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Clarification – Cash Will Be Accepted at Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

This was shared w/ Governor Ige’s followers on Facebook yesterday.

I received the following Press Release from Richard Ha this afternoon clarifying the shared Facebook post that Governor Ige shared from Civil Beat yesterday:

HONOLULU – Hawaiʻi Educational Association for Licensed Therapeutic Healthcare (HEALTH) has long been involved in seeking banking options for Hawaiʻi’s nascent medical cannabis dispensaries. We deeply appreciate the leadership and creativity demonstrated by Governor David Ige and Hawaiʻi Financial institutions Commissioner Iris Ikeda that culminated in yesterday’s announcement that the state had secured a banking solution for its legal cannabis industry.

Partner Colorado Credit Union’s Safe Harbor Private Banking Program is a pioneering program that takes on the regulatory burden required for our industry to be in compliance with federal guidelines so that state-licensed cannabis dispensaries can access banking services. Because these services are unavailable in Hawaiʻi, we are grateful that Colorado has stepped up to help.

The CanPay debit payment application is an alternative to cash payments that will be a welcome option for patients and dispensaries alike. Unlike a credit or debit card, payment will be instantly transferred from the patient’s existing bank account to the dispensary’s account in Colorado to facilitate a cashless purchase.

We recognize that the success of Hawaiʻi’s medical cannabis dispensary program is directly linked to the ability of patients to have safe access to cannabis products to help manage their medical conditions. As employers, we also want to ensure our employees enjoy a safe work environment. These options take us in the right direction at the right time.

Hawaiʻi’s aspiration to have a predominantly “cashless system” for all medical cannabis dispensaries is admirable. However, it is important to clarify that progress toward this goal will take considerable time. We will work with all stakeholders to successfully implement the proposed system. Patients who choose not to participate in a program that requires checking account transfers will still be able to make cash purchases in all Hawaiʻi-Licensed Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. Qualified patient access and compassion are two key tenets to any successful medical program.

Hawaii Pacific University and Honokaa High Launch Virtual Classroom

Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) and Honokaa High School today kicked off their new partnership that gives Honokaa students access to HPU’s new, virtual college-credit program. The 17 Honokaa students who are enrolled in the program will connect with HPU professors using video technology that allows for real-time learning.

The 17 Honoka’a students who are enrolled in the program will connect with HPU professors using video technology that allows for real-time learning.  Photo Credit: HPU

“This innovative partnership with Hawaii Pacific University helps us equip students for success at the next level, empower them to explore their potential, and inspire them to reach their aspirations,” said Suzanne Mulcahy, Hawaii State Department of Education. “Together, as a community, we can meet and exceed our goal to successfully guide students to become leaders for Hawai’i’s future.”

“We are grateful to HPU for this partnership as it gives our students direct access to a post-secondary education trajectory,” said Rachelle Matsumura, principal of Honokaa High & Intermediate School. “Programs like this encourage our students to strive for their highest potential and provides a valuable head start on earning college credits that will potentially save them time and money.”

This program is the first of its kind for the private university, which provides real-time, distance learning for high school students. To increase access and opportunities for Honokaa students, HPU tuition has been waived so the high school students may earn college credits and experience the university’s rich curriculum.

“HPU is deeply committed to making higher education increasingly cost-efficient, attainable, and expedient for the students in our local communities,” said John Gotanda, HPU president.  “We recognize an opportunity to not only provide our keiki o ka aina with their best chance to attain their desired goals, but also attract and cultivate high achievers within our islands who will one day be leaders of our community making a profound impact on Hawai’i and beyond.”

L to R: Rachelle Matsumura, principal of Honoka’a High & Intermediate; Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Mulcahy; Complex Area Superintendent Art Souza; John Gotanda, president of HPU; Carol Mon Lee.  Photo Credit: HPU

Dual Credit allows Hawaii DOE high school students to take classes that satisfy requirements for both a Hawaii high school diploma and a University degree.

The Dual Credit program is also made possible through generous support from Carol Mon Lee, a retired lawyer and educator.  Ms. Lee’s investment makes higher education more attainable for local students. She noted, “President Gotanda’s vision for educating the youth of Hawaii, especially those in our public schools, is not just inspiring but vital to our state.”

Ms. Lee currently volunteers as executive-vice president and chief operating officer of ThinkTech Hawaii, a non-profit media company. She also sits on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education and the Board of Governors, UC Hastings College of Law, San Francisco.

The partnership highlights HPU’s expertise as the state leader in online education and expands its services to support public high school students. The university has been providing online education for deployed students in the military and have provided dual-credit programs with high schools around the state. In 2016, HPU became the first school in Hawaii to be approved by a state agency to participate in NC-SARA, a national authorization program to reciprocate online education across state lines.

Mayor Kim Gets Honorable Mention at US Conference of Mayors’s Climate Protection Awards

The United States Conference of Mayors 11th anniversary Winners Mayors’ Climate protection awards:

Honorable Mentions (Large City) – Hawai’i Mayor Harry Kim and the Lalamilo Windfarm Project:

Hawai’i Department of Water Supply’s (DWS) Lalamilo Windfarm project officially opened for commercial operations in September 2016, with five turbines generating 3.3 megawatts of electricity with no-export to the grid.
As an island state, the State of Hawai’i has been at the mercy of imported fossil fuel supplies. The Lalamilo Windfarm contributes to the State of Hawai’i’s Clean Energy Initiative’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Among the challenges in developing this project were permitting hurdles, most notably those involving the expected take of endangered bats and sea birds such as petrels.

Lighting was installed at downward facing angles and down-shielded to avoid attraction and disorientation of night-flying seabirds. It also will be less attractive to insects at turbine blade heights which may attract bats.

The turbines are also programmed to cut in and produce energy only when the wind exceeds 5 meters per second and the blades are feathered into the wind when the wind speeds are below 5 meters per second to minimize impact to both bats and birds. Bird flight diverters were also installed to minimize the potential for birds colliding with the overhead electrical transmission lines.
The windfarm is designed to provide a renewable energy source and a stable rate platform for the Department of Water Supply’s pumping equipment for the next 20 years. The CO2 offset for the Lalamilo Windfarm is estimated at 5,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.

At the 2015 groundbreaking for Lalamilo

This is arguably the first time in Hawai’i, and perhaps the nation, that a local government has developed such a wind-powered, water-pumping facility capable of significant greenhouse gas reductions at no cost to the taxpayer.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, in partnership with DWS and the Department of Research and Development, worked out models of the energy output potential for the windfarm site, at no cost to DWS or its customers. In April 2013, the project was awarded to Lalamilo Windfarm Wind
Company LLC, which designed, constructed, owns, and maintains the facility, through a Power Purchase Agreement. Planning, design, and construction were also done at no cost to DWS.

The turbines of the Windfarm are located on 78 acres adjacent to eight DWS water wells in Lalamilo Windfarm, South Kohala, on the site of a previous windfarm built in the mid-1980s. The use of wind energy while reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels, also ensures a stable source of energy that is expected to reduce energy costs to DWS and its customers over the next
20 years.

Five Hawaii Schools Selected to Open Pre-K Classrooms in School Year 2018-19

The Executive Office on Early Learning has selected five new schools to open new public pre-kindergarten classrooms in the 2018-19 school year. A child’s early years are critical in establishing a strong foundation for education and research has shown that early childhood education sets the foundation for life-long learning and success.

A child’s early years are critical in establishing a strong foundation for education and research has shown that early childhood education sets the foundation for life-long learning and success. Photo Dept. of Education

A child’s early years are critical in establishing a strong foundation for education and research has shown that early childhood education sets the foundation for life-long learning and success. Investing in high quality early childhood programs have resulted in narrowing achievement gaps, decreasing the need for special education and increasing high school graduation and college attendance rates.

The Executive Office on Early Learning (EOEL) launched Hawaii’s first publicly funded pre-kindergarten program in the 2014-15 school year. The program provides high-quality early learning experiences for students in the year prior to kindergarten eligibility. As a partnership between the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and EOEL, 21 pre-kindergarten classrooms on 19 HIDOE elementary school campuses statewide constitute Hawaii’s first state-funded pre-kindergarten program. The program, a first step toward developing Hawaii’s early learning system, is beginning its fourth year.

EOEL has selected five schools to open new public pre-kindergarten classrooms in the 2018-19 school year.  Schools were selected based on a competitive application process and include:

“Through this program, we have the opportunity to empower young children who otherwise would not have access to high quality early childhood education,” said Lauren Moriguchi, EOEL Executive Director. “This partnership has the potential to shape lives and change future trajectories. We are fortunate to have received funding for expansion of the program and are excited to open five new pre-k classrooms in the 2018-19 school year.”

Kapalama and Keolu Elementary Schools have been designated as alternates and have been invited to participate in EOEL’s Early Learning Induction Program, which is required for school teams to attend prior to opening a new EOEL Pre-Kindergarten Classroom.

For more information on pre-kindergarten and early learning, please visit http://bit.ly/1P9ewxx.

Guest Commentary – Audit the Honolulu Rail Project

Dear Damon,

When the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii first kicked off our “Audit the Rail” campaign, we had a feeling the idea would catch on.

Over the summer, we’ve seen respected voices across the state join the chorus.

At the outset, we did some digging and uncovered the fact that several HART board members supported a forensic audit of the rail.

Following that, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser published a story echoing our call to audit the rail explicitly for fraud, waste and abuse.

Then, Honolulu Councilmember Trevor Ozawa introduced a resolution to perform a special audit of the rail. Since then, at least four other Honolulu Council members have endorsed an audit.

And now, state legislators are floating the idea of auditing the rail, according to a presentation leaked to the press last week.

As influential voices across the state join the Grassroot Institute’s call to audit the rail, we intend to continue making a reasoned case for a full forensic audit.

If you have not yet signed our petition, please do so at AuditTheRail.com and share this e-mail with your friends.

Mahalo for helping this idea to catch on.

E Hana Kakou (Let’s work together!),

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.
President/CEO Grassroots Institute of Hawaii

Island Air Named Official Airline Sponsors of 2018 Miss Hawaii USA & Miss Hawaii Teen USA Pageants

Island Air is proud to announce its role as the Official Airline Sponsor of the 2018 Miss Hawaii USA and Miss Hawaii Teen USA pageants.

As part of its sponsorship, the airline will provide interisland flights valued at more than $22,000 to enable pageant contestants from the neighbor islands to travel to O‘ahu for appearances and other preparations leading up to the state pageants on Nov. 19, 2017 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. The 2018 State titleholders also will be able to utilize the flights when they travel interisland for appearances during their yearlong reign as Miss Hawaii USA and Miss Hawaii Teen USA. In the past, contestants were responsible for covering their transportation costs, which often deterred participation.

“Island Air is proud to be the first official airline sponsor of the Miss Hawaii USA and Miss Hawaii Teen USA program, and to support local young women throughout our state as they pursue their dreams and develop confidence and character that will help advance their careers and make a difference in our communities,” said David Uchiyama, president and CEO of Island Air.

“Being born and raised on Kaua‘i, I understand firsthand how much more challenging it is competing as a contestant from a neighbor island,” said Alicia Michioka, executive director of Miss Hawaii USA & Miss Hawaii Teen USA, who eventually went on to win Miss Hawaii USA 2003.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Allowed to Open on Oahu

The Hawai‘i Department of Health issued a formal notice to proceed to Aloha Green LLC today after the dispensary completed laboratory testing requirements and passed its final onsite inspection. Aloha Green is the second licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state, and the first on O‘ahu, to receive approval to begin sales of medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers.

The licensed retail center for Aloha Green is at the Interstate Building at 1314 South King Street in Honolulu. The retail center is licensed to begin selling dried medical cannabis flowers when it opens to registered patients.

“The opening of a licensed dispensary on O‘ahu is a major milestone for the more than 5,000 qualified patients and caregivers in Honolulu,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “Our staff continues to work with all the licensees as they build their facilities and business operations in compliance with county and state laws to ensure product and patient safety.”

The rigorous dispensary approval processes to open and begin selling medical cannabis are based on the requirements of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 329D and Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Chapter 11-850. Dispensaries are required to comply with all state and county, health, safety, and sanitation regulations, and are subject to unannounced inspections by DOH.

Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space. It is illegal to use or possess medical cannabis on any federally owned property such as military installations and national parks. When bringing medical cannabis home after purchasing it from a dispensary, the medical cannabis must be in a sealed container and not visible to the public.

There are eight licensed dispensaries in Hawai‘i. There are three on O‘ahu: Aloha Green Holdings Inc.; Mānoa Botanicals LLC; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. There are two in Hawai‘i County: Hawaiian Ethos LLC and Lau Ola LLC. Two on Maui: Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC; and one on Kaua‘i, Green Aloha, Ltd. These dispensaries are now at different stages of development by the licensees, and at varying stages of the approval process.

Hawaii’s First Medical Cannabis Dispensary Opens Today

Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies is the first licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state to receive the green light from the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) to begin selling medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers. The Department of Health issued a formal notice to proceed to Maui Grown Therapies today after the dispensary completed laboratory testing requirements and passed its final onsite inspection.

The licensed retail center for Maui Grown Therapies is located at 44 Pa‘a Street in Kahului, Maui. The dispensary will begin selling dried medical cannabis flowers when it opens to registered patients.

“This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception. With legal guidance from Department of the Attorney General, the DOH team paved the way for this new industry in Hawai‘i and has set a new standard for dispensary programs other states can emulate.”

The rigorous dispensary approval processes to open and begin selling medical cannabis are based on the requirements of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 329D and Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Chapter 11-850. Dispensaries are required to comply with all state and county, health, safety, and sanitation regulations, and are subject to unannounced inspections by DOH.

Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space. It is illegal to use or possess medical cannabis on any federally owned property such as military installations and national parks. When bringing medical cannabis home after purchasing it from a dispensary, the medical cannabis must be in a sealed container and not visible to the public.

According to the StarAdvertiser:

Hawaii history will be made today when the first dispensary opens for business on Maui, nearly two decades after the state legalized medical marijuana.
Maui Grown Therapies, one of eight dispensary licensees, will begin at 11 a.m. the first legal sales of cannabis in the islands…

There are eight licensed dispensaries in Hawai‘i. There are three on O‘ahu: Aloha Green Holdings Inc.; Mānoa Botanicals LLC; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. There are two in Hawai‘i County: Hawaiian Ethos LLC and Lau Ola LLC. Two on Maui: Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC; and one on Kaua‘i, Green Aloha, Ltd. These dispensaries are now at different stages of development by the licensees, and at varying stages of the approval process.

Hawaii State Moves Forest Carbon Project Forward

4,700 Acres Made Available for Reforestation to Generate Carbon Credits

A first-of-its-kind initiative in Hawai‘i to use carbon offset credits for reforestation and recovery of Hawai‘i Island pasture land is moving forward with the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP).  The program involves planting of native tree species such as koa and mamane, restoration of the watershed on the north slopes of Mauna Kea, and habitat restoration for the endangered native bird, the palila. The initiative will generate revenues for all the activities through the sale of carbon offset credits.

One “carbon offset credit” certifies the storage of one metric ton of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in plants and other organic material. Carbon offset credits are used to offset carbon emissions, often referred to as greenhouse gas emissions, from transportation, commercial activities, and other carbon emitting activities. Offsetting carbon emissions is recognized as an important way to reduce the impact of climate change. The market for voluntary carbon offset credits has been growing worldwide for many years spurred by individuals and corporations that wish to reduce their carbon footprint. By making the Pu’u Mali Restoration Area available for a forest carbon project, DLNR is creating opportunities to generate carbon credits locally.

Philipp LaHaela Walter, State Resource and Survey Forester in the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) explained, “Our goal is to give companies and individuals a transparent and measurable way to contribute to the protection of Hawai’i’s watersheds and forests for future generations. We are noticing that the local business community is increasingly making the conservation of our natural resources such as beautiful, healthy reefs, stunning mountain forests, and clean freshwater a part of their kuleana. We are excited to provide opportunities to contribute and to help continue the State’s national leadership in building sustainable communities through this innovative approach.” Proposals in response to the RFP will be due on August 31, 2017. A site visit at the Pu’u Mali Restoration Area was held for entities interested in submitting a proposal on August 1.

If you drive a car, fly in a plane, use air-conditioning to cool your home, or engage in any activity that creates greenhouse gas emissions, you’ll soon have a way to offset your emissions locally.  The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved this first State carbon offset project in early July.

Forest Carbon Project Video News Release, 8-7-17 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Construction of New Clinical Building at UH Law School is Progressing on Time, on Budget

Supporters, donors, faculty and staff of the UH Law School had a first close-up look this week at the new Clinical Building, which is rising in part of the parking lot next to the William S. Richardson School of Law.

A view of the front of the Clinical Building on the UH Manoa campus.

Reception guests were able to scrutinize the outside of the precast structure that is well over half complete. It is scheduled to be done on time and on budget, and will be ready for use in Spring 2018.

The reception also honored Professor Melody Mackenzie ’76, who will serve as acting dean for the next four months while Dean Avi Soifer is on Professional Growth and Development leave at the New York University School of Law. He returns December 1.

As the crowd toasted the new building and acting dean, UH President David Lassner shared words of praise, calling Richardson “a great law school” that is not only responsive to the community but trains students who go on to have positive impacts far beyond Hawai‘i. “The new Clinical Building will amplify that,” Lassner said.

Acting Dean MacKenzie told the crowd that the law school is a source of inspiration as a multi-cultural community whose primary mission is to advance justice. “Without CJ’s vision, many of us would not have had the opportunity to study law,” said MacKenzie, who was a member of the first graduating class, and who served as a law clerk for Chief Justice Richardson, the school’s namesake.

Acting Dean Melody Mackenzie and Dean Avi Soifer

The late CJ Richardson inspired the 1970s movement to build a law school committed to providing opportunities for Hawai‘i’s people.

Construction of the new Clinical Building was funded by $7.2 million in bond appropriations by the Legislature, partially backed by the school’s own funds. Recent additional philanthropy has contributed over $2 million and will pay for furniture and an advanced flexible wall system — not included in construction costs — as well as state-of-the-art IT equipment and landscaping. Additional fundraising is under way, including the goal of $5 million from a single donor for the opportunity to name the entire Clinical Building.

For more information, visit: https://www.law.hawaii.edu/

About Those New Volcanic License Plates…

On Tuesday, August 1, (the 101st anniversary of both Hawai‘i Volcanoes and Haleakalā), staff from Hawai‘i Volcanoes and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association exchanged their plates at the Hilo DMV. It was a very exciting morning, and DMV was a pleasure to work with!

HVNP Superintendent Cindy Orlando and new plates

Lots of questions have come up. Here are a few answers:

Q: How much do the plates cost?
A: $35.50, and $18 goes to support the parks.  UPDATE*  $25.00 per year increase in car registration fee which goes to the National Parks.

Q: Can I get personalized license plates in the specialty design?
A: The plates are pre-numbered, so customizing isn’t an option

Q: I have two vehicles. Can I get one of each?
A: Yes! The Hilo DMV now has the Haleakalā plates. (But they are running low on the Hawai‘i Volcanoes plate). Call your local DMV to double-check availability.

Q: Can I get the specialty plate for my electric vehicle?
A: You can exchange your EV plates for the specialty plates, however, it does not come with the EV designation so you’d have to forego the benefits of having an EV plate.

Q: Can I pay with a credit card?
A: No. The DMV accepts cash or check only (at least that’s the case in Hilo)

We hope to see you on the road and in the park with your gorgeous new license plates soon! Post a photo to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #FindYourVolcano to show your park pride!

County, Social Services Agencies Move Homeless People to Temporary Shelter in Kona

The County of Hawai’i together with social services provider Hope Services have moved a group of homeless people from the Old Airport Park to temporary facilities on County property in Kona.

The one-acre property at Hale Kikaha is accommodating approximately 20 adults in facilities consisting of tents, portable toilets, a temporary water spigot and showers.

The move came as the County on Wednesday enforced a no-camping policy at the Old Airport Park, whereby all belongings and housing structures in the park were removed.  This was aimed at improving this facility as a community park.

Prior to Wednesday’s move, outreach workers from HOPE Services, Veterans Outreach, the West Hawai’i Health Clinic, Access Capabilities, County Parks and Recreation, Office of Housing and Community Development, the Mayor’s Office (Kona), and faith-based volunteers were able to find a limited number of spaces at other homeless shelters and relatives’ homes.

Available housing options were offered to the most vulnerable homeless people first, i.e., families, the elderly, chronically homeless, as well as those with substance abuse or mental health issues.

While the team of County and social services agencies tried to absorb the entire homeless population from Old Airport Park, the available housing inventory was insufficient.  Approximately 25 individuals remain without housing.  The County is working to increase the number of beds at the Hale Kikaha shelter, while exploring a permanent site to house the homeless population.

The Police Department will be monitoring to ensure that campers do not return to the park. The enforcement took place as the Department of Parks and Recreation gears up for clean-up efforts on Wednesday, August 9 and Thursday, August 10, 2017.

On Tuesday, Mayor Harry Kim issued an emergency proclamation under which zoning, building and fire codes were temporarily waived to enable the homeless people to be accommodated at the Hale Kikaha facility.

Hawaii Governor Announces Stepped Up Efforts to Prevent Rat Lungworm Disease and Expanded Role of Joint Task Force

Gov. David Y. Ige, together with the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) and the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) announced today the state’s plans to place a stronger emphasis on the prevention of rat lungworm disease.

This year, the state confirmed a total of 15 cases of the serious parasitic infection, which is the highest number of cases reported in the state over the last decade.

“We are bringing together local experts from relevant fields to increase public awareness, improve our response activities, and explore ways to control and treat the disease,” said Gov. Ige. “They will work together with the Joint Task Force we established last year to step up prevention efforts beyond Hawai‘i Island, where the first cases were reported.”Dr. Kenton Kramer, Associate Professor of the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology with the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH-JABSOM), who is serving as Joint Task Force chair said, “The Joint Task Force to combat rat lungworm disease will reconvene in August. Experts from the medical, scientific, environmental, and public health communities will collaborate to develop guidelines for schools, farms, food establishments, physicians and other groups on best practices to prevent, control, and treat rat lungworm disease.”

The Joint Task Force, established in May 2016, consists of members from UH-JABSOM, Pacific Biosciences Research Center; The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo; HDOA’s Plant Industry and Quality Assurance Divisions; USDA Agriculture Research Service; Kaiser Permanente Hawaii; Hilo Medical Center; Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children; Hawaii County; and the DOH’s State Laboratories Division, District Health Offices of Hawaii Island, Maui, and Kaua‘i, Vector Control Branch, Safe Drinking Water Branch, Disease Outbreak Control Division, and Sanitation Branch.

Because of rising concerns over the recent increase in confirmed cases this year, the 2017 Hawai‘i State Legislature appropriated $1 million ($500,000 over two years) to the DOH to increase public education and improve control and prevention of rat lungworm disease. The funding will make possible a statewide media campaign in partnership with the Hawai‘i Association of Broadcasters to build public awareness of ways to prevent the spread of the parasitic disease.

Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler said, “We appreciate the Legislature’s support in allowing the state to accelerate our efforts on this important initiative. The funds will provide much needed resources for our public health communications efforts as well as strengthen our disease investigation and vector control measures for rat lungworm disease.”

In addition to a statewide public awareness campaign, the DOH will work in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Hawai‘i, HDOA, and other agencies to conduct a targeted rat, slug and snail study to identify disease routes and provide data on disease risks from these vectors. A statewide study of this kind has never been conducted in Hawaii before because of limited resources. Findings from the study will guide vector control activities for rat lungworm prevention.

Funding from the Legislature will also support two temporary full-time staff positions to coordinate prevention efforts between county, state, federal, and private sector partners.

Currently, the DOH’s food safety inspectors and vector control staff are collaborating with HDOA to investigate any reports of produce shipments from any farmer or vendor (local or mainland) with an infestation of slugs or snails. If the shipment is traced to a local farm, inspectors work with the farmer to ensure proper pest reduction measures are implemented.

Rat lungworm disease is caused by a parasitic roundworm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The parasite can be passed from the feces of infected rodents to snails, slugs and certain other animals, which become intermediate hosts for the parasite. People can become infected when they consume infected raw or undercooked intermediate hosts (slugs, snails, freshwater prawns, frogs, crayfish, and crabs).

Although the rat lungworm parasite has been found in slugs and snails throughout the state, Hawai‘i Island has experienced the majority of the confirmed cases. Some infected people don’t show any symptoms or have mild symptoms. For others, the symptoms can be much more severe and debilitating, and can include headaches, stiffness of the neck, tingling or pain on the skin or in extremities, low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting.

Sometimes, a temporary paralysis of the face may occur, as well as light sensitivity. This infection can also cause a rare and serious type of meningitis (eosinophilic meningitis).

To prevent the spread of rat lungworm infection, the public is urged to take these important steps:

  • Always practice safe eating habits by inspecting, thoroughly washing, and properly storing raw produce, especially leafy greens, regardless of where it came from, and/or cooking it properly to kill any parasites. Washing raw vegetables and fruits thoroughly under running water before eating not only prevents rat lungworm, but also rinses off other contaminants.
  • Eliminate snails, slugs and rats — all of which are potential vectors for the disease  — both around residential home gardens and agricultural operations of all scales.
  • Prevent the consumption of snails and slugs by covering all containers, from water catchment tanks to drink and food dishes. Supervise young children while playing outdoors to prevent them from putting a slug or snail in their mouths.

Watch todays video here: https://www.facebook.com/GovernorDavidIge/videos/856480491194011/

For more information on preventing rat lungworm disease, go to the DOH website at www.health.hawaii.gov

Hawaii Department of Health Certifies Lab to Begin Testing Medical Cannabis

Steep Hill Hawaii, a private independent laboratory on Oahu, can now begin testing medical cannabis from Hawaii’s licensed medical cannabis dispensaries and registered patients and caregivers. The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) granted Steep Hill a provisional certification today after the laboratory successfully passed its final onsite inspection and met requirements that demonstrate it has the capacity and proficiency to test cannabis and manufactured cannabis in compliance with state law.

Click to visit

“We realize that registered patients and caregivers and some of the licensed dispensaries have been waiting for a laboratory to become operational to test medical cannabis prior to consumption and sale. This is a major step forward as it allows the dispensaries to now begin testing their products to sell to qualified patients,” said Keith Ridley, Chief of DOH’s Office of Health Care Assurance, who oversees the medical cannabis dispensary program.

A laboratory is restricted from handling, testing, or analyzing cannabis or manufactured cannabis products until it is certified by the state. Under the interim administrative rules governing the medical cannabis dispensary program, certification allows a laboratory to conduct specific tests required to ensure the safety of products sold to registered patients in Hawaii.

“Certification follows a rigorous scientific process that requires meticulous attention to detail and constant refining to ensure product and patient safety,” said Chris Whelen, chief of DOH’s State Laboratories Division. “Our State Laboratories Division team is currently working closely with two other private independent labs to help them obtain certification. They are continuing to submit or resubmit their validation studies for certification.”

To receive certification, a laboratory must submit validation studies to demonstrate it is capable of conducting testing with consistent and accurate results for the following areas: cannabinoid profile (including THC), compound that are considered “active ingredients,” heavy metals such as arsenic, pesticides, solvents, moisture content, microbial contaminants, intestinal bacteria and pathogens, dangerous molds that can cause infection and disease, and toxins produced by molds. In addition, a laboratory must also meet the accreditation standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii are required to have their products tested for safety by a state-certified independent laboratory prior to sale. Laboratories interested in providing testing for medical cannabis on Kauai, Hawaii Island, Maui, or Oahu may apply for state certification at http://health.hawaii.gov/statelab.

Hawaii State Land Board Approves “Safe Harbor Agreement” for Keauhou, Kilauea, Ka’u Areas on the Big Island

Approving a 50-year-long Safe Harbor Agreement today, the State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) agreed to Kamehameha Schools plan to promote the recovery of endangered and threatened species on nearly 33,000 acres of forest and shrubland at Keauhou and Kīlauea on Hawaiʻi Island.

The Safe Harbor Agreement is a cooperative effort between Kamehameha Schools, DLNR, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support the conservation of threatened and endangered (federally listed) species, while KS conducts certain land-use practices. It establishes baseline populations for species, details the type of habitat that must be maintained and specifies land-use practices to increase population baselines.

The agreement covers seven native birds including the Hawai‘i Creeper, the Hawai‘i ‘Ākepa, the Hawaiian Hawk (‘Io), the Hawaiian Crow (‘Alalā), and the Hawaiian Goose (Nēnē).

Hawaiian Creeper

It also includes the Hawaiian Hoary Bat (‘Ōpe‘ape‘a) and 25 plant species. The SHA outlines detailed monitoring protocols to avoid and minimize injury or mortality and to provide “net benefit” to the species. Net benefits include increasing the current ranges of covered species, restoring historic ranges and increasing wild populations of species. It is also intended to reduce habitat fragmentation by connecting a network of protected and managed state, federal, and private lands within the south central region of Hawai‘i Island.

In addition to the Safe Harbor Agreement, the BLNR approved an Incidental Take License, which provides mitigation measures in the event land-use practices result in the loss of any of the endangered or threatened species covered by the agreement. The result of an Incidental Take License is to end up with a net positive gain in the population of a covered species.

This Safe Harbor Agreement, which has been reviewed extensively for more than a year and was the subject of numerous open meetings, is being heralded as an important step towards species protection and recovery across critical habitat for these endangered and threatened species. Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, the ‘Alalā Restoration Project Coordinator for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife said, “The momentous finalization of this large-scale Safe Harbor agreement will particularly benefit imperiled species, such as the ‘Alalā, which will be reintroduced on State land adjacent to the Keauhou-Ka‘ū Kamehameha Schools parcel, thereby in-part, protecting and managing potential ‘Alalā habitat for decades to come.”

Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong commented, “This agreement strengthens Kamehameha Schools’ ability to steward these lands in a manner that fosters healthy habitats for species fighting to survive. As we work toward a thriving lāhui, the cultural connection to ‘āina that is healthy and vibrant becomes much more important for Native Hawaiians and all the people of our State.”

Kamehameha Schools Ecologist Nāmaka Whitehead said that Hawaiians are Hawaiians because of the ‘āina. “Healthy, functioning native ecosystems are the foundation of Hawaiian cultural identity and well-being. Stewarding our ʻāina to be more resilient ensures that future generations will continue to have a relationship with the native species and ecological processes that make us who we are. I Hawaiʻi no nā Hawaiʻi i ka ʻāina. Our ʻāina, Hawaiʻi, is what makes us Hawaiian.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case added, “The vast acreage covered by this Safe Harbor Agreement is incredibly important to the recovery and perpetuation of these vital bird, bat, and plant species. We are extremely happy to have worked out this agreement with Kamehameha Schools and in the coming decades look forward to many great stories of native species success as a result.”

About Pahoa’s New Library

Well it looks like Pahoa will be getting a new library!

In a Mayor Kim response letter to State Librarian Stacey A. Aldrich dated July 26th 2017,  Kim stated that the county fully supports a new public library for Pahoa and would allow it at the existing location where the Pahoa Police and Fire Station currently exists on Highway 130 as long as there is a separate access that wouldn’t interfere with emergency response vehicles.

Hawaii Electric Light to Host Public Meetings on Plans to Upgrade Hawaii Island’s Power Grid

Hawaii Electric Light invites the community to public meetings next week to share its draft plan to modernize Hawaii Island’s power grid and seek input from the community

Open houses will be held on Monday, July 31, in the Waiakea High cafeteria in Hilo and on Tuesday, Aug. 1, in the Council Chambers at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kona. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. Company representatives will present an overview of the plan at 6 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session

“Hawaii Electric Light has been effectively integrating renewable energy on our isolated island grid for many years, using innovative solutions to safely bring on more renewables while maintaining grid stability and reliable service,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light president. “Since 2009, we’ve increased our renewable percentage from 30 to more than 54 percent, the highest in the state. To make the jump to 100 percent, we need to make the grid even better, stronger and smarter.”

The draft Grid Modernization Strategy filed with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in June describes the scope and estimated $205 million cost to update the energy networks of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light over the next six years. The plan aims to help bring on more renewable resources like private rooftop solar, increase reliability, and give customers new choices to control their energy use.

Highlights of this near-term work include:

  • Distribution of smart meters strategically rather than system-wide, i.e., to customers with private rooftop solar on saturated circuits; and customers interested in demand response programs, variable rates or who seek usage data;
  • Reliance on advanced inverter technology to enable greater rooftop solar adoption;
  • Expanded use of voltage management tools, especially on circuits with heavy solar penetration to maximize circuit capacities for private rooftop solar and other customer resources;
  • Expanded use of sensors and automated controls at substations and neighborhood circuits;
  • Enhanced outage management and notification technology.

Public comments gathered from this meeting and others held on Maui and Oahu will be included in the final plan to be submitted to the PUC at the end of August.

The draft plan and related documents are available at www.hawaiielectriclight.com/gridmod. Public comments on the plan can be submitted to gridmod@hawaiianelectric.com until Aug. 9, 2017

Hawaii Highways Project Data Now Available on HDOT Website

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Highways Division is making project status data available publically on the HDOT Website. Available data includes the schedule, scope, and estimated cost for all current State Highways projects as well as all projects planned to begin construction in the next two years. The data is open to the public and is accessible through the following link:

http://histategis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=f69cd64b5d9a43b08ad6620d07b5e4c4

“We are pleased to roll out the HDOT Highways Project Status Map,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen. “This map tool allows members of the public to easily access information on Highways projects in their community. I would like to thank Highways staff and the Office of Planning for their support in making this data widely available.”

The HDOT Highways Project Status Map can also be found on hidot.hawaii.gov by selecting Highways in the ‘Home’ menu, then going to ‘Major Projects’ and selecting ‘Project Map.”

Users can view project information by selecting the lines along roads on the map or by selecting “View a PDF list of Projects by Area” in the map legend. Users may also toggle between current construction projects and planned future construction using the tabs “Current Construction” and “Future Projects.”

The search feature represented by the magnifying glass symbol allows users to search for projects by entering any part of a project name. For example, beginning to input “Kamehameha” will show an auto complete list of the projects involving Kamehameha Highway.

The HDOT Highways Project Status Map will be updated on a regular basis. Questions or comments on the map may be sent to DOTPAO@hawaii.gov.

Nicholas Comerford to Serve as Dean of UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

Nicholas Comerford will start his new role as dean of the UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and director for Research and Cooperative Extension effective September 1, 2017.

Nicholas Comerford

Comerford is currently director of North Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida, where he also is a professor in the Soil and Water Science Department. He oversees 2,300 acres of infrastructure, along with research and extension programs of faculty representing nine campus departments. In his early career, Comerford was employed as a forest soil specialist by the State of Washington, mapping forested soils in the foothills of Mount Rainier and along the Skagit River Valley.

Comerford’s research expertise is in the area of forest soils, with an emphasis in tropical and subtropical regions. His work concentrated on soil-tree root interactions, the measurement and modeling of soil nutrient bioavailability and general aspects of forest soil management. As an active member of the Soil Science Society of America, he was elected president of the society and served in that capacity in 2010. Comerford was a past board member and chair of the related Alliance of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science Societies (ACCESS) Corporation.

Comerford earned his PhD in Silviculture and Forest Influences from the State University of New York and Syracuse University, his master’s degree in Forestry from the University of Maine, and his bachelor’s degree in Forestry from the University of Illinois.

Said UH Mānoa Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Michael Bruno, “We are very excited about Dr. Comerford joining the leadership team at Mānoa. His impressive and varied accomplishments in the field, his expertise in tropical soils science, and his experience working closely with both faculty and the community via vibrant extension programs all add up to a terrific background for the new dean of CTAHR.”

For more information about the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, see https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site.

Statewide Public Hearings On Proposed Amendments to State Boating Rules

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) will hold public hearings statewide starting next week on proposed amendments to state boating rules.

Click to view proposed changes

These amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) are being proposed to allow DLNR to better manage and facilitate boating and ocean recreation-related activities within State small

Boat harbors and nearshore waters, and to reorganize the HAR provisions relating to DOBOR for clarity and general efficacy.

“This extensive rule package contains modifications we have wanted to make for many years,” says Ed Underwood, DOBOR administrator.  “Some amendments are being proposed because facility management and the ocean recreation industry are changing rapidly and our existing rules cannot address the way people are using our harbors and the ocean today.  Some rules are being repealed because they are obsolete.  In all cases, the rules being proposed will allow DOBOR to do its job of managing its facilities and responsibilities more effectively.”

Proposed amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules,Title 13, Subtitle 11, Ocean Recreation and Coastal Areas, parts I, II and III, are posted on the DOBOR website at: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/draft-rules/

Hearings to present the rules and accept public testimony will be held as follows:

On Kauai – July 24, 2017, 6 to 8 p.m. at Wilcox Elementary School Cafeteria. 4319 Hardy Street in Lihue.

On Maui – July 26, 2017, 5 to 7 p.m.at Velma McWayne Santos Community Center Wailuku Community Complex, 395 Waena Place in Wailuku.

On Hawaii Island (Hilo) — July 27, 2017, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Hilo State Building Conference Room 75 Aupuni Street.

On Hawaii Island (Kona) — July 28, 2017,  6 to 8 p.m. at Kealakehe High School Cafeteria 74-5000 Puohulihuli Street, Kailua-Kona.

On Oahu —  July 29, 2017,  8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Aiea Elementary School Cafeteria 99-370 Moanalua Road.

Notice was published in The Garden Island, Hawaii Tribune Herald, Honolulu Star Advertiser, Maui News, and West Hawaii Today. During the comment period DOBOR will only accept testimony on the rules proposed for amendment.

All interested parties are invited to attend the meetings and to present their views on the proposed amendments, either orally or in writing.

All forms of written comments will be accepted up to one week following the last public hearing date, by midnight, Saturday August 5, 2017.

If you are unable to attend the public hearing to submit your testimony, written testimony may be submitted:

  1. By e-mail to dlnr.harreview@hawaii.gov, Subject: Rule Amendment Package 2017;
  2. By fax to (808) 587-1977, Attn: Rule Amendment Package 2017.
  3. By mail to the Dept. of Land & Natural Resources, 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 130, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, Attn: Chairperson, Re: Rule Amendment Package 2017

The proposed rule amendments can be reviewed online on the Division of Boating and Ocean

Recreation (DOBOR) website located at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/draft-rules or can be

Reviewed in person at the following DOBOR district offices:

  • Hawaii District Office – 74-380 Kealakehe Parkway, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740, Telephone: (808) 327-3690
  • Kauai District Office – 2494 Niumalu Road, Lihue, Hawaii 96766, Telephone: (808) 241-3111
  • Maui District Office – 101 Maalaea Boat Harbor Road, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793, Telephone: (808) 243-5824
  • Oahu District Office – 4 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, HI 96819, Phone: (808) 832-3520

Persons unable to review the proposed rule changes online or in person may request, verbally or in writing, a copy of the proposed rules. A charge of $0.50 per page will be assessed for hard copies. Hard copies will be mailed at no charge upon receipt of a valid request and applicable payment. Please make requests to:

Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation – 4 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, HI 96819, (808) 832-3520

Meeting locations are disability accessible. For persons requiring special needs accommodations (e.g., large print, taped materials, sign language interpreter, etc.), please call (808) 832-3520 at least one week in advance of the designated date and time of the applicable public hearing to make special needs requests.