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Island Air Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection to Fend Off Action by Aircraft Lessors

Interisland Air Service to Continue as Normal; All Tickets and Confirmed Reservations to be Honored

Hawaii Island Air, Inc. (Island Air) announced today it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an effort to continue normal operations while navigating through legal challenges recently presented by the lessors of its aircraft. The bankruptcy filing was caused by threats of legal action to ground the aircraft and strand hundreds of passengers. The filing prevents the threatened action and allows Island Air to continue interisland service for its customers.

During the reorganization process, Island Air expects to fly its scheduled routes as normal and honor all previously purchased tickets and confirmed reservations. In addition, there will be no changes to the Island Miles frequent flyer and other customer service programs, including Kupuna & Keiki Saver Fare, Island Biz corporate travel program, and military and group travel programs.

On October 12, 2017, while in the process of negotiating its aircraft leases with its lessors, Island Air was very surprised that the lessors served them with notices of termination of the leases and demands to surrender its airplanes.

Prioritizing its customers, employees and the communities it serves, Island Air made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy protection. Continuing to operate under the protection of the United States Bankruptcy Court will allow Island Air to maintain its service to its customers, provide continued employment to its more than 400 valued employees, and ensure a revenue stream so its vendors are paid.

“Island Air will continue to hold our customers and employees, as well as our invaluable vendors, as our main priorities during this reorganization process,” said David Uchiyama, Island Air president and CEO. “Once we have completed the reorganization process, Island Air expects to emerge as a stronger airline with a solid financial structure that will allow us to continue to meet the demands of Hawai‘i’s dynamic interisland market, while positioning us for future growth and expansion.”

As with all companies experiencing a growth in demand, there is an adjustment period. Island Air narrowed its 2017 first quarter loss while revenue continued to rise, making this the airline’s highest quarterly revenue since before 2013 when Island Air was required to begin reporting its financial data to the DOT due to the size of its aircraft. In the second quarter of 2017, the airline earned $12.5 million in revenues, its highest quarterly revenue in more than a decade. In the first quarter of 2017, Island Air flew 172,200 passengers (over double the previous quarter’s figure of 75,102). Additionally, Island Air has increased marketing in North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

In January 2016, Hawai‘i-based investment company PacifiCap acquired controlling interest in Island Air from Ohana Airline Holdings, LLC (OAH), which is wholly owned by Oracle corporation founder Larry Ellison. Since that time the airline has been focused on improving operations, increasing efficiencies and elevating service to customers. This has included strategic investments in equipment and supplies, including upgrading its aircraft fleet, as well as expanding training and resources for employees. In addition, Island Air is currently modernizing its information technology system, which when fully implemented will enhance online reservation and bookings, expand digital services and improve interface with codeshare and interline airline partners.

Founded in 1980 as Princeville Airways, the company was renamed Island Air in 1992 and has been serving the Islands of Hawai‘i for 37 years. Island Air currently offers approximately 200 flights each week between O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island, and employs more than 400 individuals throughout the State of Hawai‘i.

Hawaii Awarded $2.25 Million for Youth Disability Workforce Development

Hawaii Youth At Work! Program Expands to Year Around

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) was awarded $2.25 million in federal funds to help prepare youth with disabilities to enter the workforce or post-secondary education. The funding enables Hawaii Youth At Work! summer participants to obtain paid work experience during the year, coupled with employment preparation activities.

“The summer program is a resounding success for the youth and it is usually their first paid job,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “We are proud to help expand these opportunities for youth with disabilities to contribute their skills and talents to Hawaii’s workforce.”

The program is a collaboration between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and DLIR. DHS’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division, and Social Services Division counselors and staff work with DLIR workforce staff to place participants in temporary jobs with the State and Counties.

“Despite their ability to occupy a variety of jobs, people with disabilities only account for 20 percent of the workforce, have more than double the unemployment rate compared to the general population and continue to face barriers finding work,” stated DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “We’re thrilled to expand this program so these young people have greater opportunity to engage in the workforce and prepare for meaningful employment.”

In 2016, the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provided 153 youth with disabilities paid work experience in State and County offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii. Youth were paid $10.00 an hour and worked up to twenty hours per week during the summer months. SYEP 2017 expanded referrals to include youth participants from the DHS’s Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division and Social Services Division in addition to VR. 125 participants were placed in State and City offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii.

The funding will strengthen collaborations with businesses and workforce partners to increase the number of youth with disabilities entering career pathways and accessing workforce services. The grant provides funding for services in the Counites of Hawaii and Maui as well as on Oahu. In addition to DHS, key partners include the University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies, Department of Education, and American Job Centers.

DLIR previously received $2,923,674 in 2011 and $2,500,000 in 2015 in Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) funds to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities. DEI funds help refine and expand workforce strategies proven to be successful, and enhance inclusive service delivery through the public workforce system. Improvements include: increasing the accessibility of American Job Centers (AJC); training front-line AJC and partner staff; and increasing partnerships with businesses that are critical for assisting youth and adults with disabilities in securing meaningful employment.

Equal Opportunity Employer/Program
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.  TDD/TTY Dial 711 then ask for (808) 586-8866

Hawaii Electric Light’s Energy Fair on Oct. 21

Hawaii Electric Light invites the community to its energy fair on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Keauhou Shopping Center.

The free, family-friendly event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and feature educational displays, demonstrations, and interactive activities on electrical safety, energy conservation, electric vehicles and fast charger stations, renewable energy, and our plan to reach a 100% renewable energy future.

Fun activities will include games as well as building and racing a model solar boat made with recycled products. Enjoy live, local entertainment by Kahakai Elementary School, The Humble Project, Kealakehe High School Dance Team, Mauka Soul, and Solid Roots Band.

For more information on the energy fair, visit www.hawaiielectriclight.com/energyfair or call 327-0543.

Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation Announces $1 Million for New Small Business Revolving Loan Fund in Hawaiʻi

Today, the Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will award $1,015,000 in federal funding to the Feed the Hunger Foundation to establish a new Revolving Loan Fund that will provide loans to new and expanding small businesses in Hawaiʻi.

The funding is expected to create and retain 120 jobs in Hawaiʻi and help to expand Hawaiʻi’s agricultural job market, contribute to the development of a growing, self-sufficient food system throughout the state, and increase access to locally sourced, healthy food.

“Investing in our local agriculture industry, along with expanding access to fresh, nutritious food, is crucial to improving the health and wellbeing of people all across Hawaiʻi and decreasing our reliance on costly food imports. This funding will bring jobs and investment to our local farmers and small business owners working towards a more sustainable, food-secure Hawaiʻi,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“This funding will strengthen our local food system and help small businesses,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “By boosting technical assistance and lending, we can help businesses expand so they can hire more people and further develop local economies.”

“Our small businesses and local farms understand the unique challenges Hawai‘i faces in providing access to affordable, nutritious, and locally grown food,” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “By investing in Hawaii’s agriculture workforce, today’s grant funding will help get more locally sourced, healthy food into our underserved communities and strengthen our food system.”

“Investing in the growth and sustainability of Hawaii’s agriculture is vital. Once established, this Revolving Loan Fund will leverage private dollars to support Hawaii’s small businesses and communities to grow our agricultural industry.  Congratulations to the Feed the Hunger Foundation on this substantial award and mahalo for your contributions to Hawaii’s food security and economy,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

“We’re thrilled this grant will support the creation and retention of 120 jobs, and generate $4 million in private investment,” said Patti Chang, President and CEO of Feed The Hunger Foundation. “We are delighted to be part of a movement in Hawaiʻi building food security, and are honored to have provided more than $1.6 million in small loans ranging from $3,000 to $200,000 to Hawaiʻi businesses such as Waimanalo Co-op Market, Naked Cow Dairy, Paradise Meadows, and to farmers in the Waimea Homestead Association. We are grateful for the tireless work of Gail Fujita and the entire EDA Team, along with our partners, the hardworking local farmers and entrepreneurs.”

Background: Based in Honolulu and San Francisco, Feed the Hunger Foundation works to build communities, connect entrepreneurs to support resources, and provide technical assistance to help food businesses thrive. This EDA award supports Feed the Hunger Foundation’s business lending programs by complementing an existing EDA-funded Revolving Loan Fund. The investment will have an immediate and long-term impact on Hawaiʻi through enhanced access to credit capital and technical assistance for new and expanding small businesses, and increased small business job creation and diversification.

Puna Kai Shopping Center Breaks Ground

Today, ground was broken for the new Puna Kai Shopping Center that will be located in Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii.

About 100 community members along with dignitaries from the county and the mayor’s office were in attendance.
Pi’ilani Ka’awaloa gave the opening pule (prayer) and blessing of the land while elected officials and company representatives did the actual groundbreaking.

Situated on 9.93 acres, and featuring more than 83,110 SF of retail, office, dining, and entertainment space, Puna Kai will become the community’s premiere shopping center.

Conveniently located at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road & Kahakai Boulevard in the town of Pahoa, on the Big Island of Hawaii.Puna Kai will be grocery anchored by 35,000 SF Malama Market (Malama Market name will be changed). Leasing opportunities are now  being offered from 1,000 SF to 5,540 SF.

Puna Kai, will provide a distinctive blend of daily services, specialty shops, entertainment, and eateries.
The building architecture will reflect the old Hawaii ambiance and charm, inspiring Puna Kai to be the gathering place in Pahoa that has something for everyone.

1% Transient Accommodations Tax Increase Takes Effect January 1, 2018

Please be advised that, effective January 1, 2018, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) applied to lodging accommodations in the State of Hawaii will be increased by 1%, raising the TAT from its current rate of 9.25% to 10.25%. This increase is scheduled to stay in effect until December 31, 2030.

The TAT increase is being put into effect to help pay for Honolulu’s rapid transit system that is currently under construction. The light metro rail system will extend 20 miles from Kapolei in Leeward Oahu to Ala Moana Center in Honolulu with 21 stations along the way, including the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the State of Hawaii’s main port of entry for air transportation.

Following is a summary of State taxes that will be applied by lodging properties statewide when the 1% TAT increase takes effect on January 1, 2018:

Oahu
4.712%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.962%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Maui County / Island of Hawaii / Kauai
4.166%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.416%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Click here to see the notice issued by the Hawaii State Department of Taxation providing detailed information about the changes in State law that applies to the 1% TAT increase.

Any questions regarding the implementation of the 1% TAT increase should be directed to the Hawaii State Department of Taxation via email at Tax.Rules.Office@hawaii.gov or by calling 808-587-1530.

Statement by Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid Expenditures

The State of Hawai‘i has responded to Sen. Ron Johnson’s request for information on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid expenditures for the Medicaid expansion. (Letter attached).

I am setting the record straight. Hawai‘i’s overall Medicaid costs per capita are at or below the national average. We have among the lowest rates in the nation. I am proud of our program and its effectiveness in providing our residents with quality health care they can afford.

Let me be clear. This is not about politics or data. This is about people, their lives and our responsibility to ensure that they receive quality health care.

We must stop wasting our time and energy on politics and blame. I ask our public servants to reach across the aisle and talk to each other so that we can resolve this issue.

For Hawai‘i, it is clear. We have a model Medicaid program and we will continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in quality health care.

Letter to Senator Ron Johnson

Beware of Fake State Investigators

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO) is warning the public about at least one individual who posed as a RICO investigator.

The office received information that a letter was sent to a local business asserting a violation and that RICO would be conducting an investigation at that location.  The letter, however, was not sent by an investigator from the RICO office.

Notices from RICO are sent on official letterhead and include contact information for all RICO offices.  Legitimate RICO investigators carry official badges and credentials with their name and organization. Members of the public may request to view the credentials of a RICO investigator to confirm the investigator’s identity. To verify the authenticity of an investigator or a written notice from RICO, the public also may call the RICO office at (808) 587-4272.

The Regulated Industries Complaints Office has opened an investigation into the matter. The impersonation of a public servant is a crime in the State of Hawaii.

Hawai`i Department of Health Approves Fourth Dispensary to Begin Retail Sales of Medical Cannabis

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has issued a formal notice to proceed to Mānoa Botanicals LLC dba Noa Botanicals after the dispensary completed laboratory testing requirements and passed its final onsite inspection. Noa Botanicals is the fourth licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state (and the second on O‘ahu) to receive approval to begin sales of medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers.

The licensed retail center for Noa Botanicals is located at 1308 Young Street in Honolulu, and the dispensary expects to begin sales at the site this month.

“We are continuing to closely work with both the licensed dispensaries and private laboratories in each of the counties to help them meet all of the requirements as efficiently as possible without compromising product or patient safety,” said Keith Ridley, who oversees the medical cannabis dispensary program for the Hawaii State Department of Health.

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 the Hawaii Department of Health.

The other licensed retail centers are:

  • Maui Grown Therapies, located at 44 Pa‘a Street in Kahului, Maui, which was the first licensed dispensary in Hawai‘i to receive a notice to proceed on Aug. 8, 2017;
  • Aloha Green, in the Interstate Building at 1314 South King Street in Honolulu, received its notice to proceed on Aug. 9, 2017; and
  • Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC, at 415 Dairy Road in Kahului, Maui, was the second Maui dispensary to receive a notice to proceed on Sept. 29, 2017.

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.

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 O‘ahu. 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. Each licensed dispensary is an independent business and operates based on their individual business plans.

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

Job Seekers Invited to 4th Annual Job Fair & Job Readiness Workshop

The Hawai‘i County Workforce Development Board is pleased to invite job seekers to attend its 4th Annual Job Fair and Job Readiness Workshop, hosted by the Big Island Workplace Connection (BIWC), a proud partner of the American Job Center.The Job Readiness Workshop: Assists participants to prepare for the job fair by offering guidance on resume writing, interviewing skills, properly completing an application and instruction on dressing for success. For easy access and portability of new and updated resumes, participants will need to provide their own jump drive.

  • When: Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Where: Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale, 799 Pi`ilani Street, Hilo.

The 4th Annual Job Fair: Will host over 80 island-wide businesses looking for employees to fill vacancies.  Participants should come prepared with resumes and in professional attire, as interviews may be done on site.  Many participating businesses will be offering door prizes.

  • When: Thursday, October 26, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Where: Edith Kanakaʻole Tennis Stadium

These events are free and open to the public.  For more information, please call Office of Housing and Community Development at 961-8379.

State of Hawaii to Introduce Bill for Free Credit Freezes

The State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) announced the office will propose legislation directing consumer credit agencies to provide security freezes at no cost to Hawaii residents. The measure will be introduced as part of the Governor’s Administration package during the next legislative session.

Recent events involving security breaches of databases containing sensitive identifying information, such as social security numbers and addresses, has shown that repositories of consumers’ personal information continue to be at a high risk of infiltration by identity thieves.  Although many consumers have taken proactive steps to protect their personal information by requesting consumer reporting agencies to place a security freeze on their credit reports, many have not done so due to the costs associated with obtaining a security freeze.

The purpose of the bill is to enhance consumer protections by allowing consumers to request a consumer reporting agency to place, lift, or remove a security freeze on their credit reports free of charge, considering recent events involving security breaches of databases containing consumer identifying information. Consumer reporting agencies are allowed by state law to charge a fee up to $5 for each request to place, lift, or remove a security freeze.

“Our actions are based on doing the right thing to protect Hawaii’s residents,” said Governor David Ige. “When a business is designed to profit off of managing the public’s personal information, they have a good faith duty to protect that information—not solely on behalf of their shareholders but equally on behalf of their customers. This did not happen and the public is now at risk.”

“Our citizens should have the right to freeze their credit files without cost and without unnecessary hassles. The breach involving Equifax has shown that we cannot rely solely on companies to safeguard our personal information.  By encouraging people to proactively protect themselves from becoming victims of a security breach this bill will help to reduce identity theft in Hawaii,” added Steve Levins, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection.

Equifax disclosed earlier this month that it suffered a breach affecting at least 143 million Americans. Information compromised in the breach includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, names, dates of birth, credit card numbers and addresses—creating a perfect opportunity for impacted people to become victims of identity theft.

In announcing the breach, Equifax stated it would offer free credit monitoring to everyone. The company has set up a website where people can check whether their personal information potentially was affected by the breach: http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

The Office of Consumer Protection has since announced an investigation into the massive data breach involving the consumer reporting agency.

In view of this breach the Office of Consumer Protection is urging consumers to seriously consider placing a credit freeze on their credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. More information on Equifax’s credit monitoring and a guide to initiate a security freeze is available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/equifax.

Additionally, the OCP states that consumers should:

  • Regularly request their free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on their financial accounts so their financial institution alerts them when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.

Consumers with questions regarding Equifax’s data breach are encouraged to contact Equifax at 866-447-7559.

Click to read full release

Senator Hirono Secures Federal Funding for Clean Energy Research and Development in Hawaii

Kampachi Farms and Makai Ocean Engineering Receive $1.5 Million to Harness Power of Seaweed as Potential Energy Source

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today announced that two Hawaii businesses will receive $1.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funding to develop offshore seaweed as a potential clean energy source. The funding was awarded through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) program.

“These grants recognize the innovative work being done in Hawaii to research and develop renewable energy resources,” said Senator Hirono, member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “This funding will assess the viability of developing seaweed as an energy source, and explore how to use local resources to meet Hawaii’s renewable energy goals.”

Under the grant, Kampachi Farms in Kailua-Kona received $500,000 to develop an offshore seaweed production farm and test harvesting techniques for future use in renewable energy production.

“Marine agronomy – the culture of limu (seaweed) in oceanic conditions – offers potential for increased production of food, feeds and fuel,” said Neil Sims, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Kampachi Farms. “Using the power of the ocean’s primary production, we can increase availability of healthful food for people, feeds for fish and other animals, and biofuels for a carbon neutral planet, with minimal use of land, freshwater or artificial fertilizers. Offshore culture of limu connects innovative aquaculture with Hawaiian culinary traditions. It also offers – in our estimation – the only possible means of harnessing entrepreneurial resources to create incentives for countering ocean acidification.”

In addition, Makai Ocean Engineering in Honolulu will receive $995,978 to create a model that simulates the ocean to help researchers determine the proper design and estimate costs of offshore seaweed farming systems.

“Makai is thrilled to be selected for award alongside Kampachi Farms by ARPA-E under this innovative program,” said Duke Hartman, vice president of business development at Makai Ocean Engineering. “In addition to advancing the state of the art in macroalgae cultivation, Makai will be strengthening our expertise in technologies with many other applications, such as autonomous and underwater robotics, biological and oceanographic numerical modeling, and offshore engineering. This project builds on our 44 year track record of developing cutting-edge technologies and bringing high-paying, high-tech jobs home to Hawaii for our kamaaina.”

Senator Hirono continues to advocate for ARPA-E funding. Earlier this year, she wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging for continued funding for ARPA-E after the President threatened to slash the program by $20 million in an effort to wind it down.

Hawaii County Displays Portable Shelter to Raise Awareness of Need to Help Homeless

The County of Hawai’i is displaying a portable shelter on its lawn this week as a way of raising awareness of the need to join hands to help the homeless of our community.

The 20-foot diameter fiberglass dome was loaned to the County by the First Assembly of God in Moanalua on O‘ahu following a faith-based summit to address family homelessness in Hawai‘i on Wednesday.  The congregation led by Pastor Daniel Kaneshiro shipped the dome at its own expense to Hilo for the summit, and is lending it to the County to display for a week.

Photo via intershelter.com

The dome is one of 10 that the O‘ahu congregation uses to house homeless families on its church property.  County Public Works crews on Thursday assembled the dome, which is a series of interlocking panels complete with windows, on a platform within an hour and a half.

“This is a great concept,” said Mayor Harry Kim as he inspected the dome. “The County is developing a master plan to address our homeless crisis, and this concept is one of the options that we are looking at to provide temporary shelters.”

The County is working on a comprehensive, multi-pronged plan that addresses not only houselessness, but also mental health issues, workforce development, health and hygiene, financial literacy and education in an effort to tackle the many causes of homelessness.  A broad coalition of the County, State, churches, non-profits, businesses, and other concerned citizens is rallying to help.  The ultimate goal is to graduate the people who are helped into affordable housing, jobs and a better future.

Dome developer Captain Don Kubley of Juneau, Alaska, was on hand to explain that the dome can sleep a family of four, with 12-foot ceiling capable of accommodating a loft for sleeping or storage space.  Kubley said that he is negotiating an order for 40,000 domes from FEMA, to house hurricane victims in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico.  The price per 20-foot diameter standard white unit for humanitarian purposes, with two windows and a door, is $9,500.

Kubley said that when Hawai’i needs his InterShelter domes: “You will be put at the front of the production queue.”

Hawaii State Energy Office Schedules Community Meetings on Utility Model Study

The Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO) will host a series of community meetings across the state next week to solicit community input for a study being done on future models for utility ownership and regulation in Hawaii.

HSEO, a division of the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), is undertaking the study at the request of the Hawaii State Legislature to evaluate the costs and benefits of various electric utility ownership models, as well as the viability of various utility regulatory approaches to help Hawaii in achieving its energy goals. The study will examine scenarios for each of Hawaii’s counties.

HSEO has contracted with Boston-based London Economics International (LEI) to carry out the study, which is expected to be completed by January 2019. LEI and subcontractor Meister Consultants Group will lead the community meetings for Oct. 9-13. The meeting schedule is as follows:

Maui County:

  • Wailuku, Oct. 9, 5:30 – 7 p.m.. Wailuku Community Center, 395 Waena St. RSVP Link
  • Kaunakakai, Oct. 10, 5:30-7 p.m. Mitchell Pauole Center Main Hall, 90 Ainoa St. RSVP Link
  • Lanai City, Oct. 11, 5:30-7 p.m.  Lanai Community Center, Eighth St. and Lanai Ave. RSVP Link

Hawaii County:

  • Kailua-Kona, Oct. 9, 5:30 – 7 p.m. NELHA Research Campus, Hale Iako Building, 73-970 Makako Bay Drive. RSVP Link
  • Hilo, Oct. 10, 5:30 – 7 p.m.  Waiakea High School, 155 W Kawili St. RSVP Link

Kauai County:

  • Lihue, Oct. 12, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, 4431 Nuhou St. RSVP Link

Honolulu County:

  • Waialua, Oct. 11, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Waialua High & Intermediate School, 67-160 Farrington Highway. RSVP Link
  • Honolulu, Oct. 13, approx. 6 – 7:30 p.m. Hawaii Foreign Trade Zone #9, Homer Maxey Conference Center, 521 Ala Moana Blvd. Suite 201, Pier 2. RSVP Link

Next week’s meetings will focus on the topic of utility ownership and the role the utility plays in achieving community and state goals, including achieving 100 percent renewable energy in the electricity sector and minimizing costs. There are two additional rounds of statewide meetings scheduled. The second round of meetings slated for next spring will focus on utility regulatory models, while the third round of meetings next fall will be used to gather community input on draft findings of the report.

Community members planning on attending the meetings are encouraged to RSVP at the link above. Light refreshments will be served. Those unable to attend a meeting in person can view a copy of the material presented, which will be posted on HSEO’s website after the meetings, and may participate by submitting feedback via email to: dbedt.utilitybizmodstudy@hawaii.gov. Questions about the meetings or the study can be emailed to the same address.

Hawaii Launches New Online Workforce Tax Credit Application

Tax Credits for Hiring Vets Can Be Just a Click Away

Businesses applying for tax credits for hiring veterans and others can now do it online the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced. The Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal program that makes tax credits available to employers who hire veterans and individuals with significant barriers to employment.

“Making these requests available online is part of my effort to make government more effective and efficient while also facilitating the employment of our veterans and other job seekers,” said Gov. Ige. “I especially appreciate the department using special federal grant monies to develop the eApplication without State funds.”

Using the WOTC eApplication service, employers fill out online forms and their requests are immediately entered in to the processing queue. The WOTC eApplication also centralizes the processing of requests and serves as a repository for supporting documentation, all of which results in improved efficiency in processing.

“The department receives nearly 400 certification requests a month for the tax credit,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “This service enables employers to monitor the status of their requests via a personalized dashboard, which is a level of service we could not provide before.”

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) Workforce Development Division developed the WOTC eApplication service as part of the eHawaii.gov State Portal Program (portal.ehawaii.gov). The department strongly recommends that employers use the new electronic system, but anticipates lag time before the federal government updates its website. Businesses seeking to use the new system may inquire through the following methods:

Email: dlir.workforce.develpment@hawaii.gov
Phone: (808) 686-8877
Mail: Workforce Development Division
Rm 112
830 Punchbowl St
Honolulu, HI 96813

About the Workforce Development Division
Workforce Development Division (WDD) is a customer-driven workforce development system that assists job seekers, workers and industries. WDD provides a free referral and placement service that links qualified job seekers with employers. WDD also strives to develop and maintain various partnerships with the private sector to identify emerging employment trends, technological advances, declining industries and economic issues. The division develops grant proposals in coordination with other agencies to carry out employment and training program activities and services.

Hawaii County Department of Public Works Request for Support Letters for Kea’au – Pahoa Road TIGER Grant Application

Aloha Big Island ‘Ohana!

Please assist the State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, Hawaii District with a support letter for their Pahoa Road Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant Application. I have attached DPW’s letter of support for your reference.

As support for the project is very important to the effort, we ask that you respond with a formal letter stating your support for the project. We ask that you respond by Thursday, October 12, 2017. Support letters can be emailed to: donald.l.smith@hawaii.gov

Please contact Donald Smith if you have any questions at (808)933-8866.

Mahalo,
Barett Otani, Hawaii County Department of Public Works

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Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Calls On Administration & Congress to Pass Aid Package for Puerto Rico Now

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke on the House floor calling on the Trump administration & Congress to pass an aid package for Puerto Rico now in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard demanded that the administration immediately send all available resources to help with recovery efforts.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“Right now 3.5 million Americans, our fellow citizens, are facing a humanitarian crisis. In Puerto Rico, the majority of people still lack basic electricity, clean drinking water and medicine — the basic necessities just to stay alive. What to speak of the basic resources they need to begin the great task of rebuilding their lives and their communities. It has been days since the hurricane passed over Puerto Rico, leaving death and destruction in its wake.

“The people of Puerto Rico are literally crying out for help. There are far too many, especially those in rural communities, who still have not been reached by those bringing aid. As a representative from the island state of Hawaii, I can only imagine their frustration and desperation. I urge the administration to dedicate all available resources for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and work with Congress to pass an emergency aid package to ensure that those delivering aid have what they need to help the people of Puerto Rico and save lives.”

Governor Ige Marks Family Assessment Center’s First Anniversary, Outlines Progress on Homelessness

Gov. David Ige today highlighted the state’s overall progress in addressing homelessness while recognizing the first anniversary of the state’s Family Assessment Center (FAC).

The FAC temporarily houses homeless families while they are being connected to services and long-term housing with the assistance of specialists from Catholic Charities Hawai‘i. More than 90 percent of families who have stayed at the FAC and have left the facility over the past year, have been housed, or 35 families out of 38 families serviced. In addition, the average time from intake to placement is 82 days ­– eight days fewer than the 90-day goal the state previously set.

Gov. Ige also said the FAC reflects the state’s overall gains on homelessness, pointing to a nine percent overall decrease in homelessness between 2016-17 – the first decrease in eight years – and a 19 percent reduction in family homelessness.

“The Family Assessment Center is a game-changer that is making a difference in the lives of unsheltered families and helping to provide the stability they need to improve their lives,” Gov. Ige said.

The success of the FAC illustrates the ʻOhana Nui approach, which includes a focus on the whole family; a priority on children, particularly those between infancy and age 5; and collaboration to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

“The Department of Human Services is proud to work hand-in-hand with the Governor’s Coordinator and Catholic Charities on long-term solutions to end homelessness,” said DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “The Family Assessment Center is a testament to the power of generative partnerships and a focus on connecting families to an array of services suited to their needs. We see that when we can work together to meet families where they are, families can thrive and not just survive.”

The FAC, which is operated by Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, is modeled after housing navigation centers in San Francisco.  Its small population – no more than 50 people, or 12-15 households at a time – enables more individualized care. Guests are not required to have identification, which is a key obstacle for many people experiencing homelessness.  Families are quickly transitioned to permanent housing or other appropriate services in 90 days or less. The facility opened on September 26, 2016.

County, State, Faith-Based Groups and Community Join Hands to Help Homeless

The County of Hawai’i is joining hands with the State of Hawai’i, the faith-based community, non-profits, businesses and other concerned citizens to address the island’s homelessness crisis, Mayor Harry Kim said.  The County is working collaboratively on a comprehensive program with the ultimate goal of transitioning homeless people of our island from temporary shelters to affordable housing and jobs.

“These are our people,” Mayor Kim said in a statement. “We cannot in good conscience let homelessness for families and individuals spiral upward; we must do something definitive to address it. I truly feel a growing support from the community.”

His remarks followed the 2nd Annual West Hawai’i Faith-Based Summit to End Family Homelessness in Kona on September 27.  The event was a day-long gathering involving more than 20 West Hawai’i church congregations, numerous social service agencies, healthcare professionals, businesses, as well as State and County officials.

“The faith-based community is really pitching in, offering to adopt homeless families and providing all kinds of material and spiritual support; we cannot thank these good people enough,” he said. “Their spirit is spreading far and wide in the community.”

Mayor Kim expressed deep gratitude for the commitment of assistance from the State of Hawai’i’s Homeless Coordinator, Scott Morishige, who attended the summit and stressed the need to maximize space and accelerate placement into shelters or transitional housing.

Governor David Ige conveyed a special message of support for the event, stressing the need for collaboration to tackle the complicated issue of homelessness.

“We appreciate so much the support that the State is giving us; they know this is crucial and that we need everybody’s help,” Mayor Kim said.

According to Lance Niimi, the County’s Homeless Coordinator there are approximately 913 homeless people islandwide, with about 379 individuals in families living without a home.  Niimi helped spearhead Camp Kikaha, a temporary Safe Zone encampment in Kona which houses about 30 people since its opening in May.

Community Informational Meetings on the County of Hawaii, Mass Transit Agency Island-Wide Transit Master Plan

The public is invited to Community Informational Meetings on the County of Hawaii, Mass Transit Agency Island-Wide Transit Master Plan that the county has contracted SSFM to conduct these for $500,000.

Kailua-Kona
Monday, October 9, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
West Hawaii Civic Center, Council Building A, Council Chambers
74-5044 Ana Keohokalole Highway

Kea‘au
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Kea‘au Community Center, 16-186 Pili Mua Street

Pāhoa
Thursday, October 12, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Pāhoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-2910 Kauhale Street

Waimea
Thursday, October 19, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Waimea Elementary School, 67-1225 Māmalahoa Highway

Hilo
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Aunty Sally Kaleohano’s Luau Hale, 799 Pi‘ilani Street

If you require language translation, an auxiliary aid or service (e.g., sign language interpreter, accessible parking or materials in alternative format), please contact
Jo-Anna Herkes, SSFM International at (808) 356-1260 at least five (5) days prior to the meeting date. TTY users may use TRS to contact our office.