• Follow on Facebook

  • puako-general-store
  • air-tour-kauai
  • what-to-do-media
  • RSS W2DM

  • Cheneviere Couture
  • PKF Document Shredding
  • Arnotts Mauna Kea Tours
  • World Botanical Garden
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Hilton Luau
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • Say When

    January 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « Dec    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • When

  • RSS Pulpconnection

Governor Ige Announces Increases in Shelter Beds Through New State Contracts

Gov. David Ige announced the state Department of Human Services will award contracts to 33 homeless shelters. Funding will total $13,000,000 for 12 months. The new contracts require shelters to focus on outcome measures such as the number of people they will permanently house over the coming year.

Photo by Sean King

The results of the competitive bids show a net increase in state-funded homeless shelter beds, with 3,761 for the next year vs. 3,577 for last year. Additionally, the shelters are proposing to double the number of people they place in permanent housing from approximately 3,000 to 6,200.

“This is about more than increasing shelter beds,” said Gov. Ige. “It’s about increasing results. For the same taxpayer investment as last year, we’re doubling the number of people getting housed. We are finding better solutions, getting better efficiency, and creating better cooperation.”

The Request for Bids (RFP) process was open to all shelters statewide and follows state law which requires shelters to increase accountability, privacy, and safety for residents while moving people more quickly into permanent housing. In accordance with the state procurement process, shelters were encouraged to ask questions about the RFPs and received written answers. Revisions were made to the RFP based on their feedback. A written record can be found on the state’s procurement office website at:

http://gpcprod.spo.hawaii.gov/spo2/health/rfp103f/detail.php?id=MTI1Mw==&hs=e53b7f8e4919fbec14cb2c182ab6b247.

Contracts will be effective as of Feb. 1, 2017. All state-funded shelters will receive training by the Department of Human Service’s Homeless Programs Office.

Shelter RFP Award Listing

Bed Count Projections

Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light to Seek More Renewable Energy for Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Hawaii Island

Consistent with the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ updated energy action plans, Maui Electric Company and Hawaii Electric Light Company has asked the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to start the process to seek new renewable energy generation on Maui, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Hawaii Island. To ensure customers benefit from these projects as soon as possible, this effort is targeting projects that can be in service by the end of 2020.

The energy plan update, submitted to the PUC on Dec. 23, 2016, envisions achieving 100 percent renewable energy on Molokai by 2020, Lānaʻi by 2030, and Maui and Hawaii Island by 2040.

Following established regulatory rules, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light are asking the PUC to open dockets to facilitate issuing formal requests for proposals (RFPs) for new renewable energy projects and to appoint an independent observer (IO) to oversee the procurement process. A separate RFP would be issued for each island. Appointing an independent observer early in the process would allow the collaborative design of the RFPs and associated technical, operational, and performance requirements for renewable energy proposals. Once the PUC approves the RFP design, the companies will release the RFPs that will provide details to prospective bidders on the renewable energy being sought for each island.

“On Hawaii Island, nearly 50 percent of our energy is produced from renewable sources,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light president. “We’ll continue to pursue projects that are clean, sustainable, reliable, and can result in lower bills for our customers.”

Maui Island is currently at more than 35 percent renewable energy.

“While our energy plans are still under review, we need to move forward in seeking more renewable energy for the benefit of our customers,” said Sharon Suzuki, Maui Electric president. “It’s critical that we move quickly in seeking potential projects that can help meet our state’s clean energy milestones.”

Hawaiian Electric is awaiting approval from the PUC for a similar request for Oahu submitted in June 2016.

Hawaii Representative Sponsors $15 Minimum Wage Bill

State Representative Kaniela Ing (D-South Maui), is sponsoring legislation to increase Hawaii’s minimum wage to $15 by 2019 and $22 by 2022. The bill will also tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index and eliminates the exemption for tipped employees. Ing says the bill will be the nation’s most progressive “living wage” law, and encompasses the spirit of the grassroots Fight for $15 movement.

“Hawaii is the most expensive state in the nation. Other high cost of living states and cities like Seattle, California, and New York have already passed $15 minimum wage laws,” said Ing. “Working families are struggling, so we as legislators have a moral obligation to act. The evidence shows that raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour is the single most impactful policy for Hawaii’s most vulnerable.”

Ing said that jurisdictions that have already won their “Fight for $15” are seeing businesses thrive, new restaurants open, and reduced income inequality. Hawaii is late to the party, and we need the raise desperately.

“I expect various big-money special interests to oppose the bill, but my hope is that empirical facts, popular opinion, and baseline morality will in prevail in the end,” he said.

For more information please see http://Hawaiifightfor15.com or its Facebook page at http://Facebook.com/fightfor15hawaii.

Gabbard-Cook Reintroduce Bill Encouraging Employers to Hire More Veterans

Today, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Paul Cook (CA-08) introduced the HIRE Vets Act of 2017. This bipartisan bill, which was previously introduced last Congress, passed the House with unanimous support in November 2016, but did not pass the Senate before the end of the year.

The legislation would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program. Specifically, it would create an award program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. Cook and Gabbard designed the program to be self-funded.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a four-tiered system – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum – associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

The program also establishes similar tiered awards for small and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Roughly 500 veterans return to civilian life every single day, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans that have returned home since 9/11. While we’ve taken some important steps to encourage employers to hire more veterans, more than 400,000 veterans across the country are still unemployed today. Through their service, veterans develop unique skills, experiences, and leadership training that make them especially valuable to employers. The HIRE Vets Act incentivizes employers to hire veterans, and recognizes employers that provide a supportive work environment to retain veteran employees. I encourage our colleagues to join us in passing this bill unanimously again to move this support for our veterans and employers forward.”

Rep. Paul Cook said, “The HIRE Vets Act is an opportunity for Americans to see which companies truly live up to the employment promises they make to veterans. Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment, and this bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a twice-deployed combat veteran and member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. She continues to serve as a Major in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

Hawaii Minimum Wage Increasing on January 1, 2017

The Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (DLIR) today announced that per Act 82, Session Laws of Hawaii (2014), the minimum wage for most employers will increase to $9.25 per hour beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. This is third rise in the minimum wage since 2015: from $7.25 to $7.75 on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2016. The next scheduled raise is Jan. 1, 2018 when it will increase to $10.10. Previously, the minimum wage had stayed the same for eight years ($7.25 Jan. 1, 2007—Jan. 1, 2015).

Hawaii’s unemployment rate was 3.0% in November while the record labor force included 696,850.

For more information about minimum wage, please visit: http://labor.hawaii.gov/wsd/minimum-wage/

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

Hawaiian Electric Companies Submit Updated Energy Plans

Companies will reach 48% renewable electricity by 2020, including 100% renewable on Moloka’i

The Hawaiian Electric Companies today outlined a detailed plan charting the near-term actions that will lead to the use of renewable resources to meet 100 percent of Hawai’i’s power generation needs by 2045.

The Power Supply Improvement Plan Update filed with the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission describes the work that will form the foundation to meet or exceed the state’s renewable energy milestones, which are the most ambitious in the country.

The updated plan describes greater and faster expansion of the companies’ renewable energy portfolio than in the plan filed in April 2016 and emphasizes work that is in progress or planned over the next five years on each of the five islands the Hawaiian Electric Companies serve.

It also stresses the need to remain flexible so that decisions made today don’t crowd out future technological advances in power generation, distribution and storage.

The companies forecast that they will exceed the state’s renewable energy milestones in 2020 and can exceed the milestones in 2030 and 2040 by attaining a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of:

  • 48 percent by the end of 2020; the mandated goal is 30 percent
  • At least 72 percent by the end of 2030; the mandated goal is 40 percent
  • At least 100 percent by the end of 2040; the mandated goal is 70 percent. This would be five years ahead of the 2045 deadline to reach the goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

The plan estimates that the RPS after 2030 could exceed 100 percent when taking into account customers’ generation of electricity for their own use as well as the anticipated widespread use of battery storage.

In the near-term, using a proposed mix of solar, wind, battery storage and biofuels, the plan aims to achieve an RPS of 100 percent on Moloka’i by 2020.

By 2020, Hawai’i Island is forecast to reach an RPS of 80 percent, Maui 63 percent, Lānaʻi 59 percent and O’ahu 40 percent.

The plan includes the continued growth of private rooftop solar and describes the work to expand and upgrade grid infrastructure and to use the newest generations of inverters, control systems and energy storage to help reliably integrate an estimated total of 165,000 private systems by 2030, more than double today’s total of 79,000. Hawaiian Electric already has the highest percentage of customers using rooftop solar of any utility in the U.S. and customer-sited storage is seen as a key contributor to the growth of the renewable portfolio on every island.

In addition, the plan forecasts the addition of 360 megawatts of grid‑scale solar, 157 megawatts of grid‑scale wind and 115 megawatts from programs known as Demand Response, which can shift customer use of electricity to times when more renewable energy is available, potentially making room to add even more renewable resources.

“The energy transformation must include everyone” is one of seven principles that the Hawaiian Electric Companies developed to broadly help define the mission of the power supply improvement plan. The need to balance the pursuit of renewable energy with price stability and affordability for customers is described throughout the plan. Investments in grid infrastructure, as well as rising oil prices, are expected to increase the typical residential bill over the next several years, with gradually declining bills forecast to start in the mid-2020s.

A change from the document filed in April is that this update does not include the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to generate power in the near-term. While LNG remains a potential lower-cost bridge fuel to be evaluated, the companies’ priority is to continue replacing fossil fuel generation with renewables over the next five years as federal tax incentives for renewables begin to phase out.

An interisland cable is not in the near-term plan, which states that its costs and benefits should continue to be evaluated.

The plan also provides a solid foundation for the electrification of transportation, reducing the use of fossil fuels for ground transportation. For example, charging electric vehicles during the day when renewable energy is abundant could create an additional demand for renewables.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are exploring additional actions and resources beyond those described in the plan. For example, working with land owners and developers, planners are exploring pumped storage hydropower, run-of-the-river hydropower, hydrogen and wave energy as potential additions. As part of this ongoing exploration, the companies recently issued a Request for Information to land owners who may be interested in teaming with a developer to host a renewable energy project.

“We have a solid plan that accelerates our progress to get to 100 percent renewable energy. We can do this,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO.  “We want to work with parties from all segments of our community — government, business, community, and environmental groups – to refine the plans for Hawai’i’s energy future.”

The companies followed an open, collaborative process to develop these plans, participating in multiple stakeholder workshops and technical conferences to share information and ideas. Planners ran and analyzed multiple scenarios to balance the desires for reliability, affordability and sustainability.

Among the stakeholders who provided input into the plan are the state Consumer Advocate; Ulupono Initiative; Blue Planet Foundation; Hawai’i Gas; Paniolo Power on Hawai’i Island and the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Additional independent technical analysis was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and the Electric Power Research Institute.

Local Foods Sales Reach $84.4 Million in Hawaii

Hawaii local food production sales reached $84.4 million, according to the 2015 Local Foods Marketing Practices Survey report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Of the $84.4 million in total local food sales in Hawaii, $69.5 million were from produce such as vegetables, nuts and fruit, while $14.9 million were from value-added products such as jams, meat, and cheese.

Most farms selling directly to consumers sold through outlets such as farmers markets and on-farm stores. Value of sales directly to consumers in Hawaii, including value-added products, was $22.8 million. The remainder of local food produce and value-added products were sold to supermarkets, restaurants, institutions, and wholesalers.

There were 2,423 operations involved in the sales of local foods in the state, representing 3,512 farm operators. Of those operators, 1,287 were female operators.

This report contains the results of the first Local Foods Marketing Practices Survey conducted. The Local Foods Marketing Practices Survey is part of the larger Census of Agriculture program. It is the first survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service to measure the effect of local foods on local economies.

Nationally, the top five states for value of direct food sales were California with $2,869 million, Michigan with $459 million, New York with $441 million, Pennsylvania with $439 million, and Wisconsin at $431 million.

Access the full Local Foods Marketing Practices dataset at NASS’s Quick Stats database: https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/Online_Resources/Local_Food/index.php

Hawaii State Now Accepting Grants-in-Aid Applications for 2017

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Jill Tokuda and House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke announced that qualified nonprofit and other organizations are able to apply for State Grants-in-Aid (GIA) that may become available and will be under consideration during the 2017 Regular Session.

Previous grants were appropriated to nonprofit and other organizations for various public purposes that were recognized as priorities and seen as complimentary to state government functions, including health, educational, workforce development, and social services and cultural and historical activities.

In order to allow the Legislature time to thoroughly review applications, the deadline to submit grant applications will be 4:30 p.m. on January 20, 2017.  Last year, the Legislature awarded nearly $37 million in grants to various organizations across the state.

Information on the GIA process is available on the Legislature’s website (www.capitol.hawaii.gov). For any questions, please contact the Ways and Means Committee at 808-586-6800 or the Finance Committee at 808-586-6200.

Hawaii to Receive More Than $11 Million to Help the Homeless

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that Hawai‘i will receive 45 Continuum of Care (CoC) grants for 10 state, local and non-profit agencies totaling $11,519,682 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for fiscal year 2016.

“Homelessness is an urgent problem, and these funds will help homeless individuals and families get back on their feet and find a place to live,” said Senator Schatz. “As we work to address homelessness in Hawai‘i, I will continue to work with officials at HUD and elsewhere to make sure we receive our fair share of federal funding.”  

Click to view individual grant awards

The state received an increase of nearly $150,000 in CoC grants in FY2016 compared to last year.  The CoC Program promotes planning and strategic use of federal resources to address homelessness in communities across the country. CoC grants support non-profits, as well as state and local governments in rehousing homeless individuals and families, and support self-sufficiency among homeless individuals and families.

Hawaii Governor’s Budget Proposal Highlights Education, Housing/Homelessness, Sustainability

Gov. David Ige today submitted his executive biennium budget to the State Legislature. The package highlights his top budget priorities for the next two years, including education, homelessness and affordable housing, and Sustainable Hawai‘i initiatives.

Click to view

OPERATING BUDGET:

The operating budget proposal includes $14.2 billion (all revenue sources) for FY 2018, an increase of four percent and $14.3 billion (all revenue sources), an increase of 5 percent for FY 2019.

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS BUDGET:

The capital improvements proposal includes $2.3 billion for FY 18 and $781.8 million for FY 19.

“This budget proposal aims to balance our state’s current needs with our investments for the future – providing basic needs for our residents such as affordable housing, quality public schools, primary healthcare and essential social services,” said Gov. Ige.

PRIORITIES:

Education:

The governor’s proposal includes the highest instructional budget allocation ever — $28 million each year to the Weighted Student Formula, $10 million annually for the new Innovation Grant Program and $9 million ($3M in FY 18 and $6M in FY 19) for Early College programs.

Gov. Ige is also proposing $800 million for new schools and classrooms, as well as repair and maintenance of Department of Education campuses, UH campuses and libraries. This includes $61.7 million in FY 18 for heat abatement statewide and $373.6 million in FY 18 to address classroom capacity issues (including $264.7M for new schools).

“Our future begins with our investment in education which is tied to economic growth. It is a top priority. We continue to focus on the classrooms and schools. We continue our push for cooler classrooms. No one is more disappointed than I that we haven’t met our goals due to initial high costs,” Ige said.

Housing and Homelessness:

Gov. Ige is proposing an investment of more than $123.4 million in new housing projects and $59 million for public housing improvements.

For the homelessness effort, the governor is asking for $20.9 million annually for rent subsidies, supportive and outreach services. The legislature appropriated $12 million for homelessness programs in the current fiscal year.

“We have made great strides in collaboration, where all parts of the system are working together toward the same objective of moving people from homelessness to permanent supportive housing,” Gov. Ige said.

Sustainable Hawai‘i:

The budget proposal dedicates more than $30 million in operating funds to agricultural and natural resources and $31 million in CIP funds for sustainability initiatives, including $7.5 million for the Watershed Initiative.

“Our goal is to protect our forests, water and other natural resources while working to double our local food production and grow our economy,” Ige said.

“We hope to work collaboratively with state lawmakers on our budget proposal as we shape the future of our state.”

Featured:

Origo Acquisition Corporation and Aina Le’a, Inc. Agree to Business Combination

Origo Acquisition Corporation (“Origo”) today announced that it has entered into a Merger Agreement with Aina Le’a, Inc., a residential and commercial real estate developer of distinctive master-planned communities in Hawaii. Pursuant to the terms of the Merger Agreement, Origo will merge with and into Aina Le’a Merger Sub, Inc., a newly formed subsidiary of Aina Le’a, and equity holders and warrant holders of Origo will become equity holders and warrant holders of Aina Le’a (the “Business Combination”).

Aina Le’a’s principal development project is a 1,099-acre residential and commercial master planned community called The Villages of Aina Le’a (“The Villages”). Located within the resort area on the Kohala Coast on the west coast of Hawaii’s “Big Island”, The Villages will offer a combination of single family home sites, local family townhouses, luxury townhouses, and estate lots, as well as a retail and commercial center, and golf course with lodge. Sloping elevations of approximately 150-550 feet above sea level will provide approximately 70% of all lots with sweeping ocean views of the Big Island’s famed “Gold Coast.” The development’s close proximity to Queen Kaahumanu Highway offers easy access to top beaches, restaurants, shopping, and the airport. The development plan for The Villages is structured in three phases, with Phase I construction underway. Phase I is comprised of a 61-acre development consisting of townhouse units, luxury villas, and single family lots.

Edward J. Fred, Chief Executive Officer of Origo, commented, “We actively searched for an acquisition target that has the opportunity to provide substantial returns to our investors and we believe that we found the right company in Aina Le’a. Hawaii has been consistently rated as one of the best places on earth to live and visit, combining reliably beautiful weather, active lifestyles, abundant renewable resources such as water and solar energy, and economic opportunity. We believe that Aina Le’a controls some of the most valuable and sought-after land assets in the world in a market that is characterized by a scarcity of new home supply. The Villages has been designed as a full-service international resort community, with more than 70% of the lots offering ocean views. Along with the support of an invested, world-class management team, we have great optimism for the future.”

Robert Wessels, CEO of Aina Le’a, stated, “Becoming a public company is an important chapter in our company’s development, and we expect that having the additional access to the capital markets will enhance our ability to execute our growth plan. In addition to completing The Villages development, we will seek to expand our reach, and diversify our asset base and revenue by investing in new markets that fit our stringent criteria. Our over-arching objective in managing the growth of Aina Le’a is to deliver long-term, sustainable shareholder value while providing some of the most desirable home locations in our industry.”

Under the terms of the Merger Agreement, upon the closing of the Business Combination, each ordinary share of Origo (including any Origo shares otherwise issuable with respect to the rights that were included as part of Origo’s units) will convert into common stock of Aina Le’a at a conversion ratio of 0.6 shares of Aina Le’a for each share of Origo, and each outstanding warrant to acquire ordinary shares of Origo will be exchanged for a warrant to acquire ordinary shares of Aina Le’a, which replacement Aina Le’a shares and warrants will be registered securities. The approximately $32.6 million currently held in Origo’s trust account will be used by Aina Le’a as working capital, less amounts required to fund redemptions by Origo’s public stockholders, if any, and the payment of Origo’s transaction fees and expenses and outstanding Origo loans. Aina Le’a expects to apply to list its common stock and warrants on the Nasdaq Capital Market following the closing of the Business Combination.

Aina Le’a’s board of directors will be expanded to seven directors, and will include two directors from Origo as independent directors. Management of Aina Le’a is not expected to change in connection with the Business Combination.

The Business Combination is subject to the approval of Origo’s stockholders, as well as other closing conditions.

EarlyBird Capital, Inc. is acting as financial advisor to Origo, and Chardan Capital is acting as advisor to Aina Le’a. Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP is acting as legal advisor to Origo, and Greenberg Traurig is acting as legal advisor to Aina Le’a.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Gathering Information on Land Available for Renewable Energy Development

To help accelerate and inform efforts to achieve 100 percent renewable energy, the Hawaiian Electric Companies today launched an effort to gather information about land that may be made available for future renewable energy projects that will benefit all electric customers.

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and the Hawaii Electric Light Company are issuing a Request for Information (RFI) which asks interested landowners to provide information about properties on Oahu, Hawaii island, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai available for utility-scale renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind farms, or for growing biofuel feedstock.

“Land is one of the most important resources to consider in the development of renewable energy projects. By proactively identifying potential sites, we are hoping to make the process of developing renewable energy projects faster and more efficient for both land owners and prospective developers,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric vice president of strategic planning and business development.

To reach 100 percent renewable energy, Hawaii will need a broad mix of renewable energy resources. Continued growth of private rooftop solar energy systems and energy storage will offer customers more options. These resources will be complemented by additional large-scale projects, which will help ensure all customers receive the benefits renewable energy.

Interested parties should submit responses to the RFI by Jan. 27, 2017. For more information, go to www.hawaiianelectric.com/landRFI or email landrfi@hawaiianelectric.com.

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union Donates $23k+ to Hawaii Food Basket

Through the heart-felt efforts of the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union (HCFCU) staff, and the generosity of HCFCU members and local small businesses, more than $23,000 was raised and donated to The Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s Food Bank,  during HCFCU’s annual “Market Days” events.

Top Row: L-R: Back Row: Davelynn Esperanza – HCFCU Kaloko Branch Member Service Specialist, Robyn Naihe – HCFCU Support Services Coordinator, Flora Gomes – HCFCU Senior Dealer Center Officer, Kristy Akao – HCFCU Youth Services Coordinator.
Middle Row: Lorrie Gomes – HCFCU Kailua Branch Senior Teller: Sue Miskowic – HCFCU Administrative Specialist, Jecoliah Pacatang – HCFCU Kailua Branch Teller II.
Front Row: David Miyashita – HCFCU Marketing Coordinator, Rosette Freitas, HCFCU Kealakekua Branch Loan Processor II , En Young – The Food Basket Executive Director, Jason Ayers – HCFCU Asst. Vice President & Loan manager.

Held annually in October at all HCFCU branches, Market Days is a multilevel event during which businesses are invited to sell such items as baked goods, food, clothing, jewelry and home products, donate produce to sell, and provide valuable items for silent auctions. Additionally, HCFCU employees held work lunch fundraisers and sold ribbons to raise additional monies for The Food Basket.  All event proceeds were donated to The Food Basket.

David Miyashita, HCFCU’s Marketing Coordinator, spearheaded the events, which included leading branch and department team captains, supervising the various vendors and activities, and keeping HCFCU’s mission of feeding Hawaii County’s hungry a top priority.

“I am extremely proud of David and the entire HCFCU staff!” said Tricia Buskirk, credit union President and CEO. “Our annual Market Days are successful because our employees are committed to supporting The Food Basket.  Our members, businesses and community have huge hearts and are always there to support our families in need.”

 

The employees of HCFCU collectively nominate and vote on a “Triennial Social Responsibility Partner” to which they focus their Market Day fundraising for three years, making a true difference for the organization.  With their enthusiastic dedication to that one organization during that time, the organization experiences additional supportive hearts and hands, which in turn helps make a true impact for many on Hawaii Island.

This is HCFCU’s second of three years supporting The Food Basket and last year’s Market Days event generated a $20,000 donation.  Answering the need for their critically needed services, The Food Basket just opened a new Kona facility located within the Ulu Wini Housing Project.  Contact info@hawaiifoodbasket.org to learn more about supporting The Food Basket.

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit credit union owned by its over 40,000 member/owners with branches in Honokaa, Kailua-Kona, Kaloko, Kealakekua and Kohala.  In addition to complete checking and savings services, the credit union offers credit cards, auto, mortgage, construction, small business, educational and personal loans; online and mobile banking; investment services and youth programs, and supports numerous Hawaii Island programs and events.  Membership in Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is open to all Hawaii Island residents.

More than 1,000 Enroll in Hawaiian Electric Companies Time-of-Use Rates Program

As of Dec. 2, 1,008 customers had signed up for the Hawaiian Electric Companies new Time-of-Use rates, a program that will charge customers less for power used during the day – when solar energy production is highest – and more at night.

helco-new-logo-2The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) set a limit of 5,000 customers for the program, meaning 20 percent of the total enrollment has already been reached.

Developed under the direction of the PUC, this program provides customers with an opportunity to save money if they shift their energy use to daytime hours. For example, customers who do laundry, cook, or heat water during the day may be able to save. Customers who charge electric vehicles or energy storage systems in the day may also benefit.

The amount of savings, if any, will depend on how much a customer can shift the use of electricity from night to day. As a result, this program may not fit the needs of all customers.

As directed by the PUC, this program is voluntary and will run for two years. The rates are only available to residential customers.

Participating customers will receive information on their bills that compares their costs under this program and the standard residential rate for electricity. Customers may opt out of the program if they feel it isn’t the right fit for them.

To enroll or for more information, go to www.hawaiianelectric.com/timeofuse or call:

  • Oahu: (808) 548-7311
  • Maui: (808) 871-9777
  • Molokai and Lanai: 1-877-871-8461
  • Hilo: (808) 969-6999
  • Kona: (808) 329-3584
  • Waimea: (808) 885-4605

Hawaii County Entrepreneurship Program Accepting Applications

entreThe County of Hawai‘i Business Resource Center, a program of the Department of Research and Development, is accepting applications to the second cohort of its Hawai‘i County Entrepreneurship Program which begins on January 6, 2017. This free program is part of the County’s ongoing efforts to promote and support local economic development.

Applications will be accepted on a first-come-first served basis for up to 25 people. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, December 28, 2016. Anyone interested in applying can download complete application materials at the Department’s website http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/research-and-development/ or by picking up a copy in either of the Department’s Hilo and Kailua-Kona offices.

Accepted applicants are expected to: participate in three four- to six-hour workshops which will be held on three Saturdays in Hilo and Kailua-Kona; participate in weekly online learning sessions; and to develop a business plan concept during the course of the three-month program. Additional requirements can be found in the program materials posted on the R&D website.

The Hawai‘i County Entrepreneurship Program will link participants to leaders from Hawaii County’s business community, financial institutions, government agencies, and business development organizations to provide guidance and valuable connections to resources that will help them build their business plan. This program will help participants strengthen their entrepreneurial skills and create opportunities for their future.

If you have any questions, please contact Beth Dykstra at (808) 961-8035 or Elizabeth.Dykstra@hawaiicounty.gov

Hu Honua Bioenergy Files Federal Complaint

Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC, a baseload 24/7 biomass electric plant on the Hamakua Coast on Hawaii Island, filed a civil antitrust complaint in federal court against Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawaii Electric Light Co., NextEra Energy Resources, and Hamakua Energy Partners, Wednesday (Nov. 30, 2016).

hu-honua

Hu Honua had a Public Utilities Commission-approved power purchase agreement with Hawaii Electric Light, which was unlawfully terminated as a result of actions by the defendants.

“Hu Honua regrets that the matter has come to this,” said Harold Robinson IV, president of Island BioEnergy, a majority owner of Hu Honua, “we’d rather have a power plant than a lawsuit. For almost two years we have unsuccessfully attempted to obtain Hawaiian Electric Light’s agreement to our reasonable requests to extend two milestone dates. Hawaiian Electric Light’s refusal to provide these extensions has left us with no recourse but to file suit to recover our substantial damages of $120 million that was invested in our 50 percent complete biomass power plant and our lost profits of $435 million.”

The complaint was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court, Hawaii District, by the legal teams of Bronster Fujichaku Robbins of Honolulu and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP of San Francisco.

The detailed allegations and the project’s complex history are outlined in the complaint, which alleges violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act and Hawaii unfair competition laws, as well as breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, and seeks to recover actual and treble damages. Hu Honua asks for a jury trial.

Robinson noted that “the concerted effort to monopolize electricity generated on the Big Island has not only blocked the state’s progress toward the achievement of its energy self-sufficiency mandates set by Hawaii Law, but also stunted the creation of almost 200 local jobs at the facility, in agriculture and ancillary services.”

Kona International Airport to Resume International Flights

Gov. David Y. Ige and the United States Customs and Border Protection announced the re-establishment of a Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility at the Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA). The inaugural international flight from Kona to Tokyo, Japan is scheduled to depart on Dec. 20, 2016. The flight from Tokyo to Kona is scheduled to arrive at the Kona International Airport on Dec. 21, 2016.

ige-announcement“The resumption of international flights to Kona will have a wide-ranging positive impact on Hawai‘i Island and the state as a whole by boosting tourism spending, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars for our economy,” said Gov. David Y. Ige. “I especially thank our partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for working with us to achieve this goal. This was a top priority for my administration and I am pleased that we were able to make the Federal Inspection Service facility in Kona a reality.”

“In fulfilling our important role protecting the border and fostering lawful travel, CBP relies on strong partnerships with stakeholders. This is why we are especially grateful for the commitment of Governor Ige and the people of Hawai‘i to providing adequate airport inspection facilities,” said Brian Humphrey, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, director, field operations. “In equal good faith, CBP is committed to providing a welcoming experience to passengers in Kona while we simultaneously protect America.”

The new FIS will benefit Hawai‘i in several ways. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation estimates new international flights to Kona will result in more than $7 million in annual projected tax benefits. International visitors will also spend tens of millions of dollars at local businesses and attractions, further boosting the economy and generating jobs. Hawai‘i has seen the numbers of international travelers increase by more than one million passengers, or nearly 60 percent, since the economic downturn in 2009. The trend in international passenger arrivals in Hawai‘i is expected to continue to grow, enhancing the need for a second airport to accept flights from international destinations.

The secondary international point of entry in Kona will ease congestion at the Honolulu International Airport, especially during daily peak hours and busy travel seasons. The FIS will improve health and safety by increasing resiliency in an emergency. Should an unforeseen incident occur in Honolulu, international flights would still be able to land safely in Kona. Currently, Honolulu is the only landing option in the state for international flights.

The United States Department of Transportation approved Hawaiian Airlines’ request to fly non-stop international flights between Kona and Haneda International Airport in Tokyo beginning in December.

“We look forward to welcoming our Tokyo guests with our authentic Hawaiian hospitality as they enjoy the convenience of our direct flights to the spectacular Kona coast,” said Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are pleased to return international flights to the Big Island and thankful to all of our government, business and community partners for their support of our newest route.”

Several improvements are being made to the international arrivals section at KOA, including the installation of security cameras and motion sensors, an upgraded access control system, 10 Automated Passport Control kiosks to process incoming international passengers quickly and efficiently, and refurbished restrooms.

“After multiple meetings and on-site visits, we finally made it across the finish line,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “I thank CBP and the Obama Administration for recognizing the potential of our visitor industry and for working with the State of Hawaii, the people of Kona, and many others in state government and the hospitality industry to finally get this done.”

“After six years of working closely with federal and state officials, and community partners to reestablish direct international flights to Kona International Airport, today’s announcement is good news for Hawai‘i’s tourism industry and the Hawai‘i Island economy. In particular, I want to acknowledge the efforts of Customs and Border Protection to work with the state on the Federal Inspection Service facility that made this a reality,” said Sen. Mazie K. Hirono.

“Today’s announcement not only positively impacts our tourism-based economy, it addresses a critical safety and security need for our state by providing a secondary international port in case of emergency,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “This project has been a priority of mine, and became a reality through many years of hard work by community leaders, local businesses, and county, state, and Federal government.  I especially want to thank HDOT and CBP for their leadership and upholding their commitment to reopening international travel to Kona.”

Regularly scheduled international flights to Kona began in 1996 and were discontinued in October 2010.

Big Island Police Warning About Increase in Counterfeit Money in Circulation

Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about an increase in counterfeit money in circulation. Kona police officers have been responding to numerous calls about fake $100 bills. The phony money looks, feels and appears to be real even after using the test pen, so police advise businesses and individuals to look for security features on the bank note itself.

c-note

  • Locate and read the plastic embedded security thread. It should say “USA” and the bill’s denomination.
  • Use an ultra-violet light to detect the thread glow color. The $5 dollar bill should glow blue, the $10 bill should glow orange, the $20 bill should glow green and the $50 bill should glow yellow. In older versions, the $100 bill should glow pink, while the current $100 bill has a 3-D ribbon.
  • Hold the bill up to a light to check for a watermark.
  • Tilt the bill to examine the color-shifting ink.
  • With a magnifying glass, locate and examine the micro-printing.

More information on detecting counterfeit money and security features can be found at www.uscurrency.gov.

Citizens and businesses are reminded to treat the fake bill as evidence by placing it into an envelope and to call the police immediately.

Hawaii County Celebrates New Micro Units to Address Chronically Homeless

Representatives from social service agencies joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Council Chair Dru Mamo Kanuha today for a ceremony to dedicate Hale Kīkaha, the County of Hawaiʻi’s newest housing project with 23 micro units to address a critical need in Kailua-Kona, particularly amongst the chronically homeless.

micro-unitsNumbers of homeless are increasing statewide. The January 2016 point-in-time count showed nearly 1,400 homeless people on Hawaiʻi Island, an increase of 10% from 2015. Of those people, about 500 were unsheltered in West Hawaiʻi.

“Our families who are homeless need a sense that they have a chance. They can believe that because they can sleep in a clean, safe place,” Mayor Kenoi said. “We’re creating a puʻuhonua, a safe haven, a place of refuge where people can walk around with dignity and respect.”

The $2.5 million Hale Kīkaha is on Pāwai Place in Kailua-Kona’s industrial area, adjacent to the area’s emergency homeless shelter. Hale Kīkaha will provide on-site wraparound social services to residents to increase their chances of success.

Kīkaha means to soar, and the name Hale Kīkaha represents the County’s hope for and commitment to the residents that will call the project home. Design and engineering work was done in-house. General contractor Kona-Kaʻū Construction and a number of sub-contractors completed the project in nine months.

The County recognizes that housing is a primary need, especially in West Hawaiʻi. The County has worked to address homelessness through the nationally recognized best practice Housing First model with a number of projects during Mayor Kenoi’s administration.

West Hawaii Emergency Shelter

West Hawaii Emergency Shelter

Recognizing the most immediate need, the County constructed the $1.8 million, 31-bed West Hawaiʻi Emergency Shelter and opened it in November 2010.

The Homes of Ulu Wini provides 96 units for families, a mix of transitional housing and affordable rentals for families with low-moderate income, or no higher than 80% of the area median income. Construction of the $23.7 million project’s phases were completed throughout Mayor Kenoi’s administration.

The Homes at Ulu Wini.

The Homes at Ulu Wini.

Kamakoa Nui offers affordable home ownership to working families along the Kohala Coast. The Kenoi administration restarted a previous attempt to build workforce housing in Waikoloa Village, and the first families were welcomed into their homes in 2013. To date, all 91 lots at Kamakoa Nui have been sold and 69 homes have been built. Construction continues on the remaining homes, which include six participants in a self-help housing program by Habitat for Humanity. Kamakoa Nui offers fee-simple home ownership to families between 100-140% of the area median income.

A home at Kamakoa Nui.

A home at Kamakoa Nui

In addition to County-built housing, the Office of Housing & Community Development administers programs to assist tenants renting existing housing. Over 2,000 people and families receive over $14 million in assistance every year through Tenant-Based Rental Assistance and the Housing Choice Voucher programs.

“We are measured not by what we do for those who have the most, we are measured by what we do for those who have the least,” Mayor Kenoi said.

House Passes Gabbard-Cook Bill Encouraging Employers to Hire More Veterans

The HIRE Vets Act (H.R.3286), introduced by Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Paul Cook (CA-08), unanimously passed the House today. This bipartisan bill would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program. Specifically, it would create a medallion program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. This bill will now move to the Senate.

gabbard-vet-bill-passRoughly 500 veterans return to civilian life every single day, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans that have returned home since 9/11. While we’ve taken some important steps to encourage employers to hire more veterans, more than 400,000 veterans across the country are still unemployed today,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Through their service, veterans develop unique skills, experiences, and leadership training that make them especially valuable to employers. The HIRE Vets Act incentivizes employers to hire veterans, and recognizes employers that provide a supportive work environment to retain veteran employees.”

Background: The bipartisan HIRE Vets Act would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and efficient program. Specifically, it would create an awards program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. Cook and Gabbard designed the program to be self-funded.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a four-tiered system – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum – associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

The program also establishes similar tiered awards for small and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.