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Dalai Lama and Nainoa Thompson Discuss Education and Universal Human Values

Nainoa Thompson, pwo (master) navigator and president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, today joined a panel discussion with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in celebration of His Holiness’s 80th birthday. The topic of discussion for the panel of inspiring leaders was The Significance of Education in Advancing Universal Human Values.

Dalai Lama and Nainoa

“I was honored and humbled to be invited to speak with His Holiness, one of my heroes and a true inspiration for our work aboard Hokulea as we travel around the world,” said Thompson. “We came together to celebrate his legacy of peace, kindness and universal compassion, and the true gift for his 80th birthday was the lesson he has offered all of us.”

Thompson acknowledged His Holiness as one of Earth’s greatest navigators and offered a gift of traditional Hawaiian oli (chant) by apprentice navigator Lehua Kamalu.  Thompson then presented him with a maile lei he had carried from the Hawaiian islands.

The event was the final session of His Holiness’s three-day Global Compassion Summit at University of California, Irvine’s Bren Center on Tuesday, July 7 and took place at 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Thompson was one of 15 distinguished panelists to participate in the conversation.

The Dalai Lama blessed the Hokulea at Kualoa Park last year.  Photo courtesy of Pillars of Peace

The Dalai Lama blessed the Hokulea at Kualoa Park last year. Photo courtesy of Pillars of Peace

Thompson’s visit to the Global Compassion Summit marked a truly global moment for the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Worldwide Voyage today. Legendary voyaging canoe Hokulea is scheduled to arrive at Darwin, Australia, while sister canoe Hikianalia today returns home to Honolulu after a fruitful trip to the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument with NOAA researchers and crew from The Nature Conservancy.

The Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage is taking the iconic sailing vessels Hokulea and her sister canoe Hikianalia across Hawaii and the Earth’s oceans to grow a global movement toward a more sustainable world.

The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, began in Hawaiʻi in 2013 and will cover over 60,000 nautical miles, 100 ports, and 27 nations, including 12 of UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage sites, through June 2017. The voyage seeks to engage all of Island Earth – practicing how to live sustainably while sharing Polynesian culture, learning from the past and from each other, creating global relationships, and discovering the wonders of the precious place we call home.

Two Million Provided for Hawaii Bikeshare Program Seed Funding

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Hawaii State Department of Health Director Virginia Pressler, M.D. today signed a contract providing matching funds for Bikeshare Hawai‘i.

Bike ShareUnder the agreement, the City and State will each provide $1 million in seed funding to assist the nonprofit Bikeshare Hawaii in building its large-scale bicycling infrastructure system, which is set to launch next year.

“We’re proud to support this important transportation public-private partnership between the City, State, and Bikeshare Hawaii,” said Mayor Caldwell. “This expansion of Honolulu’s bicycling infrastructure will be a game-changer in giving residents and visitors options to avoid traffic, help the environment, and have fun.”

bike share signing

“The Department of Health is thrilled to partner with the City and County on this important initiative that puts bikeshare within the reach of Hawaii’s residents and visitors,” said Director Pressler. “Having access to active transportation modes like bikeshare makes it easier for us to meet out daily physical activity needs, ultimately helping to reduce obesity and chronic disease to improve the health and well-being of our community.”

Bikeshare Hawaii will be a low-cost, flexible public transportation system that provides on-demand access to a network of publically-rentable bicycles at strategic locations. Approximately 1,700 bikes will be available at stations throughout urban Honolulu during the initial rollout. Upon completion of Honolulu’s rail project, bikeshare stations will provide first/last mile connectivity to rail and TheBus stations, facilitating the use of public transportation. Bikeshare will eventually expand the system statewide as demand increases.

Bikeshare systems have been proven to expand mobility options, create new bicyclists, and reduce automobile use. Bikeshare systems also promote healthier cities, active lifestyles, reduced vehicle emissions, and reliance on imported fossil fuel.

More information: http://www.bikesharehawaii.org/
https://www.facebook.com/bikesharehawaii

Five Injured in Three-Vehicle Crash on Hawaii Belt Road

Five people were injured—one critically—in a three-vehicle crash Friday (June 19) on the Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Highway 19) at Maulua Gulch along the Hāmākua Coast.

Malua GulchResponding to a 9:14 a.m. call, police learned that a 2003 Toyota pickup truck traveling south near the 23-mile marker crossed the centerline and sideswiped a 2008 Peterbuilt tractor-trailer traveling north. The tractor-trailer lost control and crossed the centerline, colliding with a 2003 Chevrolet four-door sedan traveling south.

All occupants of the three vehicles were taken to Hilo Medical Center.

The driver of the pickup truck, a 40-year-old Hilo woman, was treated and released for minor injuries.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, a 49-year-old Hilo man, and his passenger, an 11-year-old Hilo boy, were treated for their injuries and released.

The passenger in the sedan, a 24-year-old Laupāhoehoe woman, was treated for her injuries and released. The sedan’s driver, a 23-year-old Laupāhoehoe man, was transferred to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu in critical condition.

Traffic Enforcement Unit investigators have initiated a negligent injury case and are continuing the investigation. It is unknown at this time if speed, alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash.

Hawaiʻi Belt Highway was closed in both directions for more than two hours. Traffic was then allowed to take turns using one lane until the road was reopened to all traffic at approximately 3:40 p.m.

Police ask anyone who may have witnessed the crash to call Officer Clarence Acob at 961-2293.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Department of Transportation Settles Hawaii Drivers License Lawsuit

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) and Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), a non-profit organization, jointly announce that the parties settled a lawsuit yesterday regarding the translation of driver’s examinations required for Hawaii residents to obtain a license.

Hawaii Drivers License Sample

FACE filed a lawsuit in federal court in September 2013, alleging HDOT discriminated against foreign-born residents of Hawai’i by not offering a translated exam for a period of more than five years after previously existing translations were removed from service when additional questions needed to be added to the exam.

Throughout the case, and even with the settlement, HDOT disputed that there was any discriminatory motive involved in decision-making about the translated exams. “HDOT and our employees have always been committed to serving all of Hawaiʻi’s residents regardless of who they are or where they are from,” said HDOT Director Ford Fuchigami. HDOT currently offers the examination in thirteen languages, making Hawaii the only U.S. State with fewer than two million people to offer the exam in more than ten languages and the only state to offer the exam in a native language, Hawaiian. “We are proud of our current language access program and are dedicated to a positive and proactive approach to language access and will continue to look at additional ways to ensure that those with limited English skills can safely drive on our roads.”

FACE is pleased with the outcome and the commitment to keeping translations in place over the long-term. “This resolution is an answer to our prayers,” said FACE organizer reverend Tasha Kama, a minister at Christian Ministry Church in Wailuku. “It takes all of our families-local and immigrant-to make Hawaii work. The more languages and cultures included in our policies, the stronger we are as a state. We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with the Hawaii DOT to further language access for all our people.”

“HDOT is committed to ensuring all drivers have the knowledge and skills to drive safely on Hawaii’s roads,” said Director Fuchigami.

United States District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway approved the settlement.

Cruise Paradise 2015 Scheduled on the Big Island

The Hawai`i Classic Cruisers (HCC) organization has hosted the largest classic/vintage car cruise in the State of Hawaii every three years (“Cruise Paradise”) since 2000. This year, “Cruise Paradise 2015” is scheduled from June 25, 2015 through July 5, 2015 throughout the Big Island of Hawaii.

Art by Robert Wong

Art by Robert Wong

Car enthusiasts from across the globe, Kansas, Michigan, Oregon, Texas, California and Nevada (just to name a few) are committed to ship their classic/vintage vehicles to Hilo and participate in this event. Neighbor island car enthusiasts from Oahu and Maui also ship their classic/vintage vehicles for this event and join our very own local car enthusiasts from the Big Island to participate in 10 fun-filled days of cruising with the classics. Those traveling from away, finance their own transportation of their vehicle(s) to get to the Big Island harbors.

Participants pay $20 to enter one vehicle and $10 for each vehicle thereafter. This fee allows their vehicle entry into all show and shine events. One-day passes are available for $10 per vehicle at a single event of their choice. It will cost approximately $50,000+ to put on this 10-day event. Expenses include insurances, permits, facility rentals, advertising, professional services, audio/visual services, equipment rental, etc. T-shirts, hats and memorabilia of this event are available for purchase.

Cruise Paradise 2015 is a great opportunity that allows for the Hawaii Classic Cruisers to partner with the community, the County of Hawaii and businesses to showcase and promote our beautiful island. Spectators can participate in this free, fun, family-oriented 10-day event that puts the Big Island on the map of the world with other hot rod organizations.

During Cruise Paradise 2012, over 400 classic vehicles geared up for car shows on the Big Island that attracted over 10,000 spectators in Hilo, Kona and Waikoloa. Residents and visitors walked away from past events extremely satisfied and inspired by the camaraderie and vehicles displayed. The past success of this event resulted in many community members, neighbor islanders and out-of-state participants requesting a repeat of this event.

To enhance the 2015 4th of July (Independence Day) celebration, hundreds of vintage and modified classic cars will be on display for the day in Downtown Hilo Bayfront on July 4. All participants absorb the cost of buying/building a classic car and getting their rides ready for the show-and-shine events. The public is invited to view, photo and experience a part of the past that will rekindle fond memories for the kupuna and create fresh ones for the keiki.

cruise Paradise cars

Car owners receive compliments for displaying their classic/vintage cars at the show-and-shine events. The ambiance of having hundreds of classics in one location and friendly interaction experienced by a diversified group of people has been a true inspiration for car enthusiasts.

Throughout Cruise Paradise 2015, car enthusiasts will burn over 7,500 gallons of fuel, travel over a total of 90,000 miles and spend $23,000 in fuel costs alone. Some vehicles anticipate traveling approximately 600 miles over the 10 days getting about 10-12 miles per gallon of fuel. Car enthusiasts will travel across the island, lodge at various hotels and condominiums, eat at local eateries and shop in our malls, shops and supermarkets. This event is an incredible boost to our local economy.

HCC President, Herbert Leite says, “We are extremely pleased and thankful for the support from the County of Hawaii, local community and car enthusiasts. Car owners invest a lot of time and money building and/or buying their classic vehicles. It gives them great pleasure to share their prized 4-wheeled rides with the community.

We are honored to bring this event to the Big Island this year at no cost to the spectators. We could not make this happen without the help of our 30+ local and mainland sponsors. Hawaii Classic Cruisers thanks NAPA Auto Parts for being the primary financial sponsor of Cruise Paradise since 2000. Other sponsors who contribute significant funding to make this event possible include Orchid Isle Auto Center and DeLuz Chevrolet. Approximately 25+ other sponsors collectively contribute about 25% of the funds needed.

Everyone is encouraged to participate and make this one to remember.”

More information can be found at www.hawaiiclassiccruisers.com

 

Big Island Senator Urges Action on Federal Highway Fund Extension

The recently appointed Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy is expressing grave concern over the looming expiration date on federal transportation funding.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye

Sen. Lorraine Inouye

Senator Lorraine Inouye (Dist. 4 – N. Kona, Kohala, N. Hilo, Hāmākua) addressed Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation in a letter urging action on federal funding authorization to avoid a lapse in funding that would severely impact state projects and to support the passage of a bill that will create a more sustainable funding stream for individual transportation projects on a long-term basis.

“Hawai‘i relies greatly on federal funds, as do other states, and our State’s transportation projects depend on long-term commitments from federal funding,” said Sen. Inouye. “It is imperative for Congress to continue to fund projects that have already started while looking for additional long-term solutions that continue to support Hawai‘i’s needs.”

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved HR 2353, the Highway Transportation Funding Act of 2015.  The bill extends funding for the Highway Trust Fund until July 31 through a series of “reconciliation of funds” measures amending the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014. The bill now goes on to the Senate.

Congress has until May 31 to take action on authorizing federal funding for state highway, bridge, and transit projects.  Without action prior to this date, federal aid funds for state projects would be halted. 

Two People Die in Three-Vehicle Collision on Kona Highway

A 47-year-old Kailua-Kona man and his passenger died in a three-vehicle collision Saturday evening (May 9) on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway near the 94-mile marker.

HPDBadgeThe 47-year-old man was identified as Rick Dupont. His male passenger has not yet been identified.

Responding to a 7:32 p.m. call, police determined that a 2014 Nissan Altima was being operated by a 23-year-old woman traveling south on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway when her car crossed left of center and side-swiped a 2010 Ford Fusion heading north, then struck head-on with a 2013 Honda CRF 250L motorcycle, also heading north, which was operated by Dupont. Dupont and his passenger were thrown from the motorcycle upon impact.

Both were taken to Kona Community Hospital, where Dupont was pronounced dead at 11:55 p.m. and his passenger was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

The operator of the Nissan, 23-year-old Rebecca Vetter of Honolulu, was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment and was later released. She was arrested on suspicion of first-degree negligent homicide. She was released pending further investigation.

The operator of the Ford, a 60-year-old Kamuela woman, refused treatment and was released by medics at the scene.

Big Island Man Stabbed on Bus – Police Investigating

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a stabbing Saturday morning (April 25) on a Hele-On bus in Honokaʻa.

HPP Bus Picture

At 9:34 a.m. Saturday, Hāmākua Patrol officers and Hawaiʻi Fire Department medics responded to a report of a stabbing victim at the Hele-On bus stop on Lehua Street in Honokaʻa. The victim, a 40-year-old Hilo man, sustained a laceration to his forehead and was taken in serious condition to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries .

Police learned that the victim and the suspect had been arguing in the bus when the suspect cut the victim’s forehead with an unknown instrument. The suspect then exited the bus and ran away on foot.

A suspect has been identified but no arrests have been made and the case is still under investigation. It has been classified as a first-degree assault.

Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed the incident call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Officer Paul Isotani at 775-7533.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

North Hawaii Students Learn Bike Safety from PATH and NHCH

Over the past three months, staff from North Hawaii Community Hospital’s (NHCH) Trauma Program have partnered with Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii (PATH) to provide free bicycle training and safety education to more than 250 fourth grade students at Kohala Elementary School, Honokaa Elementary School, Kanu o ka ‘Aina New Century Public Charter School and Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School.

Path kids

“Partnering with PATH offered an ideal opportunity to provide injury prevention and safety education to North Hawaii students,” says Kimberly Bastien, RN and NHCH Trauma Program Manager. “While PATH taught students proper riding techniques and skills through their Bike Ed program, we provided bicycle safety education and emphasized the importance of wearing a helmet.” Each participating student was properly fitted with a free multi-sport safety helmet, provided by the hospital’s Trauma Team. “Students were thrilled once they learned the brand new helmet was theirs to keep. It made bike education more interesting and fun for them.”

Tina Clothier, Executive Director with PATH added, “We are delighted to partner with North Hawaii Community Hospital’s Trauma Program in our mutual quest to keep North Kohala youth safe while they explore the joys of bike riding. The participants are excited about receiving their own brand new helmets and wear them with pride. Having the NHCH Trauma Program as our partner had raised the bar for our ever popular Bike Ed classes.”

PATH is a non-profit bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization dedicated to safely connecting the people and places on Hawaii Island with pathways and bikeways. PATH’s Bike Ed program is a bicycle skills program offered to all Big Island schools and youth clubs. During this three-day bicycle program, students learn important bicycle and safety skills, including: the fundamentals of traffic and road safety, hand signals, proper bicycle clothing, as well as how to navigate an intersection, to yield and to ride in control with others.

“Today, children are riding bicycles, scooters, skate boards and other ride-on vehicles,” said Bastien. “Wearing a helmet is crucial to injury prevention and results in fewer injuries in our emergency room.   Not only do helmets reduce the risk of bicycle-related head injury by 80 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but Hawaii State law requires kids younger than 16 years of age wear a helmet. We understand many families may not have the means to purchase a helmet; that’s why we’re doing our part to help keep our keiki safe.”

NHCH’s Trauma Team will offer free helmets to children ages 3 to 12 at the 16th Annual Waimea Healthy Keiki Fest on Saturday, April 18th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Parker Ranch Center in Waimea. NHCH was designated as a Level III Trauma Center in 2013, which allows the hospital to treat injured patients that would otherwise be diverted to trauma centers located over an hour away. The mission of NHCH’s Trauma Program is to continually improve and optimize the care provided for injured patients through an evolving multidisciplinary performance improvement committee, data collection, injury prevention, community outreach and education. For additional information about the hospital’s Trauma Program, please contact Kimberly Bastien, RN and Trauma Program Manager, at 808-881-4820 or Kimberly.Bastien@NHCH.com.

Venomous Spiders Found in Foreign Container

A venomous spider was captured by agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Honolulu on Mon., April 13th.

Spider2

The spider was found in a container of granite and flagstone from Brazil that was being off-loaded in Honolulu. The CBP agents sealed the container and immediately turned the spider over to entomologists at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), who identified it as a venomous Brazilian wandering spider (genus: Phoneutria). The brown-colored spider had a leg span that measured about 3.5 inches.

Yesterday, a second container from the same shipment was opened and another spider was found and  killed immediately by a worker unloading the container. The spider was destroyed to the extent it could not be positively identified, but the worker said it looked like the photo of the Brazilian wandering spider. The second container was sealed and quarantined. The Plant Quarantine Branch is working with the importer to have the containers shipped back to Brazil.

“This incident emphasizes the importance of coordinated efforts between federal and state inspection agencies in preventing invasive species from entering Hawaii,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We each have our own inspection areas and duties, but communication is key in protecting the state.”

spider

The CBP is responsible, not only for keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S., but also screening international visitors and foreign cargo. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is charged with inspection of agricultural material and animals transported from foreign countries into the U.S. and the HDOA is responsible for agricultural inspections from ports within the U.S. entering the State of Hawaii.

The Brazilian wandering spider is found in most areas of South America; however, it is not established in North America. They are considered one of the most venomous spiders in the world and may grow to have a leg span of five inches. Their venom is a strong neurotoxin that can cause increased blood pressure and heart rate, vomiting, blurred vision and intense pain where the bite occurs.

This species of spider does not spin webs, but wanders around for their food – thus the name. Their diet consists of insects, other spiders, lizards and small rodents.
Suspected invasive species should be reported immediately to the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE –

643-PEST (7378).

Plane Crash at Hilo Airport Leaves 3 Injured – Incident Under Investigation

Hawaii County Fire Department press release regarding downed plane near Hilo Airport:

plane crash

Two passengers and the pilot with injuries were extricated by State Airport Fire Rescue personnel and transported to Hilo Medical Center via Hawaii Fire Department’s Medic 1 & 19.

As of this posting… the State Department of Transportation has not released a public statement on the incident.

Big Island Police Warn About Towing Scam

Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about a possible towing scam.
HPDBadgeA 76-year-old Hilo man reported that when he returned to his 2001 Toyota 4Runner that was parked at Liliʻuokalani Gardens in Hilo on Friday morning (April 10), he found a strip of paper on his windshield warning him that his vehicle registration had expired, that he was not to move the vehicle and that a tow truck had been called. The owner then discovered that his vehicle registration sticker was missing. As he drove away, he observed a tow truck in the vicinity.

Police advise the public that when an officer requests a tow truck, the officer stays with the vehicle until the tow truck arrives. Police ask anyone who sees any suspicious activity around parked vehicles to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

NAVY Ship USS Chung-Hoon Denied Entry to Hilo Harbor

The US Navy Ship USS Chung-Hoon was spotted this morning off the Big Island of Hawaii this morning as it was expected to arrive in Hilo for the Merrie Monarch festivities.
Chung Hoon Refuel

Unfortunately the ship had to turn around once it got to the Big Island because the water in Hilo Harbor was not deep enough for the ship to port.

The NAVY has released the following statement:

In an abundance of caution and as advised by the embarked State Dept. of Transportation Harbor Pilot,  the Commanding Officer of USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93)  felt it was prudent to not proceed with entering Hilo Harbor this morning due to the shallow depth of the harbor.

Sharing the Navy with the people of Hilo is important. We certainly value the opportunity to showcase our Navy to the American people. Our partnership with the Hilo Council is an outstanding example where a community and the military join together to create an environment of mutual support and broad benefit and the Navy looks forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come, and we deeply regret the inconvenience this has caused to our friends and neighbors in Hilo.

Capt. Mark Manfredi, Chief of Staff, Navy Region Hawaii will still attend tonight’s Merrie Monarch Festivities and the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band will be flown over here to  march and perform in the Merrie Monarch Parade tomorrow morning.

Mokulele Announces $30.00 Standby Fares

Mokulele Airlines, inspired by the Easter Bunny’s recent visit, announced today that they are launching a special Island Hopper standby fare in April that will give kama‘aina the opportunity to island hop for just $30 per segment.

mokulele plane

“We are a family-owned and operated airline,” said Ron Hansen, President & CEO of Mokulele Airlines, “and Easter is family time. So we came up with an idea to make it affordable for family and friends to visit loved ones on neighbor islands.”

Mokulele will post daily Facebook and Twitter posts announcing which flights have open seats. To take advantage of the $30 per segment fair, flyers need to arrive at the check-in counter 30 minutes before the scheduled departure.

“It’s a first come, first-served concept,” said Hansen. “We have over 100 flights a day so there are a lot of opportunities for people to standby and save.”

Mokulele Airlines has an eleven plane fleet and operates daily flights from 9 airports including – Honolulu and Barbers Point airports on O‘ahu, Kapalua, Kahului and Hana airports on Maui, Kona, and Kanhului Airport on the Big Island, Ho‘olehua and Kalaupapa airports on Moloka‘i.

“So hop online and follow our official Facebook and Twitter pages,” said Hansen. “We will be posting flight availability and open seats starting immediately.”

The standby rate offer is valid through the end of April. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/Mokulele and https://twitter.com/MokuleleAir

Virgin Launches Flight Service from West Coast to Hawaii – $199 Flight Deals

Virgin America, the airline known for reinventing domestic travel, today announces it will start flying from San Francisco to Honolulu, Oahu from November 2, 2015, and Kahului, Maui from December 3, 2015, with fares on sale as of today from $199 one way* (with taxes and restrictions applying).

Virgin Airlines

As the only California-based airline, Virgin America will offer Bay Area travelers a fresh and upscale new travel option to the Aloha state, the ‘most wanted’ destination by members of its Elevate loyalty program.  Hawaii continues to be the number one tourism destination from the West Coast, with over 3.2 million visitors in 2014. Virgin America’s service is uniquely tailored to the modern traveler and to the longer-haul Hawai‘i flight experience.

With new aircraft that offer three custom-designed classes of service, touch-screen personal entertainment and an award-winning on-demand food and cocktail menu on every flight – travelers departing from the stylish and convenient new Terminal Two at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) can kick-off their Hawai‘i vacation as soon as they step onboard.  Virgin America has been named the “Best Domestic Airline” in both Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards for the past seven consecutive years.

In honor of the new route, Virgin America is celebrating with a nationwide ‘Now Serving Paradise’ fare sale and a complimentary ‘mai tai’ toast for travelers at its home airport of SFO today.

The new Hawai‘i flights are on sale now and can be purchased at virginamerica.com or 1-877-FLY-VIRGIN**.  As of tomorrow, Elevate members can redeem reward flights to Hawai‘i – with no black-out dates, for as few as 8559 points. Members can earn more points by signing up for the Virgin America Visa Signature Credit Card.

“As one of the most popular leisure destinations among Bay Area travelers, we are pleased to announce our new nonstop service to Hawai‘i,” said Virgin America President and Chief Executive Officer, David Cush. “This marks the next phase of growth for our airline, as we take delivery of new Airbus aircraft and expand our Elevate program with more world-class rewards destinations.  With a loyal following of Bay Area-based business travelers who have long requested our expansion to the islands, we couldn’t be more pleased to offer our ‘work-hard/play-hard’ frequent flyers the opportunity to fly in style to the ultimate getaway.  We look forward to bringing a new kind of flight service to the market and to building lasting community ties with the state of Hawai‘i.”

In a private call last month, Cush received permission from Hawai‘i Governor David Ige to bring Virgin America’s new flight service to the state.

“On behalf of the state, I would like to welcome Virgin America to Hawai‘i and congratulate the company on its new service to the Hawaiian Islands,” said Governor David Ige. “We are excited about the business and leisure travel opportunities the service will provide. We look forward to Virgin America’s success in serving both visitors to and residents of Hawai‘i.”

“We are pleased that Virgin America will launch inaugural service to Honolulu and Kahului this fall. These flights will boost air seat capacity to Hawai‘i from our core U.S. West market and attract new visitors through Virgin America’s vast flight network across the United States,” said David Uchiyama, Vice President, Brand Management of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the state’s tourism agency. “San Francisco is one of our top visitor markets and we look forward to welcoming Virgin America and its guests to the Hawaiian Islands. These flights will generate an estimated $138.6 million in annual visitor spending and $14.8 million in state tax revenue.”

Beginning November 2, 2015, Virgin America’s Honolulu service is as follows:

Beginning December 3, 2015, Virgin America’s Kahului-Maui service is as follows:

The daily, nonstop flights will be operated with new Airbus A320 aircraft that Virgin America will take delivery of this year, which will be equipped with fuel-saving, ‘sharklet’ wingtip devices, allowing the airline to operate flights more efficiently, especially over longer haul routes.  Virgin America is working with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) and Airbus to ensure that the airline’s new Airbus A320 aircraft are certified for Extended Operation (ETOPS).  ETOPS is the standard certification process carriers obtain for longer range over water flights.

In addition to a Main Cabin that offers custom-designed leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch, Virgin America’s First Class cabin offers plush white leather ‘cradle sleeper’ seating with 55 inches of pitch, 165 degrees of recline and lumbar massagers.  The carrier’s Main Cabin Select service offers 38-inches of pitch, free food and cocktails, an all-access pass to media content, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding.  The Red® in-flight entertainment platform offers guests their own seatback touch-screen TV, with more than 20 films, TV***, interactive Google Maps, videogames, a 3,000 song library and an on-demand menu, which allows flyers to order a cocktail or snack from their seatback any time during a flight.  With a full service First Class menu and a unique on-demand menu in the Main Cabin, Virgin America was named Travel + Leisure’s “Best Domestic Airline for Food” in 2014.

Since its 2007 launch, Virgin America has created more than 2,800 new jobs and expanded its network to include Austin, Boston, Cancun, Chicago, Dallas Love Field, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Los Cabos, Newark, New York (JFK and LGA), Orlando, Palm Springs (seasonal), Portland, Puerto Vallarta, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C. (IAD and DCA), Honolulu (as of November 2, 2015) and Kahului, Maui (as of December 3, 2015).  The new Hawai‘i markets will represent the 22nd and 23rd destinations served by the California-based airline.

ZipMobile Repairs Successful – What Went Wrong

The Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (HDOT) two ZipMobiles used for the H-1 Freeway ZipperLane are both in operational condition after breaking down on Tuesday, Mar. 31, due to electrical malfunctions.

Zipmobile

The original ZipMobile breakdown on Tuesday morning was caused by an intermittent electrical problem with its computer battery pack unit.  As a result, the on-board CPU card was corrupted.  A replacement was attempted using the computer battery pack unit and CPU card from the backup ZipMobile, but it suffered the same electrical problem.

A technician from ZipMobile vendor, Lindsay Corporation, was flown from California to Hawaii and was able to diagnose the problem, replace the battery pack units and reprogram the CPU cards on Wednesday.  All other mechanical components of the vehicles were unaffected.

Both ZipMobiles were restored to full operational condition on Wednesday with the first at approximately 1 p.m. This ZipMobile closed the deployed ZipperLane between 2 and 4 p.m.  The second ZipMobile was fully restored at approximately 5 p.m. and opened and closed the ZipperLane overnight for normal rush-hour operation this morning.

HDOT will be examining all aspects of the vehicle maintenance plan and its public outreach plans to better inform motorists of large-scale traffic incidents.  These will include such items as:

  • Backup units for the computer battery pack that failed will now be held in reserve in the event of future problems. Previously, this unit was not held in reserve due to its limited, one-year shelf life in storage.  HDOT and Lindsay Corp. are also preparing a list of additional electronic backup parts that are practical to keep on hand.
  • Lindsay Corp. will allow HDOT use of its proprietary software and train local staff on reinstallation procedures.
  • HDOT is submitting a budget proposal to the State Legislature this week for the long-term rehabilitation or replacement for one or both ZipMobiles.
  • Highway operational improvements are being considered to formalize use of freeway shoulder lanes during afternoon rush-hour traffic in various locations, such as the H-1 right shoulders from Pearl Harbor to Salt Lake and from Aiea to Pearl City, that were used in the Tuesday and Wednesday traffic backups.
  • HDOT will be working with the City & County of Honolulu to improve public outreach for future traffic incidents. This will include regular media updates to television, radio and social media outlets.
  • HDOT will be working will all counties and other state departments for major event coordination.

All H-1 ZipperLane operations next week will proceed as normal. HDOT again sincerely thanks Oahu’s motorists for their patience and kokua this week.

Coast Guard Seeking Public’s Help Locating Owner of Adrift Kayak

The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help in identifying the owner of an adrift kayak located approximately 12 miles southwest of La’au Point, Molokai, Sunday.

Submerged Kayak

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received notification from a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew of an adrift, partially submerged 12-foot blue kayak.

There are no missing persons or distress reports in the area.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Maui and an Auxiliary aircraft searched approximately 170 square miles for three hours.

Anyone with information that may help identify the owner of the kayak is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at (808) 842-2600.

The Coast Guard advises the public to register and label all watercraft and equipment with contact information in order to quickly account for owners and prevent any unnecessary searches.

Through the Operation Paddle Smart program, the Coast Guard offers a free “If Found” decal to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered watercraft. The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel’s owner and aid search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action.

The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices and at select marine retail and supply stores.

Hawaii County Announces Web Based Puna Traffic Cameras

The County is pleased to announce the launch of punatraffic.com, a publicly available web based traffic monitoring service for the lower Puna to Kea`au area.

Click to view current conditions

Click to view current conditions

Traffic conditions along several transportation corridors that may be affected by the June 27th Lava Flow, including HWY 130, will be monitored with thirty cameras. The images are available for public viewing at punatraffic.com.

The camera images refresh every three to five minutes and are meant to assist the public in making their travel plans. The website also provides estimated drive times based on current traffic conditions.

The traffic monitoring system is a part of the County’s overall plan to monitor traffic flow that may have to be re-routed as a result of the June 27 Lava Flow.

The cameras were installed by ICX Transportation Group. The service went live on March 25, 2015.

The cameras are government property and specifically programmed to only work with government equipment. Please kokua and respect this public benefit and service.

The website also provides social media links to Civil Defense and the County of Hawai`i and can be updated to inform the public about road incidents.

Hawaii Moon RIDERS Honored at Capital

The House of Representatives today recognized the Iolani School and Kealakehe High School robotics team, known as the Moon RIDERS, for their work on the electrodynamic dust shield lunar project and their partnerships with PISCES, NASA, and Google Lunar Xprize. 

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

In February, the group was selected to take part in an experiment involving electrodynamic dust shield technology that will be conducted on the surface of the moon by the end of 2016. 

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

The selected Hawaii students will be mentored by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.  The project came about through an agreement with PISCES and NASA to work on a Hawaii high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project.

Groundbreaking Ceremony Begins Construction For New Hilo International Airport Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting Station

The state Department of Transportation (HDOT), Airports Division, celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony today for the new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) station at the Hilo International Airport.

ito fire department 2

The new two-story, 21,000 square-foot facility will include four drive-through truck bays, a fueling area, new training facilities, along with improved work and living quarters for firefighters.

“Our crews here at the Hilo ARFF station provide very specialized Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting responses that are unique to the airport setting,” said Ross Higashi, Deputy Director of the Airports Division. “Each of these improvements will supply our firefighters with the facilities they need to train and carry out operations.”

ITO Fire department

Nearly 87-percent of the $18.8 million total was provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  State funds covered the remaining $3 million. The new station will be fully compliant with FAA requirements and is anticipated to be completed by June 2016.

“The safety of our air travelers is always one of our highest priorities,” said Governor David Ige. “Each of these improvements will help to keep our firefighters better trained, better equipped and ready to respond when the need arises. We look forward to the work being completed on time.”