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.”

Full Video – Kilauea Mountain of Fire

Kilauea, on Hawaii’s Big Island, is the world’s most active volcano. Its latest eruption began in 1983 and it hasn’t stopped since.
kilauea video
Since that time it has created 544 acres of new land and has consumed 200 homes. But as we watch nature’s own fireworks display and witness the devastation wrought by flowing lava, we’ve also been able to observe a process that’s central to life on these islands.

The most spectacular moment of creation is when lava pours into the ocean creating new land, and it is here that filmmaker Paul Atkins finds himself getting a shot few have ever filmed — the cataclysmic meeting of 2,000-degree lava and 75-degree ocean water — a sight to behold.

Hilo Folks are Big Spenders During the Holidays

Yep… us folks in Hilo are big spenders come Christmas time.  According to Nerdwallet, Hilo ranks 2nd in the most expensive places for holiday spending.

The average family in Hilo spends about $1,172.02 during the holidays.  The national average for a family of four is $877.22.

spending

Man Sentenced to Prison for Threatening Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

A New York man was sentenced on Monday to 33 months in prison for threatening Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, federal prosecutors said.

Aniruddha Sherbow

Aniruddha Sherbow

Aniruddha Sherbow, 44, whose last known address was in Poughkeepsie, New York, was sentenced in U.S. District Court. He pleaded no contest in February to two charges of transmitting threats, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement…

…Sherbow had been harassing Gabbard, a Democrat, since about February 2011, including making threats via email and telephone, prosecutors said. He was charged with two threats made in August 2013, one of them a voicemail message in which he threatened to kill her.

Full story here: New Yorker gets 33 months for threatening Hawaii congresswoman

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.

Second Supplementary Proclamation Pertaining to State of Emergency in Puna Issued Today

A second supplementary proclamation pertaining to the declared state of emergency in Puna was issued today by Mayor Billy Kenoi. A PDF of the signed proclamation is available here.

Click to read

Click to read

SECOND SUPPLEMENTARY PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS, Act 111 of the 2014 Hawai‘i State Legislature, provides for the establishment of County organizations for emergency management and disaster relief with the Mayor having direct responsibility and authority over emergency management within the County; and

WHEREAS, Act 111 of the 2014 Hawai‘i State Legislature and Chapter 7, Articles 1 and 2 of the Hawai‘i County Code, establishes a Civil Defense Agency within the County of Hawai‘i and prescribes its powers, duties, and responsibilities, and Section 13‑23 of the Hawai‘i County Charter empowers the Mayor of the County to declare emergencies; and

WHEREAS, the County of Hawai‘i on September 4, 2014, and the State of Hawai‘i on September 5, 2014, issued Proclamations declaring states of emergency due to the threat of disaster due to the June 27th lava flow in the District of Puna, County and State of Hawai‘i; and

WHEREAS, the County of Hawai‘i on October 16, 2014, issued a Supplementary Proclamation, and the State of Hawai‘i on September 22, 2014, and October 17, 2014, issued a Supplementary Proclamation and Second Supplementary Proclamation further declaring states of emergency due to the threat of disaster due to the June 27th lava flow in the District of Puna, County and State of Hawai‘i; and

WHEREAS, the United States Geological Survey – Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on December 3, 2014, reported that the eruptive phase of the June 27th flow is continuing and show no signs of halting and that new breakouts occurring upslope of Pahoa Village have converged to create a new organized lava front; and

WHEREAS, this new upslope front has been proceeding at a rate of several hundred yards per day and is presently located 2.5 miles from State Highway 130; and

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM P. KENOI, Mayor of the County of Hawai‘i,

do hereby proclaim and declare that a state of emergency continues to exist due to the threat of imminent disaster on the Hawai‘i Island, District of Puna, effective December 3, 2014, and that the Proclamation of September 4, 2014, and Supplementary Proclamation of October 16, 2014, shall remain in full force and effect and are hereby included in the provisions of this Second Supplementary Proclamation and shall continue thereon for 60 days or until further act by this office.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the County of Hawai‘i to be affixed. Done this 3rd day of December, 2014, in Hilo, Hawai‘i.

WIILIAM P. KENOI
Mayor
County of Hawai‘i

Public, Private Agencies Convene to Discuss Lava, Emergency Housing

More than 45 of Hawaii Island’s top officials in government, business, construction, academia and the non-profit sector gathered last week in Hilo to discuss the Puna lava situation and its effects on the island’s housing market.
Lava Housing

The emergency housing forum, hosted by HOPE Services Hawaii, Hawaii Island Realtors, the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and Day Lum Rentals & Management, included roundtable discussions that focused on short- and long-term housing planning, legislative policy and expanding community resources.

The November 24 forum was intended as the beginning of a larger conversation focused on building more affordable housing on Hawaii Island. An action plan that outlines next steps and leverages private and public partnerships is being created by the forum’s hosts and expected to be complete by first quarter 2015. The plan will identify short and long-term solutions, which will help inform possible legislative policies and provide the basis for maximizing community resources.

During the forum, agency heads discussed what organizations are experiencing as a result of the lava breakout, which started in late June and has travelled 13.5 miles since. Some presented ideas to alleviate the demand for housing outside of Puna, noting, however, that today’s quick fixes should complement the island’s long-term housing and development plans.

“No one is pretending to have all the answers,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “There’s no lava flow manual, so many policy decisions are being made with the best information available. What we’re facing as a community is significant, but the challenges are not insurmountable. The County has been and will continue to be all hands on deck, ready to collaborate, and to share information as it becomes available to lessen anxiety and uncertainty.”

Brandee Menino, chief executive officer for HOPE Services Hawaii, said that while HOPE primarily helps homeless and at-risk individuals and families transition off the streets and obtain stable housing, her office has been getting calls from families displaced by Tropical Storm Iselle and potentially isolated by the lava. She noted that even before this year’s natural disasters, the need for rental units had been identified.

“A 2011 Housing Planning Study prepared for the Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation revealed that Hawaii County would need 1,753 rental units by 2016 in order to meet the growing demand for housing,” said Menino. “This report was done in 2011, when lava was not a concern, so we must make a concerted effort to prioritize creating more affordable housing opportunities for Hawaii’s families.”

Paul Normann, executive director of the Neighborhood Place of Puna (NPP), a resource for distressed families, said Puna has the highest rate of child abuse and neglect in the State. “Because of the disruption caused by Iselle and the active lava flow, NPP has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families seeking assistance. In the first four months of the current fiscal year, July through October, NPP has already served 106 families. To put that in context, over the course of the entire 12 months of the previous fiscal year, NPP served a total of 130 families.

Nancy Cabral of Day-Lum said that some families wanted to get ahead of the lava and moved from the area. But Cabral is concerned with who haven’t. “There are a lot of residents who have not been preparing for what’s coming. It seems they are waiting for government to step in and rescue them, so we really need to take steps to ready the housing market.”

Cabral offered solutions to stave off a potential housing crisis including working with hotels to temporarily rent out rooms, helping families uproot and move homes to vacant lots and lobbying the State to relinquish control to the County of affordable units such as Lanakila Housing, which can move faster to make the units available to those looking to relocate from Puna.

Mark Kimura, an economic geography researcher at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who conducted an informal survey of Puna residents, said almost half reported they had no one to rely on or place to go if they needed to move. 14 percent said they have already left the area or are preparing to leave and 25 percent said they could move-in with family or friends on-island. He said many don’t want to give up their homes because they are still paying a mortgage, have farms, can’t afford to move and have difficulty finding places that are pet-friendly or retrofitted for people with disabilities.

Amanda Donaldson, President of NARPM’s East Hawaii chapter, which is made up of about 20 local residential property managers, said members get nearly a dozen additional calls a day from families looking for housing outside the lava zone. She said NARPM agents are willing to add addendums that allow individuals in the lava impact zone to break their lease once lava hits.

Kehau Costa of Hawaii Island Realtors championed a “one-stop-shop” rentals website where interested renters can view available units on the island, which would speed up house hunting. Costa also suggested a “new landlord resource fair” because of the increasing number of individuals asking how they can convert part of or their entire home into a rental.

Additional ideas that came out of the forum include exploring commuter housing, house sharing, prepping lands for modular housing, fast tracking County building permit processes as well as County take over, repair and rental of foreclosure homes.

Any individuals or organizations interested in taking part in future discussions may contact Brandee Menino at bmenino@hopeserviceshawaii.org or (808) 933-6013.

Hawaii Lawmaker Calls In National Baby Safe Haven Cavalry

Vice Speaker John Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Lower Kalihi) announced today that he has contacted the Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend national awareness campaign to promote the State’s Baby Safe Haven Law.

baby safe

Vice Speaker Mizuno has reached out and secured the assistance of the Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend national awareness campaign, based in Boston, Massachusetts, for support of  a major youth driven, technologically enhanced campaign to inform half a million people in Hawaii of the State’s Baby Safe Haven Law.

According to Mizuno, “I contacted Jean and Mike Morrisey, the Directors of the Baby Safe Haven national campaign. We have an excellent relationship and they helped us pass our Baby Safe Haven law back in 2007. In the wake of a newborn baby found dead in a Waikiki hotel, could we have saved the life of that innocent newborn and kept the Mom from prosecution?”

The Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend campaign concurred with Vice Speaker Mizuno on an ambitious, coordinated campaign lead by their over a dozen professional young spokespeople is what it will take to get our message to radio stations of all genres, news stations, and newspapers from high school publications to the major daily press.  With heightened awareness of the Hawaii Baby Safe Haven Law the message will carry over to the tourism sector, as well military families and incoming students. “Our goal is to inform a half a million people in the State of Hawaii, within weeks, of the Baby Safe Haven Law” said Mizuno. “We don’t want to have another baby abandoned again.”

In 2007, Rep. Mizuno’s first year in office, he introduced HB1830 (passed into law as Act 7), to save the lives of newborn babies from abandonment and ultimately death. Act 7 provides immunity from prosecution for leaving an unharmed newborn baby at certain baby safe havens, such as a hospital, fire station, police station, or with emergency medical services personnel (EMS), within 72 hours of birth.  The measure also provides immunity from liability for personnel at the safe havens receiving a newborn baby.

Vice Speaker John Mizuno has received the personal video messages of several of the nation’s top Baby Safe Haven spokespeople/advocates who have made hundreds of media appearances in several regions across the country. The following are links to videos by Viennie V and Despina Drougas in response to the recent tragedy at a Waikiki hotel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEhIupI9sVg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LZiZZ0IYyU

Mizuno provided the following statement, “Government has a responsibility to ensure the safety of every single citizen and person in Hawaii and it is absolutely crucial for our government to do everything in its power to save and preserve their lives.  This law is targeted at saving our newborn babies, the most vulnerable and innocent among us.” Mizuno added “Abandoned babies are a worldwide issue, and I am grateful for all the support we received in Hawaii from baby safe haven advocates from across the country. I am especially grateful for the Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend national awareness campaign’s assistance, as well as his youthful and talented team of spokespersons who have been so willing to donate their time and talent to save the lives of newborn babies, and help their peers to make proper decisions in a time of crisis.”

Thermal Images Shows Pahoa Not Out of Danger Yet

This satellite image was captured today by the Advanced Land Imager instrument onboard NASA’s Earth Observing 1 satellite. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see.

Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.  (Click to enlarge)

Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds. (Click to enlarge)

Although the farthest tip of the June 27th lava flow, in Pāhoa, is stalled, this image shows that breakouts remain active upslope.

These breakouts are focused in two areas. First, there is a breakout about 4 km (2.5 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Second, breakouts are active in the area of ground cracks farther downslope.

The farthest tip of these breakouts has advanced a short distance north over the past day and was 5.8 km (3.6 miles) upslope of Apaʻa St. as measured along a straight line.

Lava Breakouts Remain Active Around Ground Crack System and Well Site

The farthest downslope breakouts today are still situated around the ground crack system, near the abandoned well site. The front of these breakouts was about 500 m (0.3 miles) northeast of the well site, and about 1.9 km (1.2 miles) west of Kaohe Homesteads.

These breakouts were covering the existing flow and burning forest on its margins.  (Click to enlarge)

These breakouts were covering the existing flow and burning forest on its margins. (Click to enlarge)

Much of the active lava was covering the existing flow around the ground crack system, with small portions entering the forest at the flow margins.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The activity in the forest triggered brush fires and frequent methane explosions.

An HVO geologist examines a ground crack into which lava was pouring near the flow margin, producing large amounts of steam.  Click to enlarge

An HVO geologist examines a ground crack into which lava was pouring near the flow margin, producing large amounts of steam. Click to enlarge

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/

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.”

TMT Launches The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) has launched THINK (The Hawaii Island New Knowledge) Fund to better prepare Hawaii Island students to master STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and to become the workforce for higher paying science and technology jobs in Hawaii’s 21st century economy. TMT’s founding gift of $1 million marks the beginning of the construction phase of astronomy’s next-generation telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

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’s THINK Fund initiative benefits Hawaii Island students pursuing STEM endeavors with an annual contribution of $1 million over its existing 19-year Mauna Kea sublease with the University of Hawaii-Hilo. Two Hawaii foundations were selected by TMT, Hawaii Community Foundation and Pauahi Foundation, to administer THINK Fund distribution in scholarship and grant making platforms. The two independent foundations are defining their award criteria and decision-making process.

“During our numerous meetings, TMT and the community discussed how to collaborate to fulfill the shared dream of building the world’s most advanced telescope. The idea for the THINK Fund to invest in the education of students in the STEM field was germinated,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board. “With the launch of the THINK Fund, we are embarking on two transformational adventures – exploring the frontiers of the universe and providing educational opportunities for Hawaii’s students, both now and for future generations.”

The Thirty Meter Telescope initiated dialogue on the formation of THINK Fund in 2008 by asking a group of community volunteers to outline the mission, vision, purpose and implementation strategy of an education fund benefitting Hawaii Island students. The Organizing Committee that developed TMT’s THINK Fund structure was comprised of Hawaii Island residents.

“After years of THINK Fund planning and reflection, the aspirations of dedicated community members are being realized with TMT’s first annual $1 million contribution, set in motion by the start of our construction phase,” said TMT Community Affairs Manager Sandra Dawson. “As a mother of two teachers, I am so pleased with the THINK Fund’s potential to furnish Hawaii Island students with an easier path to reach for the stars. TMT’s THINK Fund initiative will not only help Hawaii Island students with the tools to excel in STEM areas and the channels to get into college, it can also provide students with the means to get through college.”

The Organizing Committee determined that scholarships, grant making and the establishment of an endowment would ensure the sustainability of improving educational opportunities for Hawaii Island students in STEM disciplines. It further recognized that an emphasis be given to improving opportunities for STEM education for Native Hawaiian students, not as an exclusive preference, but focusing on addressing the needs of Hawaii’s host culture.

TMT’s annual $1 million contribution allocates $750,000 to THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation and $250,000 to THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation. The foundations will administer their respective THINK Funds independently and will have autonomy in administering grant funds, determining scholarship recipients, and the selection and governance of Advisory Committees.

THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation

Grants are available by application to THINK Fund at Hawaii Community Foundation beginning November 20th and will support a variety of Hawaii Island STEM student activities in and after-school, internship programs and teacher-generated STEM classroom projects. Scholarships will support current and future STEM teachers on Hawaii Island as well as students pursuing STEM degrees and training. Scholarship applications will be available online on December 1st, 2014.

“For the past 98 years, Hawaii Community Foundation has had the privilege of serving our island communities across the state,” said Kelvin Taketa, president and CEO of the Hawaii Community Foundation. “We’re honored to be the stewards of the THINK Fund at HCF that will support STEM education on Hawaii Island for generations to come.”

Advisory Committee members of THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation are Laurie Ainslie, Roberta Chu, Mary Correa, Kaeo Duarte, Hiapo Perreira, Doug Simons and Barry Taniguchi. The Advisory Committee, facilitated by Hawaii Community Foundation staff, will assist with strategy development, review grant proposals, make grant decisions and encourage STEM education for Hawaii Island.

THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation is open to all Hawaii Island students including Native Hawaiians, teachers with STEM classroom projects and organizations providing STEM and internship programs that directly benefit Hawaii Island. Learn more and apply at www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org <http://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org> .

The Hawaii Island office of Hawaii Community Foundation is located in Waimea.

THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation

Scholarship Programs will be the initial focus of THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation. Grant making is being considered for the future.

“With Hawaii Island having the second largest population of Native Hawaiians in the state of Hawaii, our partnership with TMT provides much-needed financial support for Hawaiian learners from Hawaii Island to pursue educational opportunities in STEM,” said Hawaii Island resident and Pauahi Foundation Executive Director Keawe Liu.

Advisory committee members of THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation are Roberta Chu, Kaeo Duarte, Leinaala Enos, David Kaapu, Bob Lindsey, Gail Makuakane-Lundin and Maile Wong.

THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation is open to all Hawaii Island students with a preference given to applicants of Hawaiian ancestry to the extent permitted by law. Scholarship applications will be available online on February 4, 2015 at www.pauahi.org <http://www.pauahi.org> .

THINK Fund Collaboration

THINK Fund was designed as an initiative to encourage and attract other funders who align with the mission and goal to improve STEM education and strengthen Hawaii Island’s workforce, and TMT is serving as the founding member of the THINK Fund initiative. The vision of this collaborative approach is to bring together the island community with funders in a partnership that strives to help Hawaii Island students long term.

What’s Next For TMT?

Construction activities in Hawaii include site preparation and grading.

tmt

Offsite work has begun in earnest as well. In China, partners are designing the telescope’s fully articulated main science steering mirror system and developing the laser guide star system. Japan has produced over sixty special zero thermal-expansion glass mirror blanks for the main mirror and is designing the telescope structure in detail. Fabricating the mirror support system is ongoing in India. The adaptive optics facility is in final design and the enclosure is ready for construction in Canada. The primary mirror and mirror control system is in final design in California.

The advancement of TMT to this stage of imminent on-site construction has been made possible by the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The foundation has spent $141 million to date to fund the design, development, and construction phases of TMT.

Civil Defense Update – House Was Ignited By Lava Flow

This is an eruption and lava flow Information Update for Monday November 10th at 6:30PM

The current assessment shows that the flow front remains stalled with very little activity and has not advanced. The upslope breakout in the area of Apa’a Street near the cemetery entered a private property yesterday morning and the residential structure or house was ignited by the advancing flow at approximately 11:55 this morning.

First house on fire via Mileka Lincoln on Facebook.

First house on fire via Mileka Lincoln on Facebook.

Currently, three active breakouts are being monitored in the areas of the cemetery below Apaʻa Street, in the area west or above the transfer station, and upslope approximately .4 miles from Apaʻa Street. All three breakouts are active and advancing in a northeast direction. These breakouts do not pose an immediate threat to area residents and will be monitored.

Smoke conditions are currently moderate to heavy with light trade winds blowing the smoke in a south southwest direction towards the Leilani and lower Puna areas. Smoke conditions may increase in some areas and residents down wind that may be sensitive or have respiratory problems are advised to take necessary precautions and to remain indoors.

The evacuation advisory for those residents down slope of the flow will continue and residents will be kept informed of the flow status and advancement.

lava flow 1110

The Pahoa Village Road between Apa’a Street and the Post Office Road will remain closed and limited to area residents only. In addition, Civil Defense and public safety personnel will be operating in the area round the clock to maintain close observations of flow activity. Additional updates will be broadcasted as conditions change.

We would like to thank everyone for your patience and understanding and your cooperation and assistance is greatly appreciated. Thank you for listening and have a safe day. This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Puna Lava Flow – FEMA Aid “Need and Warranted” Under Disaster Declaration

declaration lava

Click to read declaration

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s disaster declaration issued for the State of Hawaii.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for emergency protective measures (Category B) taken to save lives and protect property and public health.  Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.  (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

How to Apply for Assistance:

  • Application procedures for state and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders and ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Public Comment Sought on Environmental Review of Emergency Access Route Along Chain of Craters Road

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is seeking public comment on the environmental review and decision regarding the construction and use of an emergency access route along the lava-covered section of Chain of Craters Kalapana Road. The environmental review for the emergency access route (22’ width) was completed in accordance with alternative NEPA arrangements developed by and in consultation with the Department of Interior and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.

Mayor Kenoi takes his wife to see Chain of Craters road progress.

Mayor Kenoi takes his wife to see Chain of Craters road progress.

To sustain access in and out of Pahoa, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is working in cooperation with the state of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i County and the Federal Highways Administration to construct an emergency access route between the park and Kalapana along the park’s historic Chain of Craters Kalapana Road. The environmental review considers alternatives to the emergency access route and potential adverse impacts, and includes public involvement, mitigation and monitoring commitments. As part of the alternative arrangements, the National Park Service (NPS) will continue to engage the public by soliciting comments on the project, participating in public informational meetings, responding to comments received, and publishing periodic reports on the results of monitoring commitments. In addition, the NPS will continue to consult with affected agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hawai‘i State Historic Preservation Division, as necessary.  The NPS will also prepare a NEPA review to consider the future of the emergency access route after the emergency ends.

The use of the emergency access route will only last as long as there is no viable alternative route for the residents of the affected area to use to gain access to the rest of the Island of Hawai‘i.

The public is invited to review the environmental review and decision document and to submit comments via the NPS’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo. Select the Emergency Access Route along the Lava-Covered Section of Chain of Craters Kalapana Road link. The deadline for submitting comments in PEPC is Dec. 5, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

Comments will be accepted while construction of the road is in progress (anticipated to be 30 days), and are intended to affect NPS consideration of adjustments to the proposed action and enhancement of proposed mitigation measures. The comment period will be extended if necessary. Responses to substantive comments will be subsequently posted on PEPC. Results of park monitoring of resources and road use will be posted on PEPC and the park’s website, shared at community meetings, or publicized via other means of communication periodically throughout the duration of the emergency.

The public can also submit comments in writing, addressed to Superintendent, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718-0052; or via email nps_havo_planning@nps.gov . The deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 5, 2014.

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information with your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

New Breakout in Lava Flow to be Monitored Closely

This is an eruption and lava flow Information update for Friday, October 31 at 2:00PM.

distances

The flow continues to remain active however has not advanced since yesterday. The flow front remains 480 feet from Pāhoa Village Road. The front continues to show signs of widening with breakouts along the flanks or margins and is approximately 60 yards wide. A new breakout located upslope from the flow front on the north side is active and advancing in a northeast direction and will be monitored closely.  Additional breakouts above the Apaʻa street area along the north side of the flow are also being monitored closely.

Smoke conditions continue to be light with trade winds from the northeast pushing the smoke in a south southwest direction. Presently burning activity is involving a variety of materials and smoke conditions may increase in some areas. Residents down wind that may be sensitive or have respiratory problems are advised to take necessary precautions and to remain indoors. Additional health advisories may be issued depending upon materials involved with any fires associated with the lava flow.

Minor breakouts of lava ooze from the margin of the June 27th lava flow on the afternoon of Thursday, October 30, 2014. These breakouts are located about 100 meters (110 yards) behind the leading edge of the flow.

Minor breakouts of lava ooze from the margin of the June 27th lava flow on the afternoon of Thursday, October 30, 2014. These breakouts are located about 100 meters (110 yards) behind the leading edge of the flow.

Based on the current flow location, direction and advancement, residents in the flow path were placed on an evacuation advisory and notified of possible need for evacuation.  The evacuation advisory for those residents down slope of the flow will continue and residents will be kept informed of the flow status and advancement.

The Pahoa Village Road between Apa’a Street and the Post Office Road will remain closed and limited to area residents only. Motorist should use caution and slow down on Highway 130 near the Post Office Road intersection. Residents of the restricted area should not bring unauthorized persons into the restricted area. In addition, Civil Defense and public safety personnel will be operating in the area round the clock to maintain close observations of flow activity. Additional updates will be broadcasted as conditions change.

Pahoa Post Office Still Open – Hilo Post Office to Serve as Stopgap

The U.S. Postal Service Honolulu District Emergency Management Team (EMT) has been meeting regularly to monitor the progress of the Puna lava flow and is reviewing contingency plans that will enable the Postal Service to continue to serve affected customers.

postoffice
The District is in close contact with Hawaii County civil defense authorities and managers of potentially affected Hawaii Island Post Offices. Contingency plans are being informed and guided by general civil defense public safety directives and specific concerns over the safety of Postal Service employees.

One of the factors that the EMT is closely monitoring is the impact to air quality of sulfuric dioxide emissions from the lava and smoke from burning forestry. Adjustments will be made to postal operations as needed to ensure that employee safety is not compromised by air quality.

The Pahoa Post Office will remain open for business as long as it can operate without jeopardizing the safety or security of our postal employees, our customers and the mail. If the Pahoa Post Office is evacuated, the Hilo Post Office will likely serve as a stopgap base of operations.

The District is making arrangements to lease an alternate facility near Pahoa that can be operational soon after an evacuation. The Postal Service is committed to continue delivery to its Pahoa customers as long as it is safe to do so.

Contingency plans will likely evolve as the lava flow continues to impact access to Pahoa and the lives of its residents.

Plans must consider employee safety concerns, the availability of resources and the Postal Service’s commitment to customer service.

The bottom line is that, regardless of how this lava flow event plays out, the mail will be delivered. We will find a way to get it done.

HELCO Attempts to Protect Power Poles From Lava Flow

Hawaii Electric Light continues to work closely with Hawaii County Civil Defense and other agencies to monitor and evaluate the lava flow and has put into action the plans that are appropriate for this stage, including:

  • Pole protection measures were installed on four poles along Apaa Street. The poles were partially encased with heat resistant and dispersive material to protect them from the heat generated by the lava.
  • A large diesel generator was relocated to the Kapoho area to provide an alternate source of generation should the flow isolate the area from the island-wide power grid.
  • The distribution line extension construction continues on Government Beach Road as an alternate means to provide power to Hawaiian Beaches should the existing power distribution lines become inoperable.
HELCO workers are experimenting on securing the telephone poles on Cemetery Road.  (Click to enlarge)

HELCO workers are experimenting on securing the poles on Cemetery Road. As of 2 PM, the flow was only 135 m (approximately 150 yards) from Cemetery Rd./Apaʻa St., which spans this photo. HELCO crews can be seen working to protect utility poles along the road. (Click to enlarge)

“The safety of our community and employees is our top priority,” said spokesperson Kristen Okinaka. “We’re working closely with Hawaii County Civil Defense and have taken the necessary steps to protect our facilities.”

Hawaii Electric Light advises customers who are planning to move and would like to discontinue or transfer their electric service to call (808) 969-6999. In the event evacuation is necessary before electric service has been removed, the company recommends customers:

  • Shut off electricity at the main breaker or switch;
  • Unplug or turn off electric equipment and appliances.

As there are new developments, updates will be provided to the media and public and also posted on Hawaii Electric Light’s website (www.hawaiielectriclight.com), Twitter (@HIElectricLight), and Facebook (www.facebook.com/HawaiianElectric) accounts.

Big Island Teacher Invited to Present at Prestigious Mainland Conference

A Big Island Teacher has been selected by the Gates Foundation to serve as a presenter at an upcoming conference in New Orleans.

Kimberly Enamoria

Kimberly Enanoria

Kimberly Enanoria, a National Board Certified High School English Teacher has been personally invited by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to serve as a Presenter at the upcoming Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching Conference in New Orleans.

Approximately 500 Educators are expected to be in attendance at this prestigious invitation only event.

Kimberly is a Pahoa High School alumni and is currently employed at Kamehameha Schools Hawaii Campus as a Teacher Trainer/Evaluator.