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Progress Update on School Bus Driver Shortages on Maui and Kauai

Two consolidated bus routes on Maui were reinstated and more anticipated in coming weeks. Photo DOE

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) reports that progress is being made by school bus contractors to address the current shortage of Commercial Driver Licensed (CDL) drivers on Maui and Kauai qualified to operate school buses. Here are the latest updates:

  • Two previously consolidated bus routes on Maui have been restored to normal service times at Maui High School and Maui Waena Intermediate School.
    • Route GR14A makes a single morning and afternoon run from the Hale Kihei Housing and Makai Heights Subdivisions in Kihei to and from Maui High School.
    • Route GR18 A/B makes two morning and afternoon runs to and from Maui Waena Intermediate School. The first serves the Kahului area east of Puunene Avenue from Puukani Street to Kaahumanu Avenue, and north of West Kauai Street to Kaahumanu Avenue. The second run serves the Sands Hills, Puuone Tract, Kanaloa Houselots Subdivision and Paukukalo areas.
  • Kauai’s shortage of qualified school bus drivers continues to remain at seven. School bus routes have been consolidated to adjust to the staffing shortages and all schools are still being serviced. Driver candidates are currently in the licensing process and routes will be restored as they enter service.
  • Interested CDL drivers should contact the Student Transportation Services Branch at (808) 586-0170. Interested drivers without a CDL are also being sought. The CDL training and testing process is open and takes approximately three weeks to complete.

For school bus route questions or concerns, please call the Get On Board Hotline at (808) 586-0161 on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaiian Electric Companies Launch Online Tool to Streamline Solar Application Process

Customers submitting new applications to install private rooftop solar can now complete the process entirely online using a new tool launched by the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

The Customer Interconnection Tool (CIT) is believed to be the first of its kind to provide a seamless, start-to-finish online solar application process that allows customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light to check the status of their applications. The tool provides a user-friendly interface to guide contractors and customers through all steps of the Customer Self-Supply program application process, from submittal to finalizing the agreement.

“We’re excited to offer a streamlined electronic process to our customers,” said Jim Alberts, senior vice president of customer service. “The tool is able to show customers exactly where they are in the application process, which eliminates guesswork. This is one more way to make interacting with our companies as smooth and as easy as possible.”

CIT allows applicants to submit all of their information, including electronic documents, online. For convenience, customers and their designated representatives will have the ability to submit electronic signatures as well.

Applicants are prompted to provide required documentation, reducing the potential for delays caused by errors of omission. The tool also automatically calculates the system size based on four design guidelines, which simplifies the procedure.

Customers will receive regular status updates by email as various milestones are reached, keeping them informed every step of the way.

For more information, visit:

www.hawaiianelectric.com/DistributedEnergyResources

www.hawaiianelectric.com/CITonline

Hōkūleʻa Greeted by Hundreds During Her Hanalei Arrival

Crewmembers aboard Hōkūleʻa and sister canoe Hikianalia arrived this morning to Kauaʻi greeted by scores of outrigger paddlers, ocean enthusiasts and a pod of dolphins as they entered Hanalei Bay. Hundreds of ʻohana and supporters lined the pier to near-capacity where the crew was greeted ashore by students, Hawaiian practitioners and a hula halau and other supporters from across the island.

Voyagers departed from Haleiwa, Oʻahu yesterday and reached their destination after 12 hours of sailing through the night amid clear skies and steady tradewinds. Hōkūleʻa was captained by Kamaki Worthington, North Shore resident, while navigation student Koral McCarthy provided direction via traditional Polynesian wayfinding techniques.

“Hōkūleʻa pulls people together. We prepare for her visit like we would for a visit from Tutu. She teaches us about respect and challenges us to rise up to our kuleana. She reminds us how we treat her is how we should treat our earth and each other,” said McCarthy who also coordinated arrival ceremonies and much of the week’s coming events.

The Kauaʻi port stop and outreach events were planned by the Polynesian Voyaging Society and coordinated by local community members and supporters as part of the Mahalo Hawaiʻi, Sail, an extension of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. The sail includes similar visits to every major Hawaiian island into 2018.

During the 3-day Kauaʻi engagement, crewmembers will participate with the community in events and activities that will highlight the recent Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage as well as the work being done within Kauaʻi communities to care for Island Earth.

Events during the stop will include outreach opportunities, local school visits, cultural exchanges, and crew presentations. The following events have been scheduled to date. The public is encouraged to check hokulea.com and Facebook for daily updates.

Kauaʻi Engagement Schedule (*All dates and times subject to change)

Monday, September 25
• A.M. Scheduled school tours and visits – by appointment only
• 2:30-5:30pm Dockside outreach at Hanalei Bay Pier – public welcome
• P.M. ʻOahi O Makana, a Hawaiian protocol event – public viewing from Hanalei Bay to Haʻena areas

Tuesday, September 25
• A.M. Scheduled dockside school tours and visits – by appointment only
• P.M. Hōkūleʻa tentative departure for Oahu – public welcome

Saturday, September 30 (post departure)
• 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mālama Hulēʻia workday at the fishpond at Niumalu Park

October through May port dates will be posted as they become available.

Hōkūleʻa to Set Sail for Kauaʻi

Hōkūleʻa is scheduled to depart the Haleiwa Boat Harbor for Hanalei Bay, Kauaʻi as part of the Mahalo Hawaiʻi, Sail. Crewmembers are preparing to set sail tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and arrive to Kauaʻi the following morning that will include a public arrival ceremony at 10 a.m..

During the 3-day Kauaʻi engagement, crewmembers will participate with the community in events and activities that will highlight the recent Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage as well as the work being done within Kauaʻi communities to care for Island Earth.

Events during the stop will include outreach opportunities, local school visits, cultural exchanges, and crew presentations. The following events have been scheduled to date. The public is encouraged to check hokulea.com and Facebook for daily updates:

Kauaʻi Engagement Schedule – (*All dates and times subject to change)

Saturday, September 23
• 2:30 p.m. Hōkūleʻa departure from Haleʻiwa Boat Harbor, Oʻahu – public welcome

Sunday, September 24
• 10 a.m. Hōkūleʻa arrival ceremony and community paʻina at Hanalei Bay Pier – public welcome

Monday, September 25
• A.M. Scheduled school tours and visits – by appointment only
• 2:30-5:30pm Dockside outreach at Hanalei Bay Pier – public welcome
• P.M. ʻOahi O Makana, a Hawaiian protocol event – public viewing from Hanalei Bay to Haʻena areas

Tuesday, September 25
• A.M. Scheduled dockside school tours and visits – by appointment only
• P.M. Hōkūleʻa tentative departure for Oahu – public welcome

Saturday, September 30 (post departure)
• 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mālama Hulēʻia workday at the fishpond at Nuimalu Park

Former Kauai Police Officer Indicted for Cyberstalking Offenses

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that a Kauai grand jury this week indicted Lihue resident Damian Loo (sp?) for harassment by stalking and use of a computer in the commission of a separate crime.

While employed at the Kauai police department, Loo allegedly used the computer surveillance system to watch a civilian female co-worker as she came and went to work for approximately three weeks earlier this year.

Attorney General Chin stated: “Harassment by stalking victimizes individuals and hurts them. Don’t do it.”

Harassment by stalking is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $2,000.00 fine. Use of a computer in the commission of separate crime is a class C felony and carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.

Loo is 49 years old and has no prior convictions. He posted bail in the amount of $1,000.00. He is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

USS John Paul Jones Intercepts Target Missile Off Coast of Hawaii

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Navy sailors aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully conducted a complex missile defense flight test, resulting in the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target using Standard Missile (SM) 6 guided missiles during a test off the coast of Hawaii, Aug. 29.

A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, Aug. 29. (U.S. Navy/Latonja Martin)

John Paul Jones detected and tracked a target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar and onboard SM-6 missiles executed the intercept.

“We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.”

This test, designated Flight Test Standard Missile (FTM) 27 Event 2, marks the second time that an SM-6 missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target.

Aegis BMD is the naval component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.

Maui Lawmaker Calls on Governor to Resolve Bus Crisis

West Maui lawmaker Representative Angus McKelvey today called on Governor David Ige to intervene in the student transportation crisis that has adversely affected West Maui as well as other school districts on Maui and Kauai.

HIDOE is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses to service routes on Maui and Kauai. For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The situation is completely unacceptable, especially when you consider all the Lahainaluna High School students that need access to a campus that is not readily serviced by other transportation means including a county bus route,” McKelvey said. “The bus shortage has exasperated an already existing traffic problem as parents are now scrambling to get kids to school by their own means before the workday.”

McKelvey’s concerns are with parents and families who may not be able to afford private transportation and solely rely on the bus system to get their keiki to and from school.

“Parents who don’t have the means to afford last-minute private transportation are going to be stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to get the kids to school,” he said. “And, while the Department of Education’s relaxation of the tardy rules and breakfast times will help somewhat, many of these kids may be forced to miss large segments of school time. This, in turn, could result in inadvertent involvement in the court system for their parents because their children are not being at school for the required amount of time.”

McKelvey believes that “it is unfair to parents in this situation to be faced with potential legal consequences for actions beyond their control especially considering the last minute notification of the bus shortage.

“It is especially troubling that the DOE spokesperson said that there were no reported problems related to the bus issues only illustrates further that the DOE is disconnected from the challenges that we are facing with this issue here on West Maui,” McKelvey said.

The West Maui lawmaker also expressed his concern that the Board of Education allowed the bus contract issue to “spiral out of control” before the beginning of the school year and a shortage of drivers should have been discussed well before the start of school.

“The lack of qualified drivers for certain routes should also have been disclosed during the procurement process,” he said. “Especially when it is a new Oahu based vendor that has never provided any transportation for the schools in Maui before.

“On behalf of all the hard working parents and their keiki of West Maui, I am humbly asking the Governor to step in and have the Board of Education either issue a supplemental contract for the busing services at Lahainaluna High School, and any other areas, or rescind the contract in its entirety for failure to perform.

“With the start of the high school on Wednesday, and other major traffic events coming up, this situation could go from bad to very bad in a short period of time,” McKelvey said. “The bottom line is the vendor should be able to perform as promised, and did not timely notify the DOE. Therefore, the department and the Governor need to use their powers of the executive branch to take whatever actions are necessary to address this bus driver shortage – an issue which never should have occurred of in the first place.

“In an area where the schools are not serviced by county bus routes, an immediate busing option is needed, especially for parents and families who can’t afford to simply call a taxi or grab a rental car to get the kids to school before going to their two or three jobs needed just to make ends meet.”

School Bus Drivers Needed for Maui & Kauai Routes Before Fall Semester Begins On August 7

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) to service routes on Maui and Kauai. A current shortage of school bus drivers may affect Maui and Kauai routes when school begins on Monday, August 7.

HIDOE is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses to service routes on Maui and Kauai. For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The Department is working with our bus contractors and transportation partners to minimize any impacts to our students and families when the fall semester begins,” said Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson. “Some school bus routes are being consolidated and many will operate normally, but we hope to sign up additional drivers before the school year begins.”

For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Interested CDL drivers should contact the Student Transportation Services Branch at (808) 586-0170 as soon as possible.

Nearly Eleven Tons of Rubbish Removed From Kalalau in 2017

Since the first of this year, DLNR Division of State Parks maintenance staff on Kaua‘i have gathered, bagged, and airlifted 10.92 tons of rubbish from the Kalalau section of the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.  At least monthly, regular clean-up operations, have resulted in between 520 pounds and 2380 pounds of trash and waste being airlifted by helicopter out of the area. During some months maintenance crews conducted two-to-four operations.

“Clearly this huge quantity of rubbish was not carried in on the backs of people who obtained permits to hike the 11 miles into Kalalau,” said State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell. “Over the past two years we’ve made significant progress in dismantling illegal, long-term camps both at Kalalau beach and in more remote locations in Kalalau Valley. In collaboration with the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), we’ve made it very clear that we have zero tolerance for illegal activity in our state’s largest and most remote state park,” Cottrell added.

In June alone, during five clean-up days, helicopters sling-loaded nearly seven thousand pounds of trash and waste out of Kalalau. Human waste is shoveled into barrels out of composting toilets in the designated camping area fronting Kalalau beach and flown out for proper treatment and disposal.  State Park staff continues to be concerned about environmental degradation and health risks associated with people defecating in the forest and along the streams in the park and the associated impacts to archeological sites from being modified for camping uses.   “These are the critical reasons diligent attention must be directed to eliminating illegal activity at Kalalau and elsewhere in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.  As an example, by enforcing the limit of campers to the allowed 60 people each night, the composters should function as designed and our maintenance crew can turn their priorities to other site enhancements,” Cottrell said.

Regular monthly maintenance operations are conducted not only to clean-up the rubbish left at illegal camps and to remove human waste, but also to trim weeds, maintain signs and camp trails, and restock comfort stations.  The Division of State Parks plans to renew its request to the Hawai‘i State Legislature next year for permanent staffing at Kalalau to ensure higher quality of maintenance of the park’s wilderness character, protect cultural sites and to provide visitor information, as well as to maintain communications capability in case of emergencies and to report illegal activities to enforcement.

Rescued Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl Killed In Auto Collision

A young Pueo, or Hawaiian Short-eared Owl, rescued in late March, was killed by a car on the highway between Waimea and Hanapepe two months after it had been released. The owl was originally spotted on March 22, 2017 by Dr. André Raine of the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP), who found it on the side of the road in Ele ele where it had also been struck by a car. He took the injured Pueo to the Save our Shearwaters (SOS) facility at the Kaua‘i Humane Society for treatment and rehabilitation.

Raine said, “This is a sad end to a successful rehabilitation story, which involved the hard work of the dedicated staff at SOS and the Hawaii Wildlife Center who were successful in returning this young bird to health and releasing it back into the wild in late April. Tragically, as with so many of our endangered native birds, the Pueo was struck again by an automobile – this time fatally. This serves as yet another reminder for all of us who drive on Kauai’s roads, that we need to slow down and be aware of owls, Nene, fledgling seabirds and other birds that may be feeding or flying alongside or near roads and highways.”

Tracy Anderson of SOS, who examined the dead owl, said that the injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle. The bird was found 6 miles (as the bird flies) from the release location and was in good body condition which meant that she had been hunting and feeding successfully post-release. Owls are often attracted to roadsides by rats and mice, which in turn are attracted by the easy pickings of food scraps and rubbish discarded by people. Anderson reminds people, “The act of throwing trash out your car window not only impacts the environment visually, but can have direct and detrimental effects on wild birds like pueo and nene.”

Over the past few months a public education campaign was initiated by DLNR and other partners to encourage people to watch for nene (native Hawaiian goose and Hawai‘i State Bird) alongside roadways. This included a public service announcement (PSA) that aired repeatedly on Kaua‘i’s cable television system, news releases and videos, and additional roadside signage in areas where nene are frequently spotted.

This is not the only Pueo found dead on the roads – two more dead Pueo were found on the same day as the rehabilitated bird in other parts of the island.

Another Pueo, also likely hurt in a car-bird collision on O‘ahu’s North Shore earlier this year could not be rehabilitated and had to be put to sleep. An entire family of nene depicted in a DLNR video, resting and feeding near the Hanalei River Bridge on Kaua‘i were also killed by a car.

Raine, Anderson, and others who work with native, wild birds agree that if drivers slow down and pay close attention in areas populated by birds, this will help reduce the number of deadly collisions between birds and cars.

Hawaii Update on Mumps: Outbreak Continues with 18 Additional Cases, Including 2 on Hawaii Island and 4 on Kauai

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 18 new cases of residents with the mumps, raising the total number of statewide cases this year to 172. Nine of the new cases of individuals are adults. Twelve of the cases are from Oahu, four are from Kauai and two are from Hawaii Island.

DOH continues to stress the importance of following its recommendations to help prevent the spread of mumps.“The important thing for people to remember is to keep their germs to themselves,” said Ronald Balajadia, Immunization Branch Chief, DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division. “We encourage the public to stay home when sick, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, wash their hands frequently and make sure they are fully vaccinated.”

DOH urges all adults born in or after 1957 without evidence of immunity to mumps to receive the MMR vaccine which prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second vaccine dose at a minimum of four weeks after the first dose. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. For this reason, being fully vaccinated is important in helping to protect family members, friends, coworkers, classmates, and your community.

DOH also recommends that all children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, the first of which is routinely given at age 12–15 months and the second dose at 4–6 years of age. However, because of the continued circulation of mumps in Hawaii, children between 1–4 years of age should receive their second dose now (a minimum of four weeks after the first dose).

To locate a vaccinating pharmacy nearest you, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccinesimmunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

The majority of the 172 confirmed cases are on Oahu, with 13 on Kauai and three from Hawaii Island. None of the individuals required hospitalization and all are recovering. DOH expects more cases in the coming weeks as mumps is a highly-contagious disease.

DOH will post the latest mumps cases online at: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/ at 12 noon every Thursday. The site offers current information about the state’s ongoing investigation.

Hawaii DLNR Applauds Environmental Court for Sending Strong Message to Albatross Killer

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case today, applauded Environmental Court Judge Jeannette Castagnetti for sending a strong message to the community and to one of the men convicted of the brutal killing of albatross at Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve (NAR) on O‘ahu in December 2015.

“The fact that this man will serve jail time and community service recognizes the severity of these killings and the terrible impact it will have for years to come on the albatross breeding colony at Ka‘ena Point,” Case said after the sentencing of Christian Guiterrez. She added, “Jail time, combined with the fine, sends a very strong message to the community that there is no tolerance for abuse, destruction, or killing of Hawai‘i’s unique and precious wildlife – whether it’s albatross, monk seals, turtles, or anything else.”

Christian Guiterrez file photo

Case and Marigold Zoll, the O‘ahu Branch Manager for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife both presented victim impact statements during today’s sentencing. Zoll provided background on laws, funding, and on the public values of impacted resources. She pointed out that the Ka‘ena Point NAR has been under active management for the past 34 years by DLNR, contractors, conservation partners, and a wide variety of dedicated volunteers.

Zoll testified, “Unlike wildlife found in other places, albatross are so docile that I would trust my eight-year-old child to wander amongst them without threat of injury. The impact of this crime extends well beyond the 32 animals we know were killed. Based on conservative estimates of lifespan, reproduction rates and fledgling success we estimate we lost 320 animals from the intentional killing of 32 adults and eggs by Gutierrez and his friends.” Zoll concluded her testimony saying, “The Department considers the killing or taking or protected wildlife to be the most egregious trespass of our laws.”

DLNR is heartened by the tremendous amount of community outrage directed toward the perpetrators of this heartless action and believes that outrage helped inform the judicial system and today’s resulting sentence. Case said, “It showed that most people truly care about our natural resources and that when they are abused or mistreated in any way, they expect us, prosecutors, and the courts to do the right thing. Today a very strong message was sent that these crimes will not be tolerated and will be punished to the fullest extent possible.”

As part of her testimony Case played a DLNR produced video that depicts the work being done with the albatross colony at Ka‘ena Point NAR:

Napali Coast State Wilderness Park Showing Recovery and Improvement – Additional Arrests Made

A three day operation last week in the Kalalau section of Kauai’s Napali Coast State Wilderness Park resulted in additional arrests and the dismantling of large, illegal camps in Kalalau Valley.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “Our Divisions of State Parks and Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are continuing to work together to restore lawfulness to Napali and address the natural and cultural resources damage created by long-term squatters and their illegal camps. These sustained efforts began more than two years ago and are beginning to pay off. Every week we receive correspondence from people who’ve legally hiked into Kalalau and are commenting on how clean the area is and how the number of illegal camps and campers are greatly diminished.”

State Parks Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter and archaeologist Sean Newsome conducted a rapid reconnaissance of cultural sites in Kalalau Valley a week before the combined clean-up and enforcement operation. Carpenter said, “In my 25 years of visiting Kalalau this is the cleanest I’ve ever seen it in terms of rubbish and illegal campers. The degradation to cultural sites is at an all-time high, however, because those impacts are cumulative, representing decades of abuse. Reversing those impacts and restoring sites is a future goal, requiring a combination of documentation, compliance, staffing and community stewardship. Clearly there is additional work to do to protect the important cultural resources and natural resources in this pristine area, but I’m heartened that the keen focus on Kalalau is definitely showing an improved experience for permitted visitors, who are generally not responsible for the degradation of Napali resources.”

A sure sign of improvement and the fact that the no-tolerance for illegal activity “word” is getting out, several DOCARE Officers report that in every contact they made along the trail, hikers had the required state permit. It is required for travel beyond the two-mile marker at Hanakapiai Stream and allows camping only designated camping areas such as the one at Kalalau Beach. During previous enforcement visits to the wilderness park, officers arrested dozens of people for failing to produce a permit.

DOCARE officers arrested six people for closed-area violations. They also eradicated eight young marijuana plants from an abandoned campsite. Squatters have also established elaborate gardens where they’re growing bananas, papaya, taro and other fruits. Officers provided support for a State Parks maintenance team, which removed 15 large illegal camps, plus additional smaller ones and gear stashes. Two and a half tons of rubbish was airlifted by a helicopter in 15 sling loads. Seven State Parks staff and between six and twelve DOCARE officers were involved daily during last week’s operation.

“These combined operations are logistically complex, costly and deplete operational funds that could be applied at other state parks,” said State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell. “A critical method to enhance public safety, protect significant historic features and to ultimately insure the quality of the wildness experience is to create permanent staff with specific equipment for Kalalau. Dedicated staff will have communication access to deter the return of illegal camping and insure authorized limits, helping eliminate the overuse of composting toilets, provide additional campsite and trail maintenance service on a daily basis, direct campers to the authorized camping areas, further inform campers about on site safety issues and the sensitivity and history of cultural sites, and support both hikers and kayakers who may sustain injuries in this remote and unique wilderness destination,” Cottrell added.

The Division of State Parks is expected to renew its request to the 2018 Hawai‘i State Legislature to provide funding for full-time staff to support the management of Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote state park.

Dead Snake Found in Kauai Garden & Preserve

A jogger came across a dead snake on her morning jog today along Kuhio Highway in Haena, Kauai. The woman who found the snake is an intern with the Limahuli Garden & Preserve, which is near to where the snake was found. Another employee from the preserve retrieved the snake and inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) picked up the snake soon after it was reported.

The snake has been identified as a boa constrictor measuring about five feet in length. It is not known at this time what the sex of the snake is or how it died. It will be transported to Honolulu and arrangements have been made with a zoologist at the Bishop Museum who will examine and catalog the snake.

Both the Limahuli Garden & Preserve and HDOA are very concerned that this snake was found in an area that is a preserve for many endangered native birds and other biota.

Boa constrictors are non-venomous and are native to Central and South America.  They can grow up to 12 feet in length and have a normal diet of small mammals such as mice and rats.  Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment.  Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds.  Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.

Snakes are illegal in Hawaii. Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in prison.

Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378). Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, municipal zoo or Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.

Man Arrested in Kauai Resort Burglary

Kaua‘i police arrested an ‘Anini man in connection with a burglary complaint at the Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville.

Jeremy Coyaso

Jeremy Coyaso, age 27, was arrested on June 9 in the Hanalei district for two outstanding warrants, in addition to Burglary in the second degree and Theft in the third degree.
Stolen property items, including chainsaws, were recovered during the arrest.

The investigation remains ongoing.

Coyaso is currently being held at Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center (KCCC) with bail set at $2,000 for an unrelated case that also remains under investigation.

US Navy Missile Defense Test Fails Off Hawaii

An interceptor missile fired from a US Navy destroyer off the coast of Hawaii failed to hit it’s target, the US Missile Defense Agency said:

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Japan Ministry of Defense conducted a development flight test today of a new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile off the coast of Hawaii.

A planned intercept was not achieved.

US Navy destroyer John Paul Jones (DDG 53) fires a missile interceptor in this file photo

The SM-3 Block IIA is being developed cooperatively by the U.S. and Japan to defeat medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. This is a new, developmental interceptor that is not yet fielded by either country.

At approximately 7:20 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time, June 21 (1:20 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, June 22), a medium-range ballistic target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. The USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) detected and tracked the target missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 weapon system. Upon acquiring and tracking the target, the ship launched an SM-3 Block IIA guided missile, but the missile did not intercept the target.

Program officials will conduct an extensive analysis of the test data. Until that review is complete, no additional details will be available.

This was the fourth development flight test using an SM-3 IIA missile, and the second intercept test. The previous intercept test, conducted in February 2017, was successful.

Though currently still in the development and test phase, the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is being designed to operate as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. Currently, the Aegis BMD system operates with the SM-3 Block 1A, SM-3 Block 1B, and SM-6 interceptors.

Hawaii Department of Health Approves Production Centers for Medical Marijuana Licensees on Kauai and Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today issued Notices to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana to Manoa Botanicals LLC for their second production center on Oahu and to Green Aloha Ltd. for their first production center on Kauai. The licensees have met all requirements to begin growing marijuana at their approved facilities.

Manoa Botanicals is the third dispensary licensee to complete and operate two medical marijuana production centers. Green Aloha Ltd. is the is the fifth dispensary licensee to receive approval to acquire and grow marijuana at their first production center.  In May, Aloha Green Holdings and Maui Grown Therapies received approvals for their second production centers on Oahu and Maui respectively. In February, Pono Life Sciences on Maui became the fourth licensee to operate a production center.

“The dispensary licensees have made excellent progress in developing their production sites in compliance with all state laws and regulations to provide a safe product and ensure patient and public health and safety,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance. “All of the licensees have worked hard to meet state standards to create a quality industry in Hawaii.”

Brian Goldstein, chief executive officer of Manoa Botanicals said, “We’ve put considerable research, time and money into building a growing facility with the most current technology available to ensure consistent high quality products for our patients. Our nursery plants are ready to go, and we can’t wait to see our first harvest this summer.”

Justin Britt, chief executive officer of Green Aloha said, “It took a lot of work to comply with the state laws and regulations to grow cannabis, but it is all worth it because the result is safer, higher quality medicine for Kauai’s patients.”

To receive a Notice to Proceed from DOH, dispensary production centers must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements that include building a secure, enclosed indoor facility; operating a computer software tracking system that interfaces with the state’s system and submits current inventory data of all marijuana seeds, plants and manufactured products in the production center; and authorization from the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the Hawaii State Department of Public Safety.

More information on the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/.

A total of eight medical marijuana dispensary licenses were issued in April 2016. Three dispensary licenses for the City and County of Honolulu were issued to Aloha Green Holdings, Inc.; Manoa Botanicals, LLC; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. Two licenses for the County of Hawaii were issued to Hawaiian Ethos, LLC and Lau Ola, LLC. Two licenses for the County of Maui were issued to Maui Wellness Group, LLC and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. One license for the County of Kauai was issued to Green Aloha, Ltd.

Each dispensary licensee is allowed to operate two production centers and two retail sites for a total of 16 production centers and 16 retail dispensary locations statewide. Each production center may grow up to 3,000 marijuana plants.

8 Additional Mumps Cases Reported in Hawaii – Outbreak Continues

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed eight (8) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 89. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults. None of the individuals required hospitalization and all have recovered or are recovering.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu. Information on case numbers is updated regularly at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

The DOH is recommending all adults born in or after 1957, without evidence of immunity to mumps, who cannot verify previous MMR vaccination, should receive at least one MMR vaccine dose. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose, are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second MMR vaccine dose.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy, go to http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Radar Studies on Kaua`i Highlight Perilous State of Endangered Seabirds

An analysis of long-term radar studies on Kaua‘i has revealed massive declines in populations of the island’s two endangered seabirds, the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP) announced today.  The study, due to be published online in the scientific journal Condor on June 5th, shows that between 1993 and 2013 populations of the ‘A‘o (Newell’s Shearwater) declined by 94% and Ua‘u (Hawaiian Petrel)  by 78%.

Newell’s Shearwater chick. Photo by Andre Raine

“The results of this study demonstrate just how poorly these two iconic birds have fared on Kaua‘i over that time period,” said Dr. André Raine, lead author of the paper.  “With the majority of our radar sites showing massive decreases in numbers of these birds over the years, populations of the birds are in a rapid downward trajectory – particularly in the south and east of the island.  The study highlights just how critical recent conservation initiatives for the species on Kaua‘i are if we are to have a hope of reversing the situation.”

The study used truck mounted radar at 15 standard sites around the island.  Radar surveys at these sites were started in 1993 by Robert Day and Brian Cooper of ABR Inc., and were continued near-annually by the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project from 2006 onwards.  Radar is utilized worldwide to study birds and is a key tool to monitor the island’s seabirds as they fly overhead in darkness to and from their breeding colonies and the sea.  The radar allows observers to “see” the birds flying overhead in the darkness as a series of dots passing across the radar screen.  By assessing the speed of movement, the direction of travel, and the time that the event is recorded, birds are identified to species.

“Kaua‘i’s endangered seabirds are under threat from a whole suite of issues, including introduced predators such as feral cats, powerline collisions, light attraction and invasive plants – as well as threats at sea which could include overfishing, by-catch and the effects of climate change.

Kaua‘i holds 90% of the world’s population of ‘A‘o and a significant proportion of the world’s population of Ua‘u, so it is vital that we protect these birds,” continued Dr Raine. “Recent conservation initiatives on the island from a wide range of different organizations, land-owners and entities have shown that people are become more and more aware of the perilous state of these birds.  This gives me hope that we can reverse these spiraling trends.”

Radar work will continue on Kaua‘i in 2017, starting now until the middle of July.  For more information on this critical component of KESRP’s work, please visit the project website at http://kauaiseabirdproject.org/. The Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project is a joint project between the Department of Land & Natural Resources (Division of Forestry & Wildlife) and the University of Hawai‘i (Pacific Co-operative Studies Unit).  Radar surveys are funded via a State Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.