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Oahu Man Indicted for Electronic Enticement of a Child

Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that an Oahu grand jury has indicted Jacob Landon Powers for electronic enticement of a child in the first degree.

Jacob Landon Powers

According to the allegations, Powers, via online messaging on his mobile phone, communicated with someone he believed was a fourteen year old girl and arranged to meet her for the purpose of sex. He then arrived at the time and place they had agreed. He was arrested when he arrived for the meeting.

The investigation was conducted by the Hawaii Internet Crimes Against Children task force in the Attorney General’s office. The prosecution is also being handled by that office.

Attorney General Chin said of the charges: “Luring a minor to have sex is a horrible crime. Not only is the act itself criminal, it can damage the child for the rest of that child’s life. We will vigorously prosecute anyone who does this.”

Powers is 34 years old and a Honolulu resident. He was indicted for one count of electronic enticement of a child in the first degree, a class B felony. The charge is punishable by 10 years in prison without the possibility of probation. Bail is set at $11,000.00 and a bench warrant has been issued for Powers’ arrest. Powers is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Hawaiian-Born Daughter Becomes Commander, Navy Region Southeast

Rear Adm. Babette “Bette” Bolivar assumed the duties and responsibilities as Commander, Navy Region Southeast during a change of command ceremony aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida Feb. 23.

Rear Adm. Babette “Bette” Bolivar

Bolivar was born in Hawaii and raised in various locations in the Western Pacific by traditional Filipino parents Ted Cereno Bolivar, from Nabua in the Philippine province of Camarines Sur and who retired as a Chief Petty Officer from the United States Navy, and Virginia Dolor Bolivar of the Philippine province of Pangasinan.

Bolivar graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in oceanography. She also holds a Master of Science in management from Troy University.

In 1988, following her second tour, Bolivar was accepted to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal / Diving and Salvage Community as a special operations officer.

Bolivar has served in various leadership positions aboard five Navy ships, as well as commanding officer of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1. She has served in numerous positions in the Commander, Navy Installations Command enterprise, including a tour as the CNIC chief of staff and commander, Navy Region Northwest.

Most recently, she served as commander of Joint Region Marianas from August 2014 to January 2017, where she held multiple positions including U.S. Pacific Command/Defense Representative Guam-Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands-Federated States of Micronesia-Republic of Palau; Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas; and Commander, Task Force West.

As commander of Navy Region Southeast, Bolivar will be charged with providing support and guidance for 18 installations within the Southeastern United States as well as the Caribbean. The regional command is responsible for shore activities, including each installation’s standards of performance, anti-terrorism and force protection, disaster preparedness, safety, joint services, financial management, public affairs, state and local government liaison, environmental protection and legal affairs.

Message From UH Hilo Chancellor: Reorganization Proposal for College of Arts and Sciences, Town Halls Scheduled

Dear Colleagues,

Chancellor Donald Straney

Attached is the updated proposal and related files for the reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences. I appreciate your patience with the process.

Vice Chancellor Platz and I have scheduled three Town Hall meetings where we invite you to come to discuss this proposal. Schedule of meetings:

  • Friday, Feb. 24, 3:00 p.m., University Classroom Building, room 127.
  • Wednesday, March 1, 9:00 a.m., University Classroom Building, room 127.
  • Thursday, March 2, 11:30 a.m.,  University Classroom Building, room 111.

We welcome your feedback.

We look forward to further conversation.

Sincerely,

Don Straney

Continue reading

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hosts Criminal Justice Reform Roundtable, Visits Inmates

This morning at the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility in Olomana (Windward Oʻahu), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted a Criminal Justice Reform Roundtable, bringing together advocates, experts, educators, health professionals, and leaders from Hawaii’s state, county, judiciary, corrections, and non-profit sectors.

They discussed the current state of Hawaii’s juvenile justice system, and how they’re working toward innovative solutions to help empower our youth, reduce recidivism, and provide service and support to our keiki, their families, and our community at-large.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard toured the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) and the Women’s Community Correctional Center, where she learned about the programs being offered and spent time with inmates. The young men at HYCF shared their hopes and plans for their futures, and the women talked about the importance of vocational training and work opportunities that will help them to succeed and support their families when their time is served and they return home.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address the many problems that plague our criminal justice system. She has long advocated for common sense criminal justice reform legislation like the bipartisan SAFE Justice Act, the Sentencing Reform Act, the Smarter Sentencing Act, Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, as well as long overdue reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. She has been a vocal advocate supporting state programs like Drug Courts, Veteran Courts, the Hawaiʻi Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), and the State Juvenile Justice Hoʻopono Mamo Civil Citation Initiative.

DLNR Statement Regarding Conviction of Officer Ethan Ferguson

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has not received the record of conviction for Ethan Ferguson.  At such time this record is received and reviewed, a decision will be made on Mr. Ferguson’s job status.

KHON reported today that “A state law enforcement officer has been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenager on Hawaii Island. On Wednesday, a jury found Ethan Ferguson guilty on five counts: two counts of second-degree sex assault, and three counts of fourth-degree sex assault.”

Several news organizations have asked about Ferguson’s mother in connection with this matter. Hawaii Government Employees Association President Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto, had nothing to do with his hiring as a Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officer and we have no record of her being listed as a reference.

Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto

DOCARE has implemented changes to its vetting process for all new hires.  This includes extensive background and reference checks, additional evaluation and training for both officers and supervisors, and closer monitoring by supervisors.

Previously, the DLNR stated:

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement  (DOCARE) will cooperate with the Hawaii Police Department criminal investigation.

DOCARE will also conduct its own internal investigation.

Ethan Ferguson has been a Conservation and Resources Enforcement Officer (CREO) since June 27, 2013

He is still in custody and has been served with a letter of removal of police authority, and is being put on administrative leave with pay, pending adjudication.

There are 109 DOCARE officers statewide, and 27 on Hawaii Island. DLNR does criminal background checks for prospective employees.

DOCARE officers are responsible for enforcement activities of the Department. The division, with full police powers, enforces all State laws and rules involving State lands, State Parks, historic sites, forest reserves, aquatic life and wildlife areas, coastal zones, Conservation districts, State shores, as well as county ordinances involving county parks. The division also enforces laws relating to firearms, ammunition, and dangerous weapons.

“Birth Control” for Mosquitoes Targeted at Saving Unique, Imperiled Hawaiian Birds

To protect Hawaiʻi’s unique, imperiled native birds, researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi are teaming up with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to adapt a ‘birth control’ method used across the U.S. mainland to control mosquitoes. Mosquitos are a nuisance and a hazard both to people and to Hawaii’s native birds, which are in danger of extinction from decades of habitat loss, predation and diseases like avian malaria and avian pox.

Scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are taking the first steps to adapt a safe, targeted, and efficient mosquito control method known as “Incompatible Insect Technique” to reduce the population of the disease-carrying mosquitoes that harm native birds in Hawaiʻi. Incompatible Insect Technique acts like a birth control method for mosquitoes and it has already been adopted and proven successful around the country and the world to protect human health and quality of life. A similar method has been used in Hawaiʻi for decades to control fruit fly pests which are harmful to local agricultural products.

Mosquitoes arrived in Hawai‘i accidentally in the 1800s and are one reason why about two dozen species of Hawai‘i’s remaining native birds are threatened or on the brink of extinction. Today, most of these birds survive at higher elevations where it’s too cold for mosquitoes. But as the climate changes, mosquitoes are moving up hill and bringing disease with them.

“We are already seeing the loss on Kauaʻi of the safe havens of higher elevation forests for our native birds. Mosquito-spread diseases are decimating bird populations and if we do nothing we could lose several more species in the next 10 years,” said Cynthia King, an entomologist with DLNR/DOFAW.

Just one of the 6 types of mosquitoes found in Hawaiʻi harms native birds – the one called Culex quinquefasciatus. Scientists and conservationists are working together to use a bacteria that is naturally-occuring in fruit flies in Hawaiʻi. It is called Wolbachia, and the research, which will be done in controlled laboratory settings, involves giving the male mosquitoes a different strain of Wolbachia than is normally found in them, to prevent them from producing offspring. To reproduce, most mosquitoes carry a type of this Wolbachia in their system. When male mosquitoes with the different strain of Wolbachia try to mate with females, there are no offspring.

“The process for mosquitoes is very similar to techniques that have been used for many decades in Hawaiʻi to control pest fruit flies for the benefit of agriculture,” said King. “It doesn’t eradicate the insect, but helps to safely reduce the population on a landscape scale without the use of pesticides and without harming any other species.”

The technique will not impact the other five mosquito species present in Hawaiʻi, though researchers hope to learn more in the process about control methods that could be applied to the mosquito species that affect human health. If tests are successful, the team will evaluate how to safely apply this method to Hawaiʻi’s remote native forests where birds still reside.

DLNR and its partners will also continue to evaluate other control options to expand tools available to control mosquitoes in Hawaiʻi.

Suzanne Case, DLNR Chair said, “Controlling mosquito populations will greatly benefit our endangered native birds. Mosquitos have only been here for about 200 years, and our native wildlife has evolved without them over millions of years. While some native species may eat small amounts of mosquitoes, there are no species that depend on them, as even bats are documented to prefer larger prey. Reducing mosquitos is good for nature and people in Hawaiʻi.”

Next Step Taken in Potential Recovery For Rescued Pueo

The cargo handlers at Hawaiian Airlines, like anyone else who spotted it, thought a dog or a cat was in the carrier that arrived at Honolulu International Airport for shipping yesterday morning.  Inside this particular crate was a pueo, or Hawaiian short-eared owl, that made headlines across the state recently after a seven-year-old Oahu girl, her father, and another man rescued it from the side of a road.  DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) biologists and the veterinarian, who first treated the bird’s broken wing, believe it likely flew into some sort of line.

Yesterday DOFAW biologists Afsheen Siddiqi and Jason Omick transported the injured pueo to the airport, to be loaded on a Hawaiian Airlines jet for the short-hop to Kona on Hawai‘i island.There, staff from the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center met it to begin its rehabilitation and physical therapy.  Siddiqi said, “At the moment the pueo is stable and it is more active than it was when it originally came in.  It is still receiving pain medications for its broken wing.” She explains the rehab experts will determine whether the bird can be released back into the wild.  If that doesn’t happen it could be sent to a zoo for educational display or in the worst case it could be put to sleep. That would happen if the pueo continued to need pain medications because its wing did not heal properly. No one wants the pueo to suffer indefinitely. Siddiqi believes its prognosis will be clearer in 2-3 weeks.

7-year-old Malia Rillamas spotted the bird sitting on the side of a North Shore highway on the afternoon of Jan. 15, 2017. She asked her dad Jonathan, to pull over.  Then another man, Brian Smith stopped and for the next 2 hours the trio watched over it, until an officer from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources (DOCARE) arrived to take it to Aloha Animal Hospital. For their efforts the Rillamas’ and Smith were presented with DLNR’s first-ever “Citizen Conservationist” awards. Young Malia became the toast of her classmates and asked if she could name the Pueo? DLNR/DOFAW biologists said sure, and she named it “Sunshine,” or Pa ‘ana a ka la.

Due to their declining population the pueo is classified as endangered by the DLNR on O‘ahu only. The species is also protected statewide by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Pueo Resued Follow Up Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

EPA Conducting Pesticide Poisoning Training in Hawaii

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced upcoming trainings for health care workers on how to recognize and treat pesticide poisonings. The classes will be conducted by the Migrant Clinicians Network, with co-sponsors Hawaii Department of Health, the Hawaii Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated, with funding from the EPA.

“Quick and accurate identification of pesticide poisoning is important to provide immediate patient care,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These workshops will provide health care workers with the tools they need in such critical situations.”

The trainings are accredited courses that will focus on key decision points in the diagnosis of pesticide exposures and will highlight the usefulness of the EPA publication, “Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisoning, 6th edition”. Copies will be provided to all participants. Through interactive case studies, this training will illustrate effective recognition and treatment of patients who may have been exposed to pesticides.

“The Department of Health is grateful for the partnerships that came together to bring this specialized medical training to the healthcare communities on Kauai and Oahu,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director of the Hawaii Department of Health. “We urge health care professionals to take advantage of this important learning opportunity, and expect to see more offered in this area.”

The classes will be held:

Kauai – March 6, at 9:30 am and 1 pm at the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, 4643 Waimea Canyon Drive, Waimea, HI, Conference Room AB. For more information and registration on the Kauai classes please contact Julie Sommers, (808) 338-9474 – jsommers@hhsc.org or Cheryl Tennberg, ctennberg@hhsc.org

Oahu – March 7, at 9:30 am at the AFFES Building, 919 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 5th floor Conference Room. For more information and registration on the Oahu class please contact Amy K. Liebman, (512) 579-4535, aliebman@migrantclinician.org or Fenix Grange, (808) 586-4248, fenix.grange@doh.hawaii.gov

Heroes in the Fight Against Invasive Species Honored

Hawaii’s 5th annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW) starts today with a series of volunteer opportunities, and will end with a ceremony in Governor David Ige’s office to recognize people and organizations who’ve been instrumental in the fight against invasive species.

HISAW is organized in coordination with the U.S. National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) and regional Pacific Invasive Species Awareness efforts. The event promotes information sharing and public engagement in what the Hawaii State Legislature has declared “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people.” Events included a proclamation from Governor Ige, an awards ceremony, a student video contest, community presentations, and numerous volunteer opportunities throughout the state.

Volunteer Opportunities

As part of HISAW, partner organizations around the state are hosting volunteer opportunities for the public to help protect Hawaii from invasive species. This is a great chance to meet people working in conservation and learn about invasive species management. Full event details and contact information are available at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/. Please RSVP to reserve a spot!

Kauai

  • February 25, 8-10am: beach cleanup and invasive species removal at Kahili Beach Preserve, organized by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
  • February 25, 9-10am: Plant Pono workshop, organized by Kauai Nursery and Landscaping, Inc, and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee
  • February 28, 9am-12pm: Weed control and wetland restoration at Huleia Wetland, organized by Malama Huleia and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee
  • March 2, 8:30am: Invasive weed control in Kokee State Park with the Kokee Resource Conservation Program and the Kauai Invasiv Species Commitee

Oahu

  • February 26, 9am-12pm: Invasive algae workday in Maunalua Bay, organized by Malama Maunalua and Pono Pacific
  • February 27, 9am-3pm: Trailwork and fencing at Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, organized by the Oahu Native Ecosystem Protection and Management Program, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
  • February 28, 8:30am-5pm: Invasive weed control on Mt Kaala with the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program
  • February 28: Invasive weed control in Waikane Valley, with the Ohulehule Forest Conservancy

Hawaii Island

  • March 1, 9am: Albizia control training and workday in Hawaiian Paradise Park, Puna. Organized by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee
  • March 1, 5:30-8pm: Little Fire Ant Management Workshop in Kona, by the Hawaii Ant Lab and the County of Hawaii

2017 HISAW Awards

 

COMMUNITY HERO

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes The Pacific American Foundation for their efforts to reduce invasive species impacts to the Waikalua Loko I’a. During 2016, the Pacific American Foundation (PAF) diligently worked to reduce the negative impacts of invasive species to the Waikalua fishpond. By positively engaging with the local community, the PAF has shown an outstanding commitment to the continued to protection and preservation this historic community resource.

BUSINESS LEADER

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Serina Marchi, of Seascapes Nursery for her efforts to minimize the introduction and spread of invasive species. Serina is the Owner of Kauai Seascapes Nursery on the North Shore of Kauai. Seascapes Nursery is a family owned business operating on Kauai for over 30 years and is one of the largest nurseries on the island. Serina has shown a very strong interest in helping to minimize the spread and introduction of invasive species by supporting Kauai Invasive Species Committee’s (KISC) Pono Endorsement Program. In April 2016, Seascapes Nursery became one of the first nurseries to become endorsed. When choosing the best management practices for her business to follow, Serina has gone above and beyond the minimum requirements to become Pono Endorsed. She not only chose to immediately discontinue the sale of the Pono Endorsement Program “Black List” plants, but also the “Phase Out” list plants”. Her actions during 2016, and continued dedication to reducing the introduction and spread of invasive species will help to minimize future impacts of invasive species on Kauai.

GREATEST HIT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Solomon Champion for his efforts in stopping the spread of Miconia calvescens on Oahu. During a routine aerial survey, Solomon spotted an immature Miconia tree beneath the canopy on the leeward side of the Ko’olau Range within the Waiawa watershed. This particular individual has been identified as the farthest documented tree within an intact native forest, as well as an extension into a new watershed. By spotting this individual tree, Solomon has helped to protect the Waiawa watershed and prevent the spread of a highly invasive species.

HOTTEST PEST REPORT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Shawn Baliaris for his efforts relating to reporting and stopping the spread of Mongoose on Kauai. As a proactive community member, Shawn promptly reported sighting a Mongoose on Kauai to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA). His diligent action allowed for rapid response from the appropriate agencies, and clearly highlights the usefulness of the 643PEST reporting system, and how the community can personally take actions to protect Hawaii from invasive species.

HAWAII COUNTY MVP

The Hawai’i Invasive Species Council recognizes Carolyn Dillon for her outstanding community efforts and her work controlling Little Fire Ants on Hawaii Island. Throughout 2016 Carolyn has diligently worked to organize her community in a coordinated effort to combat Little Fire Ants (LFA) in her community in Holualoa, West Hawaii Island. Beginning in Late 2015, she became aware of the size of the infestation in her neighborhood and took it upon her to engage community members to treat this pest.  More recently, Carolyn has formed a LFA coalition on the Big Island consisting of members of the County Council and State Legislature, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Department of Health, the Governor’s Liaison, and the Kohala Center, with the express purpose of furthering LFA education and training, as well as mapping the West Hawaii Infestations. The coalition intends to train business owners on LFA best management practices in order to provide treatment services to homeowners. As a community organizer, Carolyn moved extremely swiftly to increase awareness and has brought many organizations to the table to work together. Her actions and continued dedication showcases the need for community involvement in the fight against invasive species.

MAUI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes the Community of Haiku Hill for their efforts to control Coqui frogs on the Island of Maui. Haiku Hill is a small a suburb of 39 properties along the border of Maliko Gulch, the site of a major infestation of coqui frogs on Maui. Over the last decade, the Haiku Hill community has transformed from a group of concerned homeowners reporting frogs to partners in coqui control. In 2016 the community truly took matters into their own hands, building tanks, purchasing sprayers, cutting back vegetation, and advocating to funders to address coqui on Maui. Residents sprayed over 1600 gallons of citric acid on their own properties, facilitated a neighborhood citric and sprayer distribution center, and spent countless hours keeping the coqui from spreading from their neighborhood. Their effort not only reduce the frog density in their community, but also helps to stop the spread of coqui to new areas.

OAHU MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Sandy Webb for her efforts to incorporate invasive species investigations into the Youth Envisioning Sustainable Futures Program. Sandy has encouraged her students to delve deeper into citizen science by incorporating invasive species investigations into the Youth Envisioning Sustainable Futures program (YES! Futures). http://www.yes-futures.org/about/. This interdisciplinary program she helped found with other Mililani teachers allows students to utilize the skills they develop in many of their classes to address problems in their community and build relevance into their educational experience.  For the past two years, Sandy has lead the Little Fire Ant (LFA) Hoike Activity independently in her classes; resulting in the submittal of 269 samples from the Mililani area in the past two years, with 134 samples submitted in 2016 alone. By incorporating invasive species into her teaching, Sandy has encouraged her students to students learn about relevant issues relating to invasive species impacts, and become part of the solution.

KAUAI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Kawika Winter for his efforts to protect priority watershed areas and control the spread of invasive species on the island of Kauai. As part of his role as the Director of Limahuli Botanical Garden and Preserve, Kawika has played a crucial role in the protection and preservation over 1000 acres of priority watershed area on the north shore of Kauai.  In addition, Kawika aims to create a model of a functioning, 21st-century ahupua`a. This model focuses on a mountain-to-sea resource management strategy and includes both modern and traditional techniques. By incorporating landscape scale invasive species control efforts, native plant restoration, sustainable fisheries practices, and community engagement into his management practices, Kawika has demonstrated a lasting dedication to protecting and restoring key resources on the Island of Kauai.

DLNR Announces Opening of 2017 Big Island Spring Bearded Turkey Season

The Department of Land and Natural Resources announces the opening of the 2017 Spring Bearded Turkey Hunting Season on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

The spring season will run for 46 consecutive days through Saturday, April 15, 2017 (with the exception of Unit E – Kipuka Ainahou that will run for 31 days). The spring season will be for bearded turkeys only, in locations identified below. The season length, bag limits, and hunting areas are those established in Title 13, Chapter 122, “Rules Regulating Game Bird Hunting, Field Trials and Commercial Shooting Preserves.

Open Turkey Hunting Areas Special Conditions Season Dates Hunting Hours
Unit A – Mauna Kea Forest Reserve and GMA Mammal hunting will also be open above tree line for rifle, muzzleloader, handgun, and shotgun. March 1 – April 15, 2017        (46 consecutive days) One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset
Unit G – Kaohe GMA Also open daily to mammal hunting for archery.
Unit F – Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve N/A
Private Lands Hunters required to have valid hunting license, current turkey tags and landowner permission.
Unit E – Kipuka Ainahou Also open to mammal hunting on weekends and holidays only. Archery only.

* Hunting is not allowed in DHHL lands in this unit.

March 1 – March 31, 2017 (31 consecutive days)

Bag Limits and Tags

The daily bag limit will be three bearded turkeys per hunter with a season bag limit of three.  All hunters are required to have a current unused turkey tag in their possession while hunting.  Tags are currently $5/tag for residents and $20/tag for non-residents.  Turkey tags are nontransferable and must be fastened with snaps and secured tightly around the neck or tarsus of any bird taken immediately after the kill.  Tags may be obtained from any Hawaii Island Division of Forestry & Wildlife office and a number of commercial vendors.  Hunters must present current State of Hawaii Hunting License with a current Game Bird Stamp when obtaining tags.  Turkey tags are also required to hunt on private land.

Information may be obtained by contacting Division of Forestry & Wildlife offices at the following phone numbers:  Hilo: (808) 974-4221; Kamuela: (808) 887-6063 or the main office at (808) 587-0166.

Aviation Caucus Convenes at Hawaii State Capital

A bipartisan group of State Senators and House Representatives along with pilots and aviation enthusiasts today gathered at the State Capitol for the first meeting of the newly formed Hawai‘i Aviation Caucus.

The Hawai‘i Aviation Caucus was established to foster and promote all forms of aviation, to support legislation that creates jobs, improves transportation between the islands and beyond, and bolsters the aviation business climate in Hawai‘i.

Photo via Hawaii Senate Majority

“Aviation is vital to our state’s economy and welfare, so it’s only in our best interest that we work together to ensure that we have a thriving aviation industry here in Hawai‘i,” said Sen. Kai Kahele, who co-convenes the Caucus with Rep. Angus McKelvey.  “This is just the start of a continuous working group that I hope will further engage those who support aviation and want to see it prosper.”

Hawai‘i has a robust aviation history dating back to its first flight in 1910.  Since then, Hawai‘i has played a vital role in the development of both commercial and military air travel. Today, with fifteen public use airports in Hawai‘i, the aviation industry produces over 4,100 jobs and $742 million in economic output.

Residents in Hawaii Have the MOST Money Taken Out of Their Paychecks

According to a study from GoBankingRates, workers in Hawaii get the most money taken out of their paycheck. An employee here making $50,000 a year will get a $1,923.08 paycheck, assuming a biweekly pay cycle.

In Hawaii, $542.24 of that will go to pay for things like the Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes (FICA), which is a tax used to fund older Americans’ Social Security and Medicare benefits.

In addition to a high state income tax (8.25%), locals in Hawaii have more money withheld from their paychecks thanks to items like the State Disability Insurance (SDI), which is only applicable in four other states.

While Hawaii leads the charge on money withheld, there is some close competition. Other states taking the most out of your paycheck include Oregon ($538.05), Idaho ($528.93), South Carolina ($524.95) and Minnesota ($515.93).

Governor Ige to Attend National Governors Association Conference in D.C

Gov. David Ige is traveling to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Feb. 21 to attend the National Governors Association’s (NGA) winter meeting. The governor will join other governors from across the country to discuss a wide range of topics that are important to the future of the State of Hawai‘i. The topics include energy, early childhood education, transportation, homeland security, cybersecurity, public safety, health care reform, conservation management and species preservation.

The governor will also meet with various members of the new administration to discuss energy, transportation, defense and homeland security.

First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige is scheduled to participate in an NGA panel discussion on the evolving role of governor’s spouses in the 21st century.

The NGA is a bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors that promotes visionary state leadership, shares best practices and speaks with a collective voice on national policy.

The governor and first lady will be traveling with two staff members. The total cost of the trip is approximately $13,300.

Gov. Ige returns to Hawai‘i on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui will serve as acting governor while Gov. Ige is out of state.

Families Reunite as USS Hopper Returns to Pearl Harbor Today

The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) returned home from a 180-day independent deployment to the Arabian Gulf, Western Pacific, and Indian Ocean, Feb. 21.

While deployed to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleets, the ship and crew of more than 330 Sailors, assigned to Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 9, conducted presence and maritime security operations and integrated with six different Combined Task Forces while independently deployed.

While on station in the Arabian Gulf, Hopper joined Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10 for integrated operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

“This was an incredible deployment which saw six different Task Forces, which means six different missions and operations, some of which were ‘firsts’ and set new precedents on what is expected from an independent deployer,” said Cmdr. J.D. Gainey, Hooper’s commanding officer.

Under the operational control of 7th Fleet, Hopper conducted routine patrols, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation activities with allies and partners to enhance regional security and stability.  Hopper also participated in the 13th iteration of the Royal Australian navy’s premier multinational maritime Exercise Kakadu.

The exercise provided an opportunity for regional nations to participate in a wide variety of maritime activities, from humanitarian assistance and search and rescue operations to high-end maritime warfare scenarios.

“It was our turn to stand the watch, forward and deployed, and we did so with aggressive excellence in every mission placed before us,” Gainey added. “This crew absolutely rocked; mission complete.”
Hopper is a multi-mission ship with ballistic missile defense, air warfare, submarine warfare, and surface warfare capabilities; designed to operate independently or with a carrier strike groups, surface action groups or amphibious ready groups.

The ship is homeported in Pearl Harbor and is part of Naval Surface Forces and U.S. 3rd Fleet.

For more information please visit the ship’s website: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg70

SSI and Hawaiian Airlines Launch New Rewards Program

SSI and Hawaiian Airlines announced a new rewards program today called Opinions Take Flight.  The program offers HawaiianMiles members the opportunity to earn award miles by participating in surveys and sharing their opinions.

Click to see how the program works

Currently in its 88th year of continuous service, Hawaiian Airlines is Hawaii’s biggest and longest-in-service airline, as well as the largest provider of passenger air service from its primary visitor markets on the U.S. mainland.  HawaiianMiles members who enroll in the free Opinions Take Flight program (http://www.opinionstakeflight.com) will grow SSI’s B2B U.S. sample membership and provide SSI clients more access to consumer and business travelers’ opinions.

As the program rolls out to other countries, SSI is expecting additional signups from HawaiianMiles members living and working in Japan, South Korea, China, Australia and New Zealand.  SSI is the premier data audience company with over 2 million B2B sample members globally.

HawaiianMiles members who newly enroll in the Opinions Take Flight panel will receive 350 award miles after completing their first survey.  Award miles will be directly deposited into member accounts and can be redeemed for air travel, car rentals, hotel stays and shopping.

“We are extremely excited for our HawaiianMiles members to experience the Opinions Take Flight program with SSI,” said Char Oshiro, senior director for HawaiianMiles, based in Honolulu.  “In our continuing effort to offer new opportunities to earn miles toward travel-related services, this relationship with SSI will be a first for HawaiianMiles.  We have great confidence in SSI and its team.  They have built a fantastic reputation as the world’s largest multi-mode sample provider to professionals around the globe seeking insights.”

SSI’s business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) audiences are part of the world’s largest and most trusted proprietary sample, which means participants are carefully recruited, verified and managed according to SSI’s high standards.  SSI reaches and engages even the most challenging targets from more than 90 countries.  Sixty-two percent of SSI research projects are multi-cultural.

“SSI is a company deeply rooted in creating data solutions and technology for consumer and business-to-business survey research.  We’ve held a leadership position in providing audience for insights and created the largest network of audience focused loyalty programs around the world,” said Bob Fawson, SSI chief product officer.  “SSI is dedicated to helping companies go from product discovery to product supremacy.  By joining the Opinions Take Flight panel, HawaiianMiles members will experience a simple and easy way to earn miles to help global companies improve their products and services.”

Puna Town Hall Meeting

Representative San Buenaventura and Senator Ruderman will host a Town Hall Meeting on Monday, February 27, 2017 starting at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be at the Pahoa Community Center. Both the Representative and the Senator will discuss bills and issues for the 29th Legislative Session.

Folks outside a meeting at the Pahoa Community Center

The Town Hall Meeting will provide updates to what bills, both new and old, along with other issues that have arisen for this session. Everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, and share new ideas with both legislators during the meeting. All are welcome to attend.

Who:   Representative Joy San Buenaventura and Senator Russell Ruderman

What:  Town Hall Meeting to discuss 2017 Legislative Session Bills & Issues

Where: Pahoa Community Center, 15-2910 Puna Road Pahoa, HI, 96778

When:  Monday, February 27, 2017, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Seeks Students for Kaha Kiʻi Art Competition

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today announced that she is accepting submissions from Hawaiʻi high school artists in the 2nd Congressional District for the 2017 Congressional Art Competition:

Hayden was awarded a cash prize at the capital for his artwork in elementary school.

“Every year, I’m impressed by the talent and creativity of Hawaii’s young artists,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who has hosted the Kaha Kii Art Competition for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013. “This competition is a great platform for our students to showcase the beauty of our islands and communities from their unique perspective to people from across the state and in our nation’s capital. I’m grateful to the fine arts educators who inspire our young artists every day and encourage them to participate in activities like the Congressional Art Competition.”

The deadline to submit artwork to the competition is March 6, 2017. Semi-finalists will be announced March 18th and semi-finalists’ artwork will be hung at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol on Saturday, April 1st. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will announce the winning pieces at an awards ceremony on May 13th at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol. The first-place piece will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol, along with winning artwork from all other congressional districts around the country that participate in the nationwide competition.

Interested applicants can find complete details regarding the competition by clicking here.

Hawaii County Nominations Sought for UH Board of Regents

The Candidate Advisory Council (CAC) of the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents has re-initiated the recruitment process for a Hawaiʻi County seat on the Board of Regents. Nominations are now being accepted for an interim appointment to the Board of Regents, to begin upon approval and ending on June 30, 2018. Candidates must reside in Hawaiʻi County.

Application materials, procedures and descriptions of regent’s responsibilities are available online at http://www.hawaii.edu/rcac. This information may also be requested by calling (808) 692-1218 or by email at borapp@hawaii.edu.

Applications must be completed and received by CAC by Monday, February 27, 2017.

Members of the UH Board of Regents as well as the Candidate Advisory Council, who represent various constituent groups, serve voluntarily and are not paid.

The advisory council was created by Act 56, 2007 Hawaiʻi Legislature, in conformity with the amendment to Article X, Section 6 of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution ratified by the voters on Nov. 7, 2006. The council is tied to the University of Hawaiʻi for administrative purposes. In 2013, Act 72 was passed to further define the candidate advisory council.

Eight members, including one ex officio, comprise the advisory council. They establish the criteria for qualifying, screening and forwarding candidates for membership on the UH Board of Regents. The council advertises pending vacancies and solicits and accepts applications from potential candidates.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the Space Station AGAIN Tonight

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

It will be visible beginning tonight, Saturday, February 18th  at 6:38 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes at a maximum height of 45 degrees. It will appear 12 degrees above the North Northwest part of the sky and disappear 10 degrees above the East Southeast part of the sky.

Hawaii Delegation Introduces Legislation to Protect Drinking Water and Improve Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility

The Hawai‘i congressional delegation introduced legislation to ensure the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meet their obligations to the State of Hawai‘i to protect drinking water and improve the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Oahu.

Inside one of the Red Hill fuel tanks.

“The EPA, the Navy, and the State agree that protecting the aquifer that supplies Oahu’s drinking water is essential,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). “Our bill firms up that commitment into federal law by making sure the agencies responsible for improving Red Hill have the federal funding they need to implement the actions that are agreed to.”

“Red Hill is critical military infrastructure and we want the Navy to succeed in successfully remediating environmental concerns associated with past fuel leaks above Oahu’s aquifers,” said U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01). “Working together, this will be a win-win for military readiness and Oahu residents.”

“Completing the necessary infrastructure upgrades at Red Hill Fuel Facility will safeguard our water and environment, while also protecting a critical asset to our national security,” said U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i). “Providing budget flexibility and conducting strict oversight of EPA and DOD’s progress towards meeting their commitments is an appropriate way to stretch a short supply of critical federal dollars.”

“These fuel storage tanks sit above aquifers that provide drinking water for up to 30% of Oahu’s residents,” said U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “It’s essential the Department of Defense commit the necessary resources to eliminate any threat these tanks pose to our most precious resource – water.”

The legislation, written and introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, ensures the Navy, DLA, and other federal agencies charged with protecting Oahu’s drinking water from fuel leaks follow a set of actions the agencies agreed to take following the January 2014 leak of jet fuel from the Red Hill facility. The Navy’s investigation of the January 2014 leak determined that it was the result of contractor error. In September 2015, the Navy, DLA, and EPA entered into an Administrative Order on Consent/Statement of Work (AOC/SOW) with the State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Health (DOH). That agreement establishes a roadmap for how the Navy and DLA will protect Oahu’s drinking water from future fuel leaks by making improvements to Red Hill, including the fuel tanks. The bill requires the Department of Defense, which includes the Navy and DLA, and the EPA to include the necessary funding in their respective budgets to make the improvements identified in the agreement.

U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.