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First Hawaii Electric Light Rate Increase in 6 years Approved

Interim 3.4% increase supports continued renewable energy progress

Hilo, Hawaii, Aug. 22, 2017 – The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has issued an interim decision approving Hawaii Electric Light Company’s first base-rate increase in more than six years.

The approved interim rate will increase the typical Hawaii Island monthly residential bill for 500 kilowatt hours by $4.98. Over the last 12 months, the average monthly residential bill has been $162.58. The 3.4 percent increase – $9.9 million in annual revenue – will help pay for capital improvements including grid upgrades and extensive vegetation management work that is credited with reducing outages and their duration during storms.

Since 2014, Hawaii Electric Light has spent more than $14 million on tree trimming and removal, concentrating on areas where non-native albizia trees threaten utility equipment and highways.

Today’s interim decision is consistent with a settlement reached last month between Hawaii Electric Light and the Hawaii Division of Consumer Advocacy. The settlement reduced by nearly half the original request for a 6.5 percent increase in revenue.

The effective date of the new rate will be determined by the commission.

An interim decision is one step in the ratemaking process. The PUC will continue to review the request and will later issue a final decision. If a lower final amount is approved, the difference will be refunded to customers with interest. If a higher amount is approved, the increase will only be applied going forward from the time it is approved, not retroactively.

Hawaii Electric Light leads the state in the use of renewable resources to generate electricity, relying on a diverse portfolio of wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower. Since 2010, the company has increased the use of renewables from 35 percent to 57 percent as of June 2017.

There are several programs available that provide financial assistance for those who are in need, including the Hawaii Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP), Ohana Energy Gift Program, and the Special Medical Needs Program. The Time-of-Use program, which offers lower rates during the daytime hours, can help you save money if you’re flexible on when you use energy. Go to www.hawaiielectriclight.com for more information.

Editors note – Hawaii as a state has always been one of the most expensive states for electricity:

Traffic Transitioning to Makai Portion of Queen Kaahumanu Highway Beginning Tomorrow

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) announces the transition of vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic to the newly paved Makai section of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway. Two-way traffic will be shifted between Hina Lani Street and a point north of Keahole Airport Road from the existing Mauka roadway to the new Makai portion of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday, August 23, 2017. The shift in traffic is expected to be completed at approximately 6 a.m. Thursday, August 24, 2017, weather permitting.

Traffic control measures, including flaggers and police officers, will be onsite to direct traffic during the transition.

HDOT thanks the public for their patience as we continue the work on the Queen Kaahumanu Highway Widening, Phase 2 and informs road users that the existing Mauka portion of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway between Keahole Airport Road and Hulikoa Drive will be closed following the traffic shift.

HDOT and all the Project Team members are committed to the completion of this project and anticipate that the Queen Kaahumanu Highway Widening, Phase 2 will be substantially complete in August 2018. The latest progress payment percentage as of July 26, 2017, was 67 percent.

For the latest information on this project, please visit http://buildqueenk.com

Coffee With a Cop Day

Today (August 22), from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. South Hilo Community Police Officers partnered with Zippy’s Restaurant in Hilo for Coffee with a Cop. The event allows members of the public to speak to officers in a relaxed setting, building partnerships between law enforcement and the community. Throughout the morning officers spoke to over 20 citizens on a variety of topics.

Pictured are officers with the South Hilo Community Police Unit, Neighborhood Watch Liaison-Bobbye St. Ambrogio, along with Zippy’s employees at Zippy’s Restaurant.

The 2nd Annual National Coffee with a Cop Day is (October 4). Officers with the Hawaiʻi Police Department will be at the Puainako Starbucks in Hilo from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. that day.

Senator Lorraine Inouye’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

 

Senator Lorraine Inouye

Aloha Damon,

Thank you for your email.

Although there are plans to go into Special Session, we have not gotten official word from the Leadership of both Houses, specifically, the President of the State Senate and the Speaker of the House, about whether we will convene and the dates. The last week in August has been targeted but no word as of today.

Hence, there Is no draft bill to reference, however there is a federal deadline such that your questions are timely and relevant and I am happy to respond to your questions:

Question 1: Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?

My answer is absolutely NO. The rail project is on O’ahu, and the initial financial plan the Legislature approved 10 years ago was to allow the City and County of Honolulu to increase the GET by ½% specifically for the purposes of building an elevated rail system.

Ten years ago, as Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I was one of the Senate negotiators and I supported the original bill for a 1% increase. However, during the course of the hearings, the Oahu Senators and State House of Representatives did not support it and ended up with the final ½%. Had we stayed with the 1%, we would not be in this position today.

As my District 4 constituents know, there is now a proposal under consideration to have the neighbor islands assist with rescuing Oahu on their shortfall by using – or more accurately, absconding – some of the Transient Accommodation Tax generated by Hawaii Island hotels. I absolutely cannot support this.

I have been in my district the last several days and all of those we have spoken to, and also many emails that I’ve received are not in support of paying into the rail shortfall. I have also circulated a poll and it is resoundingly opposed to this. My constituents have shared widely differing reasons for opposing use of neighbor island-generated TAT for rail on Oahu, and I agree with many of their reasons. Bottom line: it is not fair or equitable. The people of Hawaii County are already shouldering a recent increase in taxes – both property and fuel taxes. I will support my constituents first and foremost and those outside of my district on Hawaii Island and oppose such a proposal.

Question 2: Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?

My answer is YES. For the sake of my constituents, I must reiterate that this 0.5% GET Surcharge would apply only to Oahu, not the neighbor islands. I would support it but must also note that this proposed 6-year extension would not fully fund the shortfall. My preference is to support the City and County of Honolulu’s and the rail authority’s request to extend the Surcharge for an additional 10 years – to cover the shortfall – thereby not touching the Transient Accommodations Tax. I must add however, that even a 10-year GET Surcharge extension for Oahu is problematic because it would primarily be used for building the rail.
What about operational and maintenance costs going forward? They are not in the equation. This is why the County’s original request was to extend the GET Surcharge in perpetuity. Bottom line, this option, while it would address federal government funding requirements in the short term, it really amounts to kicking the can down the road for the next generation to resolve. This is sad.

Question 3: Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?

My answer is YES. I have shared a recommendation to allow the City and County of Honolulu the option to raise an additional 1% with Legislative leadership. I also believe such an increase may have to go for several more years as a 2-year extension may not fully fund the shortfall.

Thank you, Damon, for helping the people of Hawaii, especially neighbor islanders, understand what’s at stake and have their voices heard.

Sincerely, Lorraine R. Inouye
Senator, District 4 (Hawai’i Island – North Hilo-Hamakua-Waimea-Kohala-Waikoloa-North Kona)

Short-Lived Lava Falls at Kamokuna Ocean Entry

On Saturday, August 19 at 04:10 HST a breakout that started 120 m (394 ft) up-slope of the ocean entry, began to spill over the sea cliff and onto the delta.

The lava fall was located to the west of the ramp (tubed-over firehose), and produced a small ‘a‘ā flow on the western portion of the delta. This breakout was short-lived and appeared to have died by 1:30 pm HST, lasting about 9.5 hours. The photo pictured above was taken at 6:40 am HST, showing the lava fall and some faint activity of the ‘a‘ā flows on the far side of the delta. Many cracks remain and continue to widen on the delta, although they are more difficult to see in the early morning light.

At 9:35 pm HST on August 19, there was a large littoral explosion near the front of the delta.

Another smaller explosion was seen 5 minutes later. These explosions are typically caused by mixing of cool sea water and hot lava. The August 19 explosions were not followed by obvious delta subsidence or collapse, something we have seen in the past.

Silver Anniversary of Hawaii’s Woodshow

Celebrating the Silver Anniversary of Hawaii’s Woodshow will be a highlight for all wood art enthusiasts. The exhibition is free and open to the public and will run September 23 through October 8, 2017, Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am until 5 pm at the Honolulu Museum of Art School at Linekona.

In celebration of Hawaii’s Woodshow 25th anniversary, HFIA is launching the first annual Innovation + Imagination (I²) Challenge. This fun, competitive division provides participating students with a mixed bundle of 10 board feet of locally-grown woods to construct either a wall-hung or free-standing piece. Student entries will be on display at this year’s Hawaii’s Woodshow.

Voyaging Table by Tai Lake. Photo: Brad Goda 2016

“I² is a creative way to engage students and get them excited about working with wood and creating wonderful pieces,” said Marian Yasuda, longtime coordinator of Hawaii’s Woodshow. “We are really looking forward to imaginative and inspired art pieces.”

Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) awarded HFIA $7,000 through the Community Enrichment Program (CEP) for Hawaii’s Woodshow™ Silver Anniversary exhibition. The CEP Program fosters community-based tourism projects to improve and enrich Hawaii’s product offerings. CEP supports community-based projects that provide unique, authentic and highly-valued visitor experiences and represents activities that are developed by our community, for our com. munity, and are things the community is willing to and wants to share with our visitors.

Hawai’i Craftsmen (HC) awarded HFIA $250 through their Strategic Partnership Program (SPP) for the Masters Award of Distinction for the 2017 Hawaii’s Woodshow. In addition, Hawai’i Craftsmen is providing a free one year membership to two Woodshow participants chosen by the jurors. The goals of the SPP, marking Hawai’i Craftsmen’s 50th anniversary, are to support Hawaii craft organizations’ projects to add value to those activities, strengthen Hawai’i Craftsmen’s relationships with those partners, expand workshop and exhibition opportunities for their members, and build awareness of and membership in Hawai’i Craftsmen.

Mango Concert Ukulele by David Gomes. Photo: Brad Goda 2016

The exhibition brings attention to artisans using Hawai’i-grown tree species as well as the importance of sustainable forest management. Hawaii’s Woodshow helps HFIA tell the story of Hawaii’s forests, conservation and sustainability by limiting the types of wood allowed. Woodshow entries are created from interesting and beautiful Hawai’i grown woods, especially non-native species that are available but underutilized.

HFIA is honored to have three distinguished artists who have graciously volunteered to jury this year’s entries: Mark Sfirri, who runs the Fine Woodworking Program at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania; John Gonczar who has been designing and building fine furniture for more than 30 years; and Noe Tanigawa who works primarily in encaustic (wax) and gold leaf or in wax and oil on lutrador. In addition to Hawai’i Tourism Authority and Hawai’i Craftsmen, 2017 Hawaii’s Woodshow sponsors to date are DLNR – Division of Forestry & Wildlife, Hawai’i Forest Institute, Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and Arts, Tusher Architectural Group, Woodcraft Hawai’i, Ron Kent, C. Barton Potter, Co., Peter & Heather Simmons, Thomas Loudat, Scheurenbrand Guitars, Shaun Fleming-Wooden Touches LLC, Steven Hill, and WhiteSpace Architects.

Senator Russell Ruderman’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Sen. Ruderman

Editors Note:  I only received one e-mail and got a follow-up later this afternoon.  The following post has been edited to reflect that miscommunication:

Sorry, Damon, my mistake. This was supposed to be first answer.

Questions:

1. Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?

Answer:

I will vote “NO” if any funds from outer islands are used for rail.

If new Big Island TAT funds all go to Big Island, then I will consider it.

2. Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE? YES OR NO?

YES,
This question is not clear on the outer island tax increase issue. I will vote “NO” if any funds from outer islands are used for rail.( GE or TAT)

3. Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE? YES or NO

YES

This question is not clear on the outer island tax increase issue. I will vote “NO” if any funds from outer islands are used for rail. ( GE or TAT)

I would support either GET extension if it funds rail w/o increasing TAT, or increasing ANY tax on outer islands.

Mahalo,
Russell

While I agree rail ought to be finished, there are two bigger concerns here for me. First, the project has been grossly mismanaged, and throwing more money at such a project without fixing the mismanagement is rarely a good idea.

Secondly here in Puna our only road in and out is the deadliest highway and the state and it’s the fastest growing district in the state. So I cannot agree to subsidizing Oahu’s project while our urgent needs go unmet.


Aloha Sen. Ruderman,

Mahalo for representing the Big Island in legislative issues. I have some questions for you folks and hope you will respond to me by Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
Questions:
1. Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?
If your answer is YES, please explain why? If your answer is NO, please explain why?
2. Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
3. Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
Thank you for your participation in this quick and important decision that will affect all of us on this island.

New Kamehameha Schools Trustee Named By Court

Kamehameha Schools is pleased to announce that Elliot Mills has been selected by the state Probate Court as the newest member of the Kamehameha Schools Board of Trustees. He replaces former Trustee Janeen-Ann Olds and will begin his term on Oct. 1, 2017.

Elliot Mills

Mr. Mills is vice president of hotel operations for Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, a major employer on the Leeward Coast of O‘ahu, which has 359 hotel accommodations and 481 vacation villas, and Disneyland Resort.

He previously served as general manager of the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort and general manager of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach. Mr. Mills also serves as a board member for Hawai‘i Pacific Health, HMSA, Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children, Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau, and Hawai‘i Community Foundation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in travel industry management from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He is a Hilo native and graduate of St. Joseph’s High School.

Mr. Mills’ initial five-year board term will end in 2023, with the option to petition for reappointment at the end of his term for an additional five years.

In the months ahead, there will be opportunities to meet Mr. Mills and learn much more about him. But for now, please join me in welcoming him to the Kamehameha Schools ‘ohana.

Me ka ‘oia‘i‘o,

Micah Alika Kāne
Chairman of the Board

Representative Cindy Evans’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Rep. Cindy Evans

Aloha Damon,
I understand you wish to get a pulse before special session.

At this time I will pass on answering your questions. There are currently too many options available and until I see the bill, I feel the questions are unrealistic.

Best Regards,

Cindy Evans


Aloha Rep. Evans

Mahalo for representing the Big Island in legislative issues. I have some questions for you folks and hope you will respond to me by Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Questions:
1. Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?
If your answer is YES, please explain why? If your answer is NO, please explain why?
2. Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
3. Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO

Thank you for your participation in this quick and important decision that will affect all of us on this island.

Hawaii Garners National Recognition for Investment in Energy Efficiency

A national network of energy efficiency experts recently honored Hawaii with its “Race to the Top Award” for the pioneering work being done by state and county agencies to boost investment in energy efficiency projects that are helping the state meet its clean energy goals.

The nonprofit Energy Services Coalition (ESC) for the sixth consecutive year recognized Hawaii as the nation’s per capita leader in energy performance contracting (EPC), a form of innovative financing for capital improvements that allows government agencies to pay for energy efficiency upgrades with the savings on their utility bills. In addition, the ESC for the second straight year named Hawaii one of its “Energy Stewardship Champions” for achieving infrastructure modernization, environmental stewardship, and economic development through performance contracting.

“The growth of energy performance contracting is making a significant impact on Hawaii’s use of imported fossil fuels while helping diversify our economy by sustaining and creating jobs in the clean tech sector,” said Luis P. Salaveria, director of the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. “I commend the state and county agencies that are executing energy performance contracts, and for playing a leadership role in Hawaii’s clean energy transformation.”

EPC uses the savings from upgrades such as digital controls for energy systems, and lighting, plumbing and air conditioning improvements to repay the cost of the equipment and its installation. The costs are borne by the performance contractor and paid back out of the energy savings.  The ESC in its annual “Race to the Top” program ranks the 50 states based on the per capita amount invested in performance contracts for government buildings. Hawaii’s investment of $372.81 per capita in 2017 earned the state a sixth consecutive No. 1 ranking. The national average for EPC investment is $62.72 per capita.

“Using a tool like energy performance contracting to retrofit buildings not only makes them more efficient and comfortable, it delivers meaningful energy cost savings to building owners,” said Carilyn Shon, HSEO administrator. “Furthermore, using energy more efficiently is the fastest, most cost-effective way to pursue Hawaii’s clean energy goals.”

In addition to the Race to the Top honor, Hawaii was one of 12 states that earned the ESC’s Energy Stewardship Champion award for a combination of its political leadership, programmatic design, and the amount of private sector investment in guaranteed energy savings performance contracting (GESPC) in their states.

“GESPC is a financial strategy leveraging guaranteed future energy savings to pay for energy efficiency upgrades today,” said Jim Arwood, ESC Executive Director. “Hawaii has achieved considerable recent success in support of implementing energy efficiency projects in public buildings and infrastructure through the use of a GESPC.”

The Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO), a division of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, accepted the Race to the Top and Energy Stewardship Champion awards during the ESC’s annual conference August 9-11 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Nevada.

HSEO provides technical assistance to state and country agencies entering into energy performance contracts. The EPC projects vary widely and include office buildings, community colleges, airports, highways, and prisons. In a typical EPC, the building owner contracts with an energy service company to install the energy improvements and guarantee the energy savings over the contract term. The contractor is then paid out of the energy savings and captures the incentives made available by Hawai‘i Energy to promote investment in energy efficiency.

“Hawaii continues to be a national leader in clean energy and energy efficiency,” said Brian Kealoha, executive director of Hawaii Energy.  “Since 1996, Hawaii state government agencies have saved, on average, more than 5 million kilowatt hours a year, equating to over $24 million in savings, with the majority of this coming through EPCs. Hawaii Energy has worked with the State Energy Office and state agencies to help them make smart energy choices. Hawaii Energy has rewarded these agencies with over $11 million in incentives for projects such as lighting, air conditioning system efficiency upgrades, and advanced building automation systems to promote investments that ultimately save taxpayers money while helping Hawai‘i achieve its 100 percent clean energy goal faster.”

Performance contracts signed by state and local government agencies in Hawaii since 1996 include 295 buildings and facilities covering more than 112 million square feet. The savings are the equivalent of powering 388,210 homes for one year.

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Five Missing Army Aviators

The Coast Guard suspended the active search at noon Monday for five Army aviators who went missing Tuesday night approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point returns from a first-light flight to refuel and continue searching for five Army aviators Aug. 17, 2017. An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter went down approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, prompting the joint search effort. (U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

“A decision to suspend searching without finding survivors is extremely difficult given the depth of its impact and I know I speak for the entire Coast Guard when I say our thoughts and prayers are with Army helicopter squadron and particularly with families and loved ones of those missing,” said Rear Adm. Vincent B. Atkins, commander, Coast Guard 14th District. “Our Coast Guard crews relied on their training and professionalism in this dynamic environment to mount the best response possible and I want to thank all our partners, the Navy, Army, the Hawaii Department of Natural Resources, Fire, Police and Ocean Safety for their extraordinary efforts. As we suspend the search we stand ready to support any future operations the Army conducts, and continue to provide any comfort we can for those suffering from this tragic loss.”

On-scene assets searched a total cumulative area of more than 72,575 sq. nautical miles (96,110 sq. statute miles) in more than 132 separate searches. The search area began off of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, but extended west beyond Kauai and Ni’ihau based on drift models.

Involved in the search were:
* Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew from Honolulu
* Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364) and crew from Honolulu
* Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) and crew from Honolulu
* Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point
* Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point
* Navy P-3 Orion aircrew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
* Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
* Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Station Honolulu
* Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Station Kauai
* UH-60 Black Hawk from Wheeler Army Airfield
* CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
* Shore patrols and a helicopter crew from Honolulu Fire Department
* Shore patrols from Kauai Fire Department
* Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services
* Crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources
* Shore patrols from the Army and Coast Guard Sector Honolulu
* Residents of Ni’ihau Island

The search began late Tuesday following notification to the Coast Guard from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communication with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. The missing aircrew was reportedly engaged in night time training operations between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield.

The safety zone remains in effect extending out in a five nautical mile (5.75 statute miles) radius from the point 21-27.919N 158-21.547W, geographically located roughly two miles northwest of Ka’ena Point, established by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Wednesday. No vessels or persons are authorized to enter this zone without prior approval from the Captain of the Port. A broadcast notice to mariners has been issued. Ka’ena State Park trails remain closed at this time.

71-Year-Old Dies in Two-Vehicle Traffic Casualty

A 71-year-old Kailua-Kona woman was involved in a two-vehicle traffic casualty on (August 17), on Highway 190 at the 33-mile marker in Kailua-Kona.

She has been positively identified as Bernadette Chock.

Responding to a 2:40 p.m. call, police determined that a 2009 Nissan Frontier operated by a 48-year-old Kailua-Kona man had been traveling north on Highway 190 when he crossed left of center and struck head on with a 2007 Honda CR-V being operated by Chock who was traveling south on Highway 190.

Following the collision, the 73-year-old male passenger of the Honda CR-V was taken to the Kona Community Hospital for treatment of his injuries. Ms. Chock was also transported to the Kona Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 5:52 p.m.

The 48-year-old male operator of the Nissan Frontier was also taken to the Kona Community Hospital where he currently remains for treatment of his injuries.

Police believe that inattention was a factor in the crash, and an autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a Negligent Homicide investigation and is asking anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at (808) 326-4646 ext. 229.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

This is the twenty-third traffic fatality this year compared to fifteen at this time last year.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 16-Year-Old Puna Girl

UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 16-year-old Haven Herzig of Puna who was reported missing on (July 20).  She was found unharmed on Saturday, (August 19), at 7:00 p.m.

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 16-year-old Puna girl reported as missing.

Haven Herzig

Haven Herzig, was last seen at her residence (July 20). She is described as Caucasian, 5-feet-2-inches, 140 pounds, with blue eyes and shoulder-length auburn hair.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call Officer Wyatt Kaili-Leong at the Puna Police Station (808) 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to calle r ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hospice of Hilo to Host Free Six-Week Grief Support Group

Hospice of Hilo will be offering a free, six-week adult grief support group called, “The Healing Journey”. The group is open to anyone in the community who has suffered a loss. Meetings will be at Hospice of Hilo’s office complex located at 1011 Waiānuenue Ave, Hilo, on Wednesdays from 10:00am to 11:30 am from September 6 through October 11.

“Participants are comforted by the validation of their grief and the knowledge that they are not alone.” said Hospice of Hilo Community Bereavement Counselor and group leader Cathy Hough. “To light memorial candles for their loved ones, write in journals, and to learn about the ways that grief ‘shows up’ empowers them to take charge and navigate their personal journey of loss.”

Hospice of Hilo

A recent participant explained, “Cathy’s commitment and pride in her work are evident. I think anyone could benefit from this class since loss in its many forms is universally experienced.” Healing Journey attendees have commented that the group was very helpful to them, finding it to have a kind and loving atmosphere in which to share their grief. “I use the coping mechanisms provided to this day because my grief journey is an on-going process.”

To participate in the Healing Journey six-week adult support group, please RSVP no later than Wednesday, August 30 to Cathy Hough at (808) 961-7309.

Senator Kai Kahele’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Senator Kai Kahele

Aloha Damon and mahalo for your email. Although we (the Senate) have not seen a bill yet there has been speculation to what a bill may look like to help fund the Honolulu Rail Project shortfall, however I can provide a response to your questions based on the knowledge I have so far.

Question #1: Answer: NO. I do not support increasing the TAT Statewide to fund the rail project. Front loading the rail project with money from a TAT statewide increase is bad policy for the State. Leisure tourism is our number one industry and is what drives GE revenues. Raising the TAT hotel tax statewide has the potential to hurt our tourism industry. In addition, I have heard from many of my constituents in Hilo and they are opposed to raising the TAT hotel tax statewide which would make on island and off island travel for hard working Hawaiʻi Island families, youth sports teams and church groups that much more expensive when they need to stay in our island hotels. If it makes Hawaiʻi Island hotels more expensive for local families, to fund the rail project on Oahu, I cannot support that.

Questions #2: Answer: YES. I do support the extension of the GE surcharge on Oahu to fund the rail project. The GE surcharge on Oahu has been paid and collected by Oahu residents since 2007 and is set to expire in 2027. An extension of this broad based tax, which the voters of Oahu voted for seems reasonable to me. It will also not impact the neighbor islands or the tourism industry. I do support a 6 year extension of the surcharge to complete the rail project.

Questions #3: Answer: YES. If front loading the rail project to decrease total cost and interest paid was what the voters and residents of Oahu wanted than I would support that. The Hawaiʻi GE tax is inherently a regressive tax and has the potential to affect lower income individuals and families which we would need to weigh appropriately. However, if this proposal could decrease the amount of years for the GE extension, which also helps lower income families, and ends up costing less in total interest paid, the legislature should consider it. Again, I would like to see what the residents of Oahu think about this proposal, maybe an informal poll could be taken.

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Rep. Chris Todd’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Rep. Chris Todd

Aloha Damon,
I would have to wait until I see the final version of the rail bill before committing one way or another. I know that’s not the answer you are looking for, but whatever bill we end up with may have a lot of moving parts and I don’t want to comment until I know what we’re dealing with.

I am committed to completing the rail project, and once we have a final bill I will definitely get back to you with more commentary and explain my thought process.

Mahalo for understanding!

Rep. Chris Toshiro Todd

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Senator Josh Green’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Senator Josh Green

Thanks for asking Damon.
I need to see the actual proposals before I answer hypotheticals.

At this point the only tax I support for rail is an extension of the GET on Oahu, which I believe would need to be for 8 additional years.

Sincerely,

Josh

————————————————————————–Aloha Sen. Green,

Mahalo for representing the Big Island in legislative issues. I have some questions for you folks and hope you will respond to me by Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Questions:

1. Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?
If your answer is YES, please explain why? If your answer is NO, please explain why?

2. Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO

3. Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO

I will be posting your answers (or non answer) on my website Hawaii News and Island Information (http://damontucker.com) .

Thank you for your participation in this quick and important decision that will affect all of us on this island.

Female Opihi Picker Dies From Apparent Fall

Hawaii Fire Department arrived on scene and found a 20s female, with no signs of life, on the shoreline. Due to the terrain, Hawaii Fire Department Rescue personnel utilized a helicopter to extricate body. This was an obvious DOA and scene was turned over to HPD for investigation.

Cause is unknown and under investigation.

Golf Tournament and Luncheon to Benefit Kona Historical Society

The West Hawaii Association of REALTORS (WHAR) are recruiting four-person teams and individual golfers to compete on September 11, 2017 at the Golf Tournament and Luncheon Fundraiser for Kona Historical Society (KHS) on the beautiful and exclusive courses of The Club at Hokuli`a. Tee time is set for 10am at The Club at Hokuli’a’s Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course,a private, oceanside course where every hole is framed by a dramatic ocean view and some holes run directly along the ocean. Registration begins at 9am, and a blessing will be given at 9:30am. Fidelity National Title & Escrow of Hawaii is the Premiere Sponsor of this tournament.

In addition to the lively competition and the gorgeous landscape rarely accessed by non-members of The Club, the organizers of the tournament have planned raffles and prizes, including the giveaway of a car from Big Island Honda for a hole-in-one, as well as gift certificates for the Hokuli`a Pro Shop.

Participation in the tournament includes a lavish buffet luncheon featuring grilled tri-tip roast, seared ahi and more elegant dishes highlighting fresh flavors and local ingredients. Beer, wine and nonalcoholic beverages are included in the luncheon. Non-golfers interested in supporting Kona Historical Society can also purchase tickets for $35 to attend the luncheon only,which will feature a presentation from Hokuli`a’s cultural liaison, Kaleo Kuali`i, about the significance of the seldom visited Hokukano area. There will also be a silent auction of five rare, large-scale, 5 ft. by 3 ft. canvas photo prints from Kona Historical Society’s private archive. Kona Historical Society will also be auctioning a gorgeous East Indian Rosewood dining table with renowned Hawaii historical provenance. The auction items will be on display and accepting silent bids throughout the course of the day. Winning bidders will be announced at the end of the luncheon.

Kona Historical Society is a community-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and Smithsonian Museum affiliate that has spent the past four decades collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the Kona districts and their rich cultural heritage within Hawaii. Since 2012, WHAR has chosen a charity to dedicate fundraising efforts to every year. This year, WHAR is proud to choose Kona Historical Society as WHAR’s Charity of Choice. West Hawaii Association of REALTORS® (WHAR) is a voluntary professional association of real estate licensees primarily spanning the West Hawaii area of the Big Island of Hawaii from Hawi at the northern end of the island to Naalehu at the southern end. The West Hawaii Association of REALTORS® was organized in 1969 and is a non-profit corporation.

To register your team for the tournament, visit http://www.konarealtors.com/news/4841066 to download a registration form and submit it to karin@konarealtors.com.The cost per person when signing up as a team is $250, the cost for individuals is $275. For more information about Kona Historical Society, call 808-323-3222 or visit www.konahistorical.org. To get the latest updates regarding Kona Historical Society programs, historic sites and special events, “LIKE” Kona Historical Society on Facebook.

Tomorrow – Battle of the BBQ’s and Mai Tai Festival at the Royal Kona Resort

Tomorrow, August 19th 2017, the Royal Kona Resort celebrates the legendary Mai Tai cocktail at the ninth annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival.

Watch as over 20 of the world’s top bartenders converge on the Big Island of Hawaii to mix it up in a battle for the title of World’s Best Mai Tai and a $10,000 cash prize.

Festival Highlights include:

  • Mai Tai Marketplace: Shop for crafts and island treats from local artisans and merchants from 11am-4pm
  • Battle of the BBQ: Taste and vote for Hawaii’s best barbecue from 11am-2pm
  • Pool Party: Listen to live music from local Hawaiian artists by the pool from 2:30pm-4pm

Mai Tai Mix-off: From 4:30pm – 7:30pm watch bartenders from around the world vie for the title of World’s Best Mai Tai and cash prizes. First place winner receives $10,000, second place winner receives $5,000, and third place winner receives $2,500.

For the past eight years, the Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival has drawn bartenders from around the globe to compete for the title of World’s Best Mai Tai and cash prizes. This annual festival is a full-day, fun-filled event with live entertainment, a pool party, arts and crafts displays, a BBQ Cook-Off Contest, food booths, and lots more. The main event is the exciting action-packed Mai Tai Mix-Off contest. Watch and cheer for the competing bartenders as they create their own potent and signature spin on the historic Mai Tai, an island favorite.

Past participants

The 2016 Festival crowned Art Deakins of Bar Leather Apron in Honolulu, HI the winner of the $10,000 first prize and title of “World’s Best Mai Tai”. Second place was Tim Rita of the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, NV. The third best mai tai recipe was created by Kevin Beary of Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, IL.Also part of the Festival’s activities was the battle of the barbeques. The Judge’s Award for “Best BBQ” was taken by Cool Runnings Catering of Kailua-Kona, HI. The People’s Choice award winner was Umeke Restaurant also in Kailua-Kona, HI.