UH Hilo’s Team Hoku Wins Microsoft Video Challenge

UH Hilo’s Team Hoku captured first place in the 2015 Microsoft Imagine Cup Pitch Video Challenge, Games Category.

eam Hoku, featured from left to right: Casey Pearring, Brian Hall and Theodore DeRego (not pictured: Lucas DeRego).

Team Hoku, featured from left to right: Casey Pearring, Brian Hall and Theodore DeRego (not pictured: Lucas DeRego).

Team members Brian Hall, Theodore DeRego, Lucas DeRego and Casey Pearring created reForge, a 2D online sci-fi sandbox game where players command customizable ships in tactical battles. UH Hilo students Kristin Pederson and Kelli Yamane worked on the documentation aspects of the game, although they are not official members.

Team Hoku received a $3,000 cash prize and is moving on to the Blueprint and User Experience challenges. The Imagine Cup competition is recognized as the premier global student technology competition, honoring innovations that address the world’s toughest problems.

National Call to Native Artists: Support for Indigenous Culture Makers

American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists nationwide have until April 6 to apply for the 2015 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Artist Fellowship.

To date, 41 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and culture makers have been honored with a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. NACF Fellows clockwise from left, work by Nora Naranjo Morse (Tewa), visual artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Athabascan/Iñupiaq) in studio, work by Alan Michelson (Mohawk), performance by author Sherwin Bitsui (Navajo), still from documentary film by Christen Marquez (Native Hawaiian) and weaver Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy) in studio.

To date, 41 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and culture makers have been honored with a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. NACF Fellows clockwise from left, work by Nora Naranjo Morse (Tewa), visual artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Athabascan/Iñupiaq) in studio, work by Alan Michelson (Mohawk), performance by author Sherwin Bitsui (Navajo), still from documentary film by Christen Marquez (Native Hawaiian) and weaver Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy) in studio.

The coveted national award includes support ranging up to $20,000 per artist. Awards will be made in six artistic disciplines, including: performing arts, filmmaking, literature, music, traditional arts and visual arts. “To meet a broadening need in the arts community, this year we invite applications in the discipline of performing arts,” said NACF Program Officer Andre Bouchard (of Kootenai and Chippewa descent). “More Native artists than ever before are exploring performing arts through multi-disciplinary approaches. We are looking forward to seeing what Native performing artists have been up to around the country!”

DEADLINE: Monday, April 6, 5 p.m. P.S.T.

To apply, artists who are members of federally and state-recognized U.S. tribes, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities can review criteria and complete an application at http://your.culturegrants.org before the April 6, 5 p.m. PST deadline.

The foundation will announce award recipients in August 2015. For questions and technical support, contact Program Officer Andre Bouchard at andre@nativeartsandcultures.org or (360) 314-2421.

One of the only opportunities in the U.S. of this magnitude dedicated to supporting Indigenous artists and culture makers, the foundation’s national fellowship has been awarded to 41 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists so far. Artists who have received the award in the past are ineligible to apply for the 2015 NACF Artist Fellowship. Past fellows include visual artist Nora Naranjo Morse (Tewa), recording artist Keola Beamer (Native Hawaiian), choreographer Emily Johnson (Yup’ik), author David Treuer (Ojibwe), multidisciplinary artist Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee) and film director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq).

Since it began operating in 2009, the nonprofit foundation has invested $5,113,574 in programs to support Native arts and cultures across the nation, including direct support for over 127 Native artists and organizations. To learn more about the foundation’s mission and past fellows awarded, visit www.nativeartsandcultures.org.

Department of Health Now in Charge of Medical Marijuana – Rules Change

The Hawaii State Department of Health has completed the transfer of the medical marijuana registration program from the Department of Public Safety. The program officially became part of the Department of Health on Jan. 1, 2015. Hawaii is one of 23 states along with the District of Columbia that allows medical marijuana use.

Possession of a valid medical marijuana registration card issued by the Department of Health and based on the written certification of a physician permits the lawful cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Act 177 was signed into law in June 2013 and authorized the transfer of the 14-year-old program to the Department of Health. As a health initiative, the medical marijuana program is better aligned with the Department of Health’s mission and the department’s experience in working with patients and health programs that involve public outreach, education and safeguarding patient privacy.

Act 178, which was also signed into law in June 2013, amends sections of the existing law. The Department of Health has made the following changes to comply with the law:

  • Law Enforcement 24/7 Online Verification – In accordance with Act 178, the Department of Health will provide 24/7 subject verification to designated law enforcement officers. Although no confidential information will be released, designated law enforcement officers will be able to verify if an individual has a valid medical marijuana registration card should the need arise for official law enforcement purposes. Designated officers are being trained by the department.
  • Registration Fee Increase -The patient medical marijuana registration fee has increased from $25 to $35 effective Jan. 1, 2015. A new, convenient online application and payment system makes the application process easier and faster. A portal administration fee of $3.50 will be charged for the required online services. “We’re working to make the medical marijuana program more accessible to Hawaii residents who may have a qualifying debilitating medical condition and could benefit from medicinal use of marijuana,” said Scottina “Scotty” Malia Ruis, medical marijuana program coordinator with the Department of Health.

The Hawaii Department of Health has also initiated a number of upgrades to the medical marijuana program:

Click to enter site

Click to enter site

  • New Medical Marijuana Website – The Department of Health has established a website with information on the medical marijuana program at www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana This is the most complete and up-to-date source of information for patients, physicians, law enforcement officials and the public. The site’s home page features a sign-up box for automatic medical marijuana program updates. This is the best way to keep abreast of all improvements and changes as the Department of Health’s medical marijuana program develops.
  • Phone Information Hotline – The Department of Health has established a phone hotline with recorded messages on different aspects of the medical marijuana program. The phone number is 733-2177. Toll free numbers have also been established for neighbor island residents: Hawaii Island residents may call 974-4000, ext. 32177; Maui residents may call 984-2400, ext. 32177; and Kauai residents may call 274-3141, ext. 32177.
  • New DOH Medical Marijuana Registration Card – This month, the Department of Health began issuing its new medical marijuana registration card, which includes the location of the where the marijuana is grown and the name of the primary care physician. The new card is thin and wallet-sized like an insurance card making it easier for patients and caregivers to keep with them whenever they are in possession of medical marijuana. The new white card with a colored Department of Health logo will replace the long familiar Department of Public Safety “blue card.”
  • Physician Education – Physician outreach and information sharing through planned conference calls has been ongoing to ensure healthcare providers have accurate information about the program. Physicians who are currently certifying patients for the program are emailed information about conference calls and other updates.

Beginning Jan. 28, DOH will hold public hearings for the proposed adoption of Chapter 11-160, Hawaii Administrative Rules for Medical Use of Marijuana. This proposed new chapter will include the process for DOH to consider approval of additional debilitating medical conditions for medical use of marijuana; physician requirements to participate in the program; registration of qualifying patients and primary caregivers; monitoring and corrective action; administrative procedure; and confidentiality of information. The proposed rules are posted at http://co.doh.hawaii.gov/sites/har/admrulechange/default.aspx

Public hearings are scheduled in each county as follows.

  • Jan. 28 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Hilo, Hawaii at the State Office Building conference rooms A, B and C located at 75 Aupuni St.
  • Feb. 2 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Honolulu, Oahu at the Diamond Head Health Center room 418 located at 3627 Kilauea Ave.
  • Feb. 3 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Wailuku, Maui at the State Office Building third floor conference room located at 54 South High St.
  • Feb. 5 (10:30 a.m.-12 noon) in Lihue, Kauai at the State Office Building basement room located at 3060 Eiwa St.

Requests or questions related to the upcoming public hearings may be sent to medicalmarijuana@doh.hawaii.gov

Senator Brian Schatz Responds to State of the Union Address

Today U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released the following statement following President Obama’s annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

Sen. Brian Schatz

Sen. Brian Schatz

“Tonight we heard the President lay out his vision for the year ahead to ensure that our economy continues its recovery and that our economic policies and priorities strengthen and expand the middle class.

“This is particularly important in Hawai‘i, where the high cost of living makes it tougher for hard-working middle class families to share in the American dream.

“For too long, the wealthiest Americans and big corporations have used unfair loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Tonight, the President proposed a simpler, fairer tax code that closes those loopholes and uses those savings to support tax credits for working parents. These smart investments will help middle class families succeed and bolster our economy.

“The President’s proposal to expand access to higher education and make community college free for every responsible student is an important step forward. We all know that a college education is the best way for people to move up the economic ladder.

“I am also glad that the President focused on home ownership and the need to make mortgages more affordable. Helping families attain the dream of home ownership is even more important in Hawai‘i, where the high prices stress family budgets.

“I hope as we begin the New Year my Republican colleagues in Congress will welcome the President’s proposals to strengthen the middle class and will work with Democrats to make the American dream a reality for all Americans.”

 

Hawaii Facilities Report 3 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemical Released During 2013

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report that showed that the majority of toxic chemicals managed at industrial facilities in the U.S. were not released into the environment. Nationally in 2013, approximately 84 percent of the 26 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were managed through the use of preferred practices such as recycling.

Of the 4 billion pounds that were disposed of or otherwise released to the environment, 66 percent went to land, 19 percent to air, 5 percent to water, and 10 percent was transferred to other facilities. Individual fact sheets for the Pacific Southwest Region states and territories were also made available yesterday.

toxic releases 2013

A total of 35 Hawaii facilities reported 3 million pounds of toxic chemical releases during 2013. Hawaii’s total reported on-site and off-site releases increased when compared to the 2.7 million pounds reported in 2012. AES Hawaii Inc., and Hawaiian Electric Co.’s Kahe Generating Station, both electric generation utilities, were the top two facilities for total on-site and off-site releases. For detailed Hawaii information and the list of the top facilities, please visit: http://iaspub.epa.gov/triexplorer/tri_factsheet.factsheet_forstate?&pstate=HI&pyear=2013&pDataSet=TRIQ1

Puna Lava Flow Causes Runaway Brush Fires – Evacuation Not Required Yet

This is a brush fire information update for Thursday January 15th at 3:30PM.

11515pic12

The Hawaii Fire Department reports two runaway brushfires in the area of the lava flow in Pahoa.  Both fires started from the active lava flow and are currently burning in a north/northeast direction.  The fires are located to the west or above highway 130 and approximately .6 to .9 miles from the Ainaloa subdivision.

The fires have not yet burned to the fire break adjacent to the Ainaloa subdivision and currently no homes or properties are threatened.  No evacuation is required at this time.

Fire department personnel and equipment are on scene along with helicopters and a bull dozer working to contain and extinguish the fires.

Additional updates will be broadcast as conditions change.

This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense

DLNR to Acquire and Permanently Protect Molokai Freshwater Pond

As part of the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources will acquire and permanently protect a 66-acre freshwater pond on Moloka’i, including the island’s largest freshwater pond.

Hawaiian Coot

Hawaiian Coot

The pond provides habitat for the endangered Hawaiian coot and the Hawaiian stilt, but faces an imminent threat from sedimentation and invasive plants that degrade, fill and eliminate wetland habitat.

Hawaiian Stilt

Hawaiian Stilt

Restoration will include the removal of invasive plants encroaching on the pond and removal of a large accumulation of sediment that has displaced a portion of the pond.

This project is a crucial part of a larger plan to protect the Pua’ahala watershed as a new state wildlife sanctuary extending from the mountains to the coral reefs.

molokai grant

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced over $21 million will be provided to 25 projects in 13 coastal and Great Lakes states to protect, restore or enhance more than 11,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute over $35 million in additional funds to these projects, which include acquiring, restoring or enhancing coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats.

The program, funded through taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters, creates significant benefits for other recreationists and the American public. The billions of dollars generated through recreational angling, boating, waterfowl hunting and bird watching benefit communities in the vicinity of wetlands restoration projects.

Click here for the complete list of projects funded by the 2015 grant program.

The Service awards grants of up to $1 million to states based on a national competition, which enables states to determine and address their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas. Since 1992, the Service has awarded over $357 million in grants under the program.

Conservation of coastal wetlands ecosystems will not only benefits coastal wetland-dependent wildlife, but will also enhance flood protection and water quality, and provide economic and recreational benefits to anglers, boaters, hunters and wildlife watchers.

2015 Ushered In By Largest First Day Hike In America

Sunrise on this first day of 2015 was foiled by heavy cloud cover, but an estimated 500 early morning hikers still made the one and a half mile trek to the Makapu’u Lookout in Kaiwi State Park in East Oahu, as part of the annual First Day Hike.
2015 Sunrise
For the past four years, First Day Hikes have been organized by state park systems in all 50 states.  Hawaii has the distinction of attracting what is perhaps, the largest number of hikers for a single event, according to America’s State Parks, the umbrella organization that initiated the annual hikes and tracks them around the country.
2015 Hawaii First Day Hike from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Curt Cottrell, the assistant administrator of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has organized the Makapu’u First Day Hike for each of the last four years.  He said, “When you consider the stunning views of Kaiwi Channel and the neighbor islands of Molokai, Lanai and Maui, Windward Oahu, Diamond Head, Koko Crater, and the opportunity to maybe see humpback whales breaching – all during the first sunrise of the new year, it’s really little wonder that Hawaii’s hike is the most unique and probably has the most participation for a single-location hike in the country.”

People lined the paved pathway for at least a half mile below the uppermost overlook in the state park.  The Hawaii event has grown steadily every year and seems to be particularly popular with Japanese visitors.  Sunrise at 7:09 a.m. was greeted with a pu by Gabriel Spencer of Ali’i Entertainment. Taiko drumming was provided for a third year, by the Taiko Center of the PacificIt is a school of traditional and contemporary Japanese drumming established in 1994 by Kenny and Chizuko Endo to preserve traditional Japanese drumming and to create new music for taiko.
A visitor from Taiwan set out from Waikiki on his bicycle at 2 a.m.  He arrived at 4 a.m. and was greeted with solitude and silence.  Less than an hour later, hundreds of people began arriving.

James Fritz of Waimanalo was among a group of people who crowded onto the uppermost viewing area where the Taiwanese cyclist was resting.  Fritz said he missed the first two First Day Hikes and barely made the third, but arrived on top early to secure a good viewing spot.  Commenting on the weather prior to sunrise he said, “Oh it’s beautiful. The stars are out, it’s cold.  If everybody bundled together we could stay pretty warm.”

January is “Volcano Awareness Month” in Hawaii

January 2015 is Hawaiʻi Island’s 6th annual “Volcano Awareness Month.”

A clear view today of Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s summit revealed no significant change during the past week. The cross-sectional area of the active lava stream in the tube on the flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō was the same as measured on December 22, suggesting no change in lava discharge from the vent. The central crater at Puʻu ʻŌʻō formed over several days following the opening of eruptive fissures on June 27; the view is looking toward the west. The distance from the high point on the northwest rim to the south rim (cliff in top middle to lower left in this photo) is about 300 m (~980 ft). (Click to Enlarge)

A clear view today of Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s summit revealed no significant change during the past week. The cross-sectional area of the active lava stream in the tube on the flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō was the same as measured on December 22, suggesting no change in lava discharge from the vent. The central crater at Puʻu ʻŌʻō formed over several days following the opening of eruptive fissures on June 27; the view is looking toward the west. The distance from the high point on the northwest rim to the south rim (cliff in top middle to lower left in this photo) is about 300 m (~980 ft). (Click to Enlarge)

With Kīlauea’s current lava flow impacting Puna residents, awareness is more essential than ever for us to live in harmony with the active volcanoes that are our island home.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in cooperation with Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, and Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense, will provide a month-long series of programs about the volcanoes on which we live:

“At-a-Glance” Program Schedule

Program descriptions:

January 3, 2015, also marks the anniversary of Kīlauea’s ongoing East Rift Zone eruption, which began in 1983. During the past 32 years, lava flows have buried over 127 km2 (49 mi2) of public and private land, destroying 215 structures, 14 km (9 mi) of highway, and vast tracts of native forest. The ongoing destruction is a reminder of why it’s important to be aware of and understand how Hawaiian volcanoes work.

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/