Legislature Slashes Pahoa Booster Club Funding – Payments Still Not Received

In May the Hawaii State Legislature appropriated $92,362 in Grant-in-Aid (GIA) funding for the Pahoa Booster Club. This grant was to go towards establishing the Pahoa football program serving the entire Puna area within the 96778 zip code, which includes all Pahoa public and charter schools, with the focus on an eight-man team. The Pahoa Booster Club was formed out of community desire to assist the Pahoa Regional Schools and their student athletic programs.

Parents have wondered where this money has gone and I’ve received comments like:

I heard that the $90K funding the new Pahoa Booster Club received to fund the 8 man football team hasn’t reached Pahoa school yet. You heard anything about that?…

I inquired with the Pahoa Booster Club and was forwarded the following from their accountant:

On October 9th the following was received from the DOE in reference to the GIA requestes that had been approved.

Due to declining tax revenue collections, on September 2, 2014, the Governor needed to impose a $24 million restriction (withholding) on the Department of Education’s general fund appropriation for the current fiscal year (7/1/14-6/30/15).  To implement this restriction the Department of Education, with the approval of the Board of Education, will need to withhold a portion of each grant-in-aid appropriation as well as funding for many educational programs.

Booster FundingGuidance from the Budget Execution Policies that announced the $24 million restriction related to grant-in-aid appropriations is that “departments should refrain from requesting release of these types of appropriations until the start of the second half of the fiscal year.”  What this is referring to is the prior written approval of the Governor that is required prior to the finalization of a contract with organizations that received grant-in-aid awards by the Legislature.  So what the Budget Execution Policies are saying is Department’s should not even initiate the process until the second half of the fiscal year.  http://budget.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/EM-14-06-FY-15-Budget-Execution-Policies-Instructions.pdf

Despite these instructions the Department of Education has already initiated the process and requested the Governor’s approval to release funds for all of the GIA’s appropriated through the Department’s EDN100 and EDN200 budgets.

We are currently awaiting approval for the finalization of contracts.

Keep in mind that even if the Governor approves the release of funds at a level higher than reflected above, unless a portion of the $24 million restriction is lifted the Department will only be able to expend up to the amounts in the last column of the table above.

At this point the football grant, under fiscal sponsor Kalani Honua, was reduced from $92,362 to $78,562.

On November 17, the contract was sent to the Booster Club, dated Nov 10, for the full amount of the original grant, $92,362 with a payment schedule calling for a 2nd quarter payment of $87,362.    On November 18,  a purchase order was received, dated 10/23/14 in the amount of $78,562.

Because of the different dated and numbers, the Booster Club invoice was submitted to the DOE for the amount of $87,362, which appear to be the correct amount because the contract was dated after the purchase order.

Last week, I received a phone call from the DOE that the invoice needed to be for the amount of the purchase order.  That revised invoice was sent by Kalani Honua with a copy of the purchase order today.  We are required to send hard copy, not fax or pdf.

The DOE has agreed to expedite processing as soon as the invoice is received.

I hope this explanation helps.

 

25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings Finds Hawaii Ranks No. 1 Among All U.S. States in Overall Health

25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings Finds Hawaii Ranks No. 1 Among All U.S. States in Overall Health

Health Rankings

  • Hawaii’s strengths include low prevalence of obesity and low rate of preventable hospitalizations; state’s challenges include high prevalence of binge drinking and high incidence of infectious disease

Nationwide, reduction in smoking, and improvements in adolescent immunization and infant mortality offset by rising rates of obesity and physical inactivity

  • Long-term analysis finds Americans have made considerable progress in avoiding premature and cardiovascular deaths in the past 25 years; life expectancy at its highest yet

HONOLULU (Dec. 10, 2014) – Rising rates of obesity and physical inactivity threaten Americans’ quality of life, even as Americans progressed in several key health metrics in 2014, according to the landmark 25th Anniversary Edition of America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities.

Nationwide, obesity increased 7 percent from 27.6 percent to 29.4 percent of adults. Likewise, the percentage of adults who reported not participating in any physical activity in the last 30 days increased from 22.9 percent to 23.5 percent. At the same time, the number of Americans who smoke continued to decrease, declining by 3 percent this year, and has consistently declined over the past decade.

Hawaii’s Overall Health

According to the special 25th Edition of America’s Health Rankings, Hawaii ranks No. 1 again this year when compared with other states. The 2014 report illustrates Hawaii has its share of strengths and challenges.

Hawaii’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of obesity
  • Low rate of preventable hospitalizations
  • Low rate of cancer deaths

Hawaii’s Challenges

  • High prevalence of binge drinking
  • High incidence of infectious disease
  • Low immunization coverage among children

“Hawaii’s top ranking reflects our state’s focus on maintaining healthy lifestyles and protecting our environment,” said Acting Health Director Keith Yamamoto. “The department is pleased to see Hawaii has maintained its number- one spot from last year, however, the report also points out some areas of concern that we will continue to work to address.”

“This is encouraging news and I look forward to working with our public health and health care communities to ensure access to care and strengthen prevention efforts to reduce chronic disease and injury in our state,” Gov. David Y. Ige said. “I’m proud to say that Hawaii is the healthiest state in the nation, and we must continue to invest in our public health efforts.”

Key Hawaii Challenges Addressed by UnitedHealthcare Programs

UnitedHealthcare watches America’s Health Rankings closely to better understand the health of individuals and communities across the nation and in Hawaii. UnitedHealthcare has several programs to address the nation’s health challenges at a state level. These programs help educate people on how to live healthier lives and empower them to take action to improve health in their communities.

UnitedHealthcare’s efforts include supporting local health and community events throughout the Islands for children, families and seniors, and supporting organizations such as the local chapters of March of Dimes, YMCA and Alzheimer’s Association to help promote health and wellness for Hawaii residents.

“For the last 25 years, United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings has provided an invaluable look at the challenges and opportunities facing Hawaii and how the picture of health in our state compares with those of our region and our nation,” said Ron Fujimoto, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Hawaii. “We look forward to continuing to use the report as a key tool for identifying and implementing solutions to our most pressing challenges and measuring the strides we’ve made to date.”

UnitedHealthcare in Hawaii has more than 300 employees located on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island with central offices in Honolulu. With a care provider network of 21 hospitals and more than 2,900 physicians statewide, the health and well-being company serves more than 230,000 Hawaii residents including members of the United States military and their families, and people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare and Medicaid health plans.

50-State Snapshot: Hawaii the Healthiest; Mississippi Least Healthy

Hawaii has again taken the title of healthiest state. Vermont came in second, followed by Massachusetts, which improved to third after being ranked fourth for two years. Connecticut came in fourth, rising three slots from last year. Utah came in fifth. Mississippi ranked 50th this year, preceded by Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Kentucky (47) and Oklahoma (46). West Virginia and Alabama moved out of the bottom five.

To see the Rankings in full, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

Nationwide: Obesity and Physical Inactivity Increase after Short-Lived Improvements

“We applaud hard-won advances in several key measures, including smoking prevalence, even as this year’s America’s Health Rankings is a solemn reminder that we have a lot more work ahead of us,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “It is inevitable that increases in the rates of obesity and physical inactivity will result in more people suffering from significant chronic diseases that will compromise the quality of their lives, adversely affect their families and will be unaffordable for the nation.”

United Health Foundation is marking 25 years of America’s Health Rankings by introducing new online tools to inspire health advocacy across states and communities.

  • A “Change My Rank” online tool allows users to see how improving several key measures affects the state’s overall rank (for example, if a state reduced its prevalence of obesity by 5 percent, what would its overall rank be?).
  •  A Thought Leader Perspectives portal showcases notable leaders from the public health, government, academic, business, technology and consumer arenas reflecting on the achievements and challenges in America’s health over the last 25 years, and their thoughts for the next 25 years.

United Health Foundation will discuss the 25th edition Rankings at an event Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The event will feature remarks from leading health experts and thoughtful conversation about the past, present and future of America’s health. To watch the event live – and to get more information about America’s Health Rankings – visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

25th Anniversary Report Reveals Major Long-Term Health Strides, Challenges

With the launch of this year’s report, America’s Health Rankings commemorates 25 years of comprehensive health reporting and advocacy for a healthier America. The special 25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings report finds Americans have made meaningful strides in health since 1990, particularly as it relates to life expectancy:

  • At 78.8 years, Americans’ average life expectancy is at a record high.
  • The past 25 years have seen considerable declines in:

o            infant mortality, decreasing 41 percent

o            cardiovascular death, decreasing 38 percent

o            premature death, decreasing  20 percent

  • U.S. cancer mortality rates have also shown a steady decline, dropping 8 percent between 1996 and 2014.

The decline in smoking rates stands out as a significant health improvement over the past 25 years. Since 1990, smoking rates have decreased 36 percent, from 29.5 percent to 19 percent of adults who smoke regularly. Cigarette smoking is still associated with one of every five deaths in the United States, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country.

While Americans are living longer, the past 25 years have seen a steady rise in chronic conditions, many of them preventable, that compromise their quality of life.

  • Obesity – now a leading contributor to death in the United States – more than doubled over the last 25 years, from 11.6 percent of adults in 1990 to 29.4 percent of adults today. One possible explanation for the increase: levels of physical inactivity remain high, with 23.5 percent of adults reporting no physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days.
  • Adults who say they have diabetes currently stands at 9.6 percent, more than double the number from 20 years ago when America’s Health Rankings first started tracking diabetes.

“The challenge for the next 25 years is to achieve widespread, uniform success in fighting the chronic conditions that threaten Americans’ quality of life and adversely affect our nation’s health care system,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “Obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity rates are troublingly high. We must continue to promote positive health behaviors and help prevent the devastating consequences of chronic illnesses that are often left unchecked.”

New Fee Added to Electric Bills to Support Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program

A new line on electric bills starting this month will finance the State of Hawaii Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program. However, a corresponding reduction of the monthly Public Benefits Fund surcharge, collected to pay for the State’s conservation and energy efficiency programs, means most customers will likely see little net change on their electric bills. For a typical residential customer using 600 kWh a month, the green infrastructure fee will be $1.29 per month.

GEMS Office

The new line item, titled “Green Infrastructure Fee,” will appear under the listing of “Current Charges: Electric Service” beginning with December 2014 monthly bills of all Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light customers.

As required by law and authorized by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, all residential and commercial customers will pay the Green Infrastructure Fee. The new fee will enable the State of Hawaii to borrow $150 million for its GEMS program. The State Department of Business, Economic Development will initially administer GEMS. The program will make low-cost loans so green infrastructure improvements are more affordable and accessible for customers who cannot afford upfront costs or cannot qualify for other financing.

The GEMS program will initially focus on clean energy investments so customers can take advantage of green initiatives such as photovoltaic systems, energy storage, advanced inverters and energy monitoring devices.

To learn more, visit the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Energy Office website (http://energy.hawaii.gov/testbeds-initiatives/gems) or call 808.586.2407.

Lava Tree State Park to Reopen Monday

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will reopen portions of Lava Tree State Monument on a limited basis beginning Monday December 8, 2014. The public will be able to visit most of the viewable lava tree molds, the main pavilion and the informational kiosk. The parking lot, comfort station and front portion of the loop trail will also be available for public use.

Lava Tree State Park

The park has been closed due to numerous albizia trees blown down during Tropical Storm Ana in August this year, which park crews have been working to address.

Lava Tree State Park

The back portion of the park will remain closed until further notice. “We ask that the public respect the closed areas as dangerous conditions may be encountered in those areas,” said Dean Takebayashi, Hawaii district parks superintendent.

Cost of repairs and clean up in the park so far has been $88,045. Local tour companies will be notified about the opening.

Department of Health Operating Air Monitoring Stations in Response to Lava Flow Activities

The State of Hawaii Department of Health is currently operating three (3) air monitoring stations in the Pahoa and Leilani estates area in response to the current and ongoing eruption and lava flow activities.  These monitors detect the presence of air borne particles that may result from the burning materials (vegetation , grass, brush, and other materials).

air quality guide

The data and information being collected by these monitors can be viewed at the following web site:  http://emdweb.doh.hawaii.gov/air-quality/ , click on “Quick Look” then go to “Puna Special Sites”.

 

THINK Fund at HCF – Grant Opportunities Available for Big Island

The newly formed THINK (The Hawai‘i Island New Knowledge) Fund at Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) was started by the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Observatory to better prepare Hawai‘i Island students to pursue STEM-(science, technology, engineering, and math) related professions through community grants and scholarships.

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT has committed a minimum contribution of $750,000 per year to THINK Fund at HCF. This commitment is for the life of the Mauna Kea sublease with the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo.

“HCF is thankful to TMT for providing this opportunity for the community and to the dedicated volunteer advisory committee members who have worked hard to determine the best way for the fund to benefit Hawai‘i Island,” stated Kelvin Taketa, president & CEO of Hawai‘i Community Foundation. “By improving STEM education and increasing the number of students going into STEM careers, it will make a difference for our local economy and build the confidence of our youth that there is a bright future for creative and hardworking students.”

THINK Fund at HCF’s focus is to support and encourage Hawai‘i Island students to pursue STEM-related professions. These are lucrative and growing career fields where by 2017, the STEM-related jobs across all industries in Hawai‘i are estimated to increase to 63,000, which means the state needs approximately 16,500 more workers with STEM skills annually. However, Hawai‘i is not currently producing enough graduates in STEM fields locally to fill jobs.

The initial strategic goals for THINK Fund at HCF are to:

  • Increase the number of Hawai‘i Island students who are inspired to pursue postsecondary STEM fields of study
  • Increase the number of Hawai‘i Island students who complete STEM degree and training programs
  • Increase the number of effective STEM teachers on Hawai‘i Island
  • Increase the number of effective STEM programs on Hawai‘i Island that also promote cultural competency or place-based learning

HCF staff based on Hawai‘i Island will implement the strategy and grantmaking of THINK Fund at HCF, which is guided by an advisory committee of Hawai‘i Island residents. The advisory committee currently includes Laurie Ainslie, Roberta Chu, Mary Correa, Kaeo Duarte, Hiapo Perreira, Doug Simons, and Barry Taniguchi.

“As a lifelong educator, I am known to say ‘If can, can. If no can, how can?’ THINK Fund at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation provides our Hawai‘i Island students and educators with a wonderful ‘how can’ opportunity to reach to the stars, literally,” said Mary Correa, advisory committee member for THINK Fund at HCF and Complex Area Superintendent for Kau-Keaau-Pāhoa. “Through this support, our young people will have the opportunity to be inspired, be prepared to participate in the world-class discovery that occurs on our own island, and allows us to keep more of our homegrown talent on island to raise their families and contribute to the community.”

THINK Fund at HCF will support important steps for students along the “cradle-to-career” STEM education pathway. For more information on any of the grant or scholarship opportunities and to apply, visit www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/THINKFund. Grantmaking from the fund will focus in three areas:

  • Learning Grants to nonprofit organizations or schools – Grants are available for nonprofits or schools to provide in-school, intersession or afterschool STEM learning experiences for K-12 students that integrate Hawai‘i’s cultural context or promote place-based learning opportunities. Grants can also provide training or professional development for teachers to increase content knowledge and pedagogy in STEM subjects. The online THINK Fund application opened on December 1, 2014 and the deadline to apply is January 30, 2015.
  • Educator Grants for teachers – Grants are available to support Hawai‘i Island public and charter school teachers of grades 6 through 12 who have projects that encourage STEM learning. Teachers who submit proposals to DonorsChoose.org and are eligible to receive support for classroom materials, supplies, guest speaker expenses, or on-island field trips for their students. THINK Fund at HCF will provide grants for all but $100 for qualified projects that are less than $2,500. The application opened on November 24, and in just one week, the program funded nine projects at five Hawai‘i Island schools with over $11,187, that will impact over 1,100 students. A completed list of projects can be found at http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/matching.html?id=20516351&historical=true
  • College Scholarships for students – Hawai‘i Island students interested in pursuing a STEM career with the intention of working or teaching on the island are encouraged to apply. The online application for scholarships opened on December 1, 2014, and closes on February 19, 2015. By completing the application, students will be matched to multiple scholarship opportunities. THINK Fund at HCF will award scholarships in two areas:
  • Undergraduates or graduate level degrees, certificates or other professional development coursework to become a STEM educator on Hawai‘i Island.  Current educators or students working to towards a teaching degree that want to teach STEM subjects or professionals in a STEM-related field that would like to teach are encouraged to apply.
  • Degrees or certificates in STEM-related fields being completed by students from Hawai‘i Island. There is a wide range of STEM-related studies students can pursue that will qualify for these scholarships.

“We very excited and gratified that THINK Fund at HCF has been launched,” said Sandra Dawson, TMT Manager Hawai’i Community Affairs. “It is the beginning of our many-year commitment to STEM education on Hawaii Island, and is also the culmination of years of work by a hard-working and dedicated group of local citizens who provided the philosophy and goals of THINK Fund. We are also very happy to be in partnership with HCF and the very impressive, multi-talented advisory committee who is guiding this effort.”

Initially established by TMT, THINK Fund at HCF is designed to encourage and attract other funders who align with the mission and goal to improve STEM education and strengthen Hawai‘i Island’s workforce. The vision of this collaborative approach is to bring together the island community with funders in a partnership that strives to help Hawai‘i Island students in the long term. THINK Fund is one of several funds, initiatives, partnerships, and programs at HCF dedicated to supporting students and the STEM fields in Hawai‘i.

Nominations Sought For The Hawaii Big Tree Competition

The holiday season marks the beginning of the annual Hawaii Big Tree Competition.  Sponsored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and American Forests, the program focuses attention on the largest trees in each species, as a way to raise awareness about the importance of healthy trees and forests.

In 2014, a coconut palm in Hawaii Kai, Coco, was crowned the national Big Tree winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree after several weeks of online voting.

In 2014, a coconut palm in Hawaii Kai, Coco, was crowned the national Big Tree winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree after several weeks of online voting.

The Hawai‘i Big Tree Competition does not have a champion for the following Hawaiian species that are eligible for the National Big Tree Program.  Therefore, any tree nominated from the following list will likely be crowned a champion.

Big Tree

The 10 current Hawai‘i champions are listed below. To replace a current champion, the challenger tree must have more total points.  Total Points = Trunk Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + ¼ Average Crown Spread (feet).

  • Niu (Cocos nucifera) in Hawea Heiau Complex and Keawawa Wetland, O‘ahu
    (Circumference: 13.5) (Height: 112) (Crown Spread: 16.42)
  • Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) in Waikoloa Dry Forest, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 186.96) (Height: 40) (Crown Spread: 43.50)
  • Olopua (Nestegis sandwicensis) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island  (Circumference: 204.52) (Height: 32) (Crown Spread: 42.58)
  • Pāpalakēpau (Pisonia brunoniana) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 52.46) (Height: 28) (Crown Spread: 15.25)
  • Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 165) (Height: 24) (Crown Spread: 25.5)
  • Kōlea lau nui (Myrsine lessertiana) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 85.14) (Height: 32) (Crown Spread: 25.5)
  • Koa (Acacia koa) in Kona Hema Preserve, South Kona, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 343) (Height: 115) (Crown Spread: 93)
  • Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) in Hulihe‘e Palace, Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 110) (Height: 20) (Crown Spread: 25)
  • A‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa) in Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 23) (Height: 17) (Crown Spread: 16)
  • Mānele (Sophora chrysophylla) in Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 30) (Height: 73) (Crown Spread: 57)

To nominate a tree, contact Hawai‘i Big Tree coordinator Kylee Ah Choy at (808) 587-0164 and provide the tree height, trunk circumference, and average crown spread.  Also, please know your tree’s specific location (GPS coordinates are appreciated).

Big Tree Madness 1 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

For more on the Hawaii Big Tree Program: dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/info/big-tree/
For more on the National Big Tree Program: www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/bigtrees-search/

U.S. Air Force Pilot to Head Hawaii DOE Facilities and Support Services Branch

The Hawaii State Board of Education today confirmed U.S. Air Force executive and fighter pilot, Dann S. Carlson, to head the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of School Facilities and Support Services. As an assistant superintendent, Carlson will bring more than 25 years of diverse active duty leadership experience to the DOE.

Dann Carlson

Dann S. Carlson

“While this job will be full of incredible challenges, it is obvious that the DOE is making measurable improvements in educating our next generation,” stated Carlson. “I’ve always had a desire to directly influence our nation’s future leaders through education. This position within the DOE allows me the opportunity to make an impact in a way that I never could have imagined. It is truly an honor.”

Carlson has a record of success in leading visionary work through organizational change. He will be leaving his position at the Pentagon as the special assistant to the under secretary of international affairs and will start with the DOE on December 1.

From 2011 to 2013, Carlson was the deputy joint base commander at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. He led more than 900 Air Force personnel in six squadrons: civil engineering, security forces, contracting, communications, logistics and force support. He also led operations for more than 1,100 Navy personnel and civilians providing base and operating support on an installation that serviced over 80,000 personnel, spanned 35,000 acres, with an annual budget of over $500 million and a plant replacement value of over $18 billion. During his tenure he spearheaded a complete organizational change to a Navy led Joint Base while still garnering the top rank of 77 Navy installations.

“In addition to his responsibilities of running the day to day operations of a large military base, Dann was actively involved with education,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We are excited to welcome him to our team.”

Carlson was a board member for the Joint Venture Education Forum, a member of the Interstate Compact for Military Children, served on the Blue Ribbon Schools Commission and was very active at Radford High School where his three children attended, one of whom graduated as valedictorian.

Aside from his various leadership roles in the military, Carlson also served as mission commander and fighter pilot. He was an advance pilot and narrator for the USAF Thunderbirds at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services exercises technical staff oversight of business, construction and maintenance of facilities, food services, transportation, and safety and security support for the public school system. It is charged with developing and administering administrative rules and regulations, publishing operational guidelines and providing related in-service training, monitoring and technical assistance to schools to ensure that the support is being provided in accordance with laws, policies and accepted principles of management.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Works with CDC to Ensure Hawaiʻi Can Screen for Ebola In-State

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard yesterday announced a collaboration resulting in Hawaiʻi having the ability to quickly and effectively test for Ebola in-state.  Previously, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) would need to send patient samples to mainland laboratories to test for the deadly Ebola virus.

A few weeks ago, the congresswoman met with Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Toby Merlin, Director of the Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Bill Gallo, Associate Director for Insular Area Support at the CDC, to discuss the global challenges related to the Ebola virus, and the necessity for a properly equipped Hawaiʻi testing facility. They resolved to supply the Hawaiʻi Department of Health with resources to test for Ebola, supporting State Department of Health and medical personnel with a quicker testing turnaround time.

Today, the DOH State Laboratories Division received and validated the U.S. Department of Defense-developed, CDC-deployed real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test for 2014 outbreak-associated Ebola Zaire Virus.

“The safety and well-being of Hawaiʻi residents is my highest priority, and it’s important that our state be equipped with the resources needed to quickly and effectively test those who may be suspected Ebola patients,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.  “Ensuring our medical professionals are given the tools they need to protect themselves, and to serve the public at large, is of the greatest importance, and I’m glad to see that we were able to bring this testing capability to our islands.”

Hawaii House Leadership and Committee Assignments Announced

House Speaker Joseph M. Souki today announced the appointments of the House of Representatives Majority leadership lineup for the 28th Legislature which convenes on January 21, 2015.

capital

“The team that we have formed represents the kind of talents and abilities that will best serve our residents and will address the issues facing our state,” said Speaker Souki. “We look forward to engaging in meaningful discussions with Governor-elect David Ige and his administration to continue to identify ideas and solutions to help Hawaii move forward.”

Members of the House Leadership are as follows:

  • Speaker of the House              Joseph M. Souki
  • Vice Speaker                           John M. Mizuno
  • Majority Leader                      Scott K. Saiki
  • Majority Floor Leader             Cindy Evans
  • Majority Whip                         Ken Ito
  • Asst. Majority Leader             Chris Lee
  • Asst. Majority Leader             Roy M. Takumi
  • Speaker Emeritus                    Calvin K.Y. Say

2015 House Committee Chairpersons:

  • Agriculture (AGR)

Clift Tsuji, Chair

Richard H.K. Onishi, Vice Chair

  • Economic Development & Business (EDB)

Derek S.K. Kawakami, Chair

Sam Kong, Vice Chair

  • Veterans, Military & International Affairs (VMI)

Romy M. Cachola, Chair

Ken Ito, Vice Chair

  • Tourism & Culture and the Arts (TCA)

Tom Brower, Chair

Takashi Ohno, Vice Chair

 

  • Labor & Public Employment (LAB)

Mark M. Nakashima, Chair

Jarrett Keohokalole, Vice Chair

 

  • Public Safety (PBS)

Gregg Takayama, Chair

Kyle T. Yamashita, Vice Chair

 

  • Transportation, (TRN)

Henry J.C. Aquino, Chair

Matthew LoPresti, Vice Chair

 

  • Health (HLT)

Della Au Belatti, Chair

Dee Morikawa, Vice Chair

 

  • Housing (HSG)

Mark J. Hashem, Chair

Richard Creagan, Vice Chair

 

  • Human Services (HUS)

Mele Carroll, Chair

Bertrand Kobayashi, Vice Chair

 

  • Energy & Environmental Protection (EEP)

Chris Lee, Chair

Nicole E. Lowen, Vice Chair

 

  • Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs (OMH)

Kaniela Ing, Chair

Nicole E. Lowen, Vice Chair

 

  • Water & Land (WAL)

Ryan I. Yamane, Chair

Ty J.K. Cullen, Vice Chair

 

  • Education (EDN)

Roy M. Takumi, Chair

Takashi Ohno, Vice Chair

 

  • Higher Education, (HED)

Isaac W. Choy, Chair

Linda Ichiyama, Vice Chair

 

  • Finance (FIN)

Sylvia Luke, Chair

Scott Y. Nishimoto, Vice Chair

 

  • Legislative Management (LMG)

Scott Y. Nishimoto, Chair

John M. Mizuno, Vice Chair

 

  • Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC)

Angus L.K. McKelvey, Chair

Justin H. Woodson, Vice Chair

 

  • Judiciary (JUD)

Karl Rhoads, Chair

Joy San Buenaventura, Vice Chair

Commentary – The Department of Transportation Needs Strong Leadership and Fresh Perspective

I’m a concerned citizen, who closely follows county and state highway projects on the Big Island. I believe its important to monitor these new projects, especially since the State and county are using taxpayer dollars to build these new highways. This is why I’ve spent so much of my free time being a community transportation advocate.

The centralized Oahu Hawaii Department of Transportation leadership, along with the Federal Highways Administration, has treated people like myself as enemies of the state. I’ve had to jump through hoops to get any updates through alternative means over the past four years as a result. These departments really need to embrace the public’s
participation and be more transparent.

Soon-to-be Governor David Ige promised to conduct his administration in a more transparent fashion. However, this is only part of the solution to the issues facing the HDOT. Governor Abercrombie’s HDOT appointees had no leadership and public relation skills. This has to change under Governor Ige’s watch. The HDOT needs strong leadership to push several stalled projects, such as the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening phase 2 and the final east side Daniel K. Inouye Highway phase, forward.

I hope Governor Ige fulfills his campaign promises, as Hawaii can’t afford four more years of spinning its wheels.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Visitors Not Allowed to Use Chain of Craters Road – Puna Residents to Receive Window Decals

Significant progress has been made on the Chain of Craters Kalapana Road since work began in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on October 24. Today the contractors, working from each end, met in the middle.

Photos courtesy of the National Park Service.

Photos courtesy of the National Park Service.

This completes the rough grade of the road.
ripping 2Work will now begin on crushing excavated material for the road bed. The finished road will be a gravel surfaced 22-foot-wide two-lane road. The road is scheduled to be completed in the next 30-45 days, weather and construction conditions permitting.

Chain of Craters CrewLower Puna residents will be able to access the route after the lava has crossed Highway 130 and Railroad Avenue and the National Park Service has determined that the road is safe for vehicles. The emergency access route will not be open to the public or park visitors.  Residents will receive a free window decal for access through the park.

11/6/14 UPDATE: Volcanoes National Park Clarification on Chain of Craters Emergency Access Route

 

Governor Abercrombie Appoints 5 Members to Boards and Commissions

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the nominations of Denise Antolini to the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM), as well as Denise Albano, Lloyd Haraguchi, Margarita Hopkins and Yukio Kitagawa to the Board of Directors of the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC), effective immediately. All are interim appointments subject to state Senate approval.

Antolini was appointed to an at-large seat on the seven-member CWRM. Haraguchi and Kitagawa were nominated to fill at-large seats on the 11-member ADC Board of Directors, while Alabano and Hopkins were appointed to the City and County of Honolulu and Hawaii County seats, respectively.

“Each appointee is well respected in their fields,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Their knowledge and experience will be invaluable in moving these boards and commissions forward.”

Denise Antolini has served as a faculty member at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa since 1996 and is currently associate dean for academic affairs.

Denise Antolini

Denise Antolini

During her tenure, she has been recognized as the school’s Outstanding Professor of the Year in 2004-2005, awarded the UH Board of Regent Medal of Excellence in Teaching, and while Director of the Environmental Law Program, received the American Bar Association, Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy in 2006. Antolini has served as the principal investigator on several Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) projects and law fellowships. A resident of Pupukea, she has long been active in several North Shore community organizations and efforts, including to establish the mauka and makai conservation easements preserving more than 1,000 acres of land owned by Turtle Bay Resort.

A leader in Hawaii’s efforts to improve the local food system, Denise Albano is the president of Feed the Hunger Foundation, a non-profit that she co-founded to eliminate poverty and hunger internationally and in Hawaii by using microfinance as a platform for food security and economic development.

Denise Albano

Denise Albano

Albano previously served as campaign manager for The Nature Conservancy Hawaii and executive director for Youth UpRising in Oakland and YMCA’s Richmond District in San Francisco, where she served on several boards, including the Mayor’s Office Task Force on Ending the Sexual Exploitation of Youth and Edgewood Center for Families, Youth and Children.

With more than 25 years of land use planning, zoning, development and leasing experience in both the public and private sectors, Lloyd Haraguchi has successfully managed projects from the point of land negotiation and acquisition, to gathering community input, planning, permitting and development. He is the former executive director of the Public Land Development Corporation and served as senior asset manager for Hawaii Land Management, James Campbell Company, LLC from 2003 to 2012. Haraguchi currently serves as a board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, an advisory board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, Hale Pono Unit and an advisory member of the Malama Learning Center at Kapolei High School.

Retired as an economic development specialist at the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development, Margarita Hopkins was responsible for preparation and update of the county’s agricultural development plan.

Margarita Hopkins

Margarita Hopkins

Through her position, she established a county-based agriculture program in cooperation with Big Island Resource Conservation & Development Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Hopkins previously served as Hawaii County’s director of research and development and a lecturer at UH Hilo College of Business and Economics. She is currently a member of the Big Island Resource Conservation & Development Council and Hawaii Forest Stewardship Advisory Committee.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Yukio Kitagawa is currently a member of the serves on the Hawaii Agriculture Resource Center Board of Directors and the City & County of Honolulu Agriculture Development Task Force.  He was previously a member of the ADC Board of Directors from 1999 to 2002 and the City & County of Honolulu Planning Commission from 1981 to 1986. Kitagawa was the Board of Agriculture chairperson from 1988 to 1994 and assistant director of cooperative extension service at UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) from 1981 to 1988. Kitagawa is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.

Commission on Water Resource Management

The Commission on Water Resource Management administers the State Water Code, which was created by the 1987 Hawaii State Legislature. The commission’s general mission is to protect and enhance the water resources of the State of Hawaii through wise and responsible management.

Board of Directors of the Agribusiness Development Corporation

The Agribusiness Development Corporation was established in 1994 to facilitate and provide direction for the transition of Hawaii’s agriculture industry from a dominance of sugar and pineapple to one composed of a diversity of different crops. The mission of the ADC is to acquire, and manage in partnership with farmers, ranchers, and aquaculture groups, selected high-value lands, water systems, and infrastructure for commercial agricultural use and to direct research into areas that will lead to the development of new crops, markets, and lower production costs.

The Office of the Governor oversees more than 180 boards and commissions established by the state constitution, statutes or executive orders.

Contingency Plans Announced for Pahoa Schools in Case of Highway 130 Closure

The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (DOE) continues to work on contingency plans for public schools, students and staff in preparation for lava to eventually cross Pahoa’s Highway 130. The lava flow stalled Sunday on its approach toward Pahoa town. However, volcanic activity is ongoing.

Pahoa High and Intermediate
“We are doing our best to keep a sense of normalcy in our schools and we stand ready to adjust our operations as needed,” stated Mary Correa, complex area superintendent for Ka‘u, Kea‘au, Pahoa.

Given the information from the subject-area experts, the DOE is committed to doing what is necessary to allow public school teachers and students to continue teaching and learning. This includes preparing for the potential loss of an elementary school. The DOE is building an alternate site for elementary students in the Kea‘au High lower parking lot that could hold a number of classrooms. The site would accommodate at least 17 classrooms and up to 500 students and staff. The initial estimated cost to the DOE is $9 million.

“We believe that setting up an alternate site is necessary in order to ensure that our teachers and students have everything ready should we lose a school,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We continue to tackle a number of scenarios and we appreciate the flexibility of our staff, the cooperation of our families, and the collaboration with Hawai‘i County agencies in our preparation efforts.”

Based on the expectation that access to Keonepoko Elementary, Pahoa High & Intermediate, and Pahoa Elementary will be compromised, plans are being made for students who reside north of the flow to be rerouted to the Kea‘au complex when the flow crosses Highway 130. Students who reside south of the flow will remain in their homeschools if those facilities are not negatively impacted.

“When the lava crosses the highway, we want to make sure everything is in place in order to provide continued school services,” said Correa.

Pahoa complex currently has an estimated 1,800 students and roughly 300 employees.

Plans have been shared with parents at all three schools via letters and school meetings. Besides student planning, the DOE is also initiating plans that would guide affected employees on necessary changes. Earlier this month the DOE asked parents and staff who may have changed their residence to immediately update their contact information with school administrators.

Commentary – Growing Weary of the National Park Service

I’m growing weary of the National Park Service’s repeated attempts to stop development in North Kona. They’ve held up three different projects that I’m aware of over the past 14 years. The NPS has intervened in the Kaloko Makai, Kaloko Industrial Park expansion (phases III and IV) and the second phase of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening.

The latter project was slated to start in 2011, but the National Park Service intervened and requested a Section 106 consultation. This opened the door for other Native Hawaiian Organizations to intervene. The net result of these delays is approximately 100 construction workers are on the bench and a much-needed highway widening is stalled.

The National Park Service also intervened in TSA Corporation’s petition to reclassify 102 acres of land for the Kaloko Light Industrial Park expansion.They did a case study titled “Using State Laws And Regulations To Protect Parks From Adjacent evelopment”, which detailed their actions in this matter.

The TSA Corporation wasn’t able to start construction until mid 2007 due to the National Park’s intervention. However, the overall economy was sliding into the Great Recession at that time. These lots remain unsold to this day. The TSA Corporation never recouped their 43 million dollar investment as a result.

History is about to repeat itself on a more devastating scale if the Commission on Water Resource Management approves the NPS’s petition to designate the Keauhou Aquifer  as a water management area. The Department of Water Supply won’t be issuing new water meters until they can determine how much existing usage there is. In addition, all new requests for water will have to go through a quasi-judicial contested case hearing. This isn’t a quick process, as various experts will be presenting  contradictory information during these proceedings.

The National Park Service actions will undoubtedly affect future economic growth in North Kona as a result. Their actions are not only wasting taxpayer money, but also puts the residents on North Kona in harms way.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Governor Signs Supplemental Emergency Proclamation in Preparation of Lava Flow Crossing Highway 130

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a supplemental emergency proclamation to include the repair, restorations, rebuilding, or reestablishment of Chain of Craters Road, for use as an alternate emergency route should the June 27th lava flow cross Highway 130 near Pahoa and isolate communities in lower Puna from the rest of Hawaii County.

“Even though the lava flow appears to have slowed to a halt for the time being, the state and Hawaii County are prepared and moving forward together with contingency plans in the event the lava does progress farther,” Gov. Abercrombie said.

Today’s proclamation, supplemental to the emergency proclamation signed on Sept. 5, also extends the disaster emergency relief period through Dec. 1, 2014.

The original proclamation suspended certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activated the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

Residents are also encouraged to enroll in local notification systems and monitor local radio and television broadcasts.

Lava Flow Estimated to Cross Highway 130 in Two Weeks

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Department of Land and Natural Resources announce the immediate closure of Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, until further notice, due to the hazards associated with the June 27 lava flow. Wao Kele o Puna is owned by OHA and managed by DLNR.

I would hardly call it a crime scene!

I would hardly call it a crime scene!

Kamana‘opono Crabbe, Ka Pouhana, OHA (Chief Executive Officer) said, “It is prudent at this time to close Wao Kele o Puna due to lava activity and subsequent unsafe conditions.

William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson said, “We join with Hawaii Civil Defense and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to warn the public of extreme danger from lava flowing through cracks in Wao Kele O Puna, and Kahauale’a Natural Area Reserve. Both areas are off-limits to all persons. We will prosecute anyone entering these areas for any purpose, including unauthorized lava sightseeing tours. Hikers have been lost or injured in these areas, and personnel called in to rescue them have also been put in danger.”

The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will be assisting Hawaii County to build the alternate roads in Puna.

Lava is estimated to cross Highway 130 in approximately two weeks if it stays on its current path.

DOFAW will provide a D8 bulldozer and equipment operator to Nanawale/Railroad Ave. tomorrow and expect work will take several weeks. Portions of the old railroad right-of-way run through state forest and unencumbered lands. Railroad Ave. bisects Nanawale state Forest Reserve

President Obama Issues Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii and Maui Counties

Today, President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i activating the release of federal funds to help communities recover from Tropical Storm Iselle that occurred from August 7-9, 2014.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

“This is great news for the thousands of people in Puna who were affected by Iselle,” Senator Schatz said.  “This federal assistance is critical to supporting our communities’ ongoing recovery. I thank President Obama for recognizing the critical needs of the many families still rebuilding in Puna.”

“I thank President Obama for issuing a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i,” said Senator Hirono. “Families and the community continue to rebuild after Tropical Storm Iselle hit over a month ago and much of the damage to our farms and homes will take many years to rebuild.  Similar to how our communities came together during the disaster, we’ll continue to come together during recovery. I look forward to the ongoing work with my colleagues in our joint effort to help ensure people get the resources they need to rebuild.”

All areas in the State of Hawai‘i are eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Albizia Tree Presentation at UH Hilo

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Faculty Congress and the College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) invite the public to a free presentation on the invasive Albizia trees. The presentation will be held on Wednesday, September 17, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the University Classroom Building (UCB) Room 100.

Workers clear Albizia trees from a road following Hurricane Iselle.

Workers clear Albizia trees from a road following Hurricane Iselle.

“The fast-growing Albizia trees have had a serious ecological impact on native forests,” said Springer Kaye, Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) Manager. “They also pose a real and immediate threat to the public’s safety and welfare as we saw in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle.”

Kaye and Dr. Flint Hughes, research ecologist, of the USDA Forest Service Institute for Pacific Islands Forestry, will discuss community-based efforts involving State and local agencies, lawmakers, Hawai’i Electric Light Company, and other stakeholders to remove hazardous trees, and deploy field staff and volunteers to manage non-hazardous trees. Other topics of discussion include lessons learned and future steps to achieve long-term hazard mitigation.

Parking on the UH Hilo campus is free after 4 p.m. A map of the campus can be found online at http://hilo.hawaii.edu/uhh/maps.php.

For more information, call 974-7664 or email ccecs@hawaii.edu. For disability accommodations, call (808) 974-7664 (V) or (808) 932-7002 (TTY).

Civil Defense Update on Eruption and Lava Flow

This is a civil defense message.

Civildefense

This is an Eruption and Lava Flow Information Update for Wednesday September 10th at 8:15 AM.

This morning’s assessment shows the surface lava flow continues and is moving in a north/northeast direction.  There is no wildfire threat at this time.  Weather and fire conditions are being monitored closely.  Due to a light inversion this morning smoke conditions in the area were moderate.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

The surface flow has advanced approximately 250 yards since yesterday.  The surface flow is moving slowly and does not pose an immediate threat to area residents.  The surface flow is located approximately .6 miles southwest or upslope of the Wao Kele Puna Forest Reserve boundary and moving in a north/northeast direction and parallel to the forest reserve boundary.

Presently, the current activities and flow does not present with an immediate or imminent threat to area communities.  No evacuation is required at this time.  Eruption activity will continue to be monitored and additional updates will be provided.

Although the current flow activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities, residents are encouraged to continue to review their emergency plans in the event conditions change and should an evacuation be necessary.

The public is reminded that the flow cannot be accessed and is not visible from any public areas.  Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision will be restricted and limited to subdivision residents only.