligent homicide in the first degree.

Kenneth Ewing

A third man was transported by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center for treatment.

Ewing was Ka‘ū-bound shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday when he lost control of the white Toyota Tacoma near the 33-mile marker on Hwy. 11 in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The vehicle rolled over, and ejected all three occupants. Becker was found pinned beneath the truck and pronounced dead on the scene by Hawai‘i County Fire Department medics.

This is the second fatal traffic accident in the park this year.

If convicted, Ewing faces up to 10 years in federal prison, and a fine up to $250,000. The charges are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the National Park Service, with technical assistance provided by the Hawai‘i Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney, Sara Ayabe.

Radar Studies on Kaua`i Highlight Perilous State of Endangered Seabirds

An analysis of long-term radar studies on Kaua‘i has revealed massive declines in populations of the island’s two endangered seabirds, the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP) announced today.  The study, due to be published online in the scientific journal Condor on June 5th, shows that between 1993 and 2013 populations of the ‘A‘o (Newell’s Shearwater) declined by 94% and Ua‘u (Hawaiian Petrel)  by 78%.

Newell’s Shearwater chick. Photo by Andre Raine

“The results of this study demonstrate just how poorly these two iconic birds have fared on Kaua‘i over that time period,” said Dr. André Raine, lead author of the paper.  “With the majority of our radar sites showing massive decreases in numbers of these birds over the years, populations of the birds are in a rapid downward trajectory – particularly in the south and east of the island.  The study highlights just how critical recent conservation initiatives for the species on Kaua‘i are if we are to have a hope of reversing the situation.”

The study used truck mounted radar at 15 standard sites around the island.  Radar surveys at these sites were started in 1993 by Robert Day and Brian Cooper of ABR Inc., and were continued near-annually by the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project from 2006 onwards.  Radar is utilized worldwide to study birds and is a key tool to monitor the island’s seabirds as they fly overhead in darkness to and from their breeding colonies and the sea.  The radar allows observers to “see” the birds flying overhead in the darkness as a series of dots passing across the radar screen.  By assessing the speed of movement, the direction of travel, and the time that the event is recorded, birds are identified to species.

“Kaua‘i’s endangered seabirds are under threat from a whole suite of issues, including introduced predators such as feral cats, powerline collisions, light attraction and invasive plants – as well as threats at sea which could include overfishing, by-catch and the effects of climate change.

Kaua‘i holds 90% of the world’s population of ‘A‘o and a significant proportion of the world’s population of Ua‘u, so it is vital that we protect these birds,” continued Dr Raine. “Recent conservation initiatives on the island from a wide range of different organizations, land-owners and entities have shown that people are become more and more aware of the perilous state of these birds.  This gives me hope that we can reverse these spiraling trends.”

Radar work will continue on Kaua‘i in 2017, starting now until the middle of July.  For more information on this critical component of KESRP’s work, please visit the project website at http://kauaiseabirdproject.org/. The Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project is a joint project between the Department of Land & Natural Resources (Division of Forestry & Wildlife) and the University of Hawai‘i (Pacific Co-operative Studies Unit).  Radar surveys are funded via a State Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

State of Hawaii Receives $2.5 Million Payment From Volkswagen

Direct payment to State of Hawaii is in addition to restitution to individual diesel VW owners and other large penalties for emissions fraud

Attorney General Doug Chin and Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Stephen Levins today announced that the State of Hawaii has received a $2.5 million direct payment from Volkswagen. The payment is part of a multistate settlement involving claims that the car manufacturer violated state consumer protection laws prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices by marketing, selling, and leasing diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed defeat device software.

2.0 liter diesel engine settlements

On June 28, 2016, 43 states and jurisdictions announced a coordinated settlement to resolve state claims against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Porsche AG, and Porsche Cars, North America, Inc. – collectively referred to as Volkswagen. This partial settlement covered vehicles equipped with 2.0-liter diesel engines, including the VW Jetta model years 2009-2015, VW Golf model years 2010-2015, and VW Passat model years 2012-2015, among others.

As part of the settlement, Volkswagen agreed to pay directly to the states more than $1,000 per eligible vehicle or more than $570 million nationwide. Of this amount, Hawaii received an enhanced allocation of more than $2,744 per eligible vehicle registered in Hawaii, for a total of $2.5 million.

In October 2016, Volkswagen settled a separate lawsuit for federal claims brought by the United States and the Federal Trade Commission involving the same Volkswagen and Audi vehicles equipped with 2.0-liter diesel engines. As part of this settlement, Volkswagen agreed to: (1) provide cash payments to affected individual consumers; (2) buy back or modify certain Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles; (3) pay $20 million to the states to establish a fund that state attorneys general can utilize for future training and initiatives; and (4) invest $2 billion over the next 10 years for the development of non-polluting cars, or Zero Emission Vehicles, and supporting infrastructure. In addition, Volkswagen must pay $2.7 billion into the Environmental Mitigation Trust to support environmental programs to reduce emissions of harmful oxides of nitrogen, of which Hawaii’s proportionate share was $7.5 million.

3.0 liter diesel engine settlements

On May 17, 2017, a federal district court approved additional settlement agreements resolving consumer claims and claims brought by the United States and the FTC involving certain Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche vehicles equipped with 3.0-liter diesel engines. Vehicles covered by these settlement agreements include the VW Touareg model years 2009 – 2016, Audi Q7 model years 2009 – 2015, and Porsche Cayenne Diesel model years 2013 – 2016, among others. Under the terms of these settlement agreements, Volkswagen agreed to: (1) provide cash payments to affected individual consumers; (2) buy back or modify Generation One Volkswagen 3.0-liter vehicles; (3) provide an approved emissions modification for Generation Two Volkswagen 3.0-liter vehicles; and (4) pay an additional $225 million into the Environmental Mitigation Trust.

As a result of the latest agreement between the United States and Volkswagen, Hawaii’s allocation under the Environmental Mitigation Trust increased from $7.5 million to $8.125 million, which Hawaii may request to support eligible mitigation projects in the state.

Full details of the settlements, including information for affected consumers, are available online at www.VWCourtSettlement.com and www.ftc.gov/VWSettlement.

14-Year-Old Boy Dies in One-Vehicle Crash

A 14-year-old Pahoa boy died from injuries sustained in a one-vehicle crash occurring in Pahoa.

On (April 14). at 10:07 p.m. a Puna patrol officer responded to a reported theft of a 2001 Jeep sport-utility vehicle which just occurred at a residence on Palani Street in Pahoa.

The officer, while conducting checks for the stolen vehicle, heard the screeching of tires and the sound of a collision.

At 11:28 p.m., the officer located the stolen Jeep which had collided with a utility pole on South Puni Makai Loop, near Ono Street.

The boy, the driver of the Jeep, was taken to the Hilo Medical Center for his injuries and then medevaced to Queen’s Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on (April 16), at 10:55 a.m.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

The Area I Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a Coroner’s Inquest investigation.

Police ask anyone who witnessed or has information regarding the crash to call Officer Clarence Acob at 961-2293. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

This is the 18th traffic fatality this year compared with 10 at this time last year.