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More than 1,000 Enroll in Hawaiian Electric Companies Time-of-Use Rates Program

As of Dec. 2, 1,008 customers had signed up for the Hawaiian Electric Companies new Time-of-Use rates, a program that will charge customers less for power used during the day – when solar energy production is highest – and more at night.

helco-new-logo-2The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) set a limit of 5,000 customers for the program, meaning 20 percent of the total enrollment has already been reached.

Developed under the direction of the PUC, this program provides customers with an opportunity to save money if they shift their energy use to daytime hours. For example, customers who do laundry, cook, or heat water during the day may be able to save. Customers who charge electric vehicles or energy storage systems in the day may also benefit.

The amount of savings, if any, will depend on how much a customer can shift the use of electricity from night to day. As a result, this program may not fit the needs of all customers.

As directed by the PUC, this program is voluntary and will run for two years. The rates are only available to residential customers.

Participating customers will receive information on their bills that compares their costs under this program and the standard residential rate for electricity. Customers may opt out of the program if they feel it isn’t the right fit for them.

To enroll or for more information, go to www.hawaiianelectric.com/timeofuse or call:

  • Oahu: (808) 548-7311
  • Maui: (808) 871-9777
  • Molokai and Lanai: 1-877-871-8461
  • Hilo: (808) 969-6999
  • Kona: (808) 329-3584
  • Waimea: (808) 885-4605

Community Opens Waimea District Park

Mayor Billy Kenoi, Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter, and Councilman-Elect Tim Richards joined the Waimea community today to celebrate the completion of the 24-acre Waimea District Park, offering new, diversified indoor and outdoor recreational facilities for keiki, kupuna, and families in North Hawaiʻi.

waimea-park-1The first phase includes a covered play court building with three courts, a multi‐purpose field with spectator seating and lighting for nighttime use, a playground, and parking. The park is adjacent to the Parker Ranch rodeo arena, accessed off Ala ʻŌhiʻa.

“These facilities are the heart of our communities. This is where are kids come and grow up. This is where families build relationships,” said Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter.

waimea-park-2Land for the project was provided by Parker Ranch to fulfill prior rezoning commitments made to the County. Through the efforts of the Legislature spearheaded by Senator Mālama Solomon, the State provided $5.5 million toward the project. The County provided the remaining $18.5 million of the $24 million project.

waimea-park-3Mel Macy of the Waimea District Park Builders, a community group that advocated for the construction of the park, credited Mayor Kenoi with pushing the project to the finish line. “From the time he took office, we had his full support. Not only was he responsible for the majority of the funding, but his get-it-done attitude helped keep things moving forward.”

In the park’s environmental documents, the first phase of the park was contemplated to be completed in 2020. By working in concert with Parker Ranch and the Waimea community, ground was broken for the park in November 2015. General contractor Nan, Inc. and a number of sub-contractors completed the work in a year.

waimea-park-4“We all know we live in a special place, and it isn’t just about facilities,” said Mayor Kenoi. “This is for family. This isn’t only for our kids. Our kūpuna will have yoga and Zumba in here. When we adults stand on the sideline to wait for our kids to finish a game or practice, that’s when we strengthen our community.”

The next planned phase will include a community center, a comfort station, and a baseball field.

Island Air Offers “Buy Three, Get One Free” Holiday Promotion

Ready to take a neighbor island vacation with the family or visit relatives and friends for the holidays? Now is the time to take that long overdue trip, and book tickets with Island Air’s limited-time holiday promotion, the Pā‘ina Pass – “buy three, get one free”.

island-airStarting today through Saturday, December 3, 2016, customers are able to make reservations utilizing the Pā‘ina Pass promotion. The travel period is Monday, November 28, 2016 through Wednesday, January 11, 2017. No blackout dates.

In order to qualify for the Pā‘ina Pass, “buy three, get one free” promotion, all travelers need to be booked on one itinerary and traveling to the same location on the same day, flight and time. This promotion cannot be combined with any other Island Air promotion, offer or deal, such as the Kūpuna & Keiki Fare, College Student Standby Program and Travel Pak.

Reservations for the Pā‘ina Pass promotion must be made by calling (800) 652-6541 between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. (HST).

For more information, visit www.islandair.com.

New Lava Breakout Sends Lava South and Northeast

A breakout started from the episode 61g vent on the east flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō yesterday morning (Monday, November 21) at around 08:40 AM.

The breakout sent lava flows south and northeast, and these flows were still active as of Tuesday afternoon (November 22). This image, captured at 2:10 PM yesterday, is from a webcam on Puʻu Halulu that looks southwest toward Puʻu ʻŌʻō (background).

The light colored lava extending into the foreground is the more-active northeast branch of the breakout. This breakout poses no threat to nearby communities.

The light colored lava extending into the foreground is the more-active northeast branch of the breakout. This breakout poses no threat to nearby communities.

This photo was taken today November 23, 2016 at 1:10 PM

The flow has not progressed very far since yesterday.

The flow has not progressed very far since yesterday.

Puako Provisions’ and Catering – New Culinary Option on Kohala Gold Coast

Vacationers and residents on Hawaii island’s Kohala Gold Coast now have a new local culinary option with the debut of Puako Provisions and Catering at the landmark Puako General Store located in the popular beachside community.

puako-general-store-front

Puako Provisions and Catering now open at the Puako General Store

Puako Provisions and Catering will offer a variety of grab-and-go “beach-friendly” food options – provisions! – such as salads, sandwiches on freshly-baked breads and poké bowls made with locally-sourced fish.   Shoppers can also choose from pre-packaged menu items as well as catered food, picnic baskets and special order meals for pickup or delivery to their rental or home.

Along with its grab-and-go and other food offerings, Puako Provisions will feature weekly specials available from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., including handmade pizza, and on Friday, “make-your-own” poké bowls.   Whenever possible, the chef uses seasonal, organic products sourced locally from land and sea, yet they are priced to be affordable.

The new operation is directed by Noah Hester, former executive chef and manager of the popular Blue Dragon Restaurant in nearby Kawaihae, which closed earlier this year.  Though just 34 years old, Hester has already received accolades while at the Blue Dragon, including “Best Chef America 2014-2015” and “Best Chef North Hawaii 2012-2015.”  He has also been featured prominently in Edible Hawaii Islands Magazine.

Hester grew up in Puako and has fond childhood memories of visiting the Puako General Store – now owned by his Mom, Mary Fox. The store is an iconic destination that sells groceries, many locally made gifts and souvenirs, including t-shirts, handmade jewelry and much more. Tables are available on the store’s front porch for casual dining, while compostable carryout containers are used for all food items.

The store is located at 69-1649 Puako Beach Drive.  Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.  The store phone is 808-882-7500; or visit their website www.thepuakostore.com.

PISCES Partners with UH Hilo and NASA for Simulated Human Mars Mission on Hawaii Island

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) is partnering with the University of Hawaii at Hilo and NASA this month in a ground breaking research project to prepare for an eventual manned mission to Mars.

mars-simulationThe project, called BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains), is focused on developing operation protocols for a joint human-robotic exploration of Mars in the search for extraterrestrial life. BASALT scientists and crew members are conducting simulated missions in two locations which closely resemble the Martian landscape at different areas: Mauna Ulu at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho.

Currently, the BASALT team is investigating Mauna Ulu by traversing the rugged lava terrain to collect rock samples for both biologic and geologic analysis.

“We add a twist to our scientific fieldwork by conducting it under simulated Mars mission constraints,” said Dr. Darlene Lim, geobiologist and principal investigator for the BASALT research project. “By doing so, we can evaluate operational concepts and a variety of supporting capabilities that range from software to hardware components with respect to their anticipated value for the human exploration of Mars.”

One of their constraints is a communication time delay to simulate the latency of transmissions experienced between planets. Dr. Lim and her team are hoping to develop a tricorder-like device, as envisioned in Star Trek, to be able to identify rock samples using a hand-held instrument.

The researchers hope to better understand the habitability of Mars by studying Mauna Ulu, which is a high-fidelity analog for the landscape of early Mars when volcanism and water were common.

“No one has really worked this out yet,” said John Hamilton, PISCES test logistics and education/public outreach manager. “We want to work out the kinks during these exercises so we have it together on a real mission. By the time they go to Mars, they’ll have a rock-solid plan.”

The BASALT team consists of scientists, engineers, mission operators and active astronauts. Roughly a dozen students from the University of Hawaii at Hilo are also assisting with the project. Hamilton, who is also a faculty member with the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Department of Physics and Astronomy, is serving on the BASALT Science Team, overseeing data collection, logistics, and student assignments. The research project is central to NASA’s Journey to Mars program.

“PISCES is honored to be working together with the University of Hawaii at Hilo and NASA Ames on this project,” said Rodrigo Romo, PISCES program manager. “Collaborative work with Ames has been in the frontline of applied research for PISCES recently. The fact that university students get the opportunity to participate in events like the BASALT project will help them meet the demands of a very competitive industry.”

PISCES was selected last year by NASA’s highly competitive PSTAR (Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research) program to participate in the four-year, $4.2 million BASALT project, which is being administered by the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The BASALT research team will be conducting their research on Hawaii Island until Nov. 18.

For more information visit PISCES’ website at www.pacificspacecenter.com.

“Hawaii: Next 50 Contest” Offers New Prize

A new prize will allow students winners of the Hawaii: Next 50 Contest to interface with innovation professionals and navigate their ideas from conception to reality.

hawaii-next-50Sultan Ventures will provide one-on-one mentorship opportunities for the winners in each contest category as well as host an innovation boot camp for the top-24 scoring participants.

The 2017 contest focuses on using technology to solve problems in affordable housing, food sustainability, or economic industries. All students in grades 4 – 12 are eligible to submit their solutions now through January 31, 2017. In addition to the mentorship, winners will be honored at the Hawaii State Capitol, attend a luncheon with key legislators, and receive a monetary prize.

“This contest hinges on the premise that the next big, great idea to help our state can come from anyone,” said Representative Takashi Ohno. “These opportunities to hone their ideas into actual solutions are a way we can show kids that it’s possible for them to make a real-world impact now.”

The Hawaii: Next 50 Contest is inspired by former Governor George Ariyoshi’s book, Hawaii: The Past Fifty Years, The Next Fifty Years, and students will read the book before launching their own ideas for Hawaii’s future in an essay or multimedia creation. Free copies of the book can be requested online at www.HawaiiNext50.com.

The contest is a collaboration of the Hawaii State House of Representatives, aio Foundation, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and Sultan Ventures.

More information can be found online at www.HawaiiNext50.com or email HawaiiNext50@gmail.com.


Hawaii: Next 50 Contest

WHO:      Students enrolled in grades 4 – 12 are eligible to enter.

WHAT:     Students are asked to read Hawaii: The Past Fifty Years, The Next Fifty Years and respond to the question Looking ahead to the next 50 years, imagine how we can use current technology or future technology to:

  • Create more affordable housing
  • Achieve food sustainability
  • Promote new and innovative industries

Students are encouraged to get creative and find solutions using technology in one of the three topics. The technology utilized can exist currently or be an idea that might be possible in the future as long as the details are explained in the contest entry.

Submissions will be accepted in two categories: essay or multimedia (e.g. drawing, painting, other art piece, video, etc.)

Free copies of Hawaii: The Past Fifty Years, The Next Fifty Years are available by request at www.HawaiiNext50.com.

WHEN:    All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2017. Winners to be announced in March 2017.

WHY:   To challenge the up-and-coming generation to become stakeholders in shaping our future. Prizes include:

  • Floor presentation at the Hawaii State Capitol
  • Luncheon with state legislators
  • Two-hour mentorship program with Sultan Ventures
  • Monetary prize
  • Winning entry published online

The top-24 scoring entries will also be invited to an innovation boot camp hosted by Sultan Ventures.

Hawaiian Telcom Unleashes 1 Gig Internet on Hawaii Island

Today Hawaiian Telcom announced that it has expanded availability of its ultra-fast 1 gigabit per second High-Speed Internet service to homes in Hawai‘i Island’s Puʻu Lani Ranch subdivision and the surrounding Puʻuanahulu area, using Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) technology. Hawaiian Telcom has been extending its broadband infrastructure on Hawaiʻi Island, an effort partially supported by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Connect America Fund (CAF).

Initially launched in 2015, Hawaiian Telcom’s Fiber 1 Gig service is the fastest in Hawaiʻi and among the fastest in the nation. Today more than 125,000 homes and 5,600 businesses statewide are enabled for 1 gigabit per second service and Hawaiian Telcom continues to expand availability to new locations every month.

“As Hawaiʻi’s Technology Leader and our state’s only local service provider, Hawaiian Telcom is committed to increasing speeds and expanding broadband access statewide,” said Scott Barber, President and CEO. “Puʻu Lani Ranch is our first 1 gigabit per second deployment using CAF Phase II support and we’re excited about the increased educational and economic opportunities that are now open to this community with Hawaiʻi’s fastest internet.”

One gigabit per second, which is equal to 1,000 megabits per second, enables multiple connected devices to run bandwidth-intense applications like streaming video and online gaming simultaneously over a shared connection without sacrificing quality.

“Studies have shown that there are at least eight Internet-connected devices in the average U.S. household today and that number is continuing to rise,” said Jason Fujita, Vice President – Consumer Sales and Marketing. “All of these bandwidth-hungry devices are pulling on the same broadband connection. With Hawaiian Telcom’s Fiber 1 Gig, you can operate all of your connected devices simultaneously without interruption.”

Last year Hawaiian Telcom announced that it was awarded approximately $26 million in CAF Phase II support to deploy a minimum of 10 megabits per second downstream and 1 megabits per second upstream by the year 2020 to more than 11,000 unserved and underserved locations.

Click to check available services in your area.

Click to check available services in your area.

Since 2015, with CAF Phase I support of approximately $1.4 million, Hawaiian Telcom successfully deployed High-Speed Internet to more than 1,800 locations on Hawaiʻi Island. These locations are within areas that include Ainaloa, Aliʻi Kane, Fern Acres, Fern Forest, Glenwood, Hawaiian Acres, Kaiwiki and Miloliʻi. Interested residents should visit hawaiiantel.com/Internet and key in their address to learn which services and speed tiers are available or call Hawaiian Telcom’s consumer sales center at (808) 643-3456.

The FCC created CAF in 2011 by reforming its Universal Service Fund (USF), which consumers contribute to as a Federal Universal Service fee on their monthly telephone and wireless bills, in an effort to accelerate broadband deployment to the approximately 23 million Americans in rural populations that lack access.

Hawaii Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Pilot Program Update

In April of 2015, “Distinguished officials attended a blessing and seed planting ceremony for the University of Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Project in Waimanalo. This project was the result of Act 56 which established an industrial hemp research project to be conducted by Principal UH Researcher Dr. Harry Ako to study hemp for soil phytoremediation (cleaning) as well as for a potential biofuel.”

From Left to right: Senator Russell Ruderman, Representative Cynthia Thielen, Dr. Harry Ako, Lead Scientist for the Hawai’i Hemp Project, Senator Mike Gabbard, Representative Chris Lee, Representative Richard Cregan, Senator Gil Riviere, Representative Lynn DeCoite and Maria Gallo Dean of the University of Hawai’i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources.

From Left to right: Senator Russell Ruderman, Representative Cynthia Thielen, Dr. Harry Ako, Lead Scientist for the Hawai’i Hemp Project, Senator Mike Gabbard, Representative Chris Lee, Representative Richard Cregan, Senator Gil Riviere, Representative Lynn DeCoite and Maria Gallo Dean of the University of Hawai’i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources.

Currently The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is:

  • Registering as a Schedule 1 importer of controlled substances with the DEA.
  • Identifying optimal seed sources for importation.
  • Drafting administrative regulations to govern the hemp pilot program.

Upcoming

The Department Plans to:

  • Release a request for proposals (RFP) to secure a contractor(s) to develop a line of Hawaii acclimated industrial hemp seed for distribution to licensees in the upcoming industrial hemp pilot program.
  • Import seeds to be further developed into a line of industrial hemp for Hawaii by the contractor/(s) selected at the end of the RFP process.

Projected Timeline*

  1. November 2016 Administrative rules drafted, review process begins.
  2. January 2017 Hemp Seed Development RFP Posted
  3. February 2017 Hemp seed development contract awarded, seed development begins.
  4. Fall 2017: Program Coordinator and Inspector selected.
  5. January 1-April 1 2018: Growers may begin applying for licenses.

*All date and times are rough estimates, and subject to change without notice, being contingent upon funding and approval processes.

Resources

  • AT THIS TIME: If you are interested in participating in the State industrial hemp pilot program, please examine Act 228 to see the infrastructure which will be required of applicants, and the recording and fee requirements licensees must meet.
  • http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2016/bills/GM1330_.PDF

DoubleTree by Hilton Opens Historic Oceanfront Hotel on Hilo Bay in Hawaii

Following a $30 million renovation, a historic Hawaiian property debuts today as the first hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii for DoubleTree by Hilton, one of Hilton’s 13 market-leading brands.

naniloaThe Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton is located on 70 acres of stunning and lush oceanfront property, with magnificent views of Hilo Bay and the Mauna Kea Volcano. The hotel’s 320 fully-refurbished guest rooms and suites provide upscale, contemporary lodging for vacationers exploring the charms of Hilo and nearby attractions, such as stunning waterfalls, the lava flows of Kalapana and snorkeling or surfing off the beautiful bay and ocean coasts.

Just two miles from Hilo International Airport, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton blends traditional Hawaiian culture with the most modern and luxurious conveniences. Its extensive, property-wide renovations have added a local design experience centered around respecting the cultural tradition of hula, and the spirit of Hilo’s famed Merrie Monarch Festival.

naniloa-roomKim Taylor Reece, one of the most famous hula photographers in the world, is the artistic curator for the hotel and has provided $4-million worth of his own hula art which is displayed in the guest rooms and common areas. The hotel lobby also features curated, rotating exhibits that highlight aspects of Hilo’s history and Hawaiian culture.

naniloa-lobby“Hilo Bay is filled with scenic destinations and is home to some of the most exciting, natural geology in the world,” said Dianna Vaughan, senior vice president and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton. “As our first hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii, this stunning property is sure to deliver the ‘wow’ its guests are traveling to find, while also providing the warm Chocolate Chip Cookie welcome and award-winning service that our guests expect when staying at any DoubleTree by Hilton around the world.”

Beginning with that DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookie welcome, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton offers an array of delightful comforts – whether guests seek adventure or relaxation. Golfers enjoy Hilo’s only 9-hole golf course, while swimmers and sunbathers bask in – or on the decks surrounding – a beautiful outdoor swimming pool. While some of Hawaii’s finest landmarks are close by, guests need not leave the grounds to take a brisk run along Banyan Drive under the shade of towering banyan trees or to exercise in the state-of-the-art fitness center.

naniloa-fitnessEach inviting guest room comes with complimentary Wi-Fi, a generously-sized work desk, a microwave, refrigerator, in-room safe and DoubleTree Sweet Dreams® Sleep Experience beds. Guests who upgrade to a spacious suite may also relax in a separate living area and enjoy breathtaking ocean views from the balcony.

Another stunning view may be seen from the Lobby Lounge, where guests may admire sweeping vistas of Hilo Bay while sipping cocktails, wine and locally brewed beer from the large outdoor deck. Those who are eager for entertainment may visit the hotel’s vast showroom, a stylish venue providing nightlife and a space to showcase talented local musicians.

naniloa-corner-roomThe longtime host to activities surrounding the annual Merrie Monarch international hula competition, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton is the ideal venue for meetings, conferences and weddings. Its 13,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, including a wedding gazebo, can accommodate gatherings of up to 400 people. An updated sound system and A/V equipment are also available, as is a 24-hour complimentary business center. Plus, the hotel provides the most extensive catering facility on the east side of the Island of Hawaii.

The hotel also provides a full complement of services and DoubleTree by Hilton brand amenities, including an assortment of gourmet in-room tea and coffee offerings by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®, and a refreshing array of the Aroma Actives Essentials natural skin and body care line.

naniloa-outdoors“For years, our property has been a marquee destination for guests traveling to the volcanoes or for business. Now, thanks to our extensive renovations and inclusion under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand banner, we are undoubtedly the finest upscale hotel option anywhere on this side of the Island of Hawaii,” said Phyllis Branco, general manager, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton.

As part of the Hilton portfolio of brands, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton encourages guests to participate in Hilton HHonors, Hilton’s free-to-join loyalty program. Hilton HHonors members who book directly with Hilton save time and money and gain instant access to the benefits they care about most, including:

  • An exclusive member discount at more than 4,500 hotels worldwide.
  • Instant benefits, such as free Wi-Fi, the ability to earn and redeem Points for free nights as well as access to digital check-in with room selection and Digital Key.
  • Unforgettable, exclusive experiences, available via Points at HHonors.com/auctions, such as access to private concerts or sought-after events.

To celebrate the hotel joining the DoubleTree by Hilton portfolio, Hilton HHonors members will earn an additional 5,000 Points for a three-night minimum stay from opening day through March 15, 2017, when booking directly with Hilton. Gold and Diamond members will also enjoy free premium Wi-Fi and space-available upgrades to the hotel’s exclusive Hilton HHonors floor and complimentary Wake Up DoubleTree Breakfast.

naniloa-suiteThe Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton is located at 93 Banyan Drive, Hilo, Hawaii USA 96720.

For more information, or to make a reservation, travelers may visit grandnaniloahotelhilo.doubletree.com or call 808-969-3333. The property is owned by WHR, LLC and managed by Aqua-Aston Hospitality.

Pahoa Bee Company Wins $25,000 in 2016 HIplan Competition

A Pahoa based bee company was awarded $25,000 today at the University of Hawaii Campus Center for their business plan they entered in the 2016 Hawaii Island Business Plan Competition.

Ono Queens LLC owned by Christopher and Wendy Klepps won the grand prize beating out 49 other Hawaii Island Business Plans.

Wendy and Christopher Klepps of Ono Queens LLC accept a check for $25,000.

Wendy and Christopher Klepps of Ono Queens LLC accept a check for $25,000.

49 original competitors were trimmed down to 8 finalists and today they presented 15-minute PowerPoint Presentations to judges Howard Dicus, Murray Clay, Jared Kushi and Chuck Erskine.

hiplan-judgesAfter the judges listened to the 15-minute power point presentations, there was a short break and then the companies followed up with a 2-minute “Elevator Pitch” to try and win the judges over.

The overall judging was weighed in their two presentations given today as well as their submitted 7-page written plans.

The Finalists were (in order of presentation):

  • Aloha Nui Family Practice
  • Big Island Wasabi, LLC
  • Dam Fine Farms
  • Easybotics
  • Hawai’i Ulu Producers Co-op
  • Hawaii Family Health
  • Ono Queens, LLC
  • The Spoon Shop, LLC

The third place runner up was Big Island Wasabi LLC:

Sara Phillips authored the business plan for Big Island Wasabi LLC

Sara Phillips authored the business plan for Big Island Wasabi LLC

The second place runner up was Hawaii Family Health:

Michelle Mitchell was the author of the Hawaii Family Health business plan.

Michelle Mitchell was the author of the Hawaii Family Health business plan.

After the winners were announced, there was a short reception held for the folks and sponsors that were in attendance.

Some of the sponsors mentioned were, Ulupono Initiative, University of Hawaii Hilo, Big Island Toyota, HTDC, DeLuz Chevrolet, Darren T. Kimura, HIGROWTH, NELHA, Hilo Brokers, Marine Genetics and the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce.  The Official Media Sponsor was Pacific Media Group.

35 Million Microfilm Images & 5,500 Books Digitized During Project

The State Bureau of Conveyances, one of the divisions of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources, is now in the second phase of a four-phase project to convert more than 170 years of vital state records into permanent, digital format.

recordsThe Hawai‘i Bureau of Conveyances is the only single statewide recording office in the country. It examines, records, and indexes more than 344,000 land and property documents and maps each year and it issues Land Court Certificates of Title and certifies copies of matters of record.  On a daily basis, the Bureau of Conveyances inputs 1,100-1,500 documents and its documents date back to 1845.

Leslie Kobata, the acting Bureau of Conveyances Registrar, explained, “Our conversion of documents to digital started with 35 million microfilm images. The microfilms are the original back-ups to the 5,500 reference books that date back to the mid-1800s.

records2The second phase of the digital conversion was the scanning of each of those books and the number of pages is staggering: an estimated 3.3 million plus. The goal is to have all of these important historical and legal documents properly preserved and in a format that is easily accessible by anybody.”

The Bureau of Conveyances hired U.S. Imaging, a Michigan based company and for the first two phases has spent approximately $1.35 million on the project. Kobata added, “The importance of the partnership with them is that we’re working with a company that does this type of work solely across the country. U.S. Imaging has many years of experience and completed projects under its belt and when they began work here in Hawai‘i some of the practices and innovations that they’ve adopted and applied from that experience actually saved the State some money.”

records3In late 2015, a team from U.S. Imaging began scanning 15,000 rolls of microfilm land records from 1845-1991. Teams of two people worked around the clock, seven days a week and completed the process in a month.  U.S. Imaging President Scott Robinson said, “Scanned images are stored on our servers, as well as on ‘M disk,’ the first digital format that is truly archival. It is estimated M disks will last more than 1,000 years, because data is physically etched into the disk. This makes them much less light sensitive and susceptible to environmental conditions like heat, moisture, and humidity.”

Then, over the past month, another team of U.S. Imaging workers completed scanning of the thousands of reference books.  Operating in a temporary enclosure in the below-ground parking area of the Kalanimoku State Office Building on Punchbowl Street, they too worked around-the-clock shifts. Some of the challenges they faced were documents that were too light or had corrupted images. Robinson explained, “With most scanners on the market, when you put the paper into the glass guides, the fiber comes off, builds up and causes streaking on the scanned pages.  So you’d have to constantly stop and clean or change glass guides.  Now using the highest tech, German-made scanners available, there are no glass guides and the scanner is able to pick up 16,777,216 colors in the spectrum, compared to 256 shades of gray in the scanning of microfilm.”

records4DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “The upcoming phase three of this project will be to make sure all the scanned images are enhanced and in a form and format best possible for reproduction and access. At this point they can be viewed digitally at the Bureau of Conveyances. Phase four will be to make all of the scanned documents accessible to anyone with a computer.  While the Bureau of Conveyances will maintain all of the historic reference books and microfilm, this digitization project ensures the preservation of some of Hawai‘i’s most important and vital historical records.”

The Bureau of Conveyances public reference room is open Monday-Friday (except for state holidays) from 8:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. Reference books and microfilms will remain available for review.

UH Hilo Announces Night Photography Classes

The College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo announces classes in night photography with award-winning landscape photographer Michelle Shuey. Sessions will be held on the main campus Friday & Saturday, November 11 & 12, from 5:30 – 9 p.m. at a location to be announced and will include a field trip. Tuition is $75 and includes transportation.

Kīlauea aglow from its summit crater is visible from Kulanaokuaiki Campground.  NPS Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Kīlauea aglow from its summit crater is visible from Kulanaokuaiki Campground. NPS Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Shuey, a member of the UH Hilo Geography and Environmental Science faculty, will teach participants how to manipulate a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera to take captivating night photos. The classes will focus on basic camera techniques and settings used for long exposure photos, and taking photographs at various locations, with possible venues including Hilo town, Hilo Bay, Coconut Island, Mauna Kea, and the night-time glow from Halema`uma`u crater, weather permitting.

Students are responsible for providing their own DSLR or mirrorless camera, a remote shutter release, and tripod. To register and for more information, contact CCECS at 932-7830 or email ccecs@hawaii.edu.

Hawaiian Electric Time-of-Use Rates Program Off to a Brisk Start

In slightly more than a week, more than 500 residential customers have signed up for the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ new Time-of-Use rates, a program that will charge customers less for power used during the day – when solar energy production is highest – and more at night.

As of Oct. 28, 508 customers had enrolled. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) set a limit of 5,000 customers for the program, meaning 10 percent of the total enrollment has already been reached.

The strongest response has been on Oahu, with 426 customers enrolled, followed by Maui County with 61, and Hawaii island with 21.

Developed under the direction of the PUC, this program provides customers with an opportunity to save money if they shift their energy use to daytime hours. For example, customers who do laundry, cook, or heat water during the day may be able to save. Customers who charge electric vehicles or energy storage systems in the day may also benefit.

The amount of savings, if any, will depend on how much a customer can shift the use of electricity from night to day. As a result, this program may not fit the needs of all customers.

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As directed by the PUC, this program is voluntary and will run for two years. The rates are only available to residential customers.

Participating customers will receive information on their bills that compares their costs under this program and the standard residential rate for electricity. Customers may opt out of the program if they feel it isn’t the right fit for them.

To enroll or for more information, go to www.hawaiianelectric.com/timeofuse or call:

  • Oahu: (808) 548-7311
  • Maui: (808) 871-9777
  • Molokai and Lanai: 1-877-871-8461
  • Hilo: (808) 969-6999
  • Kona: (808) 329-3584
  • Waimea: (808) 885-4605

Hawaii National Guard Receives Three New Blackhawk Helicopters

The Hawaii Army National Guard’s newest unit has received three HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters. The Blackhawks were offloaded from a C-17 transport at the Kalaeloa Airfield today. They will be assembled on-site and operate out of Wheeler Army Air Field until a new facility at Kalaeloa is completed.

new-helisDetachment 1, Company G, 1st Battalion, 189th Aviation Regiment is a new aeromedical evacuation unit and is in the process of filling its ranks. The detachment’s mission is to provide MEDEVAC support to military entities. The unit will have about 30 soldiers, most of whom will be drill status, or part-time forces.  The unit will not provide full-time support to civil authorities, but when fully staffed, it may provide supplemental support.

This unit is one of the most requested types of units to deploy, with its specialty of MEDEVAC being in high demand.

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The new Blackhawk models have a couple of features that differentiate them from the HIARNG’s current UH-60M Blackhawks. These HH-60M have an external hoist, a Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) and the capability to carry six litter patients or six ambulatory (or three of each patients) within its MEDEVAC cabin configuration. The four-person crew is made up of two pilots, one crew chief and one flight medic.

It will initially operate from Wheeler Army Airfield, Army Aviation Support Facility #1, until administrative requirements are completed. The new unit will then operate from the nearly completed Army Aviation Support Facility located at Kalaeloa. The Kalaeloa AASF cost $32.6 million and is being built by Watts Constructors, LLC. The estimated completion date is November 2016. The Kalaeloa AASF will encompass almost 67,000 square feet and will have a large hangar to support aircraft as well as an administrative area for classrooms, restrooms, conference rooms and offices.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes Will Charge for Camping Starting November 1

Starting November 1, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will charge for all overnight camping as part of a plan to meet national standards for parks with similar visitor amenities.

Kīlauea aglow from its summit crater is visible from Kulanaokuaiki Campground. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Kīlauea aglow from its summit crater is visible from Kulanaokuaiki Campground. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

For backcountry camping, a $10 fee will be charged per trip, in addition to the park entrance fee. All eight backcountry campsites (Ka‘aha, Halapē, Keauhou, ‘Āpua Point, Nāpau, Pepeiao Cabin, Red Hill Cabin and Mauna Loa Cabin) require a permit, with a stay limit of three consecutive nights at one site. Campers can move to another backcountry site for the fourth night, but no more than seven consecutive nights per trip will be allowed.

A camper enjoys the shade at Halapē. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

A camper enjoys the shade at Halapē. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Permits must be obtained no more than 24 hours in advance from the Backcountry Office, open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fees for backcountry camping can be paid in person at the Backcountry Office, or online through pay.gov. Call (808) 985-6178 for more information.

Tent camping at ‘Āpua Point along the coast at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Tent camping at ‘Āpua Point along the coast at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Kulanaokuaiki Campground, a drive-in, front-country campsite off Hilina Pali Road, will cost $10 a night per site, with a stay limit of seven consecutive nights, and a maximum of six people per site. The nine designated campsites at Kulanaokuaiki have picnic tables and tent pads, and are available on a first-come basis. Fees for Kulanaokuaiki can be paid at the campground’s self-registration station. Checkout time is 11 a.m.

The new camping permit fees are similar to other public camping fees statewide. At Kulanaokuaiki, campers who hold the Interagency Senior (Golden Age) and Golden Access passes pay $5 per site.

Picnicing at the Kulanaokuaiki Campground. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Picnicing at the Kulanaokuaiki Campground. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Nāmakanipaio Campground off Highway 11 is managed by Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC and is under its own fee structure.

Pets are not permitted in any of the campgrounds, except for leashed pets in Nāmakanipaio Campground. Leashed service animals are allowed.

Largest Cat-Proof Fence Built in the U.S. to Protect Hawaiian Birds from Feral Cats

Work is complete on what could be the largest cat-proof fence in the United States, designed to protect the federally endangered ‘ua‘u, or Hawaiian petrel, from the birds’ primary threat: feral cats.

Park staff install the cat-proof fence in rough and rugged high-elevation lava fields on the slopes of Mauna Loa. The five-mile-long fence protects more than 600 acres of Hawaiian petrel habitat, and could be the longest of its kind in the United States. NPS Photo.

Park staff install the cat-proof fence in rough and rugged high-elevation lava fields on the slopes of Mauna Loa. The five-mile-long fence protects more than 600 acres of Hawaiian petrel habitat, and could be the longest of its kind in the United States. NPS Photo.

The seafaring ‘ua‘u nests in deep lava rock burrows on the rugged high-altitude slopes of Mauna Loa, and, despite the remote location, are not safe from cats. In order to protect the species, the National Park Service (NPS) teamed up with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Bird Conservatory, Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawai‘i (PCSU), to build the five-mile long cat barrier fence in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The specifically designed barrier is more than six feet high, and has a curved top section that prevents cats from climbing over it.

Construction began in 2013, and was limited to January through May to avoid disturbing nesting birds. The seabirds spend most of their lives at sea, and come to land only during breeding season. ‘Ua‘u return to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park briefly in April to prepare nest sites, and return in early June to lay a single egg. The fluffy chicks hatch in August and remain in their burrows until November when they fledge or take their first flight out to sea. Adults, eggs and chicks are extremely vulnerable to predators throughout the long breeding season as all activity occurs on the ground.

Cat-proof fence aerial/Courtesy of Scott Hall/NFWF

Cat-proof fence aerial/Courtesy of Scott Hall/NFWF

The high-altitude project was grueling. NPS and PCSU fence crews worked and camped at elevations between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, in steep and loose lava rock terrain, and in weather that ranged from hail, and high wind, to extreme heat. The site is very remote and all materials, gear and staff had to be flown in and out. But the discomfort paid off: the fence now protects more than 600 acres of ‘ua‘u nesting habitat on Mauna Loa.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest fence of its kind in the U.S. To build such a fence is an incredible feat, and an important victory for a native species that is extremely rare on Hawai‘i Island,” said NPS biologist Kathleen Misajon. “Through the partnership of the cooperating organizations, the cat-proof fence will protect these amazing seabirds and support the expansion of this small population,” she said.

The endangered Hawaiian petrels are more typically seen on neighbor islands. The species is very rare on Hawai‘i Island, with just 75 nesting pairs in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and another small population on the slopes of Kohala. The park and cooperating partner agencies have studied this remnant population of ‘ua‘u on Mauna Loa since the early 1990s, both on the ground and more recently, through remote game cameras. The birds only come and go at night, nest in deep cracks and crevices in the lava, and are rarely seen.

Both parents take turns incubating a single egg and later, feeding the chick. They fly from high atop Mauna Loa to forage in the Pacific Ocean, ranging as far north as Washington State before returning to the nest to feed their chick.

For more information on ‘ua‘u on Mauna Loa, watch this six-minute video on the park website: https://www.nps.gov/media/video/view.htm?id=A718E6AF-B4CB-8719-5F489DE87AE57E25

Groundbreaking Held for Hawaii Island Veterans Memorial – Affordable Senior Housing

Yesterday afternoon, Mayor-Elect Harry Kim and Big Island Veterans broke ground on the Hawaii Island Veterans Memorial.
harry-kim-at-hivmThe project has been in the works for quite some time and it’s good to see that it is finally going to happen.The location is located off Kawili Street below the University of Hawaii Hilo Campus and across the street from Waiakea High School.

hivm-site-planEarlier this year, after HIVM received the first increment of our $425,000 state grant to help us start the project, we had an engineer prepare a plan for a box culvert common-use entrance into our lots along Kawili Street. Isemoto Construction was selected from our list of bidders to construct the common-use driveway entrance and perform related construction tasks and they have begun the installation of the box culvert and new entryway. We are in the final stages of an agreement with a large and respected non-profit housing development corporation, EAH Housing, Inc., to develop and operate 75 units of affordable senior-living units on our upper 5+ acre lot.

Artist rendition

Preference for these units will be given to veterans and their spouses. Other income-qualified senior Hawaii residents will also be able to rent these units in the event there is an insufficient number of qualified vets, their spouses or vets’ widows on the wait list at the time of vacancy. This senior independent living community will also include a centrally located community center for socializing, educational, recreational, and leisure activities.

 The lot is outlined with a thin white line and is bordered on the left by Kapiolani Street across from the lower end of the UHH campus. The lot is bordered at the bottom by West Kawili Street.

The lot is outlined with a thin white line and is bordered on the left by Kapiolani Street across from the lower end of the UHH campus. The lot is bordered at the bottom by West Kawili Street.

History: Hawaii Island Veterans Memorial, Inc. (HIVM) is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) all-volunteer non-profit corporation privately organized in 1997 to serve as a development entity for the island’s many veterans and veterans groups. Our mission was to develop a one-stop combined veterans center (CVC) together with a senior independent living community complete with a multi-purpose activity center and dining facility for our islands’ 20,000+ active, reserve, retired, veterans, and other eligible seniors. A site was identified on an overgrown 7 acre parcel of unplanned public lands in Hilo along Kawili St. just below the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and was obtained for this purpose in 2004 by a Governor’s executive order.

After acquiring a start up lease in 2005, funds were raised privately to complete an approved final environmental assessment (FEA) including a master plan with all preliminary engineering. This was developed with all stakeholders, including the University of Hawai’i at Hilo (UHH), neighbors and neighboring institutions, AARP, all the veterans organization on Hawai’i and the county of Hawai’i. The FEA was completed in 2006 and was accepted and approved by the County.

Re-zoning and subdivision into 3 separate lots for each project component were completed by mid-2007 when the lots were graded, partially grubbed and a sewer tap installed on the lower lot planned for the one-stop CVC as Phase 1. With an agreement in hand with the USDVA (VA) to build and lease to them a 5000 sq ft facility estimated at $2.1m. $1m in state and county matching funds were then sought, approved, and appropriated for FY 2008 to enable HIVM to privately finance the balance and begin the project. However the national financial meltdown reached Hawaii in the summer of 2008 and stopped all planned construction because of no available private or public financing. With development actions at a stop for the next 4 years, HIVM subleased the site to a private contractor to use as a base yard in exchange for periodic mowing and essential maintenance.

We resumed progress in 2012 with an improved economic outlook, a new lease, new opportunities, and a rejuvenated board of directors to move us forward to our current status.

Gabbard Honors Legacy and Service of Hawaii Nisei Veterans – Airport Unveils New Exhibit

At the Interisland Terminal of the Honolulu International Airport this morning, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard  joined the Nisei Veterans Legacy Center and Department of Transportation officials at the unveiling and blessing ceremony of a new permanent exhibit celebrating Hawaii’s Nisei veterans.

tulsi-nisei“It’s a privilege and an honor to be here to celebrate the Hawaiʻi Nisei Veterans display and all that it symbolizes—especially with our Nisei veterans here today, representing service and sacrifice from different conflicts and different generations,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed Major in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

tulsi-nisei2“Your courage during a very difficult time says so much about the values that we strive to uphold and celebrate in this great country. To have this display here provides the opportunity for people coming through as they travel—both kama’āina and visitors from across the country and around the world—to learn more about your sacrifice and to make sure that the legacy of your service continues for generations to come.”

tulsi-nisei3The exhibit was produced by volunteers from the Nisei Veterans Legacy Center, a nonprofit organization created to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of the Americans of Japanese Ancestry who served in the United States armed forces during World War II, including the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, and 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. Nisei stands for second generation and represents American citizens born in the United States whose parents immigrated from Japan.

Explosions at Volcano Summit – More Reminders Why Halemaʻumaʻu Crater Area is Closed

Two explosions in as many days were triggered by rocks falling into Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake.

hvo-102116The event shown above occurred around 12:26 p.m., HST, yesterday (Thursday, October 20). The other explosion happened around 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19. Both events are reminders why the area around Halemaʻumaʻu Crater remains closed to the public.

hvo-102116aYesterday’s explosion, triggered by a rockfall from the south-southeast wall of the summit vent within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, blasted spatter (molten lava) and rock fragments on to the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, as well as on to the closed section of Crater Rim Drive, about a quarter-mile from the vent.

hvo-102116bFollowing yesterday’s explosion, spatter (bit of molten lava) and fragments of solid rock littered this closed section of Crater Rim Drive in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. This section of the road, adjacent to the former Halemaʻumaʻu Crater parking area, has been closed since 2008 due to elevated sulfur dioxide emissions and other ongoing volcanic hazards, such as today’s rockfall-triggered explosion.

hvo-102116cSpatter and “ribbon bombs” (stretched fragments of molten lava) up to 30 cm (about 12 inches) long fell to the ground surface on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater during the two most recent explosions from Kīlauea’s summit lava lake. The black, glassy lava fragment shown here, about the size of a standard donut, landed amidst smaller, solid pieces of rock blasted from the vent.

A marking pen is shown for scale to indicate the size of this solid rock fragment hurled from the vent during the explosion.

A marking pen is shown for scale to indicate the size of this solid rock fragment hurled from the vent during the explosion.

A close-up of spatter and rock fragments blasted from the summit vent during the recent explosions.

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These pieces of rock and lava, now scattered among the Pele’s hair that blankets the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, remind us of the hazards that still exist in this area.