Local Environmental Group Partners with New York Artists to Build Giant Blue Whale Out of Plastic Trash

Since early July, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund (HWF) and volunteers have been working to fill a 40 ft. Matson container with blue and white plastics for an architecture couple in Brooklyn, NY. Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of StudioKCA plan to build a 30 ft. blue whale sculpture made entirely out of the collected plastic marine debris. The whale sculpture will be installed as part of a triennial event in the town of Bruges, Belgium in May 2018.

Jason Klimoski (5th from top right) and Lesley Chang (3th from bottom right) of StudioKCA and Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund Collection Team volunteers from Innovations Public Charter School in Kona. Photo by Alejandro Durán / WashedUp Project.

“The Bruges Whale is meant to spark conversation and raise awareness about the tremendous amount of plastic waste that is ending up in our oceans, hopefully helping the nearly 2,000,000 anticipated visitors reconsider what and how we consume, package, and dispose of plastic” said Jason Klimoski, StudioKCA. Jason adds, “Special thanks to Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund for their tremendous effort over the course of the last several months, helping us collect blue, white, and grey plastic to build ‘Skyscraper’, or ‘the Bruges Whale’ for the 2018 Bruges Triennial”.

In total, 17 Hawai‘i Island cleanup events were coordinated by HWF to fill the shipping container with approximately 3,000 lbs. of plastics while it was stationed at the Wai‘ōhinu Transfer Station in Ka‘ū. Additionally, Surfrider Foundation volunteers on Kaua‘i collected 1,000 lbs. of plastic debris that were added to the container once it reached Hilo courtesy of a Young Brothers gratis-shipping grant that was received by HWF. Matson Navigation was another supporter of the project by extending the time allowed to fill the container for free. Kona Trans also provided StudioKCA with a discounted hauling rate for the project and the County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Environmental Management provided HWF space to store the 40 ft. container for 12 weeks as volunteers contributed to fill it with plastic debris, making this effort an especially collaborative project by local businesses and residents alike. The container will ship from Hilo on Oct. 4, to begin its journey to New York, and later Belgium.

“We are thrilled to able to work with artists to create awareness installations, like this Blue Whale project, and simultaneously divert some of this plastic pollution from our island landfills. Since 2003, HWF and volunteers have removed nearly 225 tons of debris from the shores of Hawai’i Island. Whatever cannot be recycled, generally ends up in landfills. Innovative projects that include re-use, art, research, and recycling are always preferred!” said Megan Lamson, HWF Hawai’i Island Program Director.

HWF is a small nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1996 to conserve native wildlife. During its 21-year existence, HWF and volunteers have removed a total of 260 tons of marine debris from the shores of Hawai’i Island (86% by weight), Maui, Midway and the French Frigate Shoals. In 2017 alone, HWF and volunteers have removed 63,343 lbs. of marine debris from Hawai’i Island & Maui during 51 community cleanup events. The majority of HWF’s marine debris removal work is conducted by volunteer labor, with financial support from the federal government (NOAA’s Marine Debris Program), local businesses (Matson Navigation, Kona Surf Film Festival, Kona Brewers Festival, Norwex, etc.), and individual donations from around the world.

If you would like more information on the project or how to get involved with HWF, please contact them at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com or at 808-769-7629 or check out the HWF website at www.wildhawaii.org. For information about Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of StudioKCA, visit www.studiokca.com.

UPDATE – Just received a call from Kona Trans and the corrected scale weight of the “blue whale” debris plastics in the 40′ container is actually 19,212 lbs. (we had super underestimated at 4,000 lbs.!!).

9.5 tons of marine-debris plastics from Hawai’i Island and Kaua’i are shipping to Brooklyn from the port of Hilo tomorrow.

Hawaii State Senator Rosalyn Baker Named Top Influencer in Aging

Next Avenue, public media’s first and only digital publication dedicated to covering issues for people 50 and older, has named State Senator Rosalyn Baker (Dist. 6 – South and West Maui) as one of the top 50 Influencers in Aging.

Senator Rosalyn Baker

Senator Baker was recognized for her advocacy in the area of caregiving by leading the effort to pass a bill that establishes the Kupuna Caregivers Program, the nation’s first benefit program to help an employed family caregiver stay in the workforce while ensuring the loved one has additional supports to age in place. The Kupuna Care and Caregivers programs are especially designed for families for whom assisted living facilities or nursing homes are too expensive. The bill was signed into law on July 6, 2017.

The third annual list of top 50 Influencers in Aging includes advocates, researchers, thought leaders, innovators, writer and experts at the forefront of changing how we age and think about aging.

“I’ve spent my political career advocating for those who are most vulnerable in our community, so I’m honored to be recognized for my work in an area that I’m passionate about – our seniors,” said Sen. Baker. “The Kupuna Caregivers Program is a team effort between government, community and the public, and acknowledges the critical need to help our State’s elderly maintain their dignity and quality of life in their golden years while ensuring family caregivers can stay in the workforce and not jeopardize their own retirement benefits.”

Individuals are honored from each of the five areas that Next Avenue covers: Health & Well-Being, Caregiving, Money & Security, Work & Purpose and Living & Learning.

“Next Avenue is proud to honor these 50 people who are transforming aging in a time when this work is especially crucial,” said Next Avenue Editorial & Content Director Shayla Stern. “More than 100 million Americans are over age 50 now, and as life expectancy increases, it is imperative that policies, housing, science, technology and culture all evolve to better serve our population. These honorees on our list of Influencers in Aging are on the leading edge of this revolution.”

For a complete list of honorees and further information about Next Avenue’s 2017 Influencers in Aging, please visit: nextavenue.org/influencers.

Entry Road to Mahai`ula section of Kekaha Kai State Park to Close for Road Repairs

The DLNR Division of State Parks will begin the first of three improvement projects planned for Kekaha Kai State Park on Monday, October 2, 2017 with full closure of the entry road to the Mahaiula section of the North Kona park for planned roadway repair improvements.

Kua Bay

The entry road will be closed on weekdays only from October 2 to November 3, 2017, and will remain open on the weekends during normal park hours.

Construction will include pothole repairs, pavement patching of existing paved areas, placement of new compacted gravel in existing unpaved areas, placement of 2 speed humps for speed mitigation, grading of shoulder areas of the entry road for safe access, and additional parking, signage and security barriers. Project contractor is Isemoto Contracting Co. Inc. and project cost is $408,844.

Two future projects for Kekaha Kai are still pending review and approval by the County of Hawaii. DLNR will provide notice when these projects begin after final approvals are obtained. Full closure of the park will not be required, but certain park areas may be closed due to construction activities taking place.

Planned for the park’s Kua Bay section are: installation of two new rinsing showers, two new accessible picnic tables, a new stairway and railings to replace the existing ramp to the beach, and comfort station improvements.

Also planned for the Mahai’ula section will be: a new storage building for parks staff and supplies, equipment and maintenance materials; repair of existing walkway railings; new accessible picnic table and BBQ pit; and comfort station renovations.

Collaborative Effort to Reduce Truancy Launched on Kauai – Truancy Court

The Fifth Circuit Court, in partnership with numerous Kauai agencies and organizations, has launched Truancy Court Collaboration, a pilot project to improve school attendance and family engagement.

A similar program at an Oahu intermediate school produced a 91 percent daily school attendance rate in 2016-17, up about 40 percent from 2015-16.

“We are very excited about this program and grateful to our partners for helping us to introduce Truancy Court Collaboration on Kauai,” said Judge Edmund D. Acoba of the Fifth Circuit’s Family Court. “We believe that this can be achieved by addressing the hardships and barriers that students and their families face through the use of positive, meaningful interventions which are culturally sensitive, and employ place-based community connections through education, engagement, and enforcement.”

Since January, Juvenile Client and Family Services (JCFS) has been working collaboratively with the Department of Education’s District Superintendent Bill Arakaki, Waimea High School Principal Mahina Anguay, Waimea Canyon Principal Melissa Speetjens, and representatives from the Department of Education’s Mokihana program, Department of Health, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, Hale Kipa Student Attendance Support Service, Liliuokalani Trust, and the Kauai Police Department.

“This student-centered collaboration is designed to build consistent school attendance, which is critical for student achievement, graduation, and a fulfilling career,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “By encouraging family engagement, rewarding positive behavior, empowering students and holding them responsible, we give students the tools to make good choices and achieve their full potential.

“I’m grateful to Judge Acoba and all of the partners for participating in Family Court’s mission to offer a place of healing,” he said.

“The unwavering mission of Queen Liliuokalani — to ensure the well-being of Hawaiian children and ohana — is the guiding light for our work at Liliuokalani Trust,” said Systems Liaison Edralyn Caberto. “Therefore, we are very excited about the opportunity to partner with the Fifth Circuit Family Court and community stakeholders in developing innovative strategies to enhance our youths’ opportunities to succeed educationally and to thus build pathways to thriving lives.”

The need to reverse truancy is highlighted in a University of Hawaii study, which reported that up to 89 percent of Hawaii inmates said they were truants.

The West Kauai School Complex was selected to participate in this pilot program based on its strong interest in addressing truancy problems in its area.

In August, JCFS staff, Judge Acoba, Hale Kipa, Deputy Attorney General Russell Goo, and representatives from Liliuokalani Trust presented the Truancy Court Collaboration Pilot Project at Waimea Canyon’s disciplinary assembly for the eighth-graders’ parents. JCFS and Hale Kipa then made similar presentations to the sixth- and seventh-graders’ parents. The final presentation was made at Waimea High School’s open house.

Attendees learned that the DOE will identify students from the 2016-2017 school year who accumulated 15 or more absences. If the absences continue this year, the DOE will contact the family. If the DOE’s efforts to intervene are unsuccessful, a referral will be made to Hale Kipa to contact the family and do home visits. If Hale Kipa’s intervention efforts are also unsuccessful, then a referral will be made to JCFSB and a probation officer will speak to the family about court intervention if the barriers are not addressed. As a last resort, a petition will be filed and the family will have to appear in Family Court. DOE, Hale Kipa, and JCFSB will continue to collaborate to keep students on track once a referral is made to Family Court.

“The goal is to provide early assistance to families that addresses barriers to attending school or classes without having to file a petition in Family Court and requiring the student and parents to appear due to truancy,” said Judge Acoba.

If the pilot project proves effective, the hope is to eventually expand it to all the middle and high schools on Kauai.

Hawaii Department of Health Issues Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC Notice to Begin Sales of Medical Cannabis to Registered Patients

The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) has issued a formal notice to proceed to Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC today after the dispensary completed laboratory testing requirements and passed its final onsite inspection. Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC is the third licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state (and the second on Maui) to receive approval to begin sales of medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers.

The rigorous dispensary approval processes to open and begin selling medical cannabis are based on the requirements of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 329D and Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Chapter 11-850. Dispensaries are required to comply with all state and county, health, safety, and sanitation regulations, and are subject to unannounced inspections by DOH.

Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15-consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space. It is illegal to use or possess medical cannabis on any federally owned property such as military installations and national parks. When bringing medical cannabis home after purchasing it from a dispensary, the medical cannabis must be in a sealed container and not visible to the public.

There are eight licensed dispensaries in Hawai‘i. There are three on O‘ahu: Aloha Green Holdings Inc.; Mānoa Botanicals LLC dba Noa Botanicals; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. There are two in Hawai‘i County: Hawaiian Ethos LLC and Lau Ola LLC. The two Maui dispensaries include Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies; and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. The one dispensary located on Kaua‘i is Green Aloha, Ltd. These dispensaries are now at different stages of development by the licensees, and at varying stages of the approval process.

415 Dairy Road

The licensed retail center for Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC is at 415 Dairy Road in Kahului on Maui.

More information on the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program is available at www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalcannabis/.

Hawaii County Survey Provides Insight on Public Recycling Habits, Perceptions

Living on the Big Island offers many benefits such as diverse climates, rich cultures, and unmatched views.  However, Hawai‘i County as an island with finite space poses major solid waste management and recycling challenges.With the help from the County of Hawai‘i recycling staff, County intern Taylor Reid uncovered some key trends and patterns that could lead to solving the unique recycling and solid waste management problems facing the Big Island.  Reid conducted a survey at the County’s Refuse Transfer Stations, to which 195 people responded.

  • The survey found that the top items recycled on the island were HI-5 containers, cardboard, plastics, and waste paper, where all were being recycled at a rate of roughly 70%.  It found that the least-recycled category was electronic waste at 21%, which can be recycled at various locations listed on our website: www.hawaiizerowaste.org/recycle/e-waste
  • 98% of respondents “agree” or “strongly agree” that recycling is important for Hawai‘i.
  • 91% of respondents “agree” or “strongly agree” that they try and recycle whenever possible.
  • 78% of respondents “agree” or “strongly agree” that recycling should be mandatory for Hawai‘i.
  • The survey also revealed that only 18% of transfer station users have visited www.hawaiizerowaste.org, a website dedicated in answering questions and providing information to the County regarding recycling.

Recycling and promoting sustainability is highly-regarded among all age groups and genders surveyed.

County of Hawai‘i Recycling Coordinator George Hayducsko said: “The Solid Waste Division wanted to see how the community viewed recycling, and whether current programs met the expectations of the individuals using the programs.  Taylor’s data will be useful to us in improving our program in the future.”

For more information visit www.hawaiizerowaste.org , or contact the Recycling Section of the County of Hawai‘i Department of Environmental Management at 808-961-8942

Tomorrow – Mainstreet Pahoa Associations Scholars Feast

Pearl Harbor Welcomes USS Chicago to New Homeport

The Pearl Harbor submarine community welcomed the crew and families of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721) to Hawaii following a homeport change from Guam, Sept. 28.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Sept. 28, 2017) Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing a change of homeport from Guam. Chicago steamed hundreds of thousands of nautical miles in support of national and Pacific Fleet objectives, and participated in numerous national and international exercises while based in Guam over the past five years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton)

“The crew and I were sad to leave Guam, but at the same time we’re excited to see our new home and start the next chapter for Chicago,” said Cmdr. Brian Turney, commanding officer of the submarine. “We are very happy to finally be in Hawaii and reunited with our families.”

Shifting a boat from one port to another can be a complicated task involving, families, Sailors and many civilian and military organizations working together, and Chicago was no different.

“It took a lot of planning and communication across many organizations to accomplish this change of homeport,” said Turney.

Turney thanked the Chicago’s Ombudsman Kalyn Kasten for her hard work ensuring families were taken care of during the transition.

“I just wanted to make sure all the families were squared away,” said Kasten. “That meant ensuring things like their pay was up to date, and they were met at the airport by someone.”

Kasten also said that while she loved Guam, she was excited to be in Hawaii and try new activities.
Chicago is scheduled for a maintenance period at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Once complete, the boat will return to the fleet ready to support the nation as one of the most advanced submarines in the world.

Turney noted how effective the Chicago has been in recent operations while maintaining a robust schedule.

“Since 2012, Chicago served as the tip of the spear in Guam,” said Turney. “She steamed hundreds of thousands of nautical miles in support of national and Pacific Fleet objectives, and participated in numerous national and international exercises.”

Now that the boat has arrived in Pearl Harbor and the focus of the crew will shift to work in port and capitalizing on local training opportunities.

Chicago was commissioned September 27, 1986, and is the Navy’s 34th Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine. Measuring 360 feet long and displacing more than 6,900 tons, Chicago has a crew of approximately 140 Sailors. Chicago is capable of supporting various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The submarine is now assigned to Submarine Squadron 7 headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to Host Live Immigration Telephone Townhall with Hawaiʻi, National Experts

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) will host a live immigration-focused “telephone town hall” on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 4:00pm HST with local and national immigration experts from the ACLU Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Coalition, and National Immigration Law Center.

The call will provide an update on immigration issues including DACA and federal immigration reform, give constituents an overview of resources Rep. Gabbard’s office can help with including Social Security, immigration and naturalization applications, passports and visas, and more, and provide constituents an opportunity to ask questions related to immigration.

Please note: To protect each individual’s privacy, constituents living in Hawaiʻi’s Second Congressional District with questions regarding a personal claim or casework should contact Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s office directly at (808) 541-1986 or TulsiOffice@mail.house.gov.

How to participate:

  • To call in live at the time of the event, call 888-476-4187 at 4:00pm HST on Wednesday October 4 to be joined in to the call
  • To receive a pre-call reminder to join this event: Text “TULSI” to 828282, OR go to vekeo.com/reptulsigabbard and enter your name, phone number and email. Once you submit your information, you will receive a confirmation email. You must click “Verify” in the confirmation email in order to complete your registration

Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra Opens its Concert Season with Triumph & Desire

The Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra (KPO) opens its thirteenth season with a program entitled Triumph and Desire at Kahilu Theatre in Waimea, at 4:00 PM on Sunday, October 15, 2017. The orchestra, led by Maestro Brian Dollinger, will perform the orchestral masterpiece Symphony No. 5 in E minor, op. 64 by Tchaikovsky, which has come to symbolize the composer’s triumph over difficult circumstances.

Rounding out the program are the Fanfare La Peri by Dukas, Adagio from Spartacus by Khachaturian, and Suite No. 1 from Carmen by Bizet—musical selections that illustrate the power of love and desire.

Maestro Dollinger has brought a concert experience to Hawai‘i Island that is not only relaxed and family-friendly but true to the very nature of great symphonic performances. Each performance includes popular and well-known melodies or entire works that every audience member is sure to recognize.

Tickets for the concert cost $43 / $28 / $23 and are available for purchase online at http://www.kamuelaphil.org, by calling (808) 885-6868, or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office, at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela, HI 96743, Monday–Friday, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

This performance is made possible by underwriting support from Joanne and David Turner.

President Trump to Visit Asia and HAWAII

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hawaii from November 3-14, 2017. The President will participate in a series of bilateral, multilateral, and cultural engagements—including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit—demonstrating his continued commitment to the alliances and partnerships of the United States in the region.

The Trump International Hotel in Waikiki

President Trump will discuss the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region to America’s prosperity and security. He will also emphasize the importance of fair and reciprocal economic ties with America’s trade partners. The President’s engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

NOAA Awards Nearly $200,000 to Protect Hawaii’s Marine Mammals

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today announced that Hawaii conservation programs will receive nearly $200,000 in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funding for the recovery and treatment of stranded marine animals.

“We were all captivated by the birth of Kaimana the monk seal on the shores of Waikiki this summer. But, marine mammals are threatened by climate change, development, and pollution,” said Senator Hirono. “This funding will help two Hawaii organizations with a history in marine mammal protection to conduct research on marine mammal mortality and rehabilitate and release monk seals.”

This year’s John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance grant was awarded to The University of Hawaii (UH) and The Marine Mammal Center for their work to support conservation research. As part of the grant funding, UH will receive $100,000 to investigate causes of mortality in Pacific Island marine mammals.

“Whales and dolphins are sentinels of ocean health, and like a canary in a coal mine are one of our first indicators of change to Hawaii’s marine ecosystem,” said Dr. Kristi West, standing director for the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “As the only entity in the state that conducts cause of death investigations for stranded dolphins and whales, we rely heavily on the Prescott grant to determine what threatens the survival of 20 different species of dolphins and whales that call Hawaii home.”
In addition, The Marine Mammal Center will receive $98,951 to support its Hawaiian Monk Seal Rehabilitation Program.

“Public-private partnerships are essential for the successful conservation of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal,” said Dr. Jeff Boehm, Executive Director of The Marine Mammal Center, which operates Ke Kai Ola in Kailua Kona, a dedicated hospital for monk seals. “The critical funds from this award allow us to continue to rehabilitate vulnerable seals, understand health trends in the population, and enhance community involvement in recovery efforts.”

Senator Hirono continues to advocate for the protection of federal funding for NOAA. Earlier this year Senator Hirono and Susan Collins (R-Maine) led a bipartisan letter to the Trump administration urging reconsideration of proposed cuts to NOAA’s budget that would disproportionately hurt Hawaii and other coastal states.

The Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal currently threatens to zero out funding for the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program and other important NOAA programs.

U.S. Census Bureau Statement on Asking Sexual Orientation Question On Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Survey

The U.S. Census Bureau continues to research and plan communications and outreach strategies to maximize response and participation in the 2020 Census. Similar to preparations for the 2010 Census, we will again conduct the Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators (CBAMS) Survey designed to better understand the mindsets related to census participation across demographics subgroups, including the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) population.

The question on sexual orientation remains a part of the initial set of proposed survey questions. Given the sample size of the CBAMS, the expected response rate, and the percentage of the U.S. population that is LGB, we would expect the survey to yield a sufficient amount of data upon which to make statistical inferences.

Officer of the Month for August: Marcos Santos

Officer Marcos Santos, a (13-year police veteran), has been named as the Aloha Exchange Club’s August 2017 Officer of the Month.

Officer Santos is being saluted based on his actions and assistance with a potential suicide case. He was assigned to conduct checks in the Hakalau area on a report that a suicidal male party was heading to that area. Dispatch provided the parties name, physical description, and vehicle description.

Officer Santos responded and observed the male party near the center of the Honoliʻi Bridge and carefully approached the man. The individual was highly agitated and indicated he planned to harm himself. Officer Santos continued to talk with the man for nearly one hour maintaining a calm voice and assuring him that the officers were there to help him. He was able to gain the male parties trust leading to the man stepping off the bridge and walking with Officer Santos to a safe place. Due to Officer Santos actions, the man is alive today.

Officer Santos demonstrated his commitment to the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Core Values of Integrity, Professionalism, Compassion, and Community Satisfaction.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Presented with IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Government

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) yesterday received the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Salutes Award for Leadership in Government for her dedication to serving and empowering veterans. The award was presented at the first annual IAVA Salutes event that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated leadership and courage while advocating on behalf of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Martha Raddatz of ABC News was recognized alongside Rep. Tulsi Gabbard with the IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, pictured with Allison Jaslow, Executive Director of IAVA; Martha Raddatz, ABC News; and Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of IAVA, received the IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Government on Wednesday evening.

“As we observed the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks earlier this month, I was once again reminded how that fateful day changed our country and our lives. During my deployment to Iraq where I served in a medical unit, I questioned whether leaders in Washington truly understood the cost of war, and if they ever thought about those who truly pay the price. One of the major motivations for me to serve in Congress came from my experiences being deployed, and wanting to be in a position to make critical decisions regarding when to go to war, and just as importantly, when not to go to war, and to ensure the promise our country made to our veterans is upheld and honored. I am humbled to receive the IAVA Salutes Award, and I will continue to do my best to honor the service and sacrifices of my brothers and sisters in arms and their families,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

“We were honored to have the opportunity to recognize Congresswoman Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran and soldier in the National Guard. Congresswoman Gabbard consistently has the backs of IAVA members through her work in Congress, and is a steadfast advocate for national defense issues. Congresswoman Gabbard is an example of what our generation of veteran leaders can accomplish. She has been a critical leader in IAVA’s fight for increased recognition and services for women veterans, including serving as an original co-sponsor of the Deborah Sampson Act,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA.

Background:
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard launched the bipartisan Congressional Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus in 2015 on the 12th Anniversary of the Iraq War. The caucus includes a bipartisan group of Members who have served in the military after 9/11, and who are dedicated to issues related to our newest generation of veterans.

Rep. Gabbard served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and she continues her service as a Major in the Army National Guard. Her 2005 deployment was a 12-month tour at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq, where she served in a field medical unit as a specialist with a 29th Support Battalion medical company. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal at the end of this tour.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Explore Kahuku October – December

Everyone is invited to participate in the free guided hikes, “Coffee Talks” and ‘Ike Hana No‘eau Hawaiian cultural programs in the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, from October through December 2017. Visitors can also explore Kahuku on their own on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A visitor explores the Realms and Divisions of Kahuku. NPS Photo Janice Wei

The Kahuku Unit will be open for visitors on both Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 and New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, but no guided programs will be offered.

Enter the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. Sturdy footwear, water, raingear, sun protection and a snack are recommended for all hikes. Entrance and all programs are free.

Participate in ‘Ike Hana No‘eau (Experience the Skillful Work) Hawaiian cultural demonstrations at Kahuku on the third Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon, October 20, November 17, and December 15. Programs are free.

Get to know your park and your neighbors and join an informal “Coffee Talk” conversation on a wide variety of topics at Kahuku the last Friday of most months (there is no Coffee Talk in November). Ka‘ū coffee, tea and pastries will be available for purchase. Coffee Talks are offered free on October 27 and December 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Pu‘u o Lokuana is a short 0.4-mile hike to the top of the grassy cinder cone, Pu‘u o Lokuana. Learn about the formation and various uses of this hill over time and enjoy a breathtaking view of lower Ka‘ū. This hike is offered October 1 & 28 and November 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Palm Trail is a moderately difficult 2.6-mile loop traversing scenic pastures along an ancient cinder cone, with some of the best panoramic views Kahuku has to offer. Highlights include relics of the ranching era, sections of remnant native forest and amazing volcanic features from the 1868 eruptive fissures. A guided hike of Palm Trail is offered October 7 & 22, November 26, and December 3 & 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

‘Ōhi‘a Lehua. Learn about the vital role of ‘ōhi‘a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, the many forms of the ‘ōhi‘a tree, and the new disease of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death. Visitors will be able to identify the many differences of the most prominent native tree in Kahuku on this program, which is an easy, one-mile (or less) walk. The ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua program is offered October 8, November 12, and December 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Kahuku ‘Ohana Day. Families are invited for a day of fun, culture and discovery at the Kahuku Unit. Learn about the hidden powers that plants have to keep us healthy through the teachings of Aunty Ka‘ohu Monfort, a practitioner of lā‘au lapa‘au (Hawaiian herbal medicine). Collect seeds from native plants and help park rangers bring new life to Kahuku. Kids 17 and under and their families must sign up by October 13 by calling 808-985-6019. Bring water, lunch and snacks, sunscreen, hat, long pants, shoes and reusable water bottle. Kahuku ‘Ohana Day is Saturday, October 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Birth of Kahuku. Explore the rich geologic history of Kahuku. Traverse the vast 1868 lava flow, see different volcano features and formations, and identify many parts of the Southwest Rift Zone of Mauna Loa. Learn about the Hawaiian hotspot and the creation of Kahuku. This guided easy-to-moderate hike is offered October 14, November 4, and December 9 & 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

People and Land of Kahuku is a moderate two-mile, three-hour guided hike that loops through varied landscapes to explore the human history of Kahuku. Emerging native forests, pastures, lava fields, and other sites hold clues about ways people have lived and worked on the vast Kahuku lands – from the earliest Hawaiians, through generations of ranching families, to the current staff and volunteers of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Learn about the powerful natural forces at work here and how people have adapted to, shaped, and restored this land. The guided hike is offered October 15, November 19 and December 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Nature & Culture: An Unseverable Relationship (He Pilina Wehena ‘Ole). Hike the Palm Trail and be inspired by a place where hulihia (catastrophic change) and kulia (restoration) can be observed as the land transitions from the 1868 lava flow and its pioneer plants, to deeper soil with more diverse and older flora. Learn about native plants and their significance in Hawaiian culture. This moderate hike is about two miles and takes two hours. The Nature & Culture program is offered October 21 and November 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Realms and Divisions of Kahuku. Experience the sense of place that evolves at the intersection of nature and culture on this moderately difficult two-mile, two-hour guided hike on the Kahuku Unit’s newest trail, Pu‘u Kahuku. Explore the realms and divisions of the traditional Hawaiian classification system at Kahuku. Bring a snack for the “talk story” segment of this hike. Offered October 29, November 11, and December 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Hi‘iaka & Pele. Discover two fascinating Hawaiian goddesses, sisters Pelehonuamea (Pele) and Hi‘iaka, and the natural phenomena they represent. Visitors will experience the sisters coming alive through the epic stories depicted in the natural landscape of Kahuku on this easy 1.7-mile walk on the main road in Kahuku. The Hi‘iaka and Pele program is offered November 18 and December 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Keep up with Kahuku events and visit the calendar on the park website, https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/kahuku-hikes.htm, and download the Kahuku Site Bulletin https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/upload/2013_11_05-Kahuku-Site-Bulletin.pdf.

Statement by George D. Szigeti, President and CEO, Hawaii Tourism Authority

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement commenting on Hawaii’s visitor statistics results for August 2017.

George D. Szigeti

“Knowing summer is the peak period for leisure travel globally, our State’s tourism industry partners deserve a collective thank you for how they continued to elevate Hawaii as a premier destination experience in August. The solid increases in visitor spending reported for all four major islands was a notable highlight.

“Two key economic figures for the first eight months of 2017 reveal how fortunate our State’s tourism industry has been this year. Through August 2017, visitor spending statewide is at $11.34 billion and the State tax revenue generated by tourism is $1.32 billion.

“By comparison, when Hawaii was starting to emerge from the Great Recession in 2010, the tourism industry realized $11.01 billion in total visitor spending and generated $1.05 billion in State tax revenue for the entire year. With four months to go in 2017, our tourism industry has already surpassed both of the full-year totals from just seven years ago.

“The natural disasters that struck Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands these past few weeks remind us again that we can never take tourism in Hawaii for granted, and that our State’s future well-being could be suddenly altered. Going forward, we must strive for a balance that allows Hawaii’s tourism industry to continue thriving while seeking sustainable solutions that perpetuate culture, preserve natural resources and supports the quality of life we all want.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes for FAA Extension and Immediate Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted for H.R.3823, legislation that temporarily reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, provides tax relief to those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, extends critical health care provisions, and modernizes aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Emergency tax relief for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands comes after Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined colleagues in delivering a letter to President Trump, urging the administration to immediately mobilize additional Department of Defense (DOD) resources for Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island recovery efforts.

“While this bill failed to extend key healthcare and education programs that will be expiring soon, it included critical measures that will ensure the FAA reauthorization is extended, stabilizes the National Flood Insurance Program, extends programs for Teaching Health Centers, strengthens Medicare, and protects diabetes treatment programs for Native Americans.

“Most critically, this bill provides tax relief to Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who saw their lives and livelihoods upended by Hurricane Maria, as well as those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Congress and the Administration must take further action to ensure those impacted get the relief and assistance they so desperately need,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Click to read full letter

Governor Ige’s Statement on Approval of TMT Permit

The Board’s decision today is the latest milestone in what has been a complex journey. I believe Hawai‘i can host a new telescope in the right way, with respect for the values, traditions and culture of the first Hawaiians, and that our island state can be Earth’s eyes into the universe to prepare for a brighter future.
— Governor David Ige

Stop Flu at School Clinic Information Now Available – Free Flu Shots Available

The list of schools participating in this year’s school-located flu vaccination program, Stop Flu at School, is available on the Hawaii Department of Health’s (DOH) website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/about-us/programs/stop-flu-at-school/. DOH will hold flu vaccination clinics in 167 public schools statewide from Nov. 1 through Dec. 21, 2017.

To sign up for the free flu shots available to their children, parents or guardians should complete and sign provided consent forms, and return them to schools by the deadline, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017.

Information packets and vaccination consent forms will be distributed to parents through participating schools in early October. A fillable, electronic version of the consent form can be found online at https://vaxonlinereg.doh.hawaii.gov, and non-English translations of the consent form packet are available at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/about-us/programs/stop-flu-at-school/.

This marks the eleventh year of the Stop Flu at School program. Since 2007, nearly 600,000 flu vaccinations have been administered at more than 300 public, private, and charter schools statewide through this voluntary program. The annual program, which provides flu vaccinations to school-age children at no cost to Hawaii families, is supported by federal funds and private contributions, resulting in a massive statewide coordination effort involving volunteers and local partnerships. Program costs have previously totaled approximately $2 million per year.

This year, the department anticipates vaccinating 35,000 public school students through the program. Flu vaccination of students at school is an effective strategy for reducing the spread of influenza in our communities and protecting those at risk of serious illness.

For more information about Stop Flu at School, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/about-us/programs/stop-flu-at-school/ or call Aloha United Way’s information and referral service at 2-1-1.