Hawaii Wildfire – Close Call! GoPro Evacuation

On a viciously windy day while out running some errands in town we get a call from our friends saying “The backyard is on fire blowing straight towards the house, we’re taking the dogs!”.
Maui Wildfire

They were not kidding. We were 10 minutes away, and by the time we got halfway home we could see the black smoke billowing from the horizon, and we got back just in time to pull our valuables out of the house before the Maui County Fire Department closed off the street completely while they battled the 2 acre blaze being fed by the constant 30mph+ winds coming from the north.

Wildfire Truck

With the assistance of many fire trucks and a helicopter bringing water from the ocean less than 1/2 mile away they were able to bring the flames under control before they got to the neighborhood. Nothing was damaged other than the house smelling like a huge campfire for a few days afterwards thanks to the quick response by fire and police units, it could have been very much worse than it was.

Special thanks to all involved with helping protect our homes, you guys rock!!

Via EpiCapture Productions

When Whales Fly

When whales fly?

When Whales Fly

Saw this picture on Twitter… not sure who the original photographer is.

UPDATE: (Pic by Matthew Thornton, 2012) http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/traveler-magazine/photo-contest/2012/entries/150230/view/ … pic.twitter.com/yDnq9mvQ6Y

Video: Flash Flood on the Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands have been getting a lot of rain in the last few days.  Here is a video of a flash flood on the Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii.

The video was uploaded yesterday.

Senator J. Kalani English’s Statement on Fatal Lanai Plane Crash

Senator J. Kalani English (District 7- Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe), Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs, today issued the following statement after learning of the fatal plane crash near Lāna‘i Airport:

Sen. J. Kalani English

Sen. J. Kalani English

“It is with great sadness that I extend my most heartfelt condolences to the friends and families of those who passed in last night’s fatal plane crash on Lāna‘i. I continue to keep the survivors who are currently under the care of Queen’s Medical Center in my thoughts and prayers.”

“We lost two officials from Maui County’s Department of Planning and the pilot of the charter plane, with three others injured. They were on their way back from a Lāna‘i Planning Commission meeting that ended at 8:30 p.m. Their flight left around 9:05, about an hour after the last commercial flight leaving Lāna‘i. The Maui Planning Department officials played an integral part in development of the county and will be remembered for their service to the community.”

“Maui County has endured great tragedy in just a few months. We are still grieving the loss of Loretta Fuddy, Hawai‘i’s State health director, to a plane crash off the shores of Kalaupapa, Moloka‘i.

“As a unique and isolated county, small chartered planes are necessary for travel within the county. As such, air travel safety is an issue that is highly important to us. Maui Air had a previously unblemished record and I trust that a thorough investigation of the crash will occur. For those traveling by air to and from Lāna‘i, I want to assure you that services are safe and will continue.”

“We are grateful to the first responders in the crash and for their continued commitment to protecting Hawai‘i and those who visit our state.”

“On behalf of the Hawai‘i State Senate, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives and will keep the survivors in our thoughts and prayers.”

 

Target to Open First Store in Maui – Will Employ 200… Candidates Can Apply Online

Target is pleased to announce plans to open a new store in the city of Kahului on the island of Maui in Hawaii, in March 2015. The store will be located on Hookele Street as part of the Pu‘unēnē Shopping Center.  This will be the first Target store in Maui.

Target Location

The Maui store will be approximately 140,000 square feet, and will offer guests the everyday essentials and exclusive brands they have come to expect from Target. In addition, the store will include a selection of fresh produce, fresh packaged meat and pre-packaged baked goods, as well as a Starbucks and a Target Pharmacy, to further enhance guests’ shopping experience.

The Maui location will employ approximately 200 team members. Target will host job fairs approximately two months prior to the new store opening, at which prospective candidates may apply and interview for open team member positions. Candidates may also apply online at Target.com/careers or at in-store kiosks located in all Target stores approximately three months prior to the new store opening.

“Target is excited about our first store on the island of Maui,” said Cary Strouse, Target’s senior vice president of stores in the Western region.  “Since opening our first store in Hawaii in 2009, we’ve created strong partnerships with the local community and delivered our ‘Expect More. Pay Less.’ brand promise to guests throughout the islands.”

Target creates strong partnerships with local organizations in all of the communities where the company does business through Target’s community giving programs. This store will start a local grant program, contribute to the United Way and donate food to a Feeding America member, or approved agency. Target also encourages team members to volunteer their time to serve the needs of their community.

Sex Abuse Victims in Utah Seek justice from Maui Land & Pine, Mormon Church, and Others

Honolulu attorneys Charles McKay and Randall Rosenberg of Rosenberg & McKay filed a complaint in Second Circuit Court on Maui yesterday afternoon against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. (ML&P), Youth Development Enterprises, Inc. (YDE) and Brian R. Pickett, who currently resides in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  The Plaintiffs are two Utah men, Kyle Spray (42) and Jake Huggard (41), who now live in the Salt Lake City, Utah area.  Also consulting on the case are Idaho and Seattle Attorneys Craig Vernon and Leander James of James, Vernon and Weeks, P.A., and Mark Leemon of Leemon + Royer.

Kyle Spray

Kyle Spray

Jacob Huggard

Jacob Huggard

The lawsuit alleges the LDS (Mormon) Church and ML&P recruited boys in the 1970s and 80s from Mormon communities in Utah and Southeastern Idaho to pick pineapples at camps in Maui, where the Plaintiffs were sexually molested.  The camps closed in the early 1990s.

“There were hundreds of boys over more than a decade cycled through these camps,” explained attorney Randall Rosenberg, Esq., of Rosenberg & McKay.  “Hundreds were exposed to the alleged sexual predator in our case.  We do not know how many others may have been molested, but our experience is that child sexual predators with access to kids have multiple victims.”

Maui Land and Pineapple

“We are asking for anyone with knowledge about sexual abuse at these camps to come forward,” added attorney Charles McKay, Esq., of Rosenberg & McKay.

LDS men in their twenties, who qualified for supervisory positions after completing their two-year missions from the LDS Church, ran the camps.   When recruiting boys, the suit alleges the LDS Church represented to parents that the camps were a safe training ground for boys to become Mormon missionaries.

According to the suit, Defendant Brian R. Pickett, a Camp Coordinator, molested the Plaintiffs as boys while overseeing up to 200 boys at one camp from 1986 to 1988.  ML&P promoted Picket in 1988 to Vice President of Operations over both camps, exposing him to more than 400 boys employed at the camps. The alleged sexual abuse took place at the ML&P barracks while Picket was Camp Coordinator. Abuse of one boy allegedly continued at Pickett’s Maui upcountry home.  In addition to being the boys’ boss, Pickett was their spiritual leader.  Pickett was the Branch President, similar to a Mormon Bishop, who presided over the boys’ religious training.  According to the suit, Pickett baptized one 15-year-old victim who had been recruited as a non-Mormon, then sexually molested the boy.

“We believe Brian R. Pickett used his position over our clients as their supervisor and religious leader to gain access to the boys and manipulate them,” said attorney Craig Vernon, Esq., of James, Vernon and Weeks.  “The [Mormon] Church marketed this as a safe, wholesome and exciting adventure; fly to Hawai’i and pick pineapples.  That was extremely attractive to Mormon boys in Utah and Idaho in the 70s and 80s.”

“Thanks to a new Hawai’i law, abuse survivors as far away as Utah and Idaho now have access to justice for harm they suffered as boys in Hawai’i,” explained attorney Mark Leemon, Esq., of Leemon + Royer.   “We share our clients’ concern that other boys who may have been abused at these camps in the 70s and 80s only have until April of this year under the new law to file their claims.”

The two-year window statute in Hawaii allows child sexual abuse survivors to come forward and file suit until April 2014, regardless of when the abuse took place.

Equitable relief

Like similar suits Rosenberg and McKay filed against the Catholic Church, they and their team seek more than money for their clients.  “Our clients seek equitable relief for the protection of children, in addition to acknowledgement and restitution for the harm to them,” explains Rosenberg.   “We ask the LDS Church to take concrete steps to prevent future abuse and for the healing of victims.”  The relief sought demands the Church:

  • Change its corporate policies regarding reporting of suspected child sexual abuse. According to the suit, current policies instruct members and leaders to contact the Church instead of police or child protective services when they suspect child sexual abuse.
  • Reject current policies that state Church leaders should avoid testifying in civil or criminal cases involving abuse (Handbook 1, State Presidents and Bishops 2010, Section 17.3.2.)
  • Institute regulations that:

o   All alleged sex abusers will be immediately removed from exposure to children.

o   Members and leaders must report suspected abuse to the police and child protective services.

o   Leaders and members shall cooperate with civil and criminal authorities in cases involving sexual abuse, including testifying.

  • Publicly list abusers names on the LDS homepage of all its web sites to alert people of danger, including on the list Brian R. Pickett as a credibly accused pedophile with his last known address.
  • Identify all leaders and members who have been credibly accused of sexual molestation of a child in Hawaii.
  • Never support any laws that would shield child sexual abusers.
  • Establish age appropriate sex abuse training and educations for children ages 3 – 18 years old. This will include a “safe haven” for children to report abuse to any of three people in each Ward (a collection of individual churches).
  • Adopt a whistleblower policy so those reporting abuse will not have any retaliatory action taken against them.
  • Publish through its President an annual written statement that there exists no undisclosed knowledge that any leader has sexually abused any person in Hawaii.
  • Send a letter of apology to Plaintiffs.

“Equitable relief ensures there is concrete action for the prevention of future abuse and for the healing of victims,” explained McKay. “Given the number of young boys under Pickett’s supervision in the 1980s, there could be many more boys who experienced this abuse in Hawaii and now live in shame and silence in Idaho and Utah.”

Meet and Greet With KISS at the Fairmont Kea Lani

KISS and relax at the Farimont Kea Lani at Wailea, Maui, offers KISS fans a chance to grab a room and meet Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley at two VIP events in January with a room-and-party package starting at $349 a night.

KISS

Experience the ultimate Rock & Roll VIP weekend with KISS band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

Package Includes:

  • Accommodation in any luxurious one-bedroom suite or spacious villa (January 24 – 26, 2014, minimum of three nights) for the opening of Willow Stream Spa and Rock & Brews restaurant.
  • Two tickets to the Rock & Brews® restaurant VIP grand opening luncheon event in Paia, Maui on January 26, 2014 starting at 1:30pm:
    • Red carpet photo opportunities
    • Casual American comfort food and popular Hawaiian dishes
    • Tropical cocktails and Paia’s largest selection of craft beers
  • Admission for two to The Fairmont Kea Lani’s Willow Stream Spa VIP opening event on January 26, 2014 starting at 6:00pm:
    • Meet and take photos with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS
    • Experience the brand new, 9,000 square-foot Willow Stream Spa, complete with a KISS black & white manicure station, rock & roll red lipstick station and hot rock neck massages
    • Enjoy “Rock & ‘Roll” sushi rolls from the award-winning Kō restaurant
  •  Two Rock & Brews® Paia T-Shirt

Availability:

Between Friday, January 24, 2014 and Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rates:

The KISS Rock & Roll VIP Package rates start from $349 USD per night in a Fairmont Suite category, plus applicable taxes. This exclusive VIP package is valued at $609/night.

Please Note:

For new reservations made after January 1, 2014, The Fairmont Kea Lani has introduced a $30 resort charge per room, per night (plus applicable tax) that includes the following; access to self- parking, basic internet access, local and domestic long distance calls, 1-hour snorkel equipment rental and more.

DLNR To Consider Exchange Of Lands On Haleakala For Public Access

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has proposed an agreement that that it believes will avoid costly litigation, ensure public access to a hiking trail, and create a new access route to two large forest reserves on the leeward slope of Haleakala.

Haleakala Crater

Haleakala Crater

For more than 10 years, a disagreement, and now a lawsuit, has continued concerning the ownership of, and public access to, an obscure trail crossing privately owned lands of Haleakala Ranch. Now, in an effort to find a resolution to the issue and seek a compromise that would serve the public benefit, the state and Haleakala Ranch are considering a land exchange agreement that will provide the greatest public benefit.

Under the agreement, the state would relinquish title to the Haleakala Bridle Trail but maintain a binding, perpetual agreement for public access to the trail. In exchange, the state would receive a perpetual easement for a new access route to its Kahikinui Forest Reserve and Na Kula Natural Area Reserve.

The reserves, located on the upper slopes of leeward Haleakala, comprise more than 3,500 acres of outstanding opportunities for back country hiking, hunting, camping, and nature experience, and are important sites for several department initiatives, including watershed restoration and recovery of endangered species, such as the Maui Parrotbill.

The department is seeking approval from the Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday to proceed with scoping and studies necessary for the proposed exchange but will not proceed further with the exchange without returning to the Board for approval. In addition, under state law, any such proposed land exchange would also require consideration and approval by the state legislature.

“We are considering this proposed land agreement because our initial analysis indicates that it may be the solution with the best public benefit. The public would still have access to the Haleakala Trail but would also gain access to thousands of acres of reserves on leeward Haleakala that provide exciting recreational opportunities,” said William Aila, Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

Hawaii is unique among the states in that is has a law that can ensure public ownership of certain trails if it can be determined that those trails were in existence at the time of the original law signed by Queen Lili’uokalani in 1892, or if other criteria are met. In practice, however, determining whether a particular trail meets the requirements under the law can be technically and legally challenging, requiring extensive research, documentation, and in some cases, litigation.

A purported historic route to the summit of Haleakala represents such a case. While public access advocates have claimed that the historic trail, known as the Bridle Trail or Haleakala Trail, falls under the state law, the landowner has vigorously disagreed. As a result, the access advocates have sued and the case is pending in court.

Conditional to the agreement would be requirements that all natural, cultural, and historic features of the Haleakala are identified, protected, and preserved, that the public must continue to have guided public access to the Haleakala trail in perpetuity at a level that is reasonably consistent with the public demand, and that the department has full management authority over the leeward access route.

By securing access to the Haleakala Trail and gaining new access to the leeward reserves, the proposed exchange represents the best outcome for the public benefit and will avoid a costly lawsuit with an unknown outcome that could result in the loss of access to both sites.

Department of Agriculture Confirms Stinging Little Fire Ant Has Spread to Oahu and Maui From Hawaii Island

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has confirmed that an invasive stinging ant called the Little Fire Ant (LFA) has spread from Hawaii Island to Oahu and Maui.  On Dec. 23, a customer at garden shop on Maui reported a suspicious ant to the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), which sent the specimens to HDOA entomologists who confirmed the identification of LFA.

Little Fire Ant - Worker Ant

Little Fire Ant – Worker Ant

On Dec. 26, HDOA entomologists surveyed several nurseries and stores and found LFA infestations on hapuu (Hawaiian tree fern) at several garden shops on Oahu and at another Maui store.  All infested hapuu were contained and the areas secured. On Dec. 27, HDOA staff revisited the stores and treated the areas with pesticides.  Through trace-back and trace-forward efforts, HDOA believes the infested hapuu originated on Hawaii Island and products from that nursery have been ordered for treatment prior to shipping. The last shipment was made to Oahu and Maui on Dec. 11.  Surveys and treatment will continue by HDOA and MISC staff.

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

HDOA is advising those who recently purchased hapuu logs or planters to contain the logs by placing them in a plastic or garbage bag and seal it securely.  They should contact their nearest HDOA office as soon as possible.  Due to the holiday, please leave a message and staff will respond as soon as they are able:

Maui – (808) 872-3848

Oahu – PEST HOTLINE – 643-PEST (7378).  This is also a toll-free number for neighbor islands.

“It is important that those who have recently purchased hapuu which may be infested with little fire ants to help contain the infestation and contact us as soon as possible,” said Dr. Neil Reimer, administrator of HDOA’s Plant Industry Division. “Through past experience, we know we can contain an infestation if we find it in its early stages.”

Originally from South America, LFA is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.

LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th inch long, are pale orange in color and move slowly. LFA move slowly, unlike the Tropical Fire Ant which is established in Hawaii, move quickly and are larger with a larger head in proportion to its body. LFA can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets. They can build up very large colonies on the ground, in trees and other vegetation and completely overrun a property. They will also freely move into homes.

Infestation of LFA

Infestation of LFA

The first detection of LFA in Hawaii was in the Puna area in 1999. Surveys determined that LFA appeared to have been on the east side for several years prior to their initial detection and was widely distributed in Puna. Attention was then focused on controlling ant populations and preventing the spread to non-infested areas on the island and to other islands.

In October 2009, LFA was detected on a farm in Waihee, Maui. Eradication efforts at that site appear to have contained the infestation, which is being continually monitored. HDOA staff also trained Maui County employees, MISC and private pest control operators on Maui to assist in recognizing and reporting possible infestations on the island. MISC is also assisting HDOA in conducting surveys at high-risk areas on Maui.

Attached is a HDOA Pest Advisory that contains information on LFA and its history in Hawaii.
(Also available on the department’s website: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2013/01/npa99-02-lfireant.pdf). 

Shark Kills Man Fishing from Kayak Off Maui

DLNR – BEACH CLOSED AT MAKENA STATE PARK FOLLOWING FATAL SHARK BITE – Victim was kayak fishing off Little Beach

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and County lifeguards have closed waters off Makena State Recreation Area, following a fatal shark bite before 10:20 a.m. this morning in which a man was bit while fishing from a kayak half a mile off a point near Little Beach.

Makena State Recreation Area

Makena State Recreation Area

A companion, also on a kayak, said the man was fishing with artificial lures to attract baitfish when his dangling foot was bit by a shark.

His fishing partner was about 500 yards away when the incident occurred, then paddled over, tied a tourniquet and asked a nearby charter tour boat for assistance. The boat brought the injured man to Kihei boat ramp from where he was transported to the hospital.

Shark warning signs are being posted to advise the public to remain out of the water from Ahihi Bay to Makena Landing.

The beaches are open but the public is advised to stay out of the water.

DLNR staff and County lifeguards will continue to monitor the nearshore waters today and in the morning will reassess the area. If no sharks are seen, the area will reopen at noon tomorrow, following state shark incident protocol.

According to the Division of Aquatic Resources, this is the 13th reported shark incident statewide this year, and the 8th on Maui. Over the last 20 years, Hawaii has averaged about four unprovoked shark incidents per year (see http://www.hawaiisharks.org/incidentyear.html), but numbers per individual year are highly variable. There were no reported incidents in1998, and just one in 2008. In 2012, the 10 incidents reported were at the time unprecedented.

“We are not sure why these bites are occurring more frequently than normal, especially around Maui. That’s why we are conducting a two-year study of shark behavior around Maui that may give us better insights,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “It is our hope and expectation that numbers of incidents will return to a more normal range in the near future.”

Aila continued, “We offer our condolences to the family of the victim. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

UPDATE: Police say 57-year-old Patrick Briney of Stevenson, Washington died Monday while fishing from a kayak off Maui’s southwest coast. State Department of Land and Natural Resources says the shark bit his dangling foot.

Wordless Wednesday – 50 Foot Cliff Jump in Hawaii

First Person view of a cliff jump from a 50 foot ledge. Maui, Hawaii.

Maui Cliff Jump
Shot with a GoPro Hero 3 black at 1080p 60fps.

Coast Guard Rescues Fishermen in Distress Off Maui

Two fishermen are safe after their vessel began taking on water approximately two miles north of Kahului, Maui, Wednesday.

Crew members from Coast Guard Station Maui tow a 21-foot recreational vessel after it began to take on water approximately two miles north of Kahului, Maui, Nov. 20, 2013. Open lines of communication between multiple agencies allowed for assets to respond quickly, locate and save the lives of two fishermen. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Crew members from Coast Guard Station Maui tow a 21-foot recreational vessel after it began to take on water approximately two miles north of Kahului, Maui, Nov. 20, 2013. Open lines of communication between multiple agencies allowed for assets to respond quickly, locate and save the lives of two fishermen. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Maui received a call for assistance from the Maui Fire Department who were responding to a 21-foot recreational vessel named Kakaloa, which began to take on water at 7:45 a.m.

The captain of the vessel reported his bilge pump was pumping out water but was unable to determine how long the pump would last.

An Urgent Marine Information Broadcast was issued over VHF marine radio channel 16 to notify other vessels in the area of the emergency and the need for immediate assistance.

A 25-foot Response Boat – Small boatcrew was launched to the scene from Coast Guard Station Maui along with a helicopter aircrew from the Maui Fire Department who was able to pass the exact position of the vessel to the RBS crew.

Station Maui deployed a crewman and a P-6 portable pump to help dewater the vessel as it was towed into Kahului Harbor where it was safely removed from the water.

All of the boaters were wearing their life jackets and no injuries were reported.

“This case highlights the hard work that Maui County, state and federal agencies including the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary have put into developing effective partnerships,” said Chief Petty Officer Erin Stapleton, Officer in Charge of Coast Guard Station Maui. “Open lines of communication between the agencies allowed for the correct assets to respond immediately and locate and save the lives of these two fisherman. The Coast Guard response boat was vectored into the location by Maui County’s Air One helicopter, nearly ten miles away from the location the vessel thought they were in. This allowed for the Coast Guard small boat to arrive on scene and expeditiously dewater the vessel”.

For more information on boating safety visit http://www.uscgboating.org.

For more information on this case contact Lt. Kevin Cooper, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu public affairs officer, at (808) 842-2657.

Maui Member of State Board of Education Resigns Due to Time Constraints

The Maui member of the state Board of Education resigned effective the end of October.

A member of the original appointed board, Wesley Lo left the panel that governs the public school system eight months before his three-year term was to end in June.

Increasing responsibilities with his job as regional chief executive officer at Maui Memorial Medical Center effectively forced him to leave the Board of Education, he said Wednesday in an interview with The Maui News.

WESLEY LO Time constraints “just too much”

WESLEY LO Time constraints “just too much”

“The time constraints were just too much,” Lo said. “I was really depressed that I had to step down.”

In addition to being in charge of three hospitals in the county, Lo was given additional responsibilities from the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., the quasi-public entity that runs Neighbor Island public hospitals, after the departure of Bruce Anderson, HHSC chief executive officer and president, in July.

Lo said he has been given the responsibility to look into possible public-private partnerships.

As far as replacing Lo, the governor is “considering all applicants and will be making an appointment as soon as possible,” said Christine Hirasa, deputy director of communications for the governor, in an email Wednesday.

The governor’s nominee to the volunteer post on the nine-member board must be confirmed by the state Senate.

Lo was a member of the inaugural governor-appointed Education Board in the spring of 2011. A state constitutional amendment passed in 2010 by voters switched the board from an elected to an appointed panel.

While having high regard for the elected board, Lo said he thought the appointed board worked well. “The idea was we could have some common vision as a board” without the worry of re-election, he said. He thought the appointed board could become more focused without the politics.

“It takes time for a board to develop,” he said. “We had our ups and downs. . . . We started jelling a little bit better and trusting members.”

One of the initial challenges for the new board was getting a handle on the size and complexity of the state Department of Education, the only statewide public school system in the country. He thought Maui Memorial with its 1,500 employees was a large entity, but the hospital pales in comparison to the DOE with 20,000 employees, 260 schools and a “budget not in the millions (but) . . . in the billions.”

“I guess that I was surprised at how big the Department of Education is . . . how complex it is,” he said. “It’s hard to maneuver. It took a lot of time to understand.”
He was thankful for the support and counsel he received from Maui County school superintendents Lindsay Ball and Alvin Shima and also Bruce Anderson (not the same as the former HHSC head), Shima’s predecessor who moved on to become Maui High School’s principal.

Lo also recalled a gathering with social studies teachers who provided him with information on graduation requirements.

“I realized how little I did know about the education system,” said Lo, whose children attend public schools and whose wife is a counselor at Maui High.

The departing board member had high praise for state schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and her staff. Given the size and complexities of the DOE, Lo noted that it is difficult to make changes, saying “it’s like turning the aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean.”

“The superintendent and the board are taking some bold steps,” he said. “It will take time. It’s really exciting.”

He noted the Race to the Top initiatives, improving test scores and the implementation of teacher evaluations.

There were some things he would have liked to continue to work on, such as centralizing and reorganizing nonacademic functions. He cited, for example, creating a centralized food service system instead of the current school-by-school one. The goal of centralization and reorganization would be to allow principals and teachers to focus more of their time on academics, he said.

Locally, he had two issues he wishes he could “have seen through” – the opening of the Kihei high school and the Hawaiian immersion program. The long-sought high school received $130 million in construction funding in the last Legislative session, with construction expected to begin in July 2015. At Paia Elementary School, there is a move to turn the school into a fully Hawaiian immersion school.

“Both are controversial issues I was involved in and appreciated the community input,” he said.

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Possible Missing Kayaker Off Maui

The search for a possible missing kayaker off Maui has been suspended pending further developments.

The search began after an abandoned kayak was found off La Perouse Bay, Maui, at approximately 11 a.m., Tuesday.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Maui, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Air Station Barbers Point and a Jet Ski from Ocean Safety searched the area for a possible kayaker in distress.

Every year, countless man hours and taxpayer dollars go to search and rescue missions where someone is not in danger.

Paddle Smart

Paddle Smart Identification Sticker

“The Coast Guard highly recommends mariners use Paddle Smart stickers and mark their personal watercraft with their contact information,” said Chief Petty Officer Jerrod Sneller, operations unit controller at Sector Honolulu Command Center. “This will reduce the number of man hours spent searching for individuals not in distress and it will allow valuable resources to be ready for actual search and rescue cases.”

Through the Operation Paddle Smart program, the Coast Guard offers a free “If Found” decal to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered watercraft. The decal is weatherproof and reflective.

The goal of Paddle Smart is to save lives and taxpayer dollars. The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel’s owner and aid search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action.

The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices and at select marine retail and supply stores.

For information on obtaining a Paddle Smart sticker, contact 808-535-3424.

Lahaina Bypass Receives 2013 Overall Grand Outstanding Civil Achievement Award

The Kahoma Stream Bridge in Lahaina, part of the Honoapiilani Highway Realignment Project, also known as the “Lahaina Bypass,” received the 2013 Overall Grand Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Hawaii Section, at a ceremony this past weekend.  The ASCE Hawaii Section annually recognizes an exemplary civil engineering project that best illustrates superior civil engineering skills and represents a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society.

The new bridge, seen above under construction, utilizes an inverted tier arch design, which places arched support beams below the road surface rather than above.  This design was selected to minimize obstructions of ocean views for motorists and the Lahaina community.

The new bridge, seen above under construction, utilizes an inverted tier arch design, which places arched support beams below the road surface rather than above. This design was selected to minimize obstructions of ocean views for motorists and the Lahaina community.

“The Hawaii Department of Transportation and our Highways Division is honored to receive this very prestigious engineering award,” said state Department of Transportation Director Glenn Okimoto.  “Completion of this bridge was a key component in the first segment of the Lahaina Bypass, giving motorists a new alternate route to bypass the busiest section of Lahaina Town.”

Seen here after completion, the bridge design eliminates the need for foundation pillars below which leaves the Kahoma Stream unobstructed.

Seen here after completion, the bridge design eliminates the need for foundation pillars below which leaves the Kahoma Stream unobstructed.

The 360-foot, two-lane bridge structure, which spans the Kahoma Stream Gulch, utilizes an inverted tier arch design, which places support beams below the road surface rather than above.  This design was selected to minimize obstructions of ocean views for motorists and the Lahaina community.  The unique support beam design also eliminates the need for foundation pillars below the bridge which leaves the Kahoma Stream unobstructed.  Construction of the bridge was completed at an approximate cost of $24.3 million.

The project will now be submitted to the ASCE national competition for consideration against other construction projects nationwide.

Senator Hirono Announces $7,485,000 to Improve Inter-Island Ferries

Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that $7,485,000 in U.S. Department of Transportation funding is coming to Hawaii to improve its inter-island ferries.

Congresswoman Hirono Introduces Resolution Honoring Mother Marianne of Molokai

Congresswoman Hirono Introduces Resolution Honoring Mother Marianne of Molokai

The funding will be used to support ferries from Kaunakakai, Manele, and Maalaea small boat harbors, located on Molokai, Lanai, and Maui respectively.

“Connecting our islands through transit and supporting air transit alternatives are necessary strategies to develop a more sustainable economy,” said Hirono. “This funding will help modernize Hawaii’s small commercial ferry infrastructure and ensure that residents on Lanai, Maui and Molokai can easily get from island to island.”

The DOT funding will go to projects that rehabilitate ferry terminals and piers, increasing the efficiency, safety and hospitability of the existing inter-island ferry system. The ferries make daily roundtrips and provide critical transportation needs between the three islands.

 

Shark Bites Woman Off Maui Beach

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) this morning closed the beaches from Polo Beach Park to the Mana Kai Maui Resort in the Kihei-Wailea area due to a shark incident earlier today. Closure is in effect until further notice.

Polo Beach

Polo Beach

DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers were informed of a shark incident between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

The female victim was approximately 30 feet seaward, north of the rocky point at Ulua Beach Park. The victim was taken to the hospital and is currently receiving medical treatment.

DOCARE and Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) staff initiated a beach closure one mile in either direction from the incident  – approximately from Polo Beach Park to the Mana Kai Maui Resort — and posted shark warning signs. DOCARE officers remain in the area to facilitate and maintain the closure.

Females Lead Population Collapse of the Endangered Hawaii Creeper

Only 22 to 28 percent of the remaining adult population of the endangered Hawai‘i creeper (Oreomystis mana) found in the southern portion of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge is female, raising concerns about the birds’ ability to continue to propagate the species, according to new research published by University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa scientists Leonard Freed and Rebecca Cann.

Hawaiian Creeper

Hawaiian Creeper

“Nesting is an energetically expensive activity, and females can incur more risks under increasingly challenging conditions,” said Biology Professor Freed.

Both male and female Hawai‘i creepers are olive green and have a short, straight gray bill and black mask.  The birds are endemic to the Island of Hawai‘i.  Creeping up and down koa and ‘ōhi‘a tree trunks and along the underside of larger branches, they feed on insects living under loose bark.

From 2001 to 2007, Hawai‘i creeper population declined by 63 percent throughout a 3,400-hectare open forest area at Hakalau Refuge on the windward slope of Mauna Kea, according to trend analyses by Freed and Cann.  The scientists observed the male-biased sex ratio along the elevation gradient in a formerly high density section of the forest, including a closed forest area study site that is considered more pristine, and found that it was associated with the population decline in the refuge’s open forest areas.  Hakalau formerly had the best population of creepers on the island…

More Here: Hawaiian Creeper

Governor Enacts Legislation on Maui – Statement Regarding the Federal Shark Conservation Act

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed four bills related to land preservation, emergency medical services, small boat harbors and the Kahoolawe Island Reserve while at the Grand Wailea Resort on Maui.

Shark Legislation
“These measures will help to preserve Maui’s natural resources, encourage cultural activity, and improve emergency services,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “The population has increased significantly on Maui, and it’s imperative to provide timely responses to emergencies.”

HB1424 (Relating to the Acquisition of Resource Value Land) requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in consultation with the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, to engage to acquire the parcel of land located at Lipoa Point.  This measure requires DLNR to ensure to the maximum extent practicable that the seller of the land uses the proceeds of the sale to benefit the pension plan of retirees of the Maui Land and Pineapple Company, Inc.

SB498 (Relating to Emergency Medical Services) appropriates funds out of the Emergency Medical Services Special Fund to establish and fund a 24/7 special emergency medical response vehicle unit based in Maalaea, Maui, including acquisition of a vehicle, equipment, and personnel costs.

HB1412 (Relating to Small Boat Harbors) requires DLNR to accommodate mooring of native Hawaiian canoes owned or leased by nonprofit entities and used for educational purposes in small boat harbors.

HB1328 (Relating to the Kahoolawe Island Reserve) makes permanent the exemption for the procurement of food or fuel products necessary for the Kahoolawe island reserve commission.

Statement Regarding the Federal Shark Conservation Act:

Gov. Neil Abercrombie agrees with Hawaii Sen. Clayton Hee and William J. Aila, Jr., chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, that Hawaii law prohibiting the possession and sale of shark fins should not be pre-empted by the federal government. Under proposed National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration rules, fishing vessels would be not be allowed remove shark fins in federal waters, but required to bring whole sharks into Hawaii to cut their fins off on land.

Gov. Abercrombie stated:

“We must preserve the strong position the Hawaii State Legislature took in May 2010 when Hawaii became the first state in the nation to make it illegal to possess, sell or distribute shark fins in the state. This model legislation symbolizes Hawaii’s concern for the welfare of all creatures. “We oppose federal pre-emption of the Hawaii law. Our law is working as intended. We have educated fishers and restaurants, and they are complying.”

Honey Badgers Ready to Compete in 3rd Battle of the Islands – Maui

The Paradise Roller Girls’ Honey Badgers are riled up and ready for some hard-hitting action in the upcoming 2013 Battle of the Islands in Maui, June 28-29. Honey Badger Talina DiMartino, aka “Sasha Buzzkill”, said the PRG all-star team is prepared to “out-block, out-score, and out-skate” their opponents. “We’re ready for anything, she said. “We’ve been doing extra endurance drills, scrimmaging, and having meetings about strategy.”

Paradise Roller Girl’s Honey Badgers at the 2012 Hilo Battle of the Islands. Photo credit: Mr. Forbidden

Paradise Roller Girl’s Honey Badgers at the 2012 Hilo Battle of the Islands. Photo credit: Mr. Forbidden

Teammate Hau’oli Sayles, aka “Stealth SoulJAH”, agrees with DiMartino about the team’s readiness, saying all the players are in top shape and eager to play. “We are working on specific strategies and skills that will be used to hopefully win this tournament,” Sayles said.

The Maui Owie Rollers and Waimea Wranglers will roll out to warm the fans up in the first matchup of the tournament, Friday, June 28 at 6:30 pm. Second up in the starting night’s double header will be the much anticipated bout between the Honey Badgers and the Maui Roller Girls, slated to begin at 8 pm.

Teams from Pacific Roller Derby (Oahu), Garden Isle Renegade Rollerz (Kauai), and Aloha City Rollers (Oahu) will play on the second day of the tournament, with the first bout starting at 10 am. Seven teams will vie for the championship slot in two separate brackets. The final bout for B bracket is scheduled for 5 pm on Saturday. The battle for the top spot in bracket A starts at 6:30 pm.

In addition to the extra endurance drills and team strategy meetings, Honey Badger players are taking time out to do some personal training too. Sayles said she is doing High Intensity Interval Training in order to “step up the jammer game, increase performance, and prevent injury.”

Kaya Lela, aka “Chola Roll-ya”, said she’s “eating a nutritious diet and practicing four times a week.” Lela started skating with PRG “from the get-go,” but said this will be her first time competing in the Battle of the Islands.

Paradise Roller Girl’s Honey Badgers SheBang SheBang #911, Reba Smack N’ Flyher #65, Tsunamea #25, and VonSchlappenbitsch #8 hold back the Maui Roller Girls jammer at the 2012 Hilo Battle of the Islands. Photo credit Mr. Forbidden

Paradise Roller Girl’s Honey Badgers SheBang SheBang #911, Reba Smack N’ Flyher #65, Tsunamea #25, and VonSchlappenbitsch #8 hold back the Maui Roller Girls jammer at the 2012 Hilo Battle of the Islands. Photo credit Mr. Forbidden

Battle of the Islands is a state-wide bi-annual flat-track roller derby tournament. The tournament rotates to different islands where it is hosted by the local roller derby league. Paradise Roller Girls hosted the first Battle of the Islands tournament last July in Hilo. A second Battle of the Islands took place in Oahu last September. The fourth Battle of the Islands will be in Kauai later this year. Money earned from the June 2 PRG Skate-a-Thon fundraiser is being used to pay for some of the Honey Badgers’ travel costs for this year’s trip to Maui.

Games will take place at Central Maui Boys and Girls Club Outdoor Basketball Court 100 Kanaloa Avenue Kahului, HI 96793. For tickets and a full schedule of the upcoming June 28-29 tournament visit mauirollergirls.com. Those attending the tournament are encouraged to bring a canned food or pantry item to help support the Maui Food Bank.

Paradise Roller Girls is a women’s flat-track roller derby league located on the Big Island of Hawaii. PRG’s mission is to promote a healthy, athletic lifestyle in their community through the alternative sport of roller derby.