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Hawaii County Civil Defense Alert on King Tides

This is an extreme tides and high surf message for Wednesday, May 24th at 11:10 A.M. The National Weather Service reports unusually high tides, also known as “king tides,” may cause intermittent coastal flooding along all shores of the Hawaii Island from today through the holiday weekend.

Beach flooding and standing water on roadways and low-lying coastal areas are possible, especially during the afternoon high tides each day.

In conjunction with the unusually high tide, an incoming large south swell is expected to build on Friday and will continue through the Memorial Day weekend. The expected high surf may further affect high tide impacts resulting in additional beach run-up, flooding and erosion.

Oceanfront residents and beachgoers are advised to be on the alert for possible high and dangerous surf. As a precaution, boat owners and oceanfront residents should take actions to secure their property from possible tidal inundation and coastal flooding.

Precautionary actions should be done before tomorrow afternoon.

Thank you. This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Two Many Sopranos Brings Vocal Concert to Hilo

The vocal duo Two Many Sopranos, consisting of singers Amy Horst and Erin Smith, will bring their unique interpretations of classics and new favorites to Hilo. The duo’s pianist is Walter Greenwood. Joining them are Douglas Wayman, Cathy Young, and members of the Orchid Isle Orchestra. Showtimes are Saturday, June 10, at 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, June 11, at 2:30 p.m. at the East Hawaii Cultural Center.  Admission is $15.00 general / $10.00 students and seniors. Tickets will be available at the door. For more information, call 640-2898.

The evening’s program, entitled Two Many Sopranos, presents music for duet and solo voices both with piano and with strings.  From songs which may be new to the audience to beloved classics of stage and screen, the concert brings to life old favorites and new gems. With composers as varied as Stephen Sondheim and Bob Dylan, and songs as varied as the sacred Pie Jesu by local favorite Pedro Ka‘awaloa and I Love a Piano by Irving Berlin, the concert promises something for every fan of vocal music. Solos and duets intermingle with featured guest performers, including Douglas Wayman as Janelle Nieman and Cathy Young in a viola solo, to provide variety and interest.

Amy Horst

Amy Horst and Erin Smith, local stage and concert performers, have worked together in Wayman’s Palace Theater Vaudeville Variety Shows and in the Palace’s production of Mary Poppins, where Horst played the title role and Smith played the lead role of Mrs. Banks. Both singers have also performed to acclaim in Hilo as soloists, onstage, and in concert.  This concert brings them together to sing duets and solos that showcase their particular talents.

Erin Smith

Smith and Horst are joined by local performer and drag queen Douglas Wayman, best known to Hilo audiences as Albin/Zaza from the Palace Theater’s production of La Cage Aux Folles; and as Janelle Nieman in his Vaudeville Variety Shows at the Palace Theater. The duo is also joined by local string player and orchestra leader Cathy Young, who has created an original string arrangement to accompany the haunting “What Makes a Man a Man,” to be sung by Wayman. Walter Greenwood, popular local pianist, organist, conductor, composer, and arranger, accompanies the concert.

Asked about how they came to create Two Many Sopranos, Horst said, “Erin and I have wanted to perform together in concert for several years. This program takes us and the audience on a journey through songs we want to share with our audience, songs we have been planning for a long time. We are excited that the time has finally come to sing together for you!” Smith continued, “This concert is the culmination of several years of dialogue and several months of planning, and we are happy to bring not only ourselves, but the redoubtable Walter Greenwood as pianist, and our featured performers Douglas Wayman and Cathy Young, to our audience. This concert is suitable for all ages and so we say – e komo mai!”

Two Many Sopranos comes to Hilo June 10 at 7:00 and June 11:00 at 2:30 p.m. at the East Hawaii Cultural Center for two shows only.  Admission is $15.00 general / $10.00 students and seniors. Tickets will be available at the door. For more information, call 640-2898.

Hawaii Police Conducting DUI Checkpoints Through Memorial Day Weekend

With the approach of the long Memorial Day weekend and the continuation of graduation parties, Hawai’i Police will be on alert to help prevent tragedy on our roads. Officers will conduct DUI checkpoints and roving patrols beginning Friday, May 26, and continuing through Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. The effort is part of a national and statewide campaign called “Drunk Driving: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”.

Every day, 28 people in the United States die in an alcohol-related vehicle crash—that’s one person every 53 minutes. Drunk driving fatalities have fallen by a third in the last three decades; however, the chance of being in an alcohol-impaired crash is still one in three over the course of a lifetime. These deaths and damages contribute to a cost of $52B per year.

Please do your part to keep our roads safe. Always remember to have a designated sober and licensed driver before you start drinking. If you don’t find one, don’t take a chance—take a taxi or Uber which has recently been established in Hawai`i County.

Hu Honua Reaches Agreement with HELCO on Biomass Plant

Hu Honua Bioenergy announced today it has reached a settlement with Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) that will help put Hawaii Island closer to energy self-sufficiency.

The agreement puts its lawsuit on hold as it works with the utility to secure approval of an amended power purchase agreement (PPA) from the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

HELCO and Hu Honua have also agreed to an expedited procedural schedule that would make it possible to complete the plant by the end of 2018.

“We have come to terms with Hawaii Electric Light Company and now have a clear path, pending PUC approval, to get the plant built and operational in time to meet the federal tax credit deadline of December 31, 2018,” said Harold Robinson, president of Island BioEnergy, parent company of Hu Honua.

These developments come on the heels of a May 17 decision by the PUC to transfer review of the amended PPA to a new docket. The PUC cited several reasons for the docket transfer, including the request to consider a preferential rate in evaluating pricing, an element not considered in the 2012 docket.

In its amended PPA, HELCO requested approval of Hu Honua’s pricing based on HRS Section 269-27.3. The statute was enacted to increase energy self-sufficiency and enhance agricultural sustainability; it allows the PUC to approve preferential rates for renewable energy produced in conjunction with agricultural activities. In Hu Honua’s case, agricultural crops will be used to generate renewable biomass electricity.

“The Hu Honua project is the perfect candidate for utilizing the law,” Robinson said. “Through the cultivation and harvesting local eucalyptus trees, the project will bring a combination of agricultural benefits and renewable energy to Hawaii Island.”

If the amended PPA is approved, Hu Honua will have the capacity to provide up to 30-megawatts of firm renewable energy to HELCO’s power grid. The project will be a boost to the agricultural industry on Hawaii Island, triggering approximately 150 jobs in forestry, including logging and hauling eucalyptus trees, the primary feedstock for the biomass-to-energy facility. Ancillary jobs related to forestry and wood products are also anticipated, along with 200 construction jobs needed to complete work on the plant.

About Hu Honua

Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC is located in Pepeekeo on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island. When completed, the Hu Honua facility will be able to produce up to 30-megawatts (MW) of clean renewable baseload power, which means the plant can deliver reliable power that can be dispatched 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When operating at capacity, Hu Honua will be able to produce approximately 14 percent of the island’s electricity needs and displace approximately 250,000 barrels of oil per year.

For more information visit www.huhonua.com

Polynesian Voyaging Society Announces Death of Founder Ben Finney

The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) is saddened to announce that Ben Finney, co-founder and first president of the organization, passed away today in Honolulu surrounded by family.  He was 83 years old.  Services are pending.

Ben Finney

Nainoa Thompson, president of PVS, responded to Finney’s passing with the following statement:

“What I was told was that there was a Hawaiian Professor in Hawaii who handed Ben a book called Kon Tiki, and she said ‘this is all wrong, you need to change this.’ Years later, Ben called a man named Herb Kawainui Kane, who together with Tommy Holmes spearheaded the building of Hokulea.  So, if we’re going to celebrate 42 years of voyaging and honor and celebrate Hokulea’s voyage around the earth, we have to think that none of this would have happened without that phone call.  Ben provided the vision and mission and the leadership to set the foundation for all that we would do in voyaging since 1976.  If Ben didn’t make that phone call, there wouldn’t be a Hokulea and there probably wouldn’t be voyaging in the Pacific today.  And, there would be no real connection between the values of malama honua and this island earth.  We owe so much to him. Hawaii, the pacific and the world is indebted to the work of Ben Finney.”

An anthropologist and pioneer in the reconstruction and sailing of Polynesian voyaging canoes, Finney first began dreaming about building a canoe and sailing it to Tahiti while studying at the University of Hawai’i in 1958.  In the mid-1960s, he built Nalehia, a replica of a Hawaiian double canoe that provided the basic information on sailing performance that went into planning Hokulea’s initial voyage to Tahiti.

Finney co-founded PVS in 1973 with Herb Kawainui Kane and Tommy Holmes and served as its first president.  Together with countless volunteers, they built Hokulea, the first Polynesian voyaging canoe in 600 years and launched her in 1975.

He set out to show that Hawaiians could intentionally sail long-distances without modern instruments.  He sailed on Hokulea’s first voyage to Tahiti in 1976.  He also sailed on the 1985 voyage to Aotearoa, the 1992 voyage to Rarotonga, and also covered the 1995 voyage from the Marquesas to Hawaii from Hokulea’s escort vessel.

The history and practice of Polynesian voyaging is an epic story of human migration: Ben’s love of it inspired his contributions to the anthropology of the human experience in space.

During his career, Finney held faculty appointments at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Australian National University, the University of French Polynesia, and the International Space University. From 1970 through 2000 he was a professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his courses included Human Adaptation to the Sea and Human Adaptation to Living in Space.  From 1994 through 2003 he was the co-chair of the department of Space and Society at the International Space University.

Tommorow – Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TWO Disestablishment Ceremony

Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TWO Disestablishment Ceremony is taking place on May 24 at 6 p.m. at Hangar 105 on Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii (Aug. 1, 2005) Capt. Robert J. Adrion relieved Capt. William F. Moran as Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Two (CPRW-2) during a ceremony in Hangar One Zero Five, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Jennifer L. Bailey (RELEASED)

Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TWO will memorialize and celebrate over 80 years of history and service on the Hawaiian Islands as they haul down the colors for the last time during a sunset disestablishment ceremony.  The ceremony will take place in Hangar 105, home of the last US Navy P-3C squadron on Kaneohe Bay and the last squadron to detach from CPRW-2.  There will be a P-3C static display to discuss the history of the P-3C as well as a P-8 static display to discuss the future of Maritime, Patrol, and Reconnaissance and the transition to the new airplane.

The Chief of Naval Operations officially established Patrol Wing TWO at Fleet Air Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on October 1, 1937. On December 7, 1941, the Wing was at the center of the Pearl Harbor attacks from Japanese raiders.  On June 30, 1949, the Wing was relocated to the leeward side of Oahu at Naval Air Station Barber’s Point, Hawaii where it remained for 50 years and experienced many changes in aircraft, missions, and commands.  In the 1970’s Patrol Wing Two became known as the “Rainbow Fleet” and began to routinely deploy with the P-3 Orion, a long range Anti-submarine Warfare patrol aircraft.

Wing Two squadrons tracked Soviet submarines patrolling off the western coast of the United States and supported operations in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the NATO air campaign over Kosovo.  Post-Cold War, the Wing continued to meet the evolving needs of the Navy, proving the P-3C as a multi-mission platform over land and sea; supporting Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, establishing an airborne reconnaissance capability during the Balkan wars; and supporting counterdrug detection by monitoring and interdiction operations in the Southern Hemisphere.

In June 1999, the Patrol Wing Hawaii forces moved from their Cold War home at Naval Air Station Barbers Point to the windward side of Oahu to Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. After September 11, 2001, Wing TWO squadrons joined the Global War on Terrorism and engaged in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines, Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan, and Operation Anaconda.  Recently, Wing TWO squadrons lead expeditionary Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Forces in support of THIRD, FIFTH, and SEVENTH Fleet operations.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Trump’s Massive Budget Cuts Threaten Hawaii, American People

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today warned that the Trump Administration’s 2018 Budget Blueprint puts the health and safety of the most vulnerable in our country at risk with massive cuts to government programs that spur economic growth and provide critical services. The budget slashes $1.4 trillion from programs families in Hawaiʻi and across the country depend on, including:

  • $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid that serves over 348,000 people in Hawaiʻi
  • $191 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that serves over 170,000 people in Hawaiʻi
  • $72 billion in cuts to the Social Security’s disability program, which serves over 19,000 people in Hawaiʻi
  • $143 billion from federal student loans, including the elimination of federally subsidized loans and loan forgiveness programs that serve Hawaiʻi nurses, police officers, and teachers
  • $40.4 billion in cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which assist one in eight Hawaiʻi keiki living in poverty

Click to read

In a speech on the House floor today, the congresswoman said, “The president’s budget proposal put forward today will be damaging to the people in our communities and the places that we call home. It cuts Medicaid by over $600 billion, cuts the food stamp program by over 25%, affecting the most needy within our communities. It slashes infrastructure programs, eliminates TIGER grants, cuts student loan and financial aid programs, and includes catastrophic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. In my home state of Hawai’i, this budget zeros out federal funding for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant, the Native Hawaiian Loan Guarantee Program, and cuts Native Hawaiian Education programs by $33 million dollars, crippling the progress that’s been made for over 30 years to strengthen Native Hawaiian early education, literacy, gifted and talented education programs, higher education, vocational programs and more. I strongly oppose this budget, and look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to pass a budget that actually serves the people and our planet.”

Kahilu Theatre Offering Summer Performing Arts Camps

Kahilu Theatre will offer three performing arts summer camps for Hawai‘i Island youth this summer. The camps are Let’s Dance (June 19 – June 30), Adventures in Polynesia (July 3 – July 15), and KPAW (July 17 – July 28).

Let’s Dance! (Summer Dance Camp)

Directed by KPAC Director, Angel Prince, Let’s Dance! teaches technique and choreography classes in Contemporary Dance, Ballet, Hip Hop, and Jazz. The camp also includes daily Pilates and Yoga classes as foundational strength and flexibility training. There are additional courses in Acting, Anatomy, Choreography and Improvisation, Stage Makeup, and Salsa.

Let’s Dance! runs from June 19 through June 30 and concludes with a student performance for the community on Friday, June 30 at 5 pm. It is open to students ages 7 to 16.

Adventures in Polynesia

Adventures in Polynesia, directed by Kalena Ohilo, is inspired by the motion picture Moana and focuses on Acrobatics, Tumbling, Vaulting and Aerial Silks. The camp is infused with Polynesian Music, Implements, and Dance. In addition to indulging creative energies in Acrobatics, students will create their own “Moana Skirt” and Maori Poi Balls.

Adventures in Polynesia runs from July 3 through July 14 and concludes with a student performance for the community on Friday, July 14 at 5 pm. It is open to students ages 5 to 12.

Note – There is no class on July 4. A makeup class will be held Saturday, July 8.

KPAW (Keiki Performing Arts Workshop)

Directed by former Kahilu Youth Troupe member, Marena Dunnington,  KPAW focuses on teaching stage skills necessary for musical theatre, with singing, acting and dancing as the three primary disciplines. Classes in playwriting and storytelling, makeup, improvisation, accents and dialects will also be offered.

KPAW runs from July 17 through July 28 and concludes with a student performance for the community on Friday, July 28 at 5 pm. It is open to students ages 7 to 12, or rising 3rd through 6th grades.

KPAW instructors are alumni of the Kahilu Youth Troupe: young performers who have trained at Kahilu with Beth Dunnington and are now pursuing their acting careers at the collegiate level.

Camp Enrollment Information:

  • All camps run Monday through Friday, 10 am – 2:30 pm
  • Each camp concludes with a performance
  • Fee: $230 for each camp
  • Scholarships are available

Scholarship application deadline is May 28 and scholarships to be announced on June 5

  • Max enrollment = 30
  • Students should bring a packed lunch from home

For more information about the Kahilu Performing Arts Camps call the Kahilu Theatre Box Office at 808.885.6868. Registration is available online at www.kahilutheatre.org.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the Space Station Tonight

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

It will be visible beginning tonight, May 23rd at 7:51 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes at a maximum height of 72 degrees. It will appear 11 degrees above the Southwest part of the sky and disappear 12 degrees above the North Northeast part of the sky.

REPORT: Native Hawaiian-Owned Firms in Hawaii’s Tourism Sector

The Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) has released the report “Native Hawaiian-Owned Firms in Hawaii’s Tourism Sector”. To obtain the report, click here.

The executive summary begins with “According to the U.S. Census Bureau data, Native Hawaiians owned a total of 13,147 firms in Hawaii in 2012. 3,972 or 30.2 percent of these firms were in the tourism sector and accounted for 10.1 percent of the total tourism sector firms in the state.”

Click to read report

An updated DBEDT ACS interactive map is also now available. It may be found on the Office of Planning’s State GIS Program’s website here.

This map product is a joint project between our Research and Economic Analysis Division and the Hawaii Statewide GIS Program. In this map, area profiles for all Hawaii census tracts, State Senate Districts and State House Districts were updated with the latest 2011-2015 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data . State of Hawaii as well as county figures are also provided. For downloadable files containing this profile data, click here.

Update on Today’s Fatality in Keaau

A man died following a one-vehicle crash this morning (May 22) in Keaʻau.

His name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of his family.

Responding to an 8:06 a.m. call, police determined that a 1998 Toyota truck was traveling Hilo bound, merging from the Keaʻau bypass (Highway 130) onto Highway 11 when the driver lost control, ran up an embankment and overturned.

The man died on the scene and was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 11:02 a.m.

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

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Keith Nacis at 961-8119. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

This is the 16th traffic fatality this year compared with 10 at this time last year.

Hawaii Department of Health Confirms Four Additional Mumps Cases on Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed four (4) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 51. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults. Two of the cases are linked to other cases on Oahu. None of the cases required hospitalization.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu.

The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms. The disease is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease can also be spread by sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, and prevents most cases of mumps. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated can help protect loved ones, family members, friends, classmates and coworkers.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

An Analysis of Consumer Debt: How Does Hawaii Compare with the Nation?

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released a report today, “An Analysis of Consumer Debt: How does Hawaii Compare with the Nation?” The report examined various consumer debt categories.

The report highlights why our per capita debt is high, which is due to high housing prices in Hawaii, with 77 percent of our debt from mortgage debt.

Hawaii’s home ownership increased 10 percentage points from 46.9 percent in 1970 to 56.9 percent in 2015 while the U.S. home ownership increased less than one percentage point from 62.9 percent to 63.8 percent during the same time period.

Chief State Economist Dr. Eugene Tian noted that the high mortgage debt may also have negative impacts, including less consumers spending on other goods and services by home owners, increasing rental payment for renters, and the leakage of mortgage payment to out-of-state financial institutions.

Following are some of the highlights of the report:

  • Hawaii’s total consumer debt per capita increased from $51,810 in 2005 to $67,010 in 2015, ranking it second highest in the nation.
  • For mortgage debt per capita, Hawaii has been steadily increasing in the state rankings, from the sixth highest state in 2005 to the highest state in 2015.
  • Hawaii ranks low among states for auto loans per capita, while defaults for those with auto loans are close to U.S. average.
  • Hawaii residents have relatively high credit card debt. Hawaii ranked fourth in the nation in 2010 and 2015 for credit card debt per capita.
  • Hawaii ranks the lowest in the nation for per capita student debt.
  • For the other debt category (home equity lines of credit, consumer cards, and consumer-financed debt), Hawaii leads the nation for the average amount per capita at $5,300. This partially reflects Hawaii’s high residential real estate values and the home equity loan balances supported by these high values.

The report is available at: http://files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/consumer_debt_final.pdf

Reps. Gabbard, Perry Introduce Bill to Permanently End Warrantless Collection of Americans’ Emails

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Scott Perry (R-PA), both founding members of the Fourth Amendment Caucus, introduced legislation today to permanently codify protections on Americans’ privacy.

Last month, the NSA announced it is ending its collection of Americans’ Internet communications that merely mention identifying terms for foreign targets, but are not to or from those targets, also known as “about” surveillance. The legislation introduced today would permanently codify this policy change into law. Gabbard and Perry, both veterans of the Iraq War, also co-chair the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “For years, the NSA has been collecting phone and online communications from everyday Americans across the country, defying the rights and liberties granted to us under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The 2008 FISA Amendments, specifically Section 702, has led to massive government-led exploitation of personal privacy through the collection of American citizens’ emails. We need serious reforms that balance the protection of our civil liberties and rights through our constitution, and also keep the American people safe. The NSA recently announced that they would stop collecting our emails and electronic communications under Section 702, but what is to say that it won’t start up again? Our legislation will keep our country from backtracking on this progress by permanently codifying this policy change and banning this privacy-invading collection from taking place again.”

Rep. Scott Perry said, “The NSA recently changed policy to prohibit the collection of electronic communications sent or received by American citizens that merely mention a foreign target of surveillance. This practice has long been used as an end-around the Fourth Amendment, and we commend the NSA for aligning their collection efforts with the Constitution. The legislation ensures that this important win for the American people cannot be reversed under future administrations. I thank Congresswoman Gabbard for her continued efforts on this issue and look forward to seeing this bill move quickly.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long advocated for reforms that address our government’s responsibility to protect civil liberties and ensure a strong national defense. She has actively sought reforms to Section 702, the Patriot Act, introduced legislation to strengthen and expand the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and is a founding member of the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus focused on protecting the privacy and security of Americans in the digital age.

“Obon in the Gardens” at Lili`uokalani Gardens

Keith Haugen will speak on the background and history of obon traditions during Sunday’s 5/28 “Obon in the Gardens.” The event is sponsored by Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens from 1 to 4 p.m. in the small parking lot near Shoroan, the Urasenke tea house in Lili`uokalani Gardens.

Haugen was a teenage soldier stationed in Japan in the 1950s. He recalls “donning a yukata, tying a tenugui around my head, and learning to dance the Tanko Bushi. Nobody seemed to mind that I was a foreigner or that my ancestral home was in Norway.

“Thousands of miles away, on the island of Maui, my future wife was learning the same song in the multi-cultural community where she was born and raised. Residents of Hawaii, just like the residents of Japan, take the summer obon dances for granted. But where did they originate, and why? What are all those folk songs used year after year?”

Keith wrote and produced an obon special for Hawaii Public Radio more than10 years ago dealing with the background, meaning, and history of obon dances. His continuing presentations state-wide are in demand.

“Obon began as a Buddhist tradition and evolved into a cultural and community event now held annually all over Japan, in Hawai`i, California, Canada, South America, and other places Japanese settled.

“There are perhaps more than a thousand of these traditional Japanese folk songs, called minyo. About 100 of them are extremely popular and have been since the 1800s,” Haugen explained. “There are songs about fishing and seagulls; pretty girls and flowers; even pride in great liquor stores. Some tell of rice and herbs, the moon and winds, and of men riding logs down the river. Others tell of drinking sake, and of courtship.”

Born in Minnesota and resident in Hawaii since 1968, Keith recently taught Hawaiian language and music at Star of the Sea School in Honolulu.

“My earlier education was in journalism and I worked for many years as a writer/reporter, editor, columnist, photographer, bureau chief at several daily newspapers including the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (1968-77), where I was State Editor when I was appointed by Gov. George Ariyoshi to be State Director of Information. For more than 10 years, I doubled as a lecturer and instructor, teaching Hawaiian music and language night classes at the UH College of Continuing Education, now called UH Outreach College.

“For most of my adult life, I maintained a second career as an entertainer, songwriter, recording artist, and record producer, radio producer and host. My wife Carmen and I performed together in Waikiki and all over the world for nearly 40 years.”

Keith and Carmen are familiar to HPR listeners as the hosts of Music of Hawai`i. Keith was the creator of Ke Aolama, the first Hawaiian language newscast on radio, and the Hawaiian Word of the Day.

For further information on Obon in the Gardens and other centennial events, please refer to the Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens page on Facebook.

Hawaii Department of Education Launches Final Phase of Student Transportation Reforms

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) has successfully reached the final phase of its Get on Board initiative with the awarding of new contracts on Maui and Kauai for school year (SY) 2017-18.

On Maui, Robert’s Hawaii School Bus will service the Kekaulike Complex and Ground Transport Inc. will provide transportation for the Baldwin, Maui and Lahainaluna complexes. On the Garden Isle Akita Enterprises will service the Kapaa and Kauai complexes, while Yamaguchi Bus Service will serve the Waimea Complex.

This culminates the last of three stages of HIDOE’s reform efforts that began in 2013 as a pilot project in Central Oahu. The Get on Board initiative has improved service by streamlining processes and upgrading technology while reducing overall transportation costs by more than $13 million annually.

“The success of our Get on Board efforts can be attributed to the improved partnerships we developed with our vendors, and their willingness to work with us as we look for ways to make our student transportation services more efficient,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The Department is also taking advantage of advances in technology to improve accountability and promote transparency.”

In June 2012, HIDOE eliminated 100 bus routes due to rising costs and a loss of funding. Get on Board was launched to address these issues. The pilot portion immediately restored service to around 350 students at the beginning of SY 2013-14.

As part of the initiative, legislation was passed that gave the Department more flexibility in how bus contracts are awarded.

The most visible component of Get On Board is the implementation of never-before-used technology that enhances and protects student health and safety. The technology platform now includes computerized routing software, automated route and stop assignments, GPS mapping and tracking, video cameras on all school buses, and online information portals.

“Our Department transports more than 40,000 students per day statewide, and the safety of our passengers is a top priority. The upgraded technology is just another tool we can use to create a secure environment on our buses,” added Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson.

Parents can sign up for transportation by obtaining a 2017-2018 School Bus Handbook from their child’s school or online. The handbook contains important information about school bus ridership, and the back cover of the handbook is the 2017-2018 application. Completed applications should be returned to the school office prior to the first day of school. Parents may call the school office or the district transportation office for more information.

For more information about HIDOE’s transportation services and to download the application and handbook, click here.

Man Dies in Keaau Accident

I just drove by the following scene and this is the Hawaii Fire Department press release on what happened.

Situation Found at Scene:

Found 1 male unresponsive with weak pulse and not breathing, with massive head injury. Vehicle flipped on the drivers side, with driver partially pinned in vehicle.

Photo by Craig Watanabe

Cause:
Motor Vehicle Accident

Remarks:
Upon arrival found 1 male driver unresponsive with weak pulse and massive head injury, utilized extrication and stabilization tools to safely extricate patient.  After extrication, patient examined with no signs of life, base station MD notified. Patient left on scene in HPD custody who will await body removal.

HPD and Hwy. Division on scene for clean up and traffic control.

Hawaii Board of Education Selects Next Superintendent

The State of Hawaii Board of Education (BOE) is pleased to announce it has selected Christina Kishimoto, Ph.D. as the incoming Superintendent to lead the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE).  After a rigorous search process that spanned several months and 92 applicants, the BOE interviewed two final candidates on May 11, 2017 before making its decision.

“Because both finalists were so highly qualified, it was a difficult decision for the Board,” said BOE Chairperson Lance Mizumoto who led the committee that conducted the search. “In the end, however, we felt that Dr. Kishimoto has the right combination of experience, knowledge, and focus to implement the strategic vision for educational change set forth in the Governor’s Blueprint for Education and the BOE and HIDOE’s newly revised joint strategic plan.  We invite the state to join us in welcoming Dr. Kishimoto with respect, generosity, and warmth.”

Kishimoto signed a three-year contract and will start on August 1, 2017.  She will begin her transition out of her current role as Superintendent of the Gilbert Public Schools (GPS) district in Arizona.

“It is with great excitement and honor that I accept this critical education leadership position for the State of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Education,” said Kishimoto.  “In partnership with Chairperson Mizumoto, the Board, and Governor David Ige, I look forward to implementing a vision of excellence for all students.  I look forward to working hand in hand with Hawaii’s teachers, leaders, staff, parents, community members, and student leaders to execute on this vision of high quality college, career, and community readiness.”

“We are excited to have someone with a track record of reducing achievement gaps and a commitment to school empowerment to lead our public school system,” stated BOE member and former HIDOE teacher and administrator Patricia Bergin.  “I am confident that Dr. Kishimoto will bring fresh ideas to our system, and her strong family ties to Hawaii and her excitement to embrace the foundational pieces of our system, such as Nā Hopena A‘o, demonstrates that she understands and respects Hawaii’s uniqueness.”

University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Education professor and a member of the advisory group to the search committee Patricia Halagao stated, “I was impressed with Dr. Kishimoto’s focus on school design models that celebrate and sustain our diversity of language and culture. As a former public school teacher and someone who now trains teachers, I also appreciate how Dr. Kishimoto elevates teachers as educational experts and aims to create a system conducive for us to thrive and do what we do best—teach.”

Kishimoto has been the GPS Superintendent since July 2014.  She is recognized nationally as a visionary leader in education for her reform work in school turnaround and portfolio school development. Kishimoto earned a Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Connecticut and a doctorate from Columbia University.  In June 2014, she completed two years of board service on the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, an organization focused on student centered practices and policies.

During the selection process, the BOE conducted a thorough background check, which included civil, criminal, financial, and educational verifications. Chairperson Mizumoto added, “In addition, district officials, former Superintendents, and other individuals in the Gilbert district were contacted. Various negative statements made about Dr. Kishimoto were either inconsequential or simply invalid.”

Next month, the BOE will hold a news conference to formally introduce Kishimoto as the new HIDOE superintendent.

Outgoing HIDOE Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi ends her term on June 30, 2017. The BOE plans to name an interim Superintendent to serve during the transition month of July.

“Congratulations and best wishes to Christina,” said Supt. Matayoshi. “I’m confident she will build on the progress made to improve our public education system, and continue to keep students at the center of all that we do.”

The BOE formulates statewide educational policy and appoints the Superintendent as the chief executive officer of the public school system.  For more information about the Superintendent search and process, please visit the BOE’s website at http://boe.hawaii.gov.

Statement by Governor David Y. Ige:

I welcome Dr. Christina Kishimoto to this important post. While Dr. Kishimoto will lead the effort to remodel our school system, she will need the support of the entire community. Her success will be our success. Together, we can ensure that those closest to our students are empowered to make decisions that provide the basics and add the new skills our children need to prosper in the future.

I commend the Board of Education for its hard work in making this selection. Board members conducted an unbiased search and considered many well-qualified candidates. The success of our students was at the heart of their decision.

Mahalo to Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi who led a reform effort that created a solid foundation upon which we will continue to build and improve.

Hawaii Island Humane Society Awarded Grant by Windermere Foundation

The Windermere Foundation has awarded Hawaii Island Humane Society a $2,000 grant to be used toward its New Leash on Life program. Each time a home is purchased or sold using a Windermere agent, a portion of the commission goes into the Windermere Foundation fund to benefit low-income and homeless families in their local communities.

“Our New Leash on Life program helps teens develop compassion and increased self-esteem through their bonding with a canine friend,” said Donna Whitaker, Hawaii Island Humane Society Executive Director. “We are so grateful that the Windermere Foundation and its local agents support programs in our community.”

Hawaii Island Humane Society’s New Leash on Life program affords teens who are in foster care or temporary housing a safe and fun outlet to spend time with shelter animals. Teens have the opportunity to socialize with the animals and learn basic dog obedience training. Teens gain a skill and the pets become more adoptable having learned basic commands such as sit, stay and walking on a leash.

“The funds for the grant award were donated and raised by our local Windermere agents who care deeply about their community,” said local Foundation Representative John Kennedy. “Helping the next generation develop their skills is a really great feeling.”

Ka’u Coffee Festival Underway – Jami Beck Crowned Miss K’au Coffee

The ninth annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival is in full swing with newly crowned Miss K‘au Coffee Jami Beck of Wai‘ohinu presiding at a host of upcoming events. The UH-Hilo student swept all pageant categories, winning career outfit and interview, evening gown and swimsuit trophies, plus the titles of Miss Popularity, Miss Photogenic and Miss Congeniality.

Photo of Miss Ka’u Coffee Jami Beck by Pamela Taylor

Upcoming festival fun includes a Pa‘ina and Open House today, May 19 at Pahala Plantation House and the Ka’u Coffee Recipe Contest Sun., May 21 at the Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Java jumping activities continue Mon., May 22 with Ka’u Star Gazing and May 24-25 with Ka‘u Mountain Water Systems Hikes.

The festival percolates on Sat. May 27 between 9 a.m.-5 p.m., inside and out of the Pahala Community Center at the free Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a. Enjoy a full day of live music; Hawaiian performing arts; keiki activities; broke ‘da mouth local food, crafts, product and informational booths; plus barista-guided coffee tastings. Guided farm tours with van transport are $20. On Sun., May 28 at 9 a.m, The Ka’u Coffee College features local and visiting coffee industry experts offering seminars focused on enhancing coffee quality and best farm management techniques.

Enter the “Buy Local, It Matters” contest for a chance to win! Simply visit festival sponsors and redeem purchase receipts, product labels and business cards at the ho‘olaule‘a for chances to win cash and prizes.

All activities are open to the public; for details on ticketed events and full festival info, visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com.

Ka‘u Coffee Festival: Founded in coffee traditions hailing to the 1800s—plus the hard work of former sugar plantation workers—Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous coffee quality awards. These accolades highlight the unique combination of people and place that makes Ka‘u coffee a favorite across the globe. The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘u as a world-class, coffee-growing origin. For more information and festival updates, visit kaucoffeefest.com, follow Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Facebook and @kaucoffeefest on Twitter, or call 808-929-9550.