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Search Enters Third Day for Missing Army Aviators off Oahu

Responders enter day three in the continuing search for five missing Army aviators from a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Friday.

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)

Searching are:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew from Honolulu
  • Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) and crew from Base Honolulu
  • 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
  • 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
  • Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services
  • Crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources
  • Shore patrols from the Army

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point searched throughout the night and is scheduled to resume efforts Friday afternoon following sufficient crew rest.

The search area remains at as much as 50 miles offshore having expanded since the incident due to swift and dynamic currents in the area. Fixed-wing aviation assets are searching the leading edge while helicopters and vessels are concentrating efforts now 25 miles offshore.

None of the missing aviators have been located yet. Debris continues to be spotted and recovered in the area off Ka’ena Point by responders. Personnel at the joint forward operating base at Hale’iwa Boat Harbor continue to coordinate efforts.

A safety zone remains in effect extending out in a five nautical mile (5.75 statue mile) 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.

Debris from the crash should be considered hazardous material and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment. The debris poses potential risk and could cause serious bodily harm due to sharp edges. Those who see or encounter debris consistent with this type of aircraft along the north and west side of Oahu are asked to report it to responders by calling the 25th Combat Infantry Brigade Staff Duty Officer at 808-656-1080.

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.

Weather on scene is similar to the previous days, with 17 mph winds, seas to 4-feet and isolated showers. Visibility is good.

North Kona Water Restiction Update – Spare Motor Defective and Cannot Be Used

This is an Emergency Water Restriction update for North Kona. The Department of Water Supply’s (DWS) Honokohau Deepwell is out of service. Therefore, ALL residents and customers in North Kona must immediately restrict water use to health and safety needs (drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes) only. Cease all landscape irrigation activities.

During today’s work, it was discovered that the spare motor is defective and cannot be used. DWS is now working on several options to obtain another spare motor before resuming the installation work. The updated repair schedule is to be determined.

DWS appreciates the community’s efforts to restrict their water use during this time. Government agencies, businesses, and other customers that use recycled wastewater or reclaimed water, in lieu of potable water, for their daily operations are to be commended. Adjustments were made to the water distribution system and a minimum level of water service is being maintained.

However, without everyone’s continued cooperation, there will be areas that will experience periodic loss of water service or lower water pressures. We also recommend that residents store a sufficient amount of water for basic household needs, such as drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes, in the event of service disruptions.

For your use, potable water can be obtained from a water tanker located on Hina Lani Street between Anini Street and Manu Mele Street as well as water spigots on a fire hydrant along Ane Keohokalole Highway, between Kealakehe Parkway and Kealakehe High School. Please bring your own drinking water containers to fill.

For more information visit our website at www.hawaiidws.org. To report any observed wasteful use of water call 961-8060 during normal business hours or email dws@hawaiidws.org. For after hour emergencies call us at 961-8790.

Forever In Our HeARTS – In Honor of Stephanie Becher

Forever In Our HeARTS: A night of scenes, songs, memories, love and laughter in honor of Stephanie Becher.

The variety show will be at Hilo’s Historic Palace Theater, Thursday August 24, 2017 at 7:30pm. Stephanie Becher was a mother, friend, attorney, and beloved member of the Hilo theatre community. Sadly we lost her after complications of a necessary heart surgery in July 2017. This concert will be performed in her memory by her many friends in the theater community.

The show will feature scenes, songs, and dances from a variety of shows in which Stephanie has performed. This evening of laughter and loving memories will honor Stephanie and help to raise funds for her husband and two young sons.

Please join us in remembering Stephanie for all of the brightness she brought to our world through the arts. A $20 donation is suggested; all proceeds benefit the Becher ‘ohana. Tickets are available in advance from performers and at the Palace Theater box office in Hilo and remaining tickets will be available at the door. For ticket information, call the Palace Theater at (808) 934-7010.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Newly-Activated Hawaiʻi Army Reserve Detachment; Kicks off 2017 Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta

Today on Oʻahu, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) delivered remarks at the 25th Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment (MCP-OD) Activation Ceremony at Schofield Barracks and honored the unit’s new commander, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Gavin Tsuda, a native of Honolulu. The 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD is the only division level MCP-OD in the Army Reserve, and joins nine National Guard MCP-ODs across the country being assigned to active duty divisions in order to provide headquarters elements with the additional manpower for areas such as intelligence, operations and logistics.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard addresses the newly-activated 25th Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment (MCP-OD)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “I’m grateful to have served Hawaiʻi and our country alongside LTC Tsuda, who personifies what it means to be a citizen soldier. As a soldier, he is known for his attention to detail, taking care of soldiers, upholding the highest standards, and mentoring junior soldiers to help them grow and better fulfill their own duties and assignments. As a civilian, he is committed to his community, and has dedicated much of his career to developing affordable housing for underserved communities in Hawaiʻi—a tremendous need in our state. As LTC Tsuda blazes a new trail as the first commander of the 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD, he will continue to set the bar high for this unit and its soldiers.”

Later in the day, the congresswoman kicked off the annual Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta at its opening reception and honored the 2017 recipients of the Daniel K. Inouye Leadership and Community Service Award—Assistant Race Director Natasha Haine and the late U.S. Congressman Mark Takai. The award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond the call to serve, dedicating themselves to honoring and supporting our wounded warriors, their loved ones, and our Gold Star families. Past recipients of the award include Judge Edward Kubo, Marc Haine, Gervin Miyamoto, Darryl Wong, Penny Kalua, Liz Sabog, and Race Director Matthew McCarville.

“Each year, this event harnesses the healing power of the ocean and our supportive community as our veterans and their families continue to recover from the wounds of war both visible and invisible. As we gather here tonight, the search continues for five of our own who are still missing off our shores—a heart aching reminder of the risks our servicemembers take every single day, whether in training or in combat, as they put their lives on the line for the security of our nation. Our hearts are with them, their families, and our first responders,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The congresswoman will join wounded warriors, Gold Star families, and Hawaiʻi’s veteran community in paddling in the 2017 Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta off the shores of Fort DeRussy this Saturday.

Commentary – City Rail Audit Won’t Look for Fraud?

Dear Damon,

This week, the Honolulu City Council Budget Committee approved a widely supported resolution to conduct an “economy and efficiency” audit of the city’s over-budget and behind-schedule rail project, but it didn’t go far enough.

That’s because, if approved by the Council as a whole, it would not be looking for fraud — this despite the fact that City Auditor Edwin Young told the committee “the red flags were there” when he was conducting his own very critical performance audit of the project just last year.

As amended, Resolution 17-199 would direct Young’s office to investigate the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s capital finances, which amount to at least $8 billion. This would be a big improvement over Young’s earlier audit, which looked only at HART’s operational finances of about $18 million annually.

During the hearing, Joe Kent, Grassroot Institute vice president of research, congratulated the committee for considering Councilmember Trevor Ozawa’s resolution to investigate the rail project, but expressed concern about its amended version.

“The proposed new language seems to suggest there is no desire to look into whether there has been any illegal activity in the rail construction process,” he said.

After Kent’s comments, Budget Committee members asked Young if any fraud had been found while he was conducting last year’s performance audit.

He responded: “We found that the internal controls were so weak that if fraud, waste or abuse were to occur, HART and (others) would not have detected it, could not prevent it, and could not have taken corrective action, if it had occurred.”

Pressed further, the city auditor said he would be willing to recommend a forensic audit seeking fraud, waste and abuse if the former HART executive director, Dan Grabauskas, were still in charge. However, the current proposed audit, which does not seek out fraud or abuse, would be sufficient for the current leadership.

But this misses the point.

The public deserves to know about fraud, whether it happened now or in the past. The only way to know for sure if Hawaii taxpayers have been getting true and honest returns for their hard-earned tax dollars is to conduct a full forensic audit of the rail project.

All the better if an entity independent of the city were hired to provide the staff and expertise to conduct such an audit — in a reliable, trustworthy and timely manner.

Such an audit likely would require separate funding; perhaps the $250,000 allocated by HART for “special audit services” would be a good place to start.

In any case, Hawaii leaders should not shy away from seeking out illegal or abusive activities in the Honolulu rail project. And only a “deep dive” forensic audit can accomplish that goal. Anything less is playacting.

E hana kakou (Let’s work together!),

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.
President/CEO Grassroots Institute of Hawaii

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses 25th Infantry

Today on Oʻahu, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) delivered remarks at the 25th Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment (MCP-OD) Activation Ceremony at Schofield Barracks and honored the unit’s new commander, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Gavin Tsuda, a native of Honolulu. The 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD is the only division level MCP-OD in the Army Reserve, and joins nine National Guard MCP-ODs across the country being assigned to active duty divisions in order to provide headquarters elements with the additional manpower for areas such as intelligence, operations and logistics.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “I’m grateful to have served Hawaiʻi and our country alongside LTC Tsuda, who personifies what it means to be a citizen soldier. As a soldier, he is known for his attention to detail, taking care of soldiers, upholding the highest standards, and mentoring junior soldiers to help them grow and better fulfill their own duties and assignments. As a civilian, he is committed to his community, and has dedicated much of his career to developing affordable housing for underserved communities in Hawaiʻi—a tremendous need in our state. As LTC Tsuda blazes a new trail as the first commander of the 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD, he will continue to set the bar high for this unit and its soldiers.”

Later in the day, the congresswoman kicked off the annual Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta at its opening reception and honored the 2017 recipients of the Daniel K. Inouye Leadership and Community Service Award—Assistant Race Director Natasha Haine and the late U.S. Congressman Mark Takai. The award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond the call to serve, dedicating themselves to honoring and supporting our wounded warriors, their loved ones, and our Gold Star families. Past recipients of the award include Judge Edward Kubo, Marc Haine, Gervin Miyamoto, Darryl Wong, Penny Kalua, Liz Sabog, and Race Director Matthew McCarville.

“Each year, this event harnesses the healing power of the ocean and our supportive community as our veterans and their families continue to recover from the wounds of war both visible and invisible. As we gather here tonight, the search continues for five of our own who are still missing off our shores—a heart aching reminder of the risks our servicemembers take every single day, whether in training or in combat, as they put their lives on the line for the security of our nation. Our hearts are with them, their families, and our first responders,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The congresswoman will join wounded warriors, Gold Star families, and Hawaiʻi’s veteran community in paddling in the 2017 Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta off the shores of Fort DeRussy this Saturday.

THE HAWAII PROMISE – Nearly 1,000 Students Awarded Hawai’i Promise Scholarships

Almost 1,000 students from the University of Hawaiʻi’s seven community colleges have been awarded Hawaiʻi Promise scholarships for the 2017 fall semester. This represents about 4 percent of the 23,000 students currently enrolled at UH Community Colleges.

Windward Community College

The scholarships are designed to remove all cost barriers to attending UH Community Colleges, which have already been recognized among the most affordable two-year public institutions in the nation. An estimated $1.4 million in Hawaiʻi Promise scholarships has been awarded, and the average scholarship per student is $1,416.

Hawaiʻi Promise provides aid for any financial needs not met by other forms of financial aid, such as federal grants and benefits and scholarships from UH or other sources. Its goal is to provide free in-state tuition for qualified UH Community College students and covers tuition, fees, books, supplies and transportation.

The governor and the legislature recognized the importance of this program and the need for those last dollars to make it possible for qualified students to go to college.
—John Morton

UH Vice President John Morton credits Gov. David Ige and the state legislature, which appropriated $1.8 million during the 2017 session for each year of the fiscal biennium 2018 and 2019 through the state budget bill.

“The governor and the legislature recognized the importance of this program and the need for those last dollars to make it possible for qualified students to go to college,” said Morton. “We thank them for their support and their vision.”

“Programs such as Hawaiʻi Promise remove cost barriers for anyone who wants to attend college, clearing the path for community college students to complete their education,” Ige said. “Higher education is the key to higher paying jobs and a better quality of life.”

Morton also noted that the UH Board of Regents first supported and approved the proposal for the Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship program in 2016. It was part of Gov. Ige’s executive package, and both houses introduced Hawaiʻi Promise bills in 2017.

How Hawaiʻi Promise works

There are a number of steps for students to qualify for a Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship. First, a student must apply for federal financial aid, by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal government calculates the Expected Family Contribution, or what the student’s family can afford to pay. Twenty-five per cent of the expected family contribution is applied to direct costs of attending college—tuition, fees, books supplies and local transportation. The balance of the family contribution is applied to room board and personal expenses.

If eligible, a student may then be awarded Pell grant and Supplemental Education Opportunity grant money. A student may also be awarded various UH and UH Foundation scholarships and/or scholarships from other sources.

If all these grants and award reviews are completed and the student still has unmet need for direct costs, such as tuition, fees and books, the student receives a Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship to cover any unmet direct costs.

National recognition

Hawaiʻi Promise has already caught the eye of the College Promise Campaign, a nonpartisan, nonprofit higher-education initiative to build widespread support for funding the first two years of a community college education. The campaign is chaired by Jill Biden and former Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer.

“The College Promise Campaign is delighted that Hawaiʻi has joined the rapidly growing list of states and communities expanding opportunity for students to complete an undergraduate degree or technical certificate without bearing the burden of unmanageable college debt,” said Martha Kanter, executive director of the College Promise Campaign. “The Hawaiʻi Promise extends educational opportunity to students of any age, including many who never imagined they could afford to go to college.”

Spring semester 2018

UH Community Colleges are encouraging even more students to enroll and apply for the Hawaiʻi Promise scholarships for the spring semester.

“Even though we are already among the most affordable two-year public higher education institutions in the nation, we want to make sure we meet the needs of every Hawaiʻi citizen who has a desire to better their life through higher education,” said Morton.

To apply for a Hawaiʻi Promise scholarship, contact the UH System Financial Office at (808) 956-8753 or uhsfao@hawaii.edu.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Condemns Justice Department’s Politically Motivated Search Warrant

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today warned that, in violation of First Amendment privacy protections afforded under the Constitution, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested a search warrant for IP addresses and personal information stored on the server of a private company who helped organize protests during President Trump’s inauguration. The search warrant, filed by the federal government in the D.C. Superior Court, is trying to force DreamHost to provide the DOJ with the user information for anyone who visited their site in an effort to identify anyone involved in Inauguration Day protests.

Tulsi and my son when he won an art competition at the state capitol.

“The Justice Department’s politically motivated probe to collect personal information on its own citizens exercising their legal right to express dissenting political views is nothing short of a constitutional violation and is wholly un-American. It reeks of actions that Presidents Nixon and Johnson took against Americans protesting the war in Vietnam. Our country was founded on the rule of law which protects our right to free speech and prohibits the government from violating our personal privacy with baseless warrants. These fundamental rights and protections separate our democracy from dictators around the world who seek to silence and intimidate their political opponents to maintain power. The Justice Department’s witch hunt serves as a reminder that we must take a stand to defend our constitutional rights and ensure our government is not allowed to violate our constitutional rights and civil liberties,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long advocated for reforms that address our government’s responsibility to protect civil liberties. She is a founding member of the Fourth Amendment Caucus and has been a champion for strengthening privacy and civil liberties protections in the digital age. She has introduced legislation to strengthen the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) and cosponsored legislation like the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act and Email Privacy Act to modernize electronic privacy laws.

Partial Lane Closure in Hakalau Extended to Sept. 1

Hawaii Electric Light Company announces that the partial lane closure of Highway 19 between the 16 and 17-mile markers in Hakalau has been extended to September 1.To improve system reliability, crews have been upgrading transmission and distribution facilities and equipment in the area. As the work was being done, crews found additional poles that must be replaced due to deterioration which will require more time to complete the project.

One lane will be closed to traffic from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Motorists are advised to expect delays of up to 20 minutes and encouraged to use alternate routes via Old Mamalahoa Highway, if possible.
Hawaii Electric Light regrets any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding. For questions or concerns, please call 969-6666.

Hawaii Rep. Beth Fukumoto Responds to Hate Letter, White Nationalism and Issues a Warning to the GOP

After receiving a letter from a self-proclaimed Trump supporter attacking her Japanese ancestry and her support for “illegals, black thugs, Muslims and bombs, and gays,” Rep. Beth Fukumoto released the following statement. Fukumoto, who left the Republican Party earlier this year after being removed from leadership over her participation in the Hawaii Women’s March, has spoken extensively on her experiences of racism and race politics in the GOP.

Rep. Beth Fukumoto

“This letter isn’t the first to come across my desk, but it’s so painfully relevant to everything that has unfolded in America these last few days that I believed it needed to be addressed. This individual and their list of everything they hate was inspired by President Trump and his statements.

“I worked to fight racist rhetoric when I was a member of the Republican Party, and I left when I realized I couldn’t win that fight from within. The white nationalist undercurrent of the Presidential campaign stretched far beyond Donald Trump. His success is the result of white nationalism left unchecked within the GOP for years.

“Today, every elected official in the GOP needs to make a choice. Be vocal, public and specific in your opposition to prejudice everywhere – especially in the Oval Office. Or, be complicit and continue to work peacefully with a party that has gained electoral wins by building coalitions of mistrust and hate.”

Search Enters Second Day for 5 Missing Army Aviators Off Oahu

Responders enter day two in the continuing the search for five missing Army aviators from a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Thursday.

Searching are:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew from Honolulu
  • 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
  • Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services
  • Crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources
  • Shore patrols from the Army

En route:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) and crew are replacing the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364) and will head to the scene from Base Honolulu.

The search area has expanded to as much as 50 miles offshore due to the swift and dynamic currents in the area. Fixed-wing aviation assets are searching the leading edge while helicopters and vessels are concentrating efforts 15 – 20 miles offshore. Additional assets are being considered and may join the search throughout the day.

The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205), a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Honolulu is shown coordinating search efforts with a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu, for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter off Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 17, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

None of the aviators have been located yet. Debris continues to be spotted and recovered in the area off Ka’ena Point by responders. Personnel at the joint forward incident command post at Hale’iwa Boat Harbor continue to coordinate search and rescue efforts.

A safety zone extending out in a five nautical mile (5.75 statue mile) radius from the point 21-27.919N 158-21.547W, geographically located roughly two miles northwest of Ka’ena Point, was 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 are currently closed at this time.

Debris from the crash should be considered hazardous material and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment. The debris poses potential risk and could cause serious bodily harm due to sharp edges. Those who see or encounter debris consistent with this type of aircraft along the north and west side of Oahu are asked to report it to responders by calling the 25th Combat Infantry Brigade Staff Duty Officer at 808-656-1080.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center in Honolulu received a call at 10:08 p.m. Tuesday from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communications with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of response assets.

The two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting training between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield at the time communications were lost.

Weather on scene is currently 17 mph winds with 4 foot seas and isolated showers.

North Kona Emergency Water Restrictions Update

This is an Emergency Water Restriction Update for North Kona District customers for Wednesday August 16 at 3:45 PM.

The Department of Water Supply reports the North Kona emergency water restriction continues. North Kona customers in the area from Keauhou to Keahole and Honalo to Makalei must restrict water use to health and safety needs only. This means use water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes only. Cease all other water use including all irrigation and washing of vehicle and boats.

Extraction of the Honokohau Deepwell pump and motor is now complete. After an inspection of the well, the spare pump and motor will be connected and reinstallation work will continue through the holiday weekend.

The Department of Water Supply sincerely appreciates the community’s efforts to restrict water use during this time. Adjustments have been made to the water system and a minimum level of water service is being maintained. However, without everyone’s continued cooperation, there will be areas that will experience periodic loss of water service or lower water pressures.

For your use, drinking water is available from a water tanker located on Hina Lani Street between Anini Street and Manu Mele Street as well as from a water spigot along Ane Keohokalole Highway, between Kealakehe Parkway and Kealakehe High School. Please bring your own drinking water containers to fill.

For after hours emergencies, or to report any observed wasteful use of water call the DWS at 961-8790. During normal business hours, call 961-8060.
This email account will be kept updated and you will be informed of any conditions that may affect your safety.

Army Helicopter Down – Search Continues for 5 Missing Aviators Off Oahu

Responders are continuing the search for five missing Army aviators from a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Wednesday.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield and a fireboat crew from the Honolulu Fire Department are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

Searching are:

  • HC-130 Hercules airplane aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364) and crew, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu
  • 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu
  • CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • MH-60R Seahawk helicopter aircrew from Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37
  • P-3 Orion aircrew from Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay
  • Shore patrols and a helicopter crew from Honolulu Fire Department
  • Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services and a crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources

En route is:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Honolulu

None of the aviators have been located yet. Debris has been spotted and recovered near Ka’ena Point by responders. A joint forward incident command post has been established at Hale’iwa Boat Harbor to coordinate search and rescue efforts.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364), an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu, are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

Debris from the crash should be considered hazardous material and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment. The debris poses potential risk and could cause serious bodily harm due to sharp edges.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center in Honolulu received a call at 10:08 p.m. Tuesday from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communications with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of response assets.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

The two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting training between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield at the time communications were lost.

Weather on scene is currently 17 mph winds with 6 foot seas.

Polynesian Voyaging Society Launches Hōkūleʻa Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail

Hōkūleʻa departed the Marine Education Training Center (METC) at Sand Island today to begin the Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail. The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) announced some of the stops that the canoe will be making during this six-month voyage throughout the Hawaiian Islands:

Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail – *Ports and dates are subject to change:

  • August and September: Maui (Honolua), Oʻahu (Haleʻiwa), Kauaʻi
  • October: Moku O Keawe, Maui (Hana)
  • November: Maui Nui – Maui (Maʻalaea/Wailea), Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi
  • Late-November to mid-December: Windward Oʻahu
  • January: Leeward, East and South Oʻahu

The Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail will give PVS an opportunity to thank Hawaiʻi’s people, bring Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia home to all of Hawaiʻi, share lessons learned from the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage and deepen the organization’s connection and understanding of the important work being done here in the islands to care for the earth. During the port visits, PVS will engage with schools and organizations through outreach events, service projects, crew presentations and canoe tours.

The first stop will be at Honolua Bay, Maui, where Hōkūleʻa first departed on her maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976. The crew will begin to mahalo and mālama Hawai’i by participating in the planting of 1,000 koa seedlings as part of a series of community engagement events in West Maui. In partnership with the Maui Land and Pineapple Company, Inc. through the conservation department of the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve, State of Hawaiʻi DLNR, The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi and Kamehameha Schools Maui, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crewmembers will be engaging with schools and the community in West Maui where they are scheduled to conduct presentations and canoe tours (see detailed schedule below).

Voyaging canoe Hikianalia is scheduled to depart Sand Island on Friday, August 18, and will join Hōkūleʻa at Honolua Bay on Saturday, August 19.

Honolua Bay Engagement Schedule (Events are free and open to the public):
*All dates and times schedule to change

Thursday, August 17
4 pm Hōkūleʻa arrives at Honolua Bay, Honolua Bay Ramp
6 pm Huliau Film & Lecture Series presents Ola ʻo Maui Nui featuring speakers from the 1976 Voyage and Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage crew at
Kamehameha Schools Maui, Keōpūolani Hale

Friday, August 18
9:30-12:30 pm Kamehameha Schools Maui students and teachers visit with Hōkūleʻa crew at Honolua for informational activities and service project

6:30 pm Crew Talk Story at Westin Nanea
(Participating crew members: Max Yarawamai, Archie Kalepa, Lehua Kamalu and Billy Richards)

6:30-8:00 pm Crew Talk Story at Kaanapali Beach Hotel
(Participating crew members: Mark Ellis, Kekaimalu Lee, Kaʻiulani Murphy and Pua Lincoln)

Saturday, August 19
8-8:30 am Cultural welcome at Honolua Bay
9 am-5 pm Informational activities
10:30 am-1 pm Planting of koa and native plants with Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve makai conservation area. For information, visit puukukui.org
2-5 pm Public canoe tours and informational activities at Honolua Bay Ramp
7 pm Hōkūleʻa Revisted: 1976 Crew Member Talk at Ritz Carlton Kapalua
(Participating crew members: Buffalo Keaulana, Snake Ah Hee, Billy Richards, John Kruse, Gordon Piʻianaia, Penny Martin, Kimo Lyman, Marion Lyman-Mersereau, Makaala Yates and Kainoa Lee)

Sunday, August 20
8 am-5 pm Public canoe tours at Honolua Bay Ramp
TBD Crew Talk at Sheraton Maui
(Puu Kukui Watershed representatives and and Hōkūleʻa crew)
6:30 pm Crew Talk at Montage Kapalua Bay
(Participating crew members: Kalepa Baybayan, Kalā Tanaka and Austin Kino

Gabbard-Backed Bill to Expand, Extend GI Bill Signed Into Law

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), co-chair of the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, released the statement below after legislation she helped introduce to improve and extend GI Bill education benefits for veterans, their surviving spouses and dependents was signed into law today.

The legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously, and is widely supported by veteran and education advocacy organizations, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Enlisted Association of The National Guard of The United States, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the STEM Education Coalition, and others.

“Every single day, roughly 500 veterans are transitioning from military life to civilian life, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans who have returned home since 9/11 alone. We have a responsibility to ensure that our troops and veterans are set up for success in the 21st century economy when they lay down the uniform and transition to civilian life. This bipartisan legislation enhances existing benefits, expands eligibility, eliminates bureaucratic barriers, and empowers our troops, veterans and their dependents to get the quality education they’ve earned and deserve. More than 7,000 Hawaiʻi veterans used their earned education benefit to open the door to new opportunities for them and their families last year, and this law will help our next generation of service members to further build on this progress,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (H.R.3218) will apply to all new enlistees in the military, and will:

  • Remove time restrictions to use the GI Bill, enabling future eligible recipients to use their GI bill benefits for their entire lives, as opposed to the current 15-year timeline
  • Simplify the benefit for future service members by consolidating the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill into a single program over time, which would reduce the VA’s administrative costs
  • Provide significant increases in GI Bill funding for Reservists and Guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses and surviving dependents
  • Provide 100% GI Bill eligibility to Post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients
  • Restore eligibility for service members whose school closes in the middle of a semester and create a pilot program that would pay for veterans to take certain high technology courses.

Merrie Monarch Festival – RE: Halau Overnight Stay at Parks & Recreation Facilities

2017 Hula Kahiko from the Merrie Monarch Website

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim sent the following letter on August 9th, 2017 to the President of the Merrie Monarch Festival, Aunty Luana Kawelu:

Dear Ms. Kawelu:
RE: Halau Overnight Stay at Parks & Recreation

As you know, historically, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has allowed overnight stays at Kawananakoa Gym, Papa`ikou Gym, Waiakea Recreation Center, and Waiakea Uka Gym by halau participating in the annual Merrie Monarch Festival (MMF). According to the MMF website, the 2017 festival included a total of 23 halau, 21 of which were not Hilo-based. The breakdown of people overnighting in the various County Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) facilities are as follows:

  • Kawananakoa Gym – 24 people housed for one night and 25 people housed for 8 nights
  • Papa`ikou Gym – 35 people housed for 4 nights
  • Waiakea Recreation Center – 25 people housed for one night
  • Waiakea Uka Gym – 51 people housed for 4 nights

This year, the Hawaii County Fire Department (HFD) alerted DPR of specific Fire and Building Codes that are being violated by allowing this practice. To immediately address these violations and allow overnight stays at this year’s MMF, DPR required, per Fire Code and exemption, an approved fire watch at each facility. Following the conclusion of this year’s MMF, at my instruction, DPR conducted an extensive study of DPR Administrative Rules, and Hawaii County Building and Fire Codes, to ascertain whether this practice should be allowed to continue.

DPR’s findings are as follows:

While there are no DPR Administrative Rules that explicitly prohibit overnight stays at DPR facilities, pertinent excerpts from Chapter 15 of the Hawaii County Code indicate/state:

  • Section 15-3 defines “Camper’— means any person who remains in a park area between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., and “Camping” – means the act of remaining in a park area between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Section 15-8 designates the authority of the Director to establish visiting hours and states in part: “all persons shall observe and abide by the officially -posted signs and designated closed areas and visiting hours.”
  • Article 4, beginning with Section 15-39 and continuing through Section 15-48, designates Camping and all rules associated, including the names of the parks where camping is allowed.

Based on these DPR Administrative Rules, overnight stay at the facilities listed above are prohibited.

With respect to the Hawaii County Building Code, fire sprinklers and/or alarm systems are required for any facility used for sleeping, with the R-1 designation as described below.

County gyms can possibly be evaluated as transient accommodations, but must meet the standards of this section of the code:

302.1 General. Structures or portions of structures shall be classified with respect to occupancy in one or more of the groups listed below. A room or space that is intended to be occupied at different times for different purposes shall comply with all of the requirements that are applicable to each of the purposes for which the room or space will be occupied. Structures with multiple occupancies or uses shall comply with Section 508. Where a structure is proposed for a purpose that is not specifically provided for in this code, such structure shall be classified in the group that the occupancy most nearly resembles, according to the fire safety and relative hazard involved.

The current occupancy type of a gymnasium is Assembly Occupancy. Use of
gymnasiums for sleeping would change the occupancy type to R -I Occupancy.

  • Fire Sprinkler Requirement. R-1 Occupancy in Section 903.2.7 of the Building Code requires a fire sprinkler system; therefore, a gym or other facility used for sleeping shall have a fire sprinkler system.
  • Fire Alarm Requirement. R-1 occupancies in Section 907.2.8 of the Building Code require a Fire Alarm system and smoke alarm system.

The restriction/constraint regarding the use of a gym as a sleeping space is the need for fire sprinklers. The codes also require audio/visual fire alarms. These are not commonly present in older buildings, and therefore, upgrades would be required to accommodate sleeping.

HFD has allowed sleeping in these facilities under the exemption found in the NFPA 1, Uniform Fire Code, Hawaii 2006 Edition, regulation 20.2.3.6 Use of School Facilities for Sleeping, which reads:

“Educational occupancies that allow sleeping on a temporary basis shall prohibit smoking or open flames, and shall be provided with one of the following:

  1. Smoke alarms shall be provided in the designated sleeping area. When the facility is provided with a fire alarm system, the smoke alarms shall be connected to the fire alarm system, or
  2. An approved fire watch shall be provided.”

None of the DPR facilities above are school facilities, with the exception of perhaps Kawananakoa Gym, which is also governed by rules included in the lease agreement with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).

DHHL lease agreement #44, amendment #2, with DPR, item #8, states in part: “it is agreed that for the health and safety of those using the facilities, and to address potential damages to the gymnasium, NO FOOD OR DRINK AND OVERNIGHT STAY at the facilities are allowed.” (Emphasis as it appears in document.)

The DHHL lease agreement would disqualify Kawananakoa Gym in any event,
regardless of any safety -protection systems that may be in place.

Based on this research, DPR has recommended against the continued practice of allowing overnight stays at DPR recreational facilities. However, DPR/Hawai’i County recognizes and fully supports the cultural and historical significance of the MMF, and is aware of the shortage of accommodations available for this important event. As such, every effort will be made to work with your organization to identify potential alternate sites.

DPR would like to offer the usage of the Mauna Kea Recreation Area cabins to visiting halau in 2018. There are two bunkhouses, capable of holding 24 people each, plus seven cabins, capable of holding six people each, for a total of 90 people. Each bunkhouse and cabin has its own bathroom with shower. There are potable water, a dining hall, and ample parking.

DPR is ready to assist the Merrie Monarch Festival in addressing any potential
concerns you may have with these suggested alternate accommodations, and looks forward to working with you.

Big Island Mayor Seeks to Hold Meeting with Helicopter Operators Over Noise Mitigation Options

On August 8, 2017 (not sure why memo was dated 2018) Mayor Harry Kim sent a letter to helicopter operators and tour operators on the Big Island, requesting they meet with him to discuss noise mitigation options (It is not known by me if any of the operators have responded to his request):

In response to requests for assistance from residents across Hawai’i Island, I am convening a meeting with all local helicopter tour operators and tour partners to discuss noise mitigation options. My goal is that we develop a solution that enables you to continue your profitable operations showing guests our beautiful island while respecting the communities and wildlife your operations affect.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. in my Hilo
Office located at 25 Aupuni Street, Suite 2603. Please confirm your attendance with Martha Rodillas at martha.rodillas@hawaiicounty.govor at 808-961-8211. I look forward to meeting with you.

Sincerely,
Harry Kim
Mayor

2016 State of Hawaii Data Book Released

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) today released the 2016 edition of the “State of Hawaii Data Book.”

The book is in electronic form and is available on the DBEDT website at: dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic/databook/ and may be downloaded in whole or in part as either PDF or Excel files.

The state’s Data Book is the most comprehensive statistical book about Hawaii in a single compilation. With more than 800 data tables, classified into 24 sections, it covers a broad range of statistical information in areas such as population, education, environment, economics, energy, business enterprises, government, tourism and transportation.

“The Data Book has been around for 48 years and provides useful information related to Hawaii in a variety of areas including research, business planning, and policy design,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “The Data Book is the most popular item on the DBEDT website.”

“We understand that data are important in personal and business planning, so we try to provide the data to the public in a timely, accurate, and friendly way since,” said State Economist Dr. Eugene Tian. “Though we compile the book around the middle of August every year, we update the tables year round. We also try to add any valuable data in the book when they become available and abolish data when obsolete. One of the tables we added this year is the federal government grants to state government, and note that most of the grants were allocated based on population and the numbers presented in Table 9.61.”

Some of the interesting data in this newest edition show that:

  • The top five places of birth for the foreign-born population in our state were the Philippines, Japan, China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan), Korea and Vietnam based on data from 2011 to 2015. (Table 1.45)
  • California was the top state of in-migrants (about 10,950) to Hawaii and out-migrants (about 10,500) from Hawaii in 2015. (Tables 1.69 and 1.70)
  • In 2015, more than half of the 7,500 licensed beds in state-approved facilities were in long-term care facilities, while the remainder of the beds were in acute care and specialty care facilities. (Table 2.25)
  • The enrollment at the University of Hawaii dropped in 2016. Total enrollment at University of Hawaii campuses was 53,418; a 4.2 percent decrease from 2015, and the lowest total enrollment since 2007. (Table 3.23)
  • In 2015, about one out of every six people arrested for an index offense (such as murder, rape, robbery, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft) was a juvenile offender. (Table 4.08)
  • A little over two in every three containers purchased have been redeemed since the introduction of the beverage container redemption program in 2006. The highest redemption rate occurred in 2009 at 78.7 percent and the lowest rate in 2016 at 66.9 percent. (Table 5.33)
  • Federal Award Expenditures by the Hawaii State Government was nearly $3 billion in both the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. (Table 9.61)
  • In 2015, there were 256,912 social security beneficiaries in the State of Hawaii who were paid estimated annual benefits totaling 3.8 billion dollars; both numbers were the highest recorded figures for the state. (Table 11.11)
  • The private employer with the largest number of employees in 2016 was the Queen’s Health System with 7,455 employees. The second was Marriott Hawaii that had 6,929 employees. (Table 12.15)
  • Hawaii’s household debt per capita was $68,500 in 2016, 46 percent higher than the U.S. average in the year. It was the highest among the 50 states, but lower than the District of Columbia at $81,200 in the year. (Tables 13.42 and 13.44)
  • Hawaii had three banks, which had assets of more than $1 billion each and these banks employed a total of more than 5,000 people in 2016. (Table 15.04)
  • Bus fares have remained unchanged for 7 years. Since July 1, 2010, an adult one-way cash fare has remained at $2.50 and the youth fare at $1.25. (Table 18.26)
  • Overseas passenger arrivals and departures both have exceeded 10 million in 2016 for the first time in history with arrivals at 10,223,372 and departures at 10,241,737. (Table 18.36)
  • In 2012, 689 principal operator farmers were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders alone, making up 9.8 percent of the total. 2,824 principal operator farmers were Asian alone (40.3 percent of total), and 2,749 were White alone (39.3 percent of total). (Table 19.06)
  • In 2016, 18,124 acres of forest and brush land were burned. Two cases of arson burned 5,801 acres, and two cases of equipment fires burned 4,701 acres. Previously, the last recorded equipment fire was 2011, and the last recorded case of arson was 2010. (Table 20.03)
  • Over the past 10 years, Hawaii’s foreclosure filings went from a low of 453 in 2006 to a high of 3,422 in 2013 and is now at 1,734 in 2016. (Table 21.40)
  • International students in Hawaii were estimated to have spent $225.3 million on living expenses, tuition and fees in the 2016/17 school year. The estimated direct, indirect, and induced impact of their spending on Hawaii’s economy was more than 5,000 additional jobs and an additional $484 million in output. (Table 24.12)

DBEDT’s Research and Economic Analysis Division (READ) also maintains the historical series of tables and updates the data continuously throughout the year. The historical series and the update can also be found on the DBEDT website at http://dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic/databook/.

STATEMENT from Governor David Y. Ige on President’s Remarks About Charlottesville

“The president has abandoned any pretense of standing up for American values or the moral authority that defines the United States.

The racism and bigotry that he defended today goes against every value that makes me proud to be an American citizen and governor of the State of Hawai‘i – the place that President John F. Kennedy once said represents all that we are, and all that we hope to be.”

Coast Guard, Army Responding to Report of Downed Army Helicopter Off Oahu

Coast Guard and Army personnel are responding to a report of a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with five crew aboard approximately two miles west of Kaena Point, Oahu, Wednesday.

A US Army (USA) UH-60L Black hawk Helicopter flies a low-level mission over Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Responding are:

  • HC-130 Hercules airplane aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364) and crew, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu
  • 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu
  • UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • Shore patrol and a boatcrew from Honolulu Fire Department

A debris field was spotted near Kaena Point by the Coast Guard Hercules and Army Black Hawk aircrews at 11:28 p.m. Tuesday. Responders are currently searching for the five missing aircrewmen.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center in Honolulu received a call at 10:08 p.m. Tuesday from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communications with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of response assets.

Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting training between Kaena Point and Dillingham Airfield at the time communications were lost.
Weather on scene is currently 11 mph winds with 2 foot seas.