Big Island Residents Lose Electricity on Christmas Eve

This evening on the Big Island of Hawaii, residents across the island reported that they had lost electricity for a time tonight.  From Puna to Kona the outages were reported.

Hawaiian Electric Companies is currently investigating the power failure but has tentatively classified this as a “frequency trip on the system”.
HELCO Response 3When they have determined the exact cause of the island-wide outage I will update this post.

Lava Flow Prescription Medicine Delivery Plan Implemented

In response to the current June 27th Lava Flow projections that expect the lava to reach Highway 130 sometime this month, Bay Clinic and Walgreens Pharmacy have put a delivery service plan in-place that will ensure continued access to prescription medication for the residents of lower Puna. The pharmaceutical delivery service will be launched on Monday, December 29, 2014 out of Bay Clinic’s Pahoa Family Health Center located at 15-2866 Pahoa Village Road.

lava medsWalgreens Pharmacy personnel will dispense prescription medications Monday through Friday out of the Pahoa Family Health Center from 3PM to 6PM. Same day prescription delivery must be ordered by 1PM that day; any prescriptions ordered after 1PM will be delivered the following workday. There will be no delivery services at the Pahoa Family Health Center on Saturday, Sunday, or holidays. Walgreens will call patients to arrange delivery and pick-up of prescriptions. Due to state pharmacy policy, CII-CV prescriptions will be required to be picked-up from the Walgreens store location.

“This delivery service will continue as long as Railroad Avenue remains unaffected by the lava flow,” said Harold Wallace, Bay Clinic CEO. “We are working on other alternative delivery options should Railroad close due to the lava flow.”

For additional pharmacy delivery service information, please contact Lovisa Baysa at Bay Clinic Pahoa Family Health Center, 965-9711.

Hu Honua Moves Forward on Site Construction, Reaches Settlement with Hawaiian Dredging

Hu Honua Bioenergy (HHB) expects to resume onsite operations with a full team of employees and contractors before year-end, including final site preparation, delivery of specialized equipment and construction mobilization.

Hu Honua Bioenergy is refurbishing the former sugar mill power plant at Pepeekeo into a modern biomass electricity generation facility with advanced emission control equipment. HHB will sell electricity to Hawaiian Electric Light Company under a twenty-year power sales contract. The HHB facility will generate about 100 construction jobs during the refurbishment process and 30 permanent operational and maintenance positions once the project is online. Additionally, more than 130 indirect jobs in forestry, harvesting, hauling, and local service shops are expected to be generated in the local economy.

Hu Honua Bioenergy is refurbishing the former sugar mill power plant at Pepeekeo into a modern biomass electricity generation facility with advanced emission control equipment. HHB will sell electricity to Hawaiian Electric Light Company under a twenty-year power sales contract. The HHB facility will generate about 100 construction jobs during the refurbishment process and 30 permanent operational and maintenance positions once the project is online. Additionally, more than 130 indirect jobs in forestry, harvesting, hauling, and local service shops are expected to be generated in the local economy.

The accelerated activity comes after HHB and Honolulu-based Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company (HDCC) reached a settlement to resolve a contractual dispute between the parties related to the refurbishment of HHB’s renewable energy facility in Pepeekeo.

Specific terms of the settlement are covered by a confidentiality agreement.

“We are pleased to be back on course, moving forward with construction and to resume full site activity,” said John G. Sylvia, Chief Executive Officer for Hu Honua. “As we have stated previously, there were a number of complicated issues across multiple parties that required time to resolve for the settlement; we appreciate HDCC’s patience and efforts in working through the challenges.”

Refurbishment activity, including survey and permitting work, has been underway for the final phase of construction, which is expected to be complete within 12 months, following full mobilization.

In late October, HHB received two shipments of specialized equipment in Hilo—a custom re-injection system and air quality emission control operating system. HHB designed a re-injection system for the brackish water to return to its original source after it has passed through the system’s condenser and cooled the turbine’s exhaust steam. The air quality system will maximize overall system efficiency and lower emissions beyond what is required by regulators.

Additional specialized equipment including fuel handling and the remaining emissions control equipment has been fabricated and is in route to Hilo from the mainland.

Hilo Folks are Big Spenders During the Holidays

Yep… us folks in Hilo are big spenders come Christmas time.  According to Nerdwallet, Hilo ranks 2nd in the most expensive places for holiday spending.

The average family in Hilo spends about $1,172.02 during the holidays.  The national average for a family of four is $877.22.

spending

New Fee Added to Electric Bills to Support Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program

A new line on electric bills starting this month will finance the State of Hawaii Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program. However, a corresponding reduction of the monthly Public Benefits Fund surcharge, collected to pay for the State’s conservation and energy efficiency programs, means most customers will likely see little net change on their electric bills. For a typical residential customer using 600 kWh a month, the green infrastructure fee will be $1.29 per month.

GEMS Office

The new line item, titled “Green Infrastructure Fee,” will appear under the listing of “Current Charges: Electric Service” beginning with December 2014 monthly bills of all Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light customers.

As required by law and authorized by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, all residential and commercial customers will pay the Green Infrastructure Fee. The new fee will enable the State of Hawaii to borrow $150 million for its GEMS program. The State Department of Business, Economic Development will initially administer GEMS. The program will make low-cost loans so green infrastructure improvements are more affordable and accessible for customers who cannot afford upfront costs or cannot qualify for other financing.

The GEMS program will initially focus on clean energy investments so customers can take advantage of green initiatives such as photovoltaic systems, energy storage, advanced inverters and energy monitoring devices.

To learn more, visit the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Energy Office website (http://energy.hawaii.gov/testbeds-initiatives/gems) or call 808.586.2407.

Public, Private Agencies Convene to Discuss Lava, Emergency Housing

More than 45 of Hawaii Island’s top officials in government, business, construction, academia and the non-profit sector gathered last week in Hilo to discuss the Puna lava situation and its effects on the island’s housing market.
Lava Housing

The emergency housing forum, hosted by HOPE Services Hawaii, Hawaii Island Realtors, the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and Day Lum Rentals & Management, included roundtable discussions that focused on short- and long-term housing planning, legislative policy and expanding community resources.

The November 24 forum was intended as the beginning of a larger conversation focused on building more affordable housing on Hawaii Island. An action plan that outlines next steps and leverages private and public partnerships is being created by the forum’s hosts and expected to be complete by first quarter 2015. The plan will identify short and long-term solutions, which will help inform possible legislative policies and provide the basis for maximizing community resources.

During the forum, agency heads discussed what organizations are experiencing as a result of the lava breakout, which started in late June and has travelled 13.5 miles since. Some presented ideas to alleviate the demand for housing outside of Puna, noting, however, that today’s quick fixes should complement the island’s long-term housing and development plans.

“No one is pretending to have all the answers,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “There’s no lava flow manual, so many policy decisions are being made with the best information available. What we’re facing as a community is significant, but the challenges are not insurmountable. The County has been and will continue to be all hands on deck, ready to collaborate, and to share information as it becomes available to lessen anxiety and uncertainty.”

Brandee Menino, chief executive officer for HOPE Services Hawaii, said that while HOPE primarily helps homeless and at-risk individuals and families transition off the streets and obtain stable housing, her office has been getting calls from families displaced by Tropical Storm Iselle and potentially isolated by the lava. She noted that even before this year’s natural disasters, the need for rental units had been identified.

“A 2011 Housing Planning Study prepared for the Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation revealed that Hawaii County would need 1,753 rental units by 2016 in order to meet the growing demand for housing,” said Menino. “This report was done in 2011, when lava was not a concern, so we must make a concerted effort to prioritize creating more affordable housing opportunities for Hawaii’s families.”

Paul Normann, executive director of the Neighborhood Place of Puna (NPP), a resource for distressed families, said Puna has the highest rate of child abuse and neglect in the State. “Because of the disruption caused by Iselle and the active lava flow, NPP has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families seeking assistance. In the first four months of the current fiscal year, July through October, NPP has already served 106 families. To put that in context, over the course of the entire 12 months of the previous fiscal year, NPP served a total of 130 families.

Nancy Cabral of Day-Lum said that some families wanted to get ahead of the lava and moved from the area. But Cabral is concerned with who haven’t. “There are a lot of residents who have not been preparing for what’s coming. It seems they are waiting for government to step in and rescue them, so we really need to take steps to ready the housing market.”

Cabral offered solutions to stave off a potential housing crisis including working with hotels to temporarily rent out rooms, helping families uproot and move homes to vacant lots and lobbying the State to relinquish control to the County of affordable units such as Lanakila Housing, which can move faster to make the units available to those looking to relocate from Puna.

Mark Kimura, an economic geography researcher at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who conducted an informal survey of Puna residents, said almost half reported they had no one to rely on or place to go if they needed to move. 14 percent said they have already left the area or are preparing to leave and 25 percent said they could move-in with family or friends on-island. He said many don’t want to give up their homes because they are still paying a mortgage, have farms, can’t afford to move and have difficulty finding places that are pet-friendly or retrofitted for people with disabilities.

Amanda Donaldson, President of NARPM’s East Hawaii chapter, which is made up of about 20 local residential property managers, said members get nearly a dozen additional calls a day from families looking for housing outside the lava zone. She said NARPM agents are willing to add addendums that allow individuals in the lava impact zone to break their lease once lava hits.

Kehau Costa of Hawaii Island Realtors championed a “one-stop-shop” rentals website where interested renters can view available units on the island, which would speed up house hunting. Costa also suggested a “new landlord resource fair” because of the increasing number of individuals asking how they can convert part of or their entire home into a rental.

Additional ideas that came out of the forum include exploring commuter housing, house sharing, prepping lands for modular housing, fast tracking County building permit processes as well as County take over, repair and rental of foreclosure homes.

Any individuals or organizations interested in taking part in future discussions may contact Brandee Menino at bmenino@hopeserviceshawaii.org or (808) 933-6013.

Reopening of Pahoa Village Road Begins Tomorrow

This is an eruption and lava flow information update for Sunday November 23rd at 8:00AM.

This morning’s assessment shows that the upslope breakouts remain active.  The breakouts are located approximately 3.6 miles upslope of the Apa’a Street area and consist of surface breakouts and breakouts along the edges or margins of the flow pad.  Presently, all breakout activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities and the flow activity will continue to be monitored.

Residents in the down slope areas will be kept informed of any changes and the flow status and advancement.

The Pahoa Village Road between Apa’a Street and the Post Office Road will remain closed and limited to area residents only.   Access to the businesses and commercial areas of the Pahoa town can be made through the Pahoa Village Road at the intersection of Highways 130 and 132 and the Post Office Road.  We apologize for any inconvenience the road closure may be presenting with and remind everyone that the Pahoa town center and businesses are open and accessible.

Pahoa Village Road

The reopening of the Pahoa Village Road will be initiated starting tomorrow Monday November 24th and may take a few days to complete.  Utility crews will begin to remove the protection placed around the utility poles and this work will require the road to remain closed while equipment is operating in the area.

Civil Defense and public safety personnel will continue to maintain close observations of flow activity.

Additional updates will be posted as conditions change.

We would like to thank everyone for your patience and understanding and your  cooperation and assistance is greatly appreciated.

TMT Launches The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) has launched THINK (The Hawaii Island New Knowledge) Fund to better prepare Hawaii Island students to master STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and to become the workforce for higher paying science and technology jobs in Hawaii’s 21st century economy. TMT’s founding gift of $1 million marks the beginning of the construction phase of astronomy’s next-generation telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT’s THINK Fund initiative benefits Hawaii Island students pursuing STEM endeavors with an annual contribution of $1 million over its existing 19-year Mauna Kea sublease with the University of Hawaii-Hilo. Two Hawaii foundations were selected by TMT, Hawaii Community Foundation and Pauahi Foundation, to administer THINK Fund distribution in scholarship and grant making platforms. The two independent foundations are defining their award criteria and decision-making process.

“During our numerous meetings, TMT and the community discussed how to collaborate to fulfill the shared dream of building the world’s most advanced telescope. The idea for the THINK Fund to invest in the education of students in the STEM field was germinated,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board. “With the launch of the THINK Fund, we are embarking on two transformational adventures – exploring the frontiers of the universe and providing educational opportunities for Hawaii’s students, both now and for future generations.”

The Thirty Meter Telescope initiated dialogue on the formation of THINK Fund in 2008 by asking a group of community volunteers to outline the mission, vision, purpose and implementation strategy of an education fund benefitting Hawaii Island students. The Organizing Committee that developed TMT’s THINK Fund structure was comprised of Hawaii Island residents.

“After years of THINK Fund planning and reflection, the aspirations of dedicated community members are being realized with TMT’s first annual $1 million contribution, set in motion by the start of our construction phase,” said TMT Community Affairs Manager Sandra Dawson. “As a mother of two teachers, I am so pleased with the THINK Fund’s potential to furnish Hawaii Island students with an easier path to reach for the stars. TMT’s THINK Fund initiative will not only help Hawaii Island students with the tools to excel in STEM areas and the channels to get into college, it can also provide students with the means to get through college.”

The Organizing Committee determined that scholarships, grant making and the establishment of an endowment would ensure the sustainability of improving educational opportunities for Hawaii Island students in STEM disciplines. It further recognized that an emphasis be given to improving opportunities for STEM education for Native Hawaiian students, not as an exclusive preference, but focusing on addressing the needs of Hawaii’s host culture.

TMT’s annual $1 million contribution allocates $750,000 to THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation and $250,000 to THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation. The foundations will administer their respective THINK Funds independently and will have autonomy in administering grant funds, determining scholarship recipients, and the selection and governance of Advisory Committees.

THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation

Grants are available by application to THINK Fund at Hawaii Community Foundation beginning November 20th and will support a variety of Hawaii Island STEM student activities in and after-school, internship programs and teacher-generated STEM classroom projects. Scholarships will support current and future STEM teachers on Hawaii Island as well as students pursuing STEM degrees and training. Scholarship applications will be available online on December 1st, 2014.

“For the past 98 years, Hawaii Community Foundation has had the privilege of serving our island communities across the state,” said Kelvin Taketa, president and CEO of the Hawaii Community Foundation. “We’re honored to be the stewards of the THINK Fund at HCF that will support STEM education on Hawaii Island for generations to come.”

Advisory Committee members of THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation are Laurie Ainslie, Roberta Chu, Mary Correa, Kaeo Duarte, Hiapo Perreira, Doug Simons and Barry Taniguchi. The Advisory Committee, facilitated by Hawaii Community Foundation staff, will assist with strategy development, review grant proposals, make grant decisions and encourage STEM education for Hawaii Island.

THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation is open to all Hawaii Island students including Native Hawaiians, teachers with STEM classroom projects and organizations providing STEM and internship programs that directly benefit Hawaii Island. Learn more and apply at www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org <http://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org> .

The Hawaii Island office of Hawaii Community Foundation is located in Waimea.

THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation

Scholarship Programs will be the initial focus of THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation. Grant making is being considered for the future.

“With Hawaii Island having the second largest population of Native Hawaiians in the state of Hawaii, our partnership with TMT provides much-needed financial support for Hawaiian learners from Hawaii Island to pursue educational opportunities in STEM,” said Hawaii Island resident and Pauahi Foundation Executive Director Keawe Liu.

Advisory committee members of THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation are Roberta Chu, Kaeo Duarte, Leinaala Enos, David Kaapu, Bob Lindsey, Gail Makuakane-Lundin and Maile Wong.

THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation is open to all Hawaii Island students with a preference given to applicants of Hawaiian ancestry to the extent permitted by law. Scholarship applications will be available online on February 4, 2015 at www.pauahi.org <http://www.pauahi.org> .

THINK Fund Collaboration

THINK Fund was designed as an initiative to encourage and attract other funders who align with the mission and goal to improve STEM education and strengthen Hawaii Island’s workforce, and TMT is serving as the founding member of the THINK Fund initiative. The vision of this collaborative approach is to bring together the island community with funders in a partnership that strives to help Hawaii Island students long term.

What’s Next For TMT?

Construction activities in Hawaii include site preparation and grading.

tmt

Offsite work has begun in earnest as well. In China, partners are designing the telescope’s fully articulated main science steering mirror system and developing the laser guide star system. Japan has produced over sixty special zero thermal-expansion glass mirror blanks for the main mirror and is designing the telescope structure in detail. Fabricating the mirror support system is ongoing in India. The adaptive optics facility is in final design and the enclosure is ready for construction in Canada. The primary mirror and mirror control system is in final design in California.

The advancement of TMT to this stage of imminent on-site construction has been made possible by the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The foundation has spent $141 million to date to fund the design, development, and construction phases of TMT.

Visitors Not Allowed to Use Chain of Craters Road – Puna Residents to Receive Window Decals

Significant progress has been made on the Chain of Craters Kalapana Road since work began in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on October 24. Today the contractors, working from each end, met in the middle.

Photos courtesy of the National Park Service.

Photos courtesy of the National Park Service.

This completes the rough grade of the road.
ripping 2Work will now begin on crushing excavated material for the road bed. The finished road will be a gravel surfaced 22-foot-wide two-lane road. The road is scheduled to be completed in the next 30-45 days, weather and construction conditions permitting.

Chain of Craters CrewLower Puna residents will be able to access the route after the lava has crossed Highway 130 and Railroad Avenue and the National Park Service has determined that the road is safe for vehicles. The emergency access route will not be open to the public or park visitors.  Residents will receive a free window decal for access through the park.

11/6/14 UPDATE: Volcanoes National Park Clarification on Chain of Craters Emergency Access Route

 

Federal Aid Programs Announced for Hawaii Residents Affected By Iselle

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s disaster declaration issued for the State of Hawaii.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health.  Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.  (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

How to Apply for Assistance:

  • Application procedures for state and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.

FEMA Statement on Federal Aid for State of Hawaii After Tropical Storm Iselle

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Hawaii to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by Tropical Storm Iselle during the period of August 7-9, 2014.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Tropical Storm Iselle in Hawaii and Maui counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Kenneth K. Suiso has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.  Suiso said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

Water Falling Estate Back on the Market

With thundering twin waterfalls, endless ocean vistas, and an Olympic-sized infinity pool, “Water Falling Estate” is easily the most striking property along the Big Island’s Hamakua Coast.

Waterfalling Estate

Originally offered at $26.5 million in 2013, and later purchased at auction by Kansas City entrepreneur Charles Floyd Anderson and his wife, this 9.44 acre marvel spanning three streams is now back on the market for less than half of its previous listing price.

“At $10 million, this estate is now priced very competitively”, said Kelly H. Moran, principle broker of Hilo Brokers Ltd, adding “this is a total trophy property.”

Waterfalling Estate Piano Room

According to Moran, the current owners decided to sell the estate in order to be closer to their grandchildren in Missouri.  “They’re very rooted in family,” he explained, adding “this is a lifestyle choice, primarily.”

The property has gained international recognition for its rare combination of natural features, as well as its uniquely designed home: a 10,942 square foot three-story concrete superstructure perched high along an ocean bluff, with commanding views of the streams and waterfalls below.

Waterfalling Estate Tennis Court

A professional-grade tennis stadium and basketball court sit adjacent to the home, which is surrounded by eight-plus acres of golf-style landscaping.

Hilo Brokers listed the property for sale as of  July 31st.

FEMA Aid Denied to Hawaii and Iselle Victims

The State of Hawaii’s request for a major disaster declaration due to Tropical Storm Iselle was denied today by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate. The request sought Individual Assistance for individuals and households affected by the tropical storm in early August and Hazard Mitigation funds for use in statewide projects.

Various types of trees, including the invasive Allbizia were knocked down by the winds of hurricane Iselle as it landed on the eastern coast of Hawaii island on August 8, 2014.    Photo by Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Various types of trees, including the invasive Allbizia were knocked down by the winds of hurricane Iselle as it landed on the eastern coast of Hawaii island on August 8, 2014. Photo by Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Administrator Fugate’s denial letter states: “it has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), formerly known as State Civil Defense, continues to work with federal and county officials on an application for assistance to rebuild public infrastructure.

People still in need of assistance following Iselle should call Hawaii County at (808) 935-0031 or the volunteer request line at (808) 464-3175.

The American Red Cross and the Hawaii State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters continues to take donations to help those affected by Iselle. Donations can be made through the following channels:

American Red Cross (Hawaii Chapter), Phone: (808) 734-2101 http://www.redcross.org/hi/honolulu

Hawaii State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters

Hurricane Iselle Long-Term Relief and Recovery Fund

Iselle donations may be dropped off at any American Savings Bank.

https://hivoad.communityos.org/cms/contact_hi

 

Loans Available for Farmers Suffering Storm Damage

The Hawaii Board of Agriculture yesterday approved an emergency loan program for farmers across the state who are suffering from recent storm damage.
iselle dlnr

“Our field surveys and reports from farmers indicate significant damage to not only crops, but to some facilities and farm infrastructure,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The emergency loan program will provide assistance to get the farms back into production as soon as possible.”

Eligible farmers may now apply for emergency loans of up to $100,000 at 3 percent interest.  Loans of $50,000 or less will not require credit denials from other financial institutions, which would normally be required for agricultural loans. The board also waived the three-year residency requirements normally required for agricultural loans.

The board also authorized state loan officers to modify or waive collateral requirements, as deemed necessary, on a case-by-case basis. Loan applications for emergency loans relating to this storm event will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2014.

Farmers suffering damage throughout the state should contact their nearest HDOA office:

  • Hilo – 933-9975 and 933-9977
  • Kona – 323-7591
  • Maui – 984-2400, extension 39460 (Toll Free)
  • Molokai – 1-800-468-4644, extension 39460 (Toll Free)
  • Oahu – 973-9460
  • Kauai – 241-3141, extension 39460 (Toll Free)

For more information on agricultural loans, call the Agricultural Loan Division at 973-9460 or go the division’s webpage:  http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/agl/

Governor Releases $39 Million for Facility Improvements at UH Campuses

As the fall semester kicks off, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of $39 million to the University of Hawaii (UH) System for capital improvement projects (CIP) at various campuses.

abercrombieheader“These projects, at campuses from Lihue to Hilo, are long-term investments in our state university system, an anchor of our island community,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “They address needed repairs, maintenance and upgrades to ensure functional academic environments and accessible, affordable higher education opportunities for the people of Hawaii.”

$29,000,000 – Systemwide Health, Safety and Code Requirements, statewide – Construction funds for health and safety projects at UH Manoa and UH Hilo. Projects at UH Manoa include accessibility improvements, sewer and storm drain upgrades, health and safety improvements at Lyon Arboretum, and walkway upgrades. Projects at UH Hilo include a lead roof replacement of Hale Kehau, a Kawili Street pedestrian overpass, an emergency shelter, traffic safety improvements at Panaewa Farms, sidewalk/crosswalk upgrades at Kapiolani and Lanikaula Streets, and emergency generators.

$10,000,000 – Minor CIP Projects for Campuses of the Community College System, statewide – Design and construction funds for capital renewal and deferred maintenance projects of UH Community College (CC) campuses, including the renovation of the cafeteria at Honolulu CC, refurbishment of Ohia Auditorium at Kapiolani CC, renovation of the Diamond Head portables at Leeward CC, renovation of storage space to science lab/classroom at Hawaii CC, renovation of the former Ceramics Building at Maui CC, and renovation of the Fine Arts I Building at Kauai CC.

U.S. Court Overturns Law Limiting Biotech Crops on Kauai

A group of global biotech crop companies won a court victory on Monday that blocks enactment of a law passed last year limiting the planting of biotech crops and use of pesticides on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii ruled that the law passed in November by local leaders on the island was invalid because it was pre-empted by Hawaii state law.

The Kauai law required large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and genetically modified (GMO) crop plantings while establishing buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals to protect people from exposure to pesticides used on the crops…

More Here: U.S. court overturns law limiting biotech crops on Hawaiian island

 

Senator Schatz Urges President Obama, FEMA for Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) wrote letters to President Barack Obama and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate today supporting the State of Hawai‘i’s request for a major disaster declaration due to damages caused by Tropical Storm Iselle from August 7-9, 2014.

Senator Brian Schatz  in Puna.

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna.

“Tropical Storm Iselle caused strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, high surf, storm surge, and lightning, which resulted in damages reported across all four counties in the State of Hawai‘i,” Senator Schatz wrote. “Hawai‘i County has a majority of the damages where it experienced loss of power and a lack of access to water. Hawai‘i County also has widespread debris that made it difficult for residents to access emergency services. Furthermore, preliminary damage assessments estimate that the total loss and damage to the island of Hawai‘i in agriculture and commodities is $66 million. With all available state and local level resources being used, federal assistance is needed to support our communities’ recovery.”

Senator Schatz also expressed his support for the State’s request for Individual Assistance for Hawai‘i County, statewide Hazard Mitigation, and Small Business Administration loan assistance programs to help with the recovery.

Since Tropical Storm Iselle made landfall, Senator Schatz’s office has been in close contact with the White House to discuss the impact of the storm and how the federal government can help residents and communities rebuild. Last week, Senator Schatz traveled to Puna and met with Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Russell Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council, and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia trees, which damaged infrastructure and caused widespread debris on Hawai‘i Island.

The full text of the letter to President Obama follows:

August 25, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write in support of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s request for a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i due to damages caused by Tropical Storm Iselle from August 7-9, 2014.

On August 7, 2014, Hurricane Iselle approached the Hawaiian Islands and made landfall on August 8, 2014, which then became a tropical storm. The Governor declared a statewide state of emergency on August 6, 2014 and signed a supplemental proclamation on August 14, 2014, which extended the state of emergency until October 17, 2014. Tropical Storm Iselle caused strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, high surf, storm surge, and lightning, which resulted in damages reported across all four counties in the State of Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i County has a majority of the damages where it experienced loss of power and a lack of access to water. Hawai‘i County also has widespread debris that made it difficult for residents to access emergency services. Furthermore, preliminary damage assessments estimate that the total loss and damage to the island of Hawai‘i in agriculture and commodities is $66 million. With all available state and local level resources being used, federal assistance is needed to support our communities’ recovery.

Pursuant to Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5121-5207), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I ask that you swiftly approve Governor Abercrombie’s request that the State of Hawai‘i receive a major disaster declaration. Specifically, I support the Governor’s request for Individual Assistance for Hawai‘i County. I also support his request for Hazard Mitigation statewide and Small Business Administration loan assistance programs.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information.

Regards,

BRIAN SCHATZ
United States Senator

SNAP Reimbursement Deadline Extended for Maui County and Hawaii Island

The federal Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), which administers states’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) formerly known as Food Stamps, has extended Hawaii’s reimbursement deadline for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle.

Snap Card

Hawaii SNAP administrators requested the extension through Aug. 30, 2014 to provide thousands of Hawaii Island and Maui County households additional time to apply for assistance.  Due to storm damage and debris, many individuals and families were unable to leave their homes by the original deadline.

Reimbursement is limited to the actual dollar value of food destroyed and cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment. To qualify, the individual or household must have been receiving SNAP benefits when the disaster occurred, and report the food spoilage to the Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) office on their island by Aug. 30, 2014.

Individual or household applying for reimbursement must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1)        Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2)        General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3)        Length of time household power was out;

4)        Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5)        Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned by the specified deadline.

Natural disasters affect everyone in striking range.  However, elderly and/or disabled individuals, families with infants and minor children, and families with limited income are disproportionately affected because they are lack the necessary resources to replenish food supplies or other basic necessities.  It is these populations that make up the estimated 98,000 Hawaii households that currently receive SNAP benefits.

To reach the BESSD offices in Maui County call on Maui 808-984-3300; on Molokai 808-553-1751; and on Lanai 808-565-7102.  To reach the Hilo BESSD Office call 808-981-7288.

 

Gov. Abercrombie Signs Formal Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration asking for federal assistance to help pay for damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle, which impacted Hawaii from Aug. 7 to 9, 2014.

Shaka For HELCOThe request seeks Individual Assistance for Hawaii County. Individual Assistance would make additional funding, loans and services available to affected residents.

For updates on Iselle recovery efforts, visit the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency website at: scd.hawaii.gov

Medical Grants Available for Children in Hawaii

The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) is seeking grant applications from families in need of financial assistance to help pay for their child’s health care treatments, services or equipment not covered, or not fully covered, by their commercial health insurance plan or TRICARE.

Qualifying families can receive up to $5,000 per grant with a lifetime maximum of $10,000 per child to help pay for medical services and equipment such as physical, occupational and speech therapy, counseling services, surgeries, prescriptions, wheelchairs, orthotics, eyeglasses and hearing aids.

To be eligible for a grant, children must be 16 years of age or younger. Families must meet economic guidelines, reside in the United States and have TRICARE or a commercial health insurance plan. Grants are available for medical expenses families have incurred 60 days prior to the date of application as well as for ongoing and future medical needs. Parents or legal guardians may apply for grants at www.UHCCF.org, and there is no application deadline.

In 2013, UHCCF awarded more than 1,700 medical grants, worth $5.6 million, to children and their families across the United States for treatments associated with medical conditions such as cancer, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hearing loss, autism, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy.

UHCCF was founded in 1999. Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded more than 7,500 medical grants, totaling more than $23 million, to children and their families across the United States.

“Thousands of children struggle every day for something many of us take for granted – our health. That reality is the driving force behind UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation’s mission to help families in need access medical care that will improve their child’s health. Our medical grants have already helped thousands of children in need, and we are looking to help thousands’ more children in the future,” said David Heywood, president, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Hawaii.

New children’s book to raise funds

To help raise funds for its child medical grant program, UHCCF has published a new children’s book, “Oliver & Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars” – the second book in the Oliver & Hope series.

Oliver

The new 32-page hand-illustrated book continues the story of Oliver the lovable bear and Hope the spirited butterfly as they join their friends Millie the barn owl and Chewie the English bulldog for their first camping trip. The night is filled with amazing discoveries and silly games that make the shadows a little less scary and the adventure a lot more fun. The book follows last year’s award-winning book, “Oliver & Hope’s Amusing Adventure.”

Both “Oliver & Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars” and “Oliver & Hope’s Amusing Adventure” are available on Amazon.com for $13.95 each. The first 250 people who purchase an “Oliver & Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars” book will receive a Chewie the English bulldog plush toy, to be shipped separately.

Proceeds from UHCCF products, including the Oliver & Hope books, help fund UHCCF grants that help families pay for children’s medical expenses not covered, or not fully covered, by commercial insurance. Also, organizations and private donors can make tax-deductible donations to UHCCF at www.UHCCF.org. Donations are used for grants to help children and families in the region in which they are received.

Both books were written and illustrated by Meg Cadts and Samantha Fitch. Meg Cadts is the pen name for the UHCCF team of writers and contributors.

The Oliver and Hope characters also host their own page on the UHCCF website, Oliver & Hope’s Clubhouse (www.UHCCF.org/oliverandhope), which features free audiobook versions of the books, activities and games.

For more information on UHCCF and to visit the clubhouse, visit www.UHCCF.org.