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Gov. Abercrombie to Honor Exceptional Community Contributors During Waimea’s Annual Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is scheduled to join the celebration of Waimea’s Japanese heritage by planting flowering cherry trees in honor of exceptional community contributors during the 21st Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014.  

 

“Love These Cherry Blossoms!” and artist Rani Denise Ulrich of Keauhou

“Love These Cherry Blossoms!” and artist Rani Denise Ulrich of Keauhou

The community festival showcases the blooming of Waimea’s historic 60-year-old cherry trees, which are primarily located near town center at Church Row Park but can also be seen in growing numbers throughout the upcountry ranching community. The festival combines the Japanese tradition of viewing these beautiful trees ablaze with pink blossoms – called hanami – with dozens of events, exhibits and interactive presentations that celebrate the community’s Japanese traditions and connections.

Gov. Abercrombie will be a part of the festival’s opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. at Parker Ranch Center, joined by Mayor Billy Kenoi in saluting this year’s festival honorees, Waimea residents Emiko Wakayama and Fumi Bonk.

Then, at 10:30 a.m., the Governor will plant a young flowering cherry tree on the front lawn of Historic Spencer House in honor of lifelong Waimea resident, retired Judge and former Lt. Gov. Nelson Doi.

At 11:15 a.m., the Governor will plant three more flowering cherry trees on the front lawn of Waimea’s Department of Agriculture building at the entry to the Lalamilo Farmlots. The trees will honor the three generations of Japanese families that turned Lalamilo’s arid, rocky lands into the highly productive leafy greens and other fresh produce “food basket” of the state.

The community is invited to join the tree plantings, which are intended to also contribute to the original vision of Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival founders who wanted to encourage the addition of more of the flowering trees along the main roadways through this cool upcountry community.

The tree plantings are two of dozens of activities and events at venues throughout Waimea on festival day. Other festivities include Japanese and multi-cultural performances and exhibits of art and traditional dolls, hands-on demonstrations of bonsai, origami and mochi pounding, presentations of the exquisite traditional tea ceremony, plus sake tasting and the offering of a wide array of popular Japanese foods. Look for pink banners identifying event locations sprawling from the Parker Ranch Center to the Hawaiian Homestead Farmer’s Market on Hwy. 19.

The annual Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is sponsored by many Waimea community groups, churches, temples, clubs and businesses in partnership with the County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation Arts and Culture Division.

Senate Offers Videoconferencing Option for Public Testimony Statewide

Beginning this legislative session, all Hawaii residents will now have the chance to testify at hearings before the Senate Committees on Education (EDU) and Technology and the Arts (TEC) without physically being there. In January 2013, the Senate began a pilot project to allow neighbor island residents the opportunity to participate in the legislative process without traveling to Oahu. Understanding that access is also a barrier for Oahu residents, the committees will now pilot the videoconferencing technology statewide.

capital

 “Ensuring access and citizen and stakeholder participation is especially important when it comes to issues dealing with public education and our schools,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. “Expanding our use of this type of technology to connect people with policymakers will only strengthen and enhance the quality of legislation produced.”

The Hawaii State Senate will launch its Statewide Videoconferencing Pilot Program beginning with the Senate Committee on Education’s first hearing on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 1:15 p.m. and continue with hearings from both the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts throughout the 2014 Legislative Session.

“It’s not uncommon for people to have to sit through a two-hour hearing just to speak for one minute on one measure,” added Senator Glenn Wakai, chairman of the Senate Technology and Arts Committee. “If we can reduce the barriers to civic engagement by reducing the cost and time people spend to voice their concerns, we are on our way to creating a better Hawaii.”

In its inaugural year, the Neighbor Island Videoconferencing Program was piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts.  In its second year, the two committees will continue to pilot this project, increasing the amount of constituents that can be reached and who can testify by expanding statewide. Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate.  Because this is a pilot project, there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate.  Following the completion of the legislative session, the project will be evaluated.

During Monday’s Senate Education Committee, lawmakers will take up two measures that address air conditioning in schools. The bills call for the creation of a master strategic plan for the cooling of public schools.

For more information on the hearing and instructions on how to submit testimony and/or participate via videoconferencing or in person, please refer to the hearing notice at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2014/hearingnotices/HEARING_EDU_01-27-14_.HTM

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 77-Year-Old Puna Man

1/27/14 UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 77-year-old Johannen Poche of Pāhoa, who was reported missing.   He returned home Friday afternoon.

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 77-year-old Puna man who was reported missing.

Johannen Poche

Johannen Poche

Johannen Poche of Hawaiian Beaches was last seen in Pāhoa town at 8 a.m. Friday (January 24).

He is described as 5-foot-9, 150 pounds with white-silver hair and brown eyes. He walks hunched over and was last seen wearing a red long-sleeved sweater, dark blue sweat pants and a hat.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Wounded Officers Recognized After Being Shot and Injured in the Line of Duty

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi held a “Wounded Officers Recognition Luncheon,” Thursday (January 23) to honor South Hilo Patrol Officers Joshua Gouveia and Garrett Hatada, who were shot and injured last year in the line of duty.

Officer Joshua Gouveia, second from left, with his wife, Emmalyn Gouveia, and Officer Garret Hatada with his grandmother, Yasuko Hatada, pose after being recognized by the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai'i.

Officer Joshua Gouveia, second from left, with his wife, Emmalyn Gouveia, and Officer Garret Hatada with his grandmother, Yasuko Hatada, pose after being recognized by the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai’i.

On January 2, 2013, police responded to a report of several gunshots heard in the area of Kīlauea Avenue near the Wailoa River in Hilo. While checking parked vehicles in the area of the 800 block of Kīlauea Avenue, officers observed a man hiding under a parked vehicle. When Officers Gouveia and Hatada approached him, they were fired upon and sustained gunshot injuries. One of the officers was able to return fire.

The suspect, 31-year-old Keaka D. Martin of Hilo, fled the area on foot but was captured the next day. He was charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, second-degree reckless endangering and six firearm offenses.

Keaka Daniel Kaneala Martin

Keaka Daniel Kaneala Martin

At Thursday’s ceremony, Officers Gouveia and Hatada each received a certificate and plaque inscribed with “Purple Heart Award.”

The “Wounded Officers Recognition Luncheon” was held in place of the Aloha Exchange Club’s monthly “Officer of the Month” event.

NEHLA to Receive $13 Million in Capital Improvement Funds – Abercrombie Releases More CIP Funds

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $28.3 million in capital improvement project (CIP) funds administered by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). More than $13 million of these CIP funds will go toward improvements to Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA) facilities on Hawaii Island.

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA)

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA)

“A successful test-bed for applied research, demonstration, testing and evaluation, NELHA is a driver of innovation, economic development, and job creation on the Big Island and for our entire state,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Investments in these and other facilities and programs will further opportunities to advance our energy sustainability, diversify our economy, and keep us on course toward long-term economic viability.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

NELHA

$9,694,000 – Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA) Frontage Road and New Intersection Connections, Hawaii Island – Construction of a 0.8-mile frontage road and new connections to the Kaiminani Drive and Makako Bay Drive intersections on Queen Kaahumanu Highway

$2,323,000 – NELHA Seawater System Upgrades, Hawaii Island – Design and construction to provide a 28-inch warm water connector to the independent North and South systems, which currently transfer only cold water; upgrades will also create a backup system to transfer warm water in case of a catastrophic failure of the current warm water system

$1,000,000 (in addition to $3,000,000 in federal grant funds) – NELHA Alternative Energy and Biotechnology Incubator, Hawaii Island – Renovation of the administrative building; this project will increase NELHA’s utilization of 10,000 square feet by converting open space into leasable office space

Other

$7,000,000 – Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund (DURF), statewide – Additional workforce and affordable housing projects; DURF is used for the acquisition of real property, primarily for the development and construction of residential properties, and interim and permanent loans to developers at below-market rates to offer incentives for workforce and affordable housing development across the state

$3,000,000 – Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) Import-Export Step-Up Incubator, Mauka Renovation, Oahu – Renovation of the FTZ incubator; renovations will increase the FTZ No. 9’s utilization of the building by converting 30,000 square feet of open space into leasable office space, common conference rooms, and training areas; the current office space is being used at 100 percent capacity (an additional $3,000,000 in federal funds have been awarded and appropriated for the construction of this project through a competitive Economic Development Administration grant)

$2,200,000 – Foreign-Trade Zone Pier 2 Facility Roof Repairs, Oahu – Repairs to roof, gutters, gutter drains, skylight panels, and perimeter eaves, as well as waterproofing the parapet wall of the facility; repairs will eliminate continued water damage in tenant offices and merchandise storage areas, improve structural integrity of the building, and increase available lease space within the warehouse

$1,855,000 – Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) Community Development Districts, Oahu – DBEDT operational costs for 19 permanent, project-funded staff positions for fiscal year 2014

$1,300,000 – Waiahole Water System Improvements, Oahu – Design improvements to the Waiahole Water System; the existing booster pump and key sections of the existing water main need to be upgraded to meet fire flow and Board of Water Supply requirements

Big Island Police Arrest Puna Man Wanted Since 2008 for Sexual Assault of Female Minor – Suspect Fled to Mexico

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested a 33-year-old man who has been wanted since 2008 for the sexual assault of a female minor.

Mauro Martin Ortiz

Mauro Martin Ortiz

Mauro Martin Ortiz, formerly of the Puna District, was brought back to Hilo from Mexico by U.S. Marshals and was arrested Thursday (January 23) on the strength of a bench warrant and charged with kidnapping, seven counts of first-degree sexual assault and five counts of third-degree sexual assault. His bail was set at $1 million.

The sexual assault occurred early on the morning of June 21, 2008, in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision in Puna.

On July 10, 2008, a grand jury indicted Ortiz but police were unable to locate him. Police put out several media releases asking for the public’s help in finding him and he was featured for five months on the public television show “Hawaiʻi Island’s Most Wanted.”

He was scheduled to make his initial court appearance Friday afternoon (January 24).

Solar Photovoltaic Installations in Hawaii Continued to Grow in 2013

Solar photovoltaic installations in Hawai‘i continued growing at a strong pace in 2013. A total of 17,609 solar installations with more than 129 megawatts capacity were added to the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company grids in 2013. This is 39 percent more than was added in 2012.

The total of solar photovoltaic systems interconnected on the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ grids as of Dec. 31, 2013 is 40,159 with a total capacity of 300 MW. Of those installations, 96 percent take advantage of net energy metering, a program that began in 2001 to encourage the adoption of rooftop solar. With net energy metering, customers with rooftop solar receive full retail credit for electricity they generate and send to the utility grid. They use that credit to offset the electricity they take from the grid when solar power does not meet their needs at night or on cloudy days.

More than 70 percent of rooftop systems are on Oahu.  With 29,558 PV systems and 221 MW as of Dec. 31, 2013, 10 percent of Hawaiian Electric customers now have rooftop solar, a higher percentage than any mainland utility. On Hawaii Island, 7 percent of Hawaii Electric Light customers have rooftop solar. And 8 percent of Maui Electric customers have rooftop solar.

This unprecedented rapid growth in rooftop solar in Hawai‘i has resulted in some neighborhood circuits reaching extremely high levels of photovoltaic systems. An increasing number of distribution level circuits have rooftop PV capacity exceeding 100 percent of the daytime minimum load, the trigger for interconnection studies and possible implementation of safety measures or upgrades before new PV systems on that circuit can be interconnected to the grid. This condition slowed the pace of rooftop solar growth in the last quarter of last year.

“Our first priority is the safety and reliability of service to all our customers,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service. “At the same time, we remain committed to a strong, sustainable solar industry in Hawaii. We continue to approve new solar systems for interconnection daily. And we are working to find ways to add more solar power, including on circuits that already have large amounts of PV installed.”

Solar installations and capacity by utility as of December 31, 2013

  Solar Installations Capacity in MW
Hawaiian Electric 29, 558 221
Maui Electric 5, 246 41
Hawaii Electric Light 5,355 38
TOTAL 40,159 300

Cumulative solar growth in Hawaiian Electric Companies service territories, 2005-2013 (Data subject to change)

Wanted – Dogs Killing Albatrosses

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is asking for the public‘s help in identifying the owner(s) of two dogs recently seen attacking ground-nesting Laysan albatrosses in Moloa’a, Kauai.

Have seen these dogs in the Moloa`a area …

Have seen these dogs in the Moloa`a area …

They were photographed and the image is posted on fliers that are being distributed in the community, starting Friday.

Since December, a string of albatross killings has been reported at two coastal properties on the northeast shores of Kauai.  A total of 17 birds were found mauled to death at Moloaa by dogs this season.

Moloaa Bay Albatross Kill Flier

The total number of albatross killed on Kauai this season is 26 birds. The other deaths (9 birds) are from another property nearby.

Any person with who recognizes the dogs or knows who the dogs’ owners are, is asked to  please call the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife at 274-3521 or 274-3433.  After hours, weekends and holidays, please call the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) Hotline at 1-808-453-6780.

Please help protect Kauai’s seabirds by keeping your pet dogs on leash or kenneled. Stay on walking paths and observe seabird nesting signs.

Falko Property Moli Massacre

Falko Property Moli Massacre

Senator Introduces Bill to Protect Retirement Benefits from Taxation

State Senator David Ige (16th senatorial district) has introduced SB 2982, a measure that purposes a constitutional amendment to exclude certain retirement benefits from income taxation. If passed, the question posed to voters and printed on ballots would be as follows: “Shall retirement benefits be excluded from state income taxation if the beneficiaries’ contributions were subject to state income taxation?” sb2982

“Over the last several years, we’ve seen how pensions have become the target of tax increases and means of increasing revenue,” Ige said. “This measure would assure that future legislatures do not consider taxing pensions, and help to protect the retiree’s in our communities and those living on a fixed income.”

Senator Introduces Bill to Lengthen School Year for All Public Schools

State Senator David Ige (16th senatorial district) has introduced SB 2922, a bill that would lengthen the school year for all public schools in the state beginning with the 2015 school year calendar.

sb2922

If passed, the bill would lengthen the current school year from 180 instructional days to 190 instructional days. The bill also discontinues the requirements for the minimum number of student instructional hours effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

“The legislature is committed to improving our public education system and investing in our youth,” Ige said. “It is my hope that a focus on increasing the number of instructional days will provide more flexibility on the school level than the current law allows. I believe that lengthening the instructional days will assist to increase the performance of students in the classroom.”

If passed, the bill shall take effect on July 14, 2014.

Waterfalling Estate to Host UH-Hilo Tennis Exhibition

It’s a sporting venue like no other.  On February 8, athletes from the UH-Hilo Tennis team will put their skills to the test in exhibition matches held on a cliff-side court overlooking thundering waterfalls and panoramic ocean vistas.

Waterfalling Estate Tennis Court

Hosted at the 8-acre Waterfalling Estate in Ninole, the expo serves as a benefit fundraiser for the Richard and Ruth Matsuura Vulcan Tennis Endowed Scholarship.  The scholarship was named after the late state senator and his wife, a local pediatrician, in appreciation for their generous contributions to athletics and education on Hawai`i Island.

Waterfalling Estate
Senator Matsuura was a key figure in Hawai`i politics during the 1980s and 1990s, helping to promote geothermal energy in Puna, and the Natural Energy Lab in West Hawai`i. Though the senator passed away in 1997, Dr. Ruth Matsuura and her children have continued to play an active role in the Hilo community.
Richard and Ruth Matsumura

Richard and Ruth Matsuura

 The Matsuuras were key donors in the construction of the Haili Tennis Courts located at Hilo Intermediate School, and according to UH-Hilo tennis coach Karl Sloss, were “instrumental” in supporting the university’s tennis program in recent years.
“This endowment will help us work toward a fully-funded future for Vulcan Tennis,” said Sloss, who is also a volunteer member of Hui Kako`o Kenika, a nonprofit organization that promotes tennis on the Big Island.
The event, which runs from 3 pm to 6 pm, will feature a “best of five” world team tennis competition, along with light pupus, and live music by Lito Arkangel.
Waterfalling Estate Piano Room
Tickets are $25, and can be purchased in advance from the UH athletics ticket office or at the door. For more information, contact Karl Sloss at (842)-922-7221 or at ksloss@hawaii.edu.

Hualalai Academy Soliciting Donors to Calm “Perfect Storm” – Operation to Suspend May 30th

The Head of School at Hualalai Academy is soliciting potential donors to help Hualalai’s current financial situation.  Here is a copy of the letter being sent to potential donors:

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

Aloha,

Thank you for your willingness to look at the current financial status of Hualalai Academy, a K-8 independent school, serving the children of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Over the past several years, the school has faced declining enrollment due to decreased discretionary spending for working families and the impact of new charter schools and online academies.  Although the Hualalai Academy Experience is clearly the program of choice, many families have had to make the tough decision and settle for a no-tuition educational option for their children.

This “perfect storm” of circumstances has led to our board making the tough decision to suspend operation effective May 30, 2014.  This decision was the result of multiple banks and lenders choosing not to refinance us based on our limited cash flow via student tuitions.

Specifically, the school has the following debt:

Mortgage and lines of credit with First Hawaiian Bank                                $1,600,000

Bridge loan with friend of HA                                                                             200,000

Anticipated Bridge loan with friends of HA                                                       500,000

Debt as of June 1, 2014                                                                                  $2,300,000

The anticipated bridge loans are currently being pursued so that we may be able to pay our faculty and complete the school year for the sake of the students.

Should we receive a “miracle” and find a way to eliminate past debt, we have the “team” ready to spring into action and keep Hualalai Academy open and poised to improve our financial position and grow the Hualalai Academy Experience.

As I write, we are fighting the clock. Students are applying to other quality independent schools and teachers will be receiving job offers as their reputation as outstanding teachers precedes them. So, time is of the essence.

In closing, I am the new kid on the block as I arrived on July 1, 2013 to help the school grow into the finest independent school in Hawaii.  Instead, I have been watching a slow death.  However, we are still breathing and your support would allow us to come back to life and once again thrive and serve.

Thank you for taking the time to consider helping Hualalai Academy.

Sincerely,

John R. Colson

Head of School

Hualalai Academy

The contact information for donations is John Colson 808-326-9866 jcolson@hualalai.org

Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act – New Bill Promotes Safer Roads and Communities

Senator Will Espero, Chair of Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, today announced that he is introducing the Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act, which would allow access to driver’s licenses for individuals who cannot show proof of authorized presence or who may be undocumented residents.

Sample Driving License

“This bill will improve public safety for drivers, pedestrians, residents of and visitors to Hawaii, by helping ensure that eligible drivers pass a driving test and obtain proof of insurance before driving their vehicles in Hawaii,” said Espero. The bill details how applicants can prove identity and Hawaii residency.

Currently, the paperwork requirements mean that many people cannot apply for a driver’s license. “Immigrants cannot apply for the driver’s license they need to take their children to school, go to work, church, or carry out other daily activities,” said Reverend Stan Bain, retired United Methodist pastor.

Unlicensed, uninsured drivers cause damage claims that other policy holders must cover. If these drivers can get licensed and insured, the cost of covering accidents involving uninsured motorists will decline, and everyone will pay lower insurance rates. Since New Mexico began issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants in 2003, its rate of uninsured motorists fell from 33 percent to 9 percent.

Another benefit of the bill is that it fosters community trust with law enforcement. Driver’s licenses help law enforcement officers perform their jobs more safely, effectively and efficiently. They enable law enforcement officers to identify the drivers they stop, and check the driver’s traffic and criminal record.  In addition, licenses will assist first responders and health care providers in determining the identity of the person they are assisting.

Nationwide state legislatures are creating and moving legislation to ensure roadway safety for all. These policies are being adopted to decrease the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers and increase public safety. Eleven states, in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have enacted laws to increase access to driver’s licenses.

Queen’s and North Hawaii Community Hospital Mark New Relationship with Internal Hawaiian Ceremony

The Queen’s Health Systems (Queen’s), corporate parent of The Queen’s Medical Center (QMC), and North Hawaii Community Hospital held a special internal ceremony this week to mark their new formal affiliation relationship, which took effect on January 15, 2014.

More than 50 NHCH staff gathered for a special internal Hawaiian ceremony to mark the new affiliation relationship between The Queen’s Healthy Systems and NHCH on Tuesday, January 21st at noon.

More than 50 NHCH staff gathered for a special internal Hawaiian ceremony to mark the new affiliation relationship between The Queen’s Healthy Systems and NHCH on Tuesday, January 21st at noon.

The special internal Hawaiian ceremony held on Tuesday, January 21stat NHCH and led by Auntie ‘Ulu Garmon, a Hawaii Island Cultural Practitioner, was attended by more than 50 hospital staff, including several of Queen’s Administration. “The purpose of this ceremony is to formally acknowledge and welcome the joining of one house with the other,” says Auntie ‘Ulu Garmon. “We ask for growth, longevity, preservation and that there be a reciprocation and an exchange of mana or life force in this new relationship,” said Garmon.

NHCH staff participated in the ceremony by consuming food that represent different elements of a successful partnership.

NHCH staff participated in the ceremony by consuming food that represent different elements of a successful partnership.

During the ceremony Diane Paloma from Queen’s Native Hawaiian Health Program presented NHCH’s outgoing board chairman Bob Momsen with a “ho`okupu”, or a gift of symbolic significance. “By offering this ho`okupu with items representing our founders Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, we symbolically welcome NHCH into The Queen’s Health System’s `ohana,” said Paloma. Attendees participated in a Native Hawaiian ceremony by consuming foods that represent different elements of a successful partnership.

(left to right) NHCH President Ken Graham, NHCH outgoing Board Chairman Bob Momsen and Art Ushijima, President of The Queen’s Healthy Systems at this week’s historic event.

(left to right) NHCH President Ken Graham, NHCH outgoing Board Chairman Bob Momsen and Art Ushijima, President of The Queen’s Healthy Systems at this week’s historic event.

To close the ceremony, Momsen returned the ho`okupu to The Queen’s Health Systems President and Board Chairman, Art Ushijima. This symbolic gesture represents the mutual acceptance and embracing of the new relationship between the two organizations. Ushijima marked the exchange by adding, “This is a great occasion for Queen’s. We look forward to becoming a part of your community and extending the Queen’s mission in North Hawaii.” The Queen’s Health Systems mission is “to fulfill the intent of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV to provide in perpetuity quality healthcare services to improve the well-being of Native Hawaiians and all the people of Hawaii.”

On December 16, 2013, Queen’s announced it had officially entered into an affiliation agreement with NHCH. In the agreement, NHCH became a corporate entity under Queen’s, similar to The Queen’s Medical Center and Molokai General Hospital. QMC has had a clinical affiliation with NHCH since 2005.

Commentary – “The Coupe Family Single-Handedly Held Up the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass for 11 Years”

The acquisition the of right of way for highway projects is an ongoing issue for the State and County of Hawaii it seems.  Two projects come to mind; the second phase of the Mamalahoa Highway bypass and the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

Inouye Highway Photo by Aaron Stene

Daniel K. Inouye Highway.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Coupe family single-handedly held up the Mamalahoa  Highway bypass for 11 years. They fought the condemnation of  1,500 feet of their property all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court declined to hear the Coupe’s petition, which ended their battle and paved the way for the county to acquire the necessary right of way for this much-needed highway.

I’m deeply concerned the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is facing the same fate. Three holdout landowners (Marvin Arruda, Richard Alderson and Rick Towill) refuse to convey part of their lands for this 5.7 mile highway. These parcels are located on the Puna side of the Puainako Street Extension and Country Club Drive.

I’ve tried to ask the Land Transportation Division of the State Attorney General’s office where things stand with the right of way acquisition for this phase, but they refuse to acknowledge my e-mails and hide behind attorney-client privilege.  The Hawaii Department of Transportation response to my inquiries isn’t much better.

The final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is currently unfunded.  I firmly believe its important to finalize the right of way acquisition, so this phase is shovel ready when funding is available.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan Receives National Award

The Hawaii Department of Transportation is honored to be selected for the 2014 National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation Planning by the American Planning Association.  HDOT’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan was chosen as part of the best planning efforts that create communities of lasting value.

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan prioritizes pedestrian safety, mobility, and accessibility, and is the first in the nation to have a statewide pedestrian focus.  In conjunction with other efforts, the pedestrian master plan focuses on infrastructure improvements that may help lower pedestrian fatalities while enhancing connectivity.

“The Hawaii Pedestrian Toolbox is a key component of the plan and includes guidelines and best practices for the planning, design, operation and maintenance of pedestrian facilities,” said DOT Director Glenn M. Okimoto.  “The Toolbox offers a one-stop resource for pedestrian improvements that planners and designers will use as they move forward on HDOT’s many highway projects.”

For more information on Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan go to the HDOT website at hidot.hawaii.gov.

To view all of the APA 2014 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit www.planning.org/awards/2014. APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

DLNR Invites Public Input On Survey Of Hawaii’s Outdoor Recreation Trends, Needs, Priority

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks (State Parks) in partnership with PBR HAWAII, is inviting the public to participate in a survey designed to assess Hawai‘i’s outdoor recreation trends, needs and priorities.

DLNR

The survey is one component of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). This plan is updated every five years to provide guidance for our Hawaii’s recreational future and to remain eligible to receive funds for outdoor recreation projects through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a federal grants program administered by the National Park Service (NPS). Public participation in the survey will help State Parks and NPS select projects to receive federal funding that best meets Hawaii’s recreational needs and help resolve any recreational conflicts.

“In the 2008 plan, the public identified multi-use paths for walking, jogging, and bicycling as one of Hawaii’s recreational priorities. In response to this demand, we look forward submitting a grant to support the construction of the new Hilo Bayfront trail in 2014. It is with the public’s input that we are able to support projects that best meet the community’s recreational needs,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.

The survey is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/HISCORP2014 and is open now through Feb. 28, 2014. Public meetings will be held over the next several months to give the public the opportunity to directly express their recreation needs and concerns. Meeting announcements will be also be made through news media outlets and via the DLNR Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Land and Water Conservation Fund grants provide a match for state and county funds to acquire new land for outdoor recreation and develop or renovate recreational facilities. Since 1967, the State of Hawaii and the four counties have received more than $38 million in LWCF grants for acquisition and development of outdoor recreation lands and facilities.

In recent years, LWCF grants have been awarded to the County of Hawaii to install new playground equipment at Panaewa Zoo in Hilo, the City and County of Honolulu to replace the ball field lights at Ala Wai Community Park, the County of Maui to construct a new skate park within the Lahaina Recreation Center, and State Parks for renovation of park cabins, pavilions, and comfort stations at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area on Hawaii island.

Senator Introduces Anti-Child Pornography Bill “Alicia’s Law”

Senator Will Espero, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, today announced the introduction of Senate Bill 2595, also known as “Alicia’s Law,” a measure that would provide a dedicated revenue stream for Hawaii’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).

Senator Will Espero, Chair of the Public Safety Intergovernmental Affairs Committee; Alicia Kozakiewicz, for whom the law is named, abducted at age 13 by an Internet predator; Alison Arngrim, celebrity advocate, best known for her portrayal of Nellie Oleson on the NBC television series “Little House on the Prairie.”

Senator Will Espero, Chair of the Public Safety Intergovernmental Affairs Committee; Alicia Kozakiewicz, for whom the law is named, abducted at age 13 by an Internet predator; Alison Arngrim, celebrity advocate, best known for her portrayal of Nellie Oleson on the NBC television series “Little House on the Prairie.”

The initiative is named after Alicia Kozakiewicz, who was abducted by an Internet predator, held hostage and tortured in her Virginia basement at the age of 13.

“I’m here today because the ICAC Task Forces were there,” said Kozakiewicz. “I was the needle in the haystack. I received the miracle. Because of that, I feel a moral obligation to help save as many other children who are subjected to abuse.”

There are thousands of ICAC leads in the state of Hawaii trafficking in sadistic images and videos of children being raped and tortured.  Nationally, 50% to 70% of these cases lead detectives to rescuing children from sexual abuse. The FBI reports that “the scope of the problem is worse than anticipated and growing exponentially.”

“The Hawaii ICAC task force is doing the best job they can with the limited resources of a Federal grant,” said Sen. Espero. “However, they are only able to investigate one to two cases per month.  With thousands of children needing protection this is unacceptable, and Hawaii needs a permanent revenue stream to fund the ICAC task force.”

“We know that most internet predators are also hands-on offenders and we know that child sexual abuse is a stealth crime,” said Grier Weeks, Executive Director of The National Association to Protect Children. “We can’t let children languish in abusive situations if we have the ability to provide law enforcement with a tool that allows for the immediate rescue of that child.”

SB2595

“This bill, should it become law, will help to keep our keiki safe,” added Sen. Espero. “Internet-based social media applications have become popular and easily accessible over the years especially amongst youth. These technologies and other internet sites can leave minors exposed to a litany of abuses and exploitations. It is imperative that we provide the necessary tools and resources to fight this growing epidemic.”

2014 Auto Body Hawaii Senior & High School Teacher Essay Contest

Auto Body Hawaii is announcing their 3rd annual Essay Contest for Seniors & High School Teachers. Auto Body Hawaii will provide West Hawaii’s graduating High School Seniors the opportunity to showcase their writing skills for the chance to win $500.

Auto Body Hawaii

Auto Body Hawaii will also award $500, as well as a gift certificate for a Super Wash Detailing Service; to the winning High School teacher. Teachers often choose to spend their own money to buy additional supplies for classes need; Auto Body Hawaii would like to help.

Here is 2014’s essay theme:

“If you had the opportunity to recommend a new subject that is not currently being offered in your school’s curriculum, what would you recommend & why would it be beneficial for students to learn”!

Contest deadline is April 30th 2014. For a list of invited participating schools & contest rules please visit: www.autobodyhawaii.com!

Call Tiffiny Taylor, 329-2544; essay@autobodyhawaii.com for more information.

 

Big Island Rep. Onishi Calls for Stronger Protections For Hawaii’s Farmers and Ranchers

Hawaii Island House of Representative Richard H.K. Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Pahala, Honoapu, Volcano) is calling for stronger protections for Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers by introducing a bill to strengthen Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act.

HB2506

Hawaii’s right-to-farm law is designed to protect and preserve agricultural operations by allowing farmers, who meet all legal requirements and use accepted farming management practices, protection from unreasonable controls on farming operations and from nuisance suits which might be brought against them.

The law also documents the importance of farming to the local community and State of Hawaii and puts non-farming rural residents on notice that generally accepted agricultural practices are reasonable activities to expect in farming areas.

“Like many other states, Hawaii has had to deal with encroaching urbanization and pressure it puts on our farms and agricultural lands,” Onishi said. “Unlike most states, Hawaii is an island with very limited space for agricultural endeavors. We’ve seen how hard it’s been to protect our ag lands and to keep them productive in the face of other pressing needs and priorities.

“But if we are interested in sustainability and moving Hawaii toward greater self-reliance, we will have to strike a better balance between our rural and urban needs. This measure is designed to do just that by protecting our local farmers and ranchers. They have a right to farm in the best way they see fit, as long as they follow legal and accepted agricultural practices, whether we’re talking about ranchers, poultry, hog, vegetable, flower and plant farmers.”

The public can participate in legislative discussions and follow the progress of the bill at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2506&year=2014