Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Begins Construction on Mauna Kea

Following the approval of a sublease on July 25 by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) announces the beginning of the construction phase on Hawaii Island and around the world throughout the TMT international partnership. Contingent on that decision, the TMT International Observatory (TIO) Board of Directors, the project’s new governing body, recently approved the initial phase of construction, with activities near the summit of Mauna Kea scheduled to start later this year.

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).

Kahu Ku Mauna and the Mauna Kea Management Board reviewed, and the University of Hawaii Board of Regents recently approved, the proposed TMT sublease. The final approval from the Board of Land and Natural Resources—the last step in the sublease process—allows TMT to begin on-site construction on Mauna Kea, home to many of the world’s premier observatories.

“It has been an amazing journey for TMT, from idea to shovel-ready project,” said Henry Yang, TIO Board Chair and Chancellor of the University of California Santa Barbara. “We are grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Hawaiian government, its citizens, and our project partners in bringing this important astronomical science effort to fruition. It is also my rewarding experience to work with so many community friends, University of Hawaii colleagues, and officials on both the Big Island and Oahu in this journey.”

The Rise of a New Observatory – Activities Around the World

The TMT project was initiated a decade ago by the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the University of California as the TMT Observatory Corporation. Now, as the TMT International Observatory (TIO)—founded as a nonprofit limited liability company on May 6, 2014 —the project has the official green light to begin constructing a powerful next-generation telescope.

The TIO founding members are Caltech, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan, and the University of California. India, an associate, is expected to become a full member later this year. Canada is also an associate and aiming to join as a full member in 2015.

Initial construction activities in Hawaii will include grading the site in preparation for future building work, enabling a site dedication ceremony in October. TMT is committed to work within a plan for responsible development on Mauna Kea created by the Office of Mauna Kea Management.

“TMT has worked for many years to design an unprecedented telescope, but also to work with the community to incorporate respect for Mauna Kea in our stewardship,” said Gary Sanders, Project Manager for TMT. “It is an honor and a privilege to now begin building our next-generation observatory in so special a place.”

Other work has already been proceeding off-site and will continue now apace.

“Design of the fully articulated main science steering mirror system in the telescope, as well as development of the lasers, laser guide star systems and other high-tech components, is proceeding in China,” said Yan Jun, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatories of China.

“Japan has seen to the production of over 60 mirror blanks made out of special zero-expansion glass that does not alter its shape with temperature changes. The blanks will be highly polished for use in the telescope’s 30-meter diameter primary mirror. The final design of the telescope structure itself is nearing completion,” said Masanori Iye, TMT International Observatory Board Vice Chair and TMT Japan Representative for the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

In Canada, the TMT adaptive optics facility is in final design. Ernie Seaquist, Executive Director of the ACURA, added, “The TMT enclosure design is complete and the enclosure is now ready for construction by a Canadian industrial firm.”

“Prototyping of TMT’s primary mirror assemblies and the building of mirror actuators, edge sensors, and support systems is ongoing in India,” noted Eswar Reddy, Program Director of the India TMT Coordination Centre.

Three “first-light” instruments are also under development with major contributions from all of the TMT partners.

The Path to Construction

The announcement of an imminent start to on-site work, where all of these initial developments will come together, is welcome news to scientists worldwide.

“The start of construction means that TMT is becoming real, and that’s exciting news for astronomers,” said Catherine Pilachowski, an astronomer at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and an observer representing the United States astronomical community at TMT board meetings. “The science TMT will do is breathtaking, and will engage all astronomers in the adventure of new frontiers.”

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.

“I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and all of our partners and supporters,” said Edward Stone, the Morrisroe Professor of Physics at Caltech and the new Executive Director of TIO. “We are looking forward to starting construction this year and moving ahead.”

A Boost for Hawaii

The start of TMT on-site construction will directly benefit the local Hawaiian community. TMT will now make its first annual contribution to The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund, a program that promotes science, technology, engineering, and math education across grades K-12, secondary, and post-secondary education. Over the life of the TMT lease on Mauna Kea, TMT will give $1 million per year to the THINK Fund.

In the construction sector, TMT will create about 300 full-time construction jobs. TMT has committed to the hiring of union workers for these positions. Looking further ahead, during operations, TMT will have a staff of about 120-140, which will be drawn as much as possible from Hawaii Island’s available labor pool. A workforce pipeline program in the meantime will also educate and train island residents for jobs with TMT, as well as other observatories and high-tech industries.

“The start of construction of TMT is great news for Hawaii Island residents,” said Sandra Dawson, TMT’s Manager of Hawaii Community Affairs. “We are proud to be a good citizen of the community as we all work toward building a revolutionary astronomical instrument.”

 

Tours and Film Share History of World War II Detention Site at Kīlauea Military Camp

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will offer guided tours of the former World War II detention camp site at Kīlauea Military Camp on Tuesday, July 29, and show the documentary, The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i.

Drawing of KMC detention camp by Japanese-American Yoshio "George" Hoshida, courtesy of the Japanese National Museum

Drawing of KMC detention camp by Japanese-American Yoshio “George” Hoshida, courtesy of the Japanese National Museum

The tours and film are free, but park entrance fees apply.

The one-hour tour is at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and will focus on the Japanese residents of Hawai‘i who were detained at Kīlauea Military Camp during World War II. No registration is required. Meet at the check-in area at Kīlauea Military Camp (KMC), near the flagpole. Park archeologist Dr. Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura and archive technician Geoff Mowrer will lead the tours. Limited copies of the new National Park Service cultural resources report, A Silent Farewell, will be available.

Photo of the U.S. Army Signal Corps standing in formation in front of Building 34 at Kilauea Military Camp. Today, the building houses the U.S. Post Office, Crater Rim Cafe and Lava Lounge. NPS Photo Archives.

Photo of the U.S. Army Signal Corps standing in formation in front of Building 34 at Kilauea Military Camp. Today, the building houses the U.S. Post Office, Crater Rim Cafe and Lava Lounge. NPS Photo Archives.

At 1 p.m., the documentary The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i, will be shown at the Lava Lounge, located adjacent to the post office at KMC. That evening, the park will show the film as part of its After Dark in the Park series at 7 p.m. in the Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Filmmaker Ryan Kawamoto and Carole Hayashino, president and director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, will present both showings of the documentary.

While the story of the 1942 mass round-up, eviction and imprisonment of Japanese Americans in California, Oregon and Washington has been well documented, very little is known about the Hawai‘i internees and their unique experience during World War II. This is the first full-length documentary to chronicle this untold story in Hawai‘i’s history.

Video – Simulated Mars Mission Complete

The HI-SEAS Crew 2 had a live Google Hangout event today when they returned to “Earth” from “Simulated Mars”.  They have been living in a Mars simulation located on Mauna Loa for the past 120 days.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

Here is the video:

State, Federal, Private-Sector Collaboration Conveys Sign Of ‘Hope’ To Japanese Village

The people of Tanohata Village, in the Iwate Prefecture, on Japan’s northeast coast “are slowly, but surely walking on the path to recovery as a united body,”according to Tanohata Village Mayor Hiroshi Ishihara. The tiny village was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.

Tsunami two

Now, a sign being returned from Hawaii may provide further sense of hope and renewal.  Today, the large wooden sign from the village, which washed up on a beach near Kahuku, Oahu, was loaded into the cargo hold of a Hawaiian Airlines jet and shipped to Sendai International Airport. From there a delegation from Tanohata Village will transport it home.

“This small gesture, a result of cooperation between state and federal agencies, the government of Japan, and Hawaiian Airlines, symbolizes the concern the people of Hawaii continue to have for the victims of the 2011 tsunami,”Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “We hope, in some small measure, the return of this sign from the distant shores of Hawaii will further the healing and recovery of the people of Tanohata Village.”

Return of the Tanohata Sign from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

In a letter sent by Mayor Ishihara, he writes, “Thank you very much for finding and saving the sign –our village’s irreplaceable memento –which was lost during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, from a tremendous amount of debris items –we imagine as many as the number of stars in the sky –that ended up on Kahuku Beach on the Oahu Island. We are truly and deeply moved by the fact that you took the time to deliver the message to us, connecting many people and their compassion. Our village will treasure the memento that is coming back to our hands through your cooperation.”

“The world watched stunned and heartbroken by the devastation the tsunami caused in terms of  loss of life and property,”said William J. Aila, Jr., the chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). “My department has worked closely and in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to track and recover Japan tsunami debris believed to have washed up in Hawaiian waters,”Aila explained. “Debris that makes its way to Hawaii is usually returned at the owner’s expense; however, Hawaiian Airlines volunteered to ship the sign back at no charge.”

The Tanohata village sign is one of fewer than 20 items that have been positively identified as arriving in Hawaii as a result of the Japan tsunami.

Kyle Koyanagi, regional coordinator for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program in Hawaii said, “The websites both NOAA and DLNR established for people to report possible tsunami debris has resulted in numerous small vessels (skiffs) and other items being recovered. People are asked to provide specific information about where they find debris and to take pictures. Based on this information a determination is made about whether further investigation is necessary to prevent the introduction of invasive species or other things that could damage Hawaii’s environment.”

Some of the Tanohata Village sign’s lettering broke off during the tsunami or during its open ocean voyage from Japan to Hawaii. Koyanagi was instrumental in coordinating with the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu to try and identify the origin of the sign.

Consul General of Japan in Honolulu, Toyoei Shigeeda said, “The lettering on the sign, 「しまのこし村営住宅, means “Shimanokoshi village housing.”The people of Tanohata village wanted it returned for an exhibit and to serve as a useful reference for future generations to learn about and understand the tsunami disaster of March 11, 2011. We’re all excited that now, more than three years after the tsunami, this sign can be returned as a reminder and symbol of what was lost.”

The sign was wrapped and crated by DLNR staff before Hawaiian Airlines cargo personnel loaded it onto HA 441 for the direct flight to Sendai. Tim Strauss, vice president of cargo for Hawaiian Airlines, remarked: “We deeply value our relationship with the people of Japan, and it is our great honor to do our part in returning this precious piece of cargo to the people of Tanohata.”

To report large quantities of marine debris, debris with living organisms on it, or debris too large to remove by hand, call (808) 587-0400 and then email any photos to:

DLNR.marine.debris@hawaii.gov  and DisasterDebris@noaa.gov

For more information on marine debris visit: (Hawaii) http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/marine-debris/ or (nationally) http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/

Department of Health Urges Screenings for HIV and Hepatitis B and C

Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer, which is the second largest form of cancer that leads to deaths. Worldwide, viral hepatitis kills 1.5 million people each year.

Many immigrants to Hawaii who were born in Asia and the Pacific Islands (excluding Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii), where hepatitis B is common, are especially vulnerable.  Unfortunately, many may not recognize the signs or symptoms of hepatitis.

The good news: viral hepatitis can be prevented and those with disease can be treated. More good news: most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover the entire costs of one-time tests for the disease.

World Hepatitis Day 2014

World Hepatitis Day – The Hawaii Department of Health is drawing attention to this health issue and the importance of screenings for early detection as part of World Hepatitis Day on July 28, 2014. World Hepatitis Day on July 28, 2014. This day has also been designated Hawaii Hepatitis Day by Governor Neil Abercrombie’s Office.

“We’re urging Hawaii’s healthcare providers to screen their patients and encouraging Hawaii residents to request screenings because many people with HIV and most people with hepatitis B or C don’t know that they have been infected,” said Peter Whiticar, chief of the STD AIDS Prevention Branch in the Hawaii Department of Health.

“If undetected, these infections can lead to serious health complications, including liver cancer or even death. Today, more effective HIV and hepatitis treatments are available, and people have better options to take care of themselves before they become ill. The earlier people know they have HIV or hepatitis, the better their health outcome.”

Aligned with National, Evidence-Based Recommendations – The Hawaii Department of Health’s urgent request aligns with recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is an independent, volunteer panel of physicians in the fields of preventive medicine and primary care. This past May, the task force recommended a one-time screening for hepatitis B for anyone born in countries where hepatitis B is common, including most of Asia and the Pacific.

In addition to the hepatitis B screenings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends screenings for HIV for everyone 15 to 65 years of age as well as a one-time hepatitis C screening test for baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965.

It is important to note that these one-time screening test recommendations are for individuals without risk factors or evidence of infection. Patients with risk factors or medical evidence of infection should be tested more frequently.

Early Detection is Critical – “By identifying and treating these diseases early, we hope this improves patient and community health outcomes, especially since most persons at risk for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are not regularly screened,” Whiticar said.

“If your loved ones might be at risk, they can speak with their medical provider to discuss appropriate testing options. We also encourage medical providers to reach out to us to learn more about these recommendations.  Providing these simple tests now can mean that they can have their patients avoid liver disease or even liver cancer later,” he said.

Insurance Coverage – Individuals with medical insurance can go to their primary care physician to request a test for HIV, hepatitis B and/or C. Individuals without insurance can call Aloha United Way 211 or go to www.hepfreehawaii.org to find the free HIV and hepatitis screening location nearest them. Not all sites will offer hepatitis B testing. Testing will be based on eligibility and availability at each site.

For more information about hepatitis resources and events in Hawaii, go to www.hepfreehawaii.org.

Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Participates in “Hawaii on the Hill” Initiative

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce participated in the first-ever Hawaii on the Hill initiative July 22 and 23 at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Co-chaired by Senator Mazie Hirono and the rest of the Hawaii delegation, this event highlighted the State’s businesses, food and culture on Capitol Hill. The two-day affair included a Hawaii Policy Summit, tours of the White House and Capitol, and concluded with a “Taste of Hawaii” reception with over 700 invited guests experiencing the sights, sounds and tastes of Hawaii.

Colette Masunaga prepares to greet attendees at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce and County of Hawaii product table at “Taste of Hawaii.”

Colette Masunaga prepares to greet attendees at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce and County of Hawaii product table at “Taste of Hawaii.”

Over 30 Hawaii businesses and organizations were welcomed on the “Hill.” Hawaii Policy Summit discussions included Senator Charles Schumer of New York, Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Director Patricia Loui with the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director for Export Promotion Leila Aridi Afas, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Margaret Cummisky. Hawaii attendees were able to share issues and concerns, as well as promote Hawaii as a place to do business.

Senator Hirono asked the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii to spearhead this event, with neighbor island chambers and statewide industry associations invited to participate. The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, the County of Hawaii and Tiki Shark Art represented the Island of Hawaii in Washington, D.C. Products offered at the KKCC/County table for the “Taste of Hawaii” reception included ohia lehua honey from The Big Island Bee Company, Spirolina and BioAstin samples from Cyanotech, over 600 anthuriums from Green Point Nursery, chocolate samples from Kona Mountain Coffee Company, and macadamia nuts from Mauna Loa. Tiki Shark Art shared their unique, local Hawaiian style art designs and beach apparel by Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker.

Brad holding his original art piece "Forbidden Island".

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker holding his original art piece “Forbidden Island”.

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce provides leadership and advocacy for a successful business environment in West Hawai‘i. The result of KKCC’s work is a community of choice as reflected in our quality of life, business and individual opportunity and manifest respect for our culture and our natural resources. For info, 329-1758 or visit kona-kohala.com.

Search Continues for Man Who Went Missing During Plane Crash Near America Samoa

Coast Guard and local agencies are searching for a man who went missing during a plane crash approximately one mile from Pago Pago Tuesday night.

This is the search area developed by watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu using the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System. We are currently searching for a man who went missing during a plane crash off American Samoa July 22, 2014. Watchstanders at the JRCC use SAROPS to develop the best search area for missing passenger Babar Suleman. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)

This is the search area developed by watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu using the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System. We are currently searching for a man who went missing during a plane crash off American Samoa July 22, 2014. Watchstanders at the JRCC use SAROPS to develop the best search area for missing passenger Babar Suleman. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)

Search efforts for 58-year-old Babar Suleman continued throughout the day and suspended Wednesday night due to decreased visibility. The search resumed Thursday morning and will continue throughout the day.

The Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu is currently coordinating search efforts with the HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point, the American Samoa Marine Patrol, American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, a Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel and good Samaritan Tug Lillie.

American Samoa is currently under small craft and high surf advisories. Weather conditions will continue to be closely monitored.

Debris recovered from the crash includes sections of the fuselage and interior components of the plane.

Watchstanders are using the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System to determine the search area. The Hercules crew dropped a Self-locating Data Marker Buoy to calculate current drift, water temperature and sea conditions. That information is then used in the SAROPS to better ascertain the optimal search area.

At 9:55 p.m. Tuesday, Coast Guard watchstanders at the JRCC received notification from the Regional Command Center in New Zealand that a Beechcraft Bonanza with two passengers aboard crashed into the water approximately one mile from shore. The RCC in New Zealand attained that information from the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter.

The Hercules crew departed Honolulu at 2:38 a.m. Wednesday and arrived at the crash site approximately eight hours later.

Wednesday’s total search area consisted of 275 nautical square miles. Thursday’s projected search area consists of 1,027 nautical square miles.

Hawaii’s Waitlist Trend Increased; Hospital Stays Shorter but Still Longer than Average

Statewide, between 6.9 and 7.8 percent of hospital admissions were waitlisted —that is, remaining in the hospital after the need for acute care ceases—over a five year period (2006-2011), according to discharge data analyzed by the Hawaii Health Information Corporation (HHIC), the state’s premier healthcare data collector and analyzer.

Click to read report

Click to read report

Waitlist patients are those needing treatment after hospital discharge, but not at the severity level that requires inpatient care.  These patients often continue to stay in a hospital because there are limited available community placement options that meet the patient’s needs.

For Hawaii’s neighbor islands, however, the waitlist patterns are significantly different. On Maui, the rate ranged between 12 and 16 percent, whereas on Kauai, the rates varied between 8 and 10.5 percent. Except for 2007 and 2009 (7.7 and 9.2 percent, respectively), Hawaii Island’s rate was similar to the Oahu rate of 6 to 7 percent.

While there were more waitlisted patients statewide in 2011 than in 2006, they experienced shorter hospital stays, according to the HHIC analysis.  Compared to 2006 data, HHIC found that the 2011 average length of stay (ALOS) for waitlisted patients decreased 25 percent, from 21.7 to 16.5 days, across all counties except Maui, which increased 12 percent, from 16.8 to 18.8 days.

However, the ALOS for waitlist patients is still more than the average non-waitlisted patient—nearly four times longer. HHIC found that the risk of a patient being waitlisted increased with age and increased significantly with each decade of life.

Neighbor island hospitals experienced a higher cost and volume of waitlist patients than Oahu with chronic-related disease conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, degenerative nervous system disorders and diabetes.

Bed availability does not appear to be a problem as there was an 11 percent increase in the number of long-term care beds statewide between 2006 and 2011. Appropriately matching the health needs of a waitlisted patient with a sufficiently staffed bed is likely an issue.

The key barriers to community placement of waitlisted patients include insufficient staff with higher skill-mix in nursing homes and other placement alternatives to meet the needs of those with complex conditions, a lack of specialty equipment to provide appropriate care, the cost of multiple or high-cost antibiotics, and lack of community-based resources to support patients with underlying mentally illness in managing their other medical conditions.

“Our analyses make clear that the waitlist problem exists statewide but that has very special dimensions on each island,” said Peter Sybinsky, Ph.D., president and CEO of HHIC.  “Efforts by health plans, hospitals and other providers and community agencies need to take into account this variation as they work together to solve this vexing problem.”

About the Data
Findings are based on data collected from all hospitals across the state, except Tripler Army Medical Center.  The report was prepared based on funding provided by Hawaii Medical Service Association, Kaiser-Permanente, AlohaCare, Ohana Healthcare and United Healthcare, in an attempt to provide a clear description of Hawaii’s waitlist population and estimate the financial impact on Hawaii’s hospitals.

About HHIC/Health Knuggets
Established in 1994, HHIC maintains one of the largest comprehensive health care databases in the state, comprised of local and national inpatient, emergency department, ambulatory care, financial data and other data. The research and data compiled are analyzed and disseminated statewide and are used to help shape healthcare policy and educate decision makers, health care providers and industry experts. Through HHIC Knowledge Nuggets, the organization seeks to inform the public about important healthcare topics. For more information, visit www.hhic.org.

Senator Schatz Lobbies FAA to Support Hawaii’s Ban on Aerial Advertising

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed that Honolulu’s aerial advertising ordinance remains valid.

Aerial Banner

The mainland-based company Aerial Banners North has been flying aerial banners over Oahu in violation of Honolulu’s ordinance banning aerial advertising, while ignoring citations from the Honolulu Police Department. The company has argued that its FAA certificate of waiver preempts the Honolulu ordinance and allows it to fly aerial banners over Oahu. In Washington, DC this week, Senator Schatz reached out to the FAA at the request of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and received a written response that the Honolulu ordinance prohibiting aerial advertising remains valid.

“This is great news for Oahu residents who don’t want to see their skies cluttered from mainland companies. One of the things that makes Hawai‘i beautiful is that we have well-thought out rules governing signage,” said Senator Schatz. “This letter from the FAA makes it clear that this rogue company is violating our law and we expect and hope that this clarification will cause them to stop what they’re doing.”

In the 2002 case of Skysign International, Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, 276 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2002), the Ninth Circuit ruled in support of Honolulu’s view that its prohibition on aerial advertising is not preempted by federal law. The FAA confirmed in writing today that the precedent from the Skysign case remains the FAA’s position and that Honolulu has the right to prohibit aerial advertising.

Tourism to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Creates $124, 937,400 in Economic Benefit

Report shows visitor spending supports 1,476 jobs in local economy

A new National Park Service (NPS) report for 2013 shows that the 1,583,209 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park spent $124,937,400 in communities near the park. This spending supported 1,476 jobs in the local area.

The summit eruption of Kīlauea volcano from Halema‘uma‘u Crater continues to attract visitors to the park.  NPS Photo by

The summit eruption of Kīlauea volcano from Halema‘uma‘u Crater continues to attract visitors to the park. NPS Photo by Stephen Geiger

“We are pleased to again report a steady annual increase of visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, a World Heritage Site,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “The ease of viewing the summit eruption from Kīlauea, the many free cultural and scientific programs, the re-opening of Volcano House, and the diverse ecosystem of native plants and animals that park stewards have worked hard to protect for nearly 100 years are part of what attracts people, and can be attributed to the increase,” she said.

Visitors from across the country, around the world, and from local communities statewide and island-wide, visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the NPS – and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well.  We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities and businesses,” Orlando said.

The 2013 report reflects a consistent trend of increasing visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park over the last five years, as well as higher spending by visitors in local communities. In 2013, visitation increased 6.7 percent over 2012 (1,483,928 visitors), and spending increased by 10.2 percent ($113,376,400). The 2012 visitation to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was 9.7 percent higher than 2011 (1,352,123 visitors), and 2012 spending was up 17 percent from 2011.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the NPS.

The report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.

According to the 2013 economic analysis, most visitor spending was for lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).

The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in Hawai‘i, and how the NPS works with Hawai‘i communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/hawaii.

Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

Hawaiian papaya and banana growers have joined cattlemen and floral producers to fight a ban on open-air growing and testing of genetically modified crops imposed by the Hawaii County Council.

The ban exempts existing papaya crops and growers. However, no new acres can be planted, according to the case filed June 9 in federal court. Hawaii County includes the entire Island of Hawaii. A scheduling hearing is set Sept. 8.

Growers say the ban — known as Bill 113 — conflicts with state and federal laws and is unconstitutional, according to the case filed by the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association (HPIA) and the Big Island Banana Growers Association. Other plaintiffs joining in the case include the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, the Pacific Floral Exchange and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The Hawaii County Council approved Bill 113 in December with a 6-3 vote. It requires existing GMO growers to annually register and pay a $100 fee. In another court action, a judge recently ruled the county cannot make public growers’ personal information and specific field locations collected in the registry.

Growers challenged publication of the registry saying it would encourage vandalism, which has previously resulted in crop destruction.

Hawaii’s papaya industry was nearly destroyed by ringspot virus in the early 1990s, and development of the Rainbow variety was the industry’s answer. The Rainbow variety passed federal review and was first planted in 1998. According to court documents, at least 85% of the papaya crop grown on Hawaii Island is Rainbow.

“Bill 113 has stigmatized HPIA members by conveying a false message that (GMO) crops and plants harm human health and the environment and has imposed other costs on HPIA,” according to the lawsuit.

Banana growers, including Richard Ha who is a plaintiff in the federal case, contend they need the option to test and possibly plant GMO bananas to mitigate threats from bunchy top virus and other diseases.

More here: Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

Star-Advertiser Poll Confirms that Majority Oppose Federal Involvement in Native Hawaiian Recognition

A new online poll by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser confirms that despite continued support from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a significant majority are opposed to the federal government’s involvement in the creation of a Native Hawaiian government.

Advertiser PollThe poll, which appeared on the Star-Advertiser website as a daily poll question for July 15, 2014, asked, “Should the U.S. Department of Interior keep open the process for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians?” An overwhelming 67% of those responding voted “No,” while only 33% supported the continuation of the DOI’s efforts.

In light of the strong opposition voiced at the recent DOI hearings, these results were not a surprise. Support for the nation-building process has waned over the years, but the recent efforts from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the federal response from the Department of the Interior have met with increasing criticism. Many Hawaiian citizens are concerned to see the nation-building process pursued so vigorously despite the many questions that have been raised about it.

“The people of Hawaii have put up a giant flashing ‘Stop’ sign for OHA and the federal government to see” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “In every possible venue they are expressing opposition to the state’s race-based nation-building program.   The question shouldn’t be whether the people support a Native Hawaiian government. The question should be whether the State will finally listen to the voice of the people and abandon this wasteful and divisive effort.”

“After the expenditure of millions of dollars and considerable influence, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has still failed to convince the People of the merit of its nation-building effort,” continued Dr. Akina. “How much more will they throw away on this process? These resources could be better spent helping the people of Hawaii in real and substantial ways such as improving educational achievement or job training. Let us hope that OHA finally hears what the citizens of Hawaii have been trying so hard to tell them–it’s time to get out of the nation-building business.”

Report Shows Access Learning Pilot Enhances Teaching and Student Learning

A first-year report on the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (DOE) Access Learning pilot presented to the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) today shows the initiative is helping to reduce burden on teachers, increase student engagement and responsibility, and improve parents’ support of public schools.

Click to view the report

Click to view the report

Last year, the DOE unveiled Access Learning, a pilot project to study the impact of technology and digital curricular resources on teaching and learning, at eight schools. This initiative takes advantage of ongoing Department efforts such as new technology for learning while addressing challenges facing our public schools. Access Learning does not focus on the device, rather on how technology can be a tool to support teachers’ efforts to personalize instruction and engage students.

Monanalua Middle School Principal Lisa Nagamine told the BOE, “Access Learning has enhanced the collaborative learning environment of our school.”

Moanalua Middle is one of the eight Access Learning schools that has incorporated technology for learning at all levels within its campus, not just the student level.

“The dedication and commitment by the school leaders, staff, and students allowed us to see the full potential of this initiative and its impact on student learning,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We appreciate their input and based on the positive results, hope to increase access to digital learning in all schools in the near future.”

Information and data collected from the eight Access Learning schools from October 2013 through April 2014 revealed:

  • Teachers use computers in a wide variety of ways to improve job performance and teaching – and that usage has increased since an initial survey was done last fall.
  • Teachers believe access to technology will benefit English language learners and special education students.
  • Students reported having positive experiences with the program. More than 90 percent of students surveyed say laptops make schoolwork more interesting and better prepare them for the future.
  • Students reported computers help them to be more organized and finish work more quickly and with better quality. Access to technology also made assignments a lot more fun by creating blogs, slideshows, movie trailers, and usage of other media.
  • Laptops allowed for better peer collaboration during project work and completing homework.
  • Parents believe computers help students gain a better insight into the happenings of the classroom and learn essential skills to compete globally.

“The 1-to-1 laptop program has improved education opportunities for students,” noted one parent. “The school has finally caught up with private schools.”

“I have seen increased student engagement in classwork because their computer allows them to have a ‘voice’ at the same time as everyone else. Less students are distracted or off task. (This) has allowed students to work more collaboratively in and out of the classroom setting,” one teacher reported.

The 2013 Legislature appropriated $8.2 million to the DOE for the pilot, which funded computers for teachers and students, technical support, professional development, and also helped offset curriculum and implementation expenses. In addition to Moanalua Middle, Access Learning pilot schools include Keaau Elementary and Pahoa Elementary, Mililani Mauka Elementary, Mililani Waena Elementary, Nanaikapono Elementary, Nanakuli Elementary, and Nanakuli Intermediate and High.

Pilot schools received devices for every student and teacher equipped with Hawaii Common Core-aligned digital curriculum for English Language Arts. The DOE partnered with county police departments to safeguard the computers, all of which are equipped with advanced security tracking software. As a result, the schools reported a combined theft and loss rate of only six computers (less than 1 percent).

Due to funding requirements, the Department was given a very short window to implement the initiative and the report noted those challenges. Teachers expressed frustration with limited time for professional development sessions. View the full report here.

During the past legislative session, DOE requested funding for ongoing Access Learning technical assistance and professional development. The budget request was denied; however, DOE officials worked with and received approval from the BOE to expend funding to continue technical assistance for the pilot schools through FY15. The funding request to the BOE will provide customized professional development for schools, overall and school specific program evaluation for formative purposes, and support for project management. For more information about the program, see the DOE’s Access Learning page.

Canadian Navy Orders Ship Return After Misconduct by Sailors at RIMPAC

I just don’t know what to say about these Canucks at times!

HMCS Whitehorse

HMCS Whitehorse

The head of the Royal Canadian Navy has taken the rare step of ordering one of its ships to return from an international exercise because of misconduct by its sailors.

Vice Admiral Mark Norman issued the message Monday, citing three incidents involving the crew of HMCS Whitehorse that took place during Exercise RIMPAC 2014.

The Elders Headline Pillars of Peace Hawaii Events

Pillars of Peace Hawai‘i to host peace leaders Gro Harlem Brundtland, Hina Jilani, and Desmond Tutu in a series of community events.

Pillars of Peace Hawai‘i, an initiative of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, will host three preeminent global leaders from The Elders from August 29-31. While in Honolulu, they will engage in a series of exchanges with the people of Hawai‘i on peace, compassion, and ethical leadership. The Pillars of Peace Hawaii program was established in part to inspire our community to cultivate empathy, mindfulness and justice in our daily lives and better understand the roles of diversity and culture in the practice of peace.

Elders

The Elders include former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland; renowned lawyer, pro-democracy campaigner and Pakistani women’s movement leader Hina Jilani; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate, veteran anti-apartheid activist and peace campaigner.

This is the first time that representatives of The Elders will engage Hawai‘i. The community will have the unique opportunity to listen to this world-renowned group of leaders in a public forum entitled “A Just and Inclusive Global Community,” on Sunday, August 31, 4:00 p.m. at the Hawai‘i Convention Center’s Lili‘u Theater. Tickets for the public presentation will be available for purchase at http://pillarsofpeacehawaii.org/schedule-tickets-the-elders on August 1st. Student tickets are $12 and general public tickets are $20; both include validated parking at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

There will also be an opportunity for selected Hawai‘i students to attend a special Student Leaders Program, “Leaders Make the Future: the Wisdom of Elders and Youngers.” The student leaders will be chosen to attend by their schools’ administrators or teachers. Other areas of discussion during the Elders’ visit to Hawai‘i include climate change and ethical leadership.

“We are honored to have such an esteemed group of leaders come to Hawai‘i to share their global experiences and perspectives on peace issues,” said Kelvin H. Taketa, President and CEO of Hawai‘i Community Foundation. “Their visit will enable us, in turn, to share our approach to peace, influenced by the spirit of aloha and our community that merges numerous cultural influences.”

The Elders is an independent group of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007; they use their collective wisdom, experience, and influence to support peace building, address major causes of human suffering, and promote the shared interests of humanity.

Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General, currently chairs The Elders. Archbishop Tutu served for six years as Chair and remains an Honorary Elder. Using its members’ collective experiences and insights, the group promotes universal human rights and peace. For more information on The Elders, please visit http://www.theelders.org/.

The Elders’ visit is part of “Pillars of Peace Hawai‘i: Building Peace on a Foundation of Aloha,” an initiative of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation launched in 2012. The program’s events aim to spark conversations about the roles of compassion, diversity, and culture in the practice of peace. Highlighting Hawai‘i’s culture and its spirit of aloha, the program also positions Hawai‘i as a leading voice for peace. Pillars of Peace Hawai‘i is funded by the Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and other partners. For more information on this initiative, please visit http://pillarsofpeacehawaii.org/.

About Hawai‘i Community Foundation

The Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF), with 98 years of community service, is the leading philanthropic institution in the state. The Foundation is a steward of over 650 funds, including more than 190 scholarship funds, created by donors who desire to transform lives and improve communities. In 2013, $43 million in grants and contracts were distributed by HCF statewide, including $4 million in scholarships. The HCF also serves as a resource on community issues and trends in the nonprofit sector. For more information on HCF, please visit http://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/.

Hawaii’s State Debt Now Represents 92% of the Average Taxpayer’s Income

Hawaii’s mounting state debt now represents $41,300 per taxpayer, the second highest in the country. This, according to Truth in Accounting’s State Data Lab, which calculates the Per Taxpayer Burden (the debt remaining after all assets are tapped) for all 50 states.

income

According to Truth in Accounting, the five states with the highest Per Taxpayer Burden are Illinois, Hawaii, Connecticut, Kentucky, and New Jersey. With the average income in Hawaii at approximately $44,767, the Per Taxpayer Burden represents approximately 92% of the average income.

The continued growth of the state’s debt has caused some to ponder the viability of current spending practices and state benefits.

“Hawaii’s Taxpayer Burden is one of the 5 highest across the 50 states, and has increased every year since 2009.  Most of Hawaii’s debt is unfunded retiree pension and healthcare benefits, left for tomorrow’s taxpayers who may not receive services today’s taxpayers should have fully paid for,” stated Donna Rook, President of StateDataLab.org.

“It is time to face some hard truths when it comes to government spending,” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “Hawaii’s unfunded liabilities threaten to sink our future. We cannot pass such a burden on to the next generation, but must make the hard decisions that will ensure the fiscal health of our state for decades to come. I urge our state’s policymakers to put aside partisanship and embrace a ‘best practices’ plan of action that reduces our state debt.”

United 777 Diverts to Remote Pacific Island After Burning Smell Reported

A United Boeing 777 diverted to the tiny Pacific island of Midway last night after a burning smell filled the plane while it flew over one of the most remote places on earth.

Stranded Plane

The airline will only say it was a mechanical issue. But this may have been a fairly serious incident. No one was hurt but those on board had the scare of their lives, says Teresita Smith from Maryland, who was traveling on board with 25 family members.

“The smell was getting stronger…it smelled like something burning,” she told ABC News in a phone interview today from Honolulu.

The departure had originally been delayed in Honolulu because of the odor but was cleared for takeoff for the eight-hour flight to Guam after about three hours, she said.

And then five hours into the flight the smell returned. “In the back section of the plane alarms were going off,” Smith said. Then after the pilot announced the plane would be diverting to Midway, the power seemed to go out and the plane dropped precipitously. “It was very scary,” she said. “It shook a lot of people up.”

More here: United 777 Diverts to Remote Pacific Island After Burning Smell Reported

House Tourism Chair to Introduce Legislation Banning Aerial Advertising

Representative Tom Brower (Waikiki, Ala Moana) announced plans to introduce legislation banning aerial advertisement in the state of Hawaii. The proposed legislation will seek to clarify the ambiguities and jurisdiction of aerial advertising written in federal, state, and city law. The measure will specifically make it illegal for a pilot to fly a plane out of a state airport for the purpose of towing a banner for advertisement.
Aerial Banner
“I have had discussions with U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and state officials to identify what we can do. Due to the ambiguities of city, state and federal law, there is a need for legislation to add more clarity. Right now, we have federal and state laws that need further explanation,” said Brower. “Our skies are under federal and local jurisdiction, but state airport officials issue contracts and agreements with pilots and businesses. While the FAA has indicated that plane operators need to abide by state law and county ordinance, the contract signed by the particular pilot in question did not specifically allow or deny the operation of a tow banner business.”

The plane operator, Aerial Banners North (ABN), has received a federal waiver to conduct banner towing operations nationwide, but state and city officials have strongly asserted that aerial advertisement is illegal under local law. ABN has argued that the waiver allowing them to operate across the nation, and in Hawaii, supersedes any state or county prohibitions.

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration clarified that the waiver granted to Aerial Banners North which authorizes the company to conduct banner towing operations nationwide, “does not waive any state law or local ordinance. Should the proposed operations conflict with any state law or local ordinance, or require permission of local authorities or property owners, it is the operator’s responsibility to resolve the matter.”

“I care about the threat of aerial banners flying over Hawaii’s tourist destinations, ruining the natural beauty, interfering with outdoor recreation and enjoyment of residents and tourists. Most importantly, if we don’t act, this will set a bad precedent, opening the flood gates for more aerial advertising in Hawaii’s skies,” added Brower, Chair of the House Tourism Committee.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to Hold Change of Command

After three years as commander, Capt. Jeffrey W. James will transfer command of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to Capt. Stanley Keeve, Jr. during a change of command ceremony on Friday, July 11 at 10 a.m. The ceremony will be held at the grassy knoll on the south end of Ford Island.

Capt. Jeffrey W. James (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach/Released)

Capt. Jeffrey W. James (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach/Released)

James took command in June 2011 as the second commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, which officially stood up in October 2010. Prior to reporting to Joint Base, James served on the staff of Commander, U. S. Pacific Fleet. He will retire after 30 years of naval service.

A native of the Washington D. C. area, Capt. Keeve comes to Hawaii from the Pentagon, where he served as military assistant to the Defense Business Board in the Pentagon. He is a surface warfare officer with tours of duty on numerous ships, including the former Pearl Harbor-based frigate, USS Reuben James (FFG 57).

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is home to the Air Force’s key strategic flight line in the Pacific and the Navy’s most historically significant homeport, with 177 tenant commands and about 93,000 active duty personal and their family members, Dept. of Defense civilians and contractors.

Drone Planes Banned From Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and ALL Other National Parks

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today signed a policy memorandum that directs superintendents nationwide to prohibit launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Entrance

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Entrance

“We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experiences with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care,” Jarvis said. “However, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience.”

Unmanned aircraft have already been prohibited at several national parks. These parks initiated bans after noise and nuisance complaints from park visitors, an incident in which park wildlife were harassed, and park visitor safety concerns.

Last September, an unmanned aircraft flew above evening visitors seated in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Amphitheater. Park rangers concerned for visitors’ safety confiscated the unmanned aircraft.

In April, visitors at Grand Canyon National Park gathered for a quiet sunset, which was interrupted by a loud unmanned aircraft flying back and forth and eventually crashing in the canyon. Later in the month, volunteers at Zion National Park witnessed an unmanned aircraft disturb a herd of bighorn sheep, reportedly separating adults from young animals.

The policy memorandum directs park superintendents to take a number of steps to exclude unmanned aircraft from national parks. The steps include drafting a written justification for the action, ensuring compliance with applicable laws, and providing public notice of the action.

The memorandum does not affect the primary jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration over the National Airspace System.

The policy memorandum is a temporary measure. Jarvis said the next step will be to propose a Servicewide regulation regarding unmanned aircraft. That process can take considerable time, depending on the complexity of the rule, and includes public notice of the proposed regulation and opportunity for public comment.

The policy memo directs superintendents to use their existing authority within the Code of Federal Regulations to prohibit the use of unmanned aircraft, and to include that prohibition in the park’s compendium, a set of park-specific regulations.

All permits previously issued for unmanned aircraft will be suspended until reviewed and approved by the associate director of the National Park Service’s Visitor and Resource Protection directorate. The associate director must approve any new special use permits authorizing the use of unmanned aircraft. Superintendents who have previously authorized the use of model aircraft for hobbyist or recreational use may allow such use to continue.

The National Park Service may use unmanned aircraft for administrative purposes such as search and rescue, fire operations and scientific study. These uses must also be approved by the associate director for Visitor and Resource Protection.