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Senate Sends Thune-Schatz Legislation Protecting Consumer Reviews to President

Bipartisan Proposal Put Forward by Thune, Schatz, and Moran Outlaws Abusive “Gag Clauses”

yelp-advisorThe U.S. Senate today, by unanimous consent, sent bicameral legislation to the White House for the President’s signature that will outlaw the use of “gag clauses” in non-negotiable form contracts. Some businesses have attracted national scrutiny for using gag clauses to punish or silence honest criticism of products and services. The sponsors of the Senate version released the following statements:

“Reviews on where to shop, eat, or stay on websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor help consumers make informed choices about where to spend their money. Every consumer has the right to share their honest experiences and opinions of any business without the fear of legal retaliation, and the passage of our bill brings us one step closer to protecting that right,” said Internet Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i).

“By ending gag clauses, this legislation supports consumer rights and the integrity of critical feedback about products and services sold online. I appreciate the bipartisan efforts of my Senate and House colleagues to get this legislation over the finish line,” said Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.).

“Just as word of mouth is used by family and friends to share experiences with particular brands or businesses, online reviews have significant benefits to consumers in their purchasing decisions. I’m pleased this legislation will now be sent to the president’s desk. It will help make certain consumers in Kansas and across the country are able to make their voices heard without fear of lawsuits or financial repercussions for honest feedback,” said Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

The Commerce Committee held a hearing on gag clauses on November 4, 2015, featuring testimony from Ms. Jen Palmer, a plaintiff in Palmer v. KlearGear, where a company demanded the removal of a negative online review or payment of $3,500 in fines because the online merchant’s terms of service included a non-disparagement clause. When the review was not taken down, the company reported the unpaid $3,500 to a credit reporting agency as an outstanding debt, which negatively impacted the Palmers’ credit.

Thune, Schatz, and Moran introduced S. 2044, the Consumer Review Freedom Act, in September 2015, and the Senate passed the measure unanimously last year. The Senate today approved the companion House version, H.R. 5111, introduced by Rep. Lance Leonard (R-N.J.) and Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) earlier this year. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) also sponsored an earlier House companion version of the legislation, H.R. 2110, to outlaw gag clauses.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

international-space-stationIt will be visible beginning tonight, Saturday, November 26 at 6:30 PM. It will be visible for approximately 5 minutes at a maximum height of 69 degrees. It will appear 11 degrees above the South Southwest part of the sky and disappear 26 degrees above the Northeast part of the sky.

Two Geothermal Well Scientific Observation Holes to be Plugged and Abandoned in Puna

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has contracted with Water Resources International, Inc. to plug and abandon two geothermal scientific wells, SOH-1 and SOH-2 located in Pahoa.

SOH - 2 (Scannned by Cheryl Ishii, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics University of Hawaii at Manoa

SOH – 2 (Scannned by Cheryl Ishii, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Representatives from DLNR Engineering Division, their consultant Brown and Caldwell, and Water Resources International will attend the Puna Geothermal Ventures community meeting scheduled for Thursday, December 8, from, 6-8 p.m. at Pahoa Community Center, 15-2910 Puna Road, Pāhoa.  They will be available to answer any questions on the project.

Drilled in 1991 for research purposes to monitor temperature gradients down the shafts, the two wells are no longer being used by the University of Hawai‘i or DLNR for geothermal resource monitoring purposes.

Initial site clearing and preparations are now ongoing at the site of SOH-1 and by about December 12 work will begin on plugging the well and restoring the area with SOH-2 to follow in a similar manner. The project is expected to be completed in approximately 3 months. Work hours will be limited to between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

The contract award amount for the plugging and abandonment of the two wells was $2,036,000.

Local Nonprofit Organizations Receive Electric Vehicles

The Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) Charitable Foundation and Hawaii Electric Light Company recently donated Smart electric vehicles to three local nonprofit organizations. The vehicles and symbolic keys were presented to representatives from the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island, HOPE Services Hawaii, and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

“At HEI, we strive to be a catalyst for a better Hawaii,” said Connie Lau, HEI president and CEO and chairman of the HEI Charitable Foundation. “The HEI Charitable Foundation is proud to partner with Hawaii Electric Light to recognize these wonderful organizations and at the same time promote the use of electric vehicles on Hawaii Island and throughout our state to help Hawaii achieve a clean energy future.”

electric-vehicle

The popularity of electric vehicles has risen in recent years as the world takes greater notice of the importance of reducing reliance on fossil fuels for transportation. They also cost less per mile than vehicles with a conventional gasoline-fueled engine, and they are good for the environment by reducing emissions and noise pollution. The donated cars are lightly-used Smart ForTwo electric vehicles with an average mileage of 4,000 miles. The cars come equipped with electric charging equipment and are valued at more than $10,000. HEI worked closely with Mercedes-Benz of Honolulu who inspected, registered, and ensured delivery of the vehicles to the nonprofit organizations.

“These deserving organizations strengthen our community by nurturing our youth, offering hope to our less fortunate, and providing our students with quality higher education,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light president. “We know these electric vehicles can broaden their reach and support their efforts to serve our community.”

The Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island’s mission is to inspire and enable Big Island youth to be productive and responsible citizens, through quality programs in a safe and caring environment. It provides after school services for youth ages 6-17 Hilo, Keaau, Pahoa, Pahala, and Ocean View.

“In the words of our keiki when experiencing something new, fun and exciting: ‘Awesome!’ It is truly awesome to gain this environmentally-friendly resource and have an educational tool that helps us teach our lessons of sustainability, science and resource management,” said Chad Cabral, Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island chief executive officer. “What better way to let kids see how an electric vehicle works, view the electric engine components, and speak about energy efficiency concepts. We are thrilled to have this educational resource. Mahalo to the HEI Charitable Foundation and Hawaii Electric Light.”

HOPE Services Hawaii provides an array of services to the homeless. The organization envisions a world where those who face great challenges realize their value and self-worth. Programs and services include homeless outreach, residential housing programs, prison re-entry services, representative payee services, and one-stop centers. The organization plans to use the electric vehicle to transport program participants to become document-ready for housing by helping them obtain identification as well as helping them find gainful employment and comply with their legal requirements.

“We end homelessness by housing at least 270 households each year. We intentionally serve those with the deepest needs first and help at least 85% of them stay housed forever – never returning to homelessness,” said Brandee Menino, HOPE Services Hawaii chief executive officer. “We do this work because it improves the health and wellness of the people we serve, maximizes the potential of each individual and family we serve, and is economically in the best interest of the taxpayers of Hawaii to end homelessness rather than manage homelessness.”

The University of Hawaii at Hilo offers its 4,000 students a wide range of liberal arts and professional programs, as well as a number of graduate and doctoral programs. As a campus of the University of Hawaii System, its purpose is to challenge students to reach their highest level of academic achievement by inspiring learning, discovery and creativity inside and outside the classroom.

“We are thankful and honored to have been selected as one of the recipients,” said Jerry Chang, University of Hawaii at Hilo director, University Relations. “This is another step in our goal of conservation and starting an Energy Science program at UH Hilo.”

For more information about the benefits of electric vehicles, please visit www.hawaiielectriclight.com.

Hawaii Electric Light Company to Conduct Aerial Line Inspections Next Week

To improve system reliability, Hawaii Electric Light Company will conduct aerial line inspections of its major overhead transmission lines from Monday, Nov. 28, to Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016.

helicopter-line-inspectionThe islandwide inspections are scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. However, exact times and routes will depend on weather conditions. Inspections will be conducted in a Manuiwa Airways helicopter and require the aircraft to fly low and slow which may cause some noise disturbances.

Hawaii Electric Light apologizes for any disruptions this may cause and sincerely thanks the community for their cooperation and understanding.

If there are any questions or concerns, please call 969-6666.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Offer Improved Online Calculator to Help Customers Decide on Buying an Electric Vehicle

Are you thinking about buying a plug-in electric vehicle, but having trouble figuring out whether you will save money and help the environment compared to a gasoline vehicle? Help is now just a click away, thanks to a new tool from the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

watt-planWattPlan for Electric Vehicles is an interactive, online calculator you can use via desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone to compare any make and model of plug-in electric vehicle with any internal combustion engine vehicle. It is accessible at: www.hawaiianelectric.com/wattplanforEV.

Using your personal monthly electric bill and current gasoline prices, the tool will help you decide whether an electric vehicle is right for you and your family. The calculator will show that when you charge your electric vehicle can affect your overall energy cost. With new, voluntary time-of-use rates available for residential customers of all three Hawaiian Electric companies, it is less expensive to use electricity during the day, when abundant solar power is being sent to the grid.

“We encourage prospective electric vehicle owners to consider their entire home energy bill – electricity plus gasoline – when making this decision,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO. “While adding an electric vehicle may slightly increase your monthly electric bill, that will likely be more than offset by buying little or no gasoline. That is my experience as a new electric vehicle owner.”

For those concerned about climate change and the global environment, the WattPlan for Electric Vehicles tool will show the environmental benefits of driving an EV compared to a gasoline car.

“Electric vehicles don’t just result in reduced use of imported oil, exhaust fumes and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Oshima. “Using more electricity during the day will allow us to use more solar power, an important step to help us get to Hawaii’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy.”

The WattPlan for Electric Vehicles was developed for Hawaiian Electric in conjunction with Clean Power Research® (www.cleanpower.com), an award-winning innovation company that delivers software products to enable customers to optimize financing, operation and integration of solar resources, engage consumers with personalized energy evaluations, and streamline business processes.

Clean Power also developed the WattPlan for Rooftop Solar, a personalized online tool that the Hawaiian Electric Companies make available to help their customers decide whether rooftop solar is right for them, and if so, what size is best and the comparative costs of buying or leasing a system.

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.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Encourages Opportunities for Veterans in Technology

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Future Caucus and of the Diversifying Tech Caucus, delivered opening remarks at the congressional briefing Veteran Readiness in Technology: Preparing Veterans for the 21st Century Economy, hosted by the Millennial Action Project, Engine, TwinLogic Strategies, and Amazon.

tulsi-technology1The congresswoman spoke about how veterans are largely underrepresented in the rapidly growing technology industry, and about the importance of empowering veterans as they transition to civilian life. Following opening remarks, expert panelists discussed the current challenges transitioning service members and veterans face during their path towards a career in technology, and opportunities for veterans and service members in the 21st century tech economy.

tulsi-technology2“Roughly 500 veterans return to civilian life every day, bringing with them unique experiences and skills from their military service. Our veterans are natural leaders, trained to make decisions under pressure, work together as a team, and accomplish the mission at hand,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Veterans have been largely underrepresented in the tech community, making up just 2% the sector that drives much of our economic innovation across the country. Ensuring our veterans have access to training and opportunities that set them up for success in the 21st century tech economy is good for our economy, good for our tech industry, good for our country, and good for our veterans.”

Background: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has introduced legislation like the Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act, to enable veterans to use their GI Bill benefits for apprenticeship programs in the skilled-trade industry, as well as the HIRE Vets Act to incentivize employers to hire and retain veterans.

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

Interest in Next Wave of Solar Power Rising in Hawaii

Applications for the next generation of private rooftop solar energy systems have surged in recent weeks, showing growing customer interest in the program and this new technology.

solar-panel-in-hawaiiAs of Nov. 1, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light Company received 234 Customer Self-Supply applications, up from approximately 50 applications in early October.

So far, nearly 100 applications have been approved and are ready for installation, with the rest going through the standard technical review.

“Things are just getting started. Solar power is still a viable option and we expect more customers to install self-supply systems as they learn more about the program,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service.

Customer Self-Supply represents the evolution of solar energy systems. These systems enable households to generate their own electricity and to potentially store energy for use after the sun goes down.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies lead the nation in the adoption of solar power. Nearly 79,000 customers have been approved on Oahu, Maui County, and Hawaii island. To date, 15 percent of all residential and commercial electric customers have PV systems – nearly 20 times the national average. Approximately 29 percent of all single family homes have been approved to install a PV system.

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.

East Hawaii Cable Outage Is Strange

Cable problems being reported throughout East Hawaii right now.

snow-on-tvI myself only can hear things on my television and receiving snow with a faded signal and others have reported that their cable is completely down.

This outage is strange as we all seem to still have full internet connectivity as of now.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

international-space-stationIt will be visible beginning tonight, Friday, October 21 at 6:41 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes at a maximum height of 75 degrees. It will appear 10 degrees above the Northwest part of the sky and disappear 12 degrees above the Southeast part of the sky.

Updates From Mayor Billy Kenoi Trial

Hawaii News Now Reporter Chelsea Davis is at the Hilo Courthouse and she is live tweeting the Mayor Kenoi trial.

kenoi-trial
Here is what she has posted so far from day 2 of the trial and you can follow her here https://twitter.com/ChelseaDavisHNN:

LAST UPDATED 2:12 –

Testimony will resume Monday, Oct. 24th at 830am

 

Wilson’s response to prosecutor is that she didn’t write the email, she received it. Pros. passes the witness to the defense

Earlier, prosecutors showed receipts showing wine and alcohol purchased at the luncheon

5m5 minutes ago Hilo, HI

Pros. asks Wilson about Kevin Dayton’s farewell lunch held at Hilo Yacht Club, which was categorized as an office strategic planning meeting

Court back in session

Court in recess for lunch. Reconvene at 1pm

Hawaiian Electric Companies Offer Customers a Lower-Cost Daytime Option With Time-of-Use Rates

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are offering an optional Time-of-Use rate program that will charge customers less for power used during the day – when solar energy production is highest – and more at night.

Developed under the direction of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, these rates encourage customers to use electricity when solar power is abundant and enable cost-effective integration of renewable energy.

This program will provide 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 any savings will depend on how much a customer changes their usage. As a result, this program may not fit the needs of all customers.

Here’s how the rates will compare with current residential rates for October 2016 (all prices in cents per kilowatt-hour):

helco-rates

As directed by the PUC, this program will run for two years and these rates are only for residential customers. Participation will be voluntary and limited to the first 5,000 customers who enroll.

Participating customers will receive information on their bills that compares their costs under this program and the normal residential rate for electricity. Customers may opt out of the program at any time 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

Editors Note On Lost Posts

Sorry folks… the mainland server that my website sits on had a “major meltdown” last night.

Posts for the last few weeks were lost.

At least we are back online.

Hawaii Health Centers to Receive $753K for IT Enhancements

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced today that 14 Hawaiʻi Health Centers will receive a total of $753,064 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support health information technology (IT) enhancements. The funding is part of more than $87 million provided by HHS to 1,310 health centers in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin. The funding will support health IT enhancements to accelerate health centers’ transition to value-based models of care, improve efforts to share and use information to support better decisions, and increase engagement in delivery system transformation. This is the first significant investment directly awarded to health centers to support the purchase of health IT since 2009.

health-center“Health centers across Hawaiʻi provide high-quality health and wellness services that our communities depend upon. Yet, in Hawaiʻi and in states across the country, remote locations, lack of funding, and staff shortages make it difficult to keep up with rapidly changing healthcare technology,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Investing in our local health centers will increase information sharing, improve electronic healthcare record systems, and expand access to comprehensive, quality care for people in every county across the state.”

The following organizations are the Hawaiʻi recipients of the HHS health IT enhancement funds:

  • Hilo – $66,682 for the Bay Clinic
  • Wailuku – $52,900 for the Community Clinic of Maui
  • Honokaʻa – $46,535 for the Hamakua Health Center
  • Hana – $42,428 for the Hana Community Health Center
  • Līhuʻe – $46,320 for Hoʻola Lahui Hawaiʻi
  • Honolulu – $73,739 for the Kalihi-Palama Health Center
  • Honolulu – $54,075 for Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services
  • Kahuku – $48,198 for the Koʻolauloa Community Health and Wellness Center
  • Lanaʻi City – $41,749 for the Lanaʻi Community Health Center
  • Kaunakakai – $42,884 for Molokaʻi Ohana Health Care
  • Waiʻanae – $81,237 for the Waiʻanae District Comprehensive Health and Hospital Board
  • Honolulu – $55,087 for the Waikiki Health Center
  • Waimānalo – $46,056 for the Waimānalo Health Center
  • Kailua-Kona – $55,174 for the West Hawaiʻi CommunityHealthCenter

For a list of all fiscal year 2016 Delivery System Health Information Investment Awards recipients, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/dshii/fy2016awards/index.html

To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html

To find a health center in your area, visit: http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/