• Follow on Facebook

  • Individual Tickets Available at Door

    2016 Big Island Film Festival
  • Breaking News

  • World Botanical Garden
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • RSS Mayor Kenoi’s Blog

  • Say When

    May 2016
    S M T W T F S
    « Apr    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • When

  • RSS Pulpconnection

  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

State Budget Includes Over $389 Million for Capital Improvement Project Funding on Hawaii Island

Under the state budget passed by the Legislature last week, Big Island representatives secured more than $389 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for the biennium of Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 for various projects across Hawaii County.  Hawaii lawmakers were also able to secure $8.5 million in Grants-In-Aid CIP for Big Island nonprofit organizations.

Capital

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

  • $126 million for Kona International Airport improvements
  • $55 million for construction for a new Kona Judiciary complex
  • $33.5 million for Keaukaha Military Reservation projects
  • $21 million for Hawaii Community Correctional Center for a new housing and a support building
  • $15 million for Highway 130 repair.
  • $12.5 million for a new classroom building at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School
  • $9 million for Hawaii Community College renovations
  • $8.5 million for Workforce Development to build a multi-purpose center
  • $8 million for Mamalahoa Highway, Ninole Bridge rehabilitation
  • $7.9 million for Hilo Harbor improvement.
  • $7.6 million for Saddle Road Maintenance Baseyard improvements
  • $7.1 million for Hilo International Airport improvements
  • $6.7 million for Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center Improvements
  • $5.5 million for improvements at the Research Campus at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park
  • $4.2 million for improvements at Kawaihae Harbor
  • $4 million for the improvements to the lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed Project
  • $3.6 million for Kohala Mountain Road drainage improvements
  • $3.2 million for Hawaii Belt Road improvements
  • $2.9 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements
  • $2 million for Haaheo Elementary School to design and build a covered playcourt
  • $2 million for Hilo Forest Reserve land acquisition
  • $2 million for Hilo Intermediate School for Building A renovations
  • $1.6 million for Youth Challenge Academy upgrade and improvements
  • $1.5 million for Honokaa High and Intermediate School for restrooms in the auditorium
  • $1.5 million for Zero Waste Conversion to develop biofuel and animal feed in Keaau
  • $1.5 million for Kapiolani Elementary School to build a covered playcourt
  • $1.5 million for a Kohala water study
  • $1 million for Puu Waawaa structure improvement and dam compliance
  • $1 million for a Kamuela vacuum cooling plant
  • $830,000 for Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School
  • $800,000 for the Pohakuloa Training Area construction
  • $735,000 for Mountain View Elementary School improvements
  • $660,000 for extending the Daniel K. Inouye Highway
  • $600,000 for Keaukaha Elementary School for cafeteria equipment and improvements
  • $511,000 for Waikea Intermediate School for electrical upgrades and other improvements
  • $500,000 for a feasibility study for a new university hospital in Kona
  • $450,000 for Waiakea High School to build a baseball batting cage
  • $355,000 for Kahakai Elementary School road safety improvements
  • $335,000 for Konawaena High School improvements
  • $300,000 for Kealakehe Elementary School improvements and parking
  • $300,000 for Hawaii Community College at Palamanui for office space and storage
  • $300,000 for Pohoiki Boat Ramp repairs
  • $290,000 for Naalehu Elementary School repairs and maintenance
  • $200,000 for Pahoa Elementary School improvements
  • $200,000 for Keaau Elementary School improvements
  • $150,000 for Kau High School improvements

In addition to the executive budget CIP funding, appropriations for Grants-In-Aid were also awarded to organizations for the benefit of the Hawaii Island community:

  • $1.2 million for Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School to plan, design, build and equip a community food kitchen
  • $1 million for Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce to design and build an education facility
  • $1 million for Panaewa Community Alliance to plan design and build a health facility
  • $1 million for Lai‘i‘opua 2020 to desing and build a community center
  • $1 million for Kailapa Community Association to plan, design and build a resource center
  • $800,000 for Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council to build and complete the Milolii Community Enrichment Historical Center
  • $535,000 for Ho‘oulu Lahui to build a commercial kitchen in Puna
  • $500,000 for Lyman House Memorial Museum to build a new island heritage gallery exhibit
  • $315,000 for Kailapa Community Association to plan, design and build a resource center
  • $300,000 for Hawaii Island Community Development Corp. to build a new adult day care facility in Hilo
  • $285,000 for Friends of the Volcano School of Arts & Sciences to plan, design and build a certified kitchen
  • $250,000 for Hamakua Health Center to design and build and equip a modular building addition to the Kohala Clinic
  • $150,000 for Panaewa Community Alliance to plan and design the Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center
  • $100,000 for Hawaii Wildlife Center to fabricate, install and operate exhibits
  • $88,000 for Anekona Ouli Kanehoa VFD Company to construct a volunteer apparatus garage
  • $35,000 for Holualoa Foundation for Art & Culture for repairs at the Donkey Mill Art Center

10 Boaters Rescued in Two Separate Cases Off Oahu

The Coast Guard, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services and Honolulu Fire Department personnel rescued 10 boaters in two separate cases off Kahala, Oahu, Sunday.

In both cases responders were able to locate all survivors, bring them aboard response craft and get them to safety.

The Coast Guard rescued seven people from an overturned canoe approximately two miles south of Kahala, Oahu, May 8, 2016. A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu safely recovered all seven people onto the RB-M and transported them to the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

The Coast Guard rescued seven people from an overturned canoe approximately two miles south of Kahala, Oahu, May 8, 2016. A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu safely recovered all seven people onto the RB-M and transported them to the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

At 10:04 a.m. the Coast Guard overheard Ocean Safety personnel responding to a report of a 15-foot vessel taking on water with three people aboard a mile and a half south of Kahala. Ocean Safety located all three boaters, took them aboard their jet skis and brought them to shore.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu was on site to provide assistance. Crews were unable to successfully dewater the capsized vessel and it remains partially submerged, unlighted and adrift. A broadcast notice to mariners has been issued alerting those in the area of the potential hazard to navigation.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has been notified. The owner of the vessel is expected to attempt salvage. The small vessel reportedly has an outboard with a 15-gallon gasoline tank.

At 10:36 a.m. HFD requested assistance from the Coast Guard to respond to a report of an overturned canoe with seven people aboard off Kahala, a mere 100-yards from the first response location. The Coast Guard crew safely recovered all seven people onto the RB-M and transported them safely to the Ala Wai Boat Harbor.

The Coast Guard rescued seven people from an overturned canoe approximately two miles south of Kahala, Oahu, May 8, 2016. A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu safely recovered all seven people onto the RB-M and transported them to the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

The Coast Guard rescued seven people from an overturned canoe approximately two miles south of Kahala, Oahu, May 8, 2016. A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu safely recovered all seven people onto the RB-M and transported them to the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

Crewmembers from the Honolulu Fire Department righted the canoe and towed it toward Ala Wai Boat Harbor, before being relived of the tow by a good Samaritan who brought the vessel safely into the harbor.

No injuries or pollution were reported from either case.

“We’ve had an incredibly busy day for search and rescue cases throughout the Hawaiian Islands,” said Petty Officer 1st Class AJ Labarr, a duty watchstander from Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Our partnership with local emergency responders like Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services and the Honolulu Fire Department allow all of us to work together seamlessly in these type of situations and save lives.”

Early Sunday, the Coast Guard responded to a report of three boaters in distress off Kauai. A Coast Guard Station Kauai RB-M crew safely recovered them and brought them to Port Allen. One man was mildly hypothermic.

Jimmy Yagi Summer Hoops Camp Returns to Hilo

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation invites keiki basketball players to the 4th Annual Jimmy Yagi Summer Hoops Camp that returns to Hilo July 26-29.

YagiOpen to boys and girls 9 to 17 years old, the Jimmy Yagi Summer Hoops Camp will be held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium and the Pana‘ewa Covered Play Courts, which feature new flooring.

David Kaneshiro, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo head women’s basketball coach, and GE Coleman, UH-Hilo head men’s coach, will serve as lead clinicians. Each will share basketball expertise and offer personalized instruction during the four-day camp. Assisting the Vulcan coaches will be Daphne Honma, Honoka‘a High School girls basketball coach, previous Division II coach of the year, and former UH-Hilo head women’s basketball coach. Additional college and high school coaches have been invited to be camp clinicians.

A team of coaches will instruct and supervise campers as they practice agility, ball-handling and other drills during morning skill sessions. Following a lunch break, players will showcase what they’ve learned by competing in games expected to last until about 3:30 p.m. each day. Special awards will be presented to outstanding participants at the close of Friday’s session.

The registration fee is $60 per child. The fee will increase to $70 for players registering after Tuesday, July 12. All participants will receive a camp shirt and group photo. Please make checks payable to the County Director of Finance and include the note “Jimmy Yagi Summer Hoops Camp.”

Registration forms are available at the Department’s Recreation office located within Aunty Sally Kaleohano’s Lū‘au Hale at 799 Pi‘ilani Street in Hilo, county gyms islandwide, and online at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/parks-and-recreation/.

The Jimmy Yagi Summer Hoops Camp is named in honor of the legendary former UH-Hilo men’s basketball coach who helped guide the Vulcans-Hawai‘i Basketball School for 37 years.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.

Community Meeting on Rapid Ohia Death (ROD)

On Tuesday, May 10th at 7:00 pm, a community meeting will be held to discuss what can be done to stop the Rapid Ohia Death that has been happening on the Big Island of Hawaii.

ROD

Judge Riki May Amano Affirmed as TMT Contested Case Officer

All seven members of the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources (Board), in a decision released today, directed retired Hawai‘i island Judge Riki May Amano to proceed as the contested case hearing officer for the Conservation Use District Application (CDUA) for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.

TMT laser

In response to objections raised by certain parties (“Petitioners”) to Judge Amano’s selection as the TMT hearing officer due to her family membership in the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center (“‘Imiloa”) operated by the University of Hawaii-Hilo, the Board stated: “A ‘family membership’ does not confer any right to participate in ‘Imiloa’s governance or decision making, in contrast to organizations where members may vote for a board of directors or other officers,” and the membership simply allows her and her family to “view exhibits and displays at a museum that focuses on astronomy, Mauna Kea, and Hawaiian culture.”

In written disclosures to the Board last month, Judge Amano stated that she and her husband paid $85 per year since 2008 to maintain an ‘Imiloa family membership, which allows free admission to the astronomy center and discounts at the center restaurant and gift shop. Judge Amano further declared that her family membership expires on May 24, 2016 and will not be renewed.

The Board stated, “No reasonable person would infer that the possibility of this ‘benefit’ (‘Imiloa family membership) would override the hearing officer’s duty to make an impartial recommendation to the Board.”  The Hawai’i Revised Code of Judicial Conduct directly addresses the issue of how to treat Judge Amano’s membership if ‘Imiloa is assumed to be a party to the contested case. “The rule provides that a judge shall disqualify herself if the judge or her specific listed relative are a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, general partner, managing member of trustee of a party.  While this list is not exhaustive, what is significant to the BLNR is that all of these grounds involve some kind of fiduciary or managerial relationship between the judge (or the judge’s relative) and the party.  Such relationships do not remotely resemble the ‘family membership’ at issue here,” said the Board in its decision.

The Board carefully deliberated as to Judge Amano’s statement that she initially saw no connection between ‘Imiloa and the TMT application, and her statement that she did not know that ‘Imiloa was part of UH-Hilo. The Board accepted Judge Amano’s explanation and added, “The Board would certainly encourage hearing officers to disclose a broad range of known relationships…but it will not disqualify Judge Amano for not disclosing her ‘Imiloa family membership, which even in connection with facts she did not know, is not something that a reasonable person would consider likely to affect the impartiality of the arbitrator. The Board finds that under the applicable legal standards, a reasonable person knowing all the facts would not doubt the impartiality of Judge Amano.”

The Board also found that the public notice soliciting attorneys to apply to serve as the TMT contested case hearing officer was properly published on January 29, 2016. Additionally the Board ruled that its decision to delegate the selection of the hearing officer to the Board Chairperson did not need to be made in an open meeting pursuant to chapter 92 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (the “Sunshine Law”).  Citing legal decisions, the Board found that the Sunshine Law did not apply to boards exercising adjudicatory functions, such as conducting a contested case hearing. Further, the Petitioners’ claim that they should have received prior notice of the selection process was not required because, “The Board’s decision to delegate authority to a hearing officer and the selection of a hearing officer are properly adjudicatory functions.”

On December 2, 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court remanded the TMT permit application to the circuit court to further remand to the Board for a contested case hearing.  On February 22, 2016, circuit judge Greg K. Nakamura remanded the matter to the Board.  Four days later on February 26, the Board met to restart the contested process.  A public solicitation for a hearing officer occurred, a three member committee evaluated applications, and the hearing officer was announced on March 31.  Three supplemental disclosures were filed by Judge Amano in April, followed by more opportunities for the Petitioners to respond. The Board gave all parties until May 2 to raise legal arguments for or against the selection process and selection of the hearing officer.

Today’s sixteen-page decision denies the Petitioners’ objections and directs Judge Amano to begin the contested case process.

2016 UH Hilo Awards and Recognition Celebration Awardees

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo honored several members of the University community at its 2016 Awards and Recognition Celebration held on Thursday, May 5.
UH Hilo Moniker
Mathematics Professor Dr. Mitch Anderson was presented with the Excellence in Service Award, given to a faculty or professional staff for service-related professional skills to UH Hilo and the community.

Anderson is one of the most active professors in the UH Hilo Faculty Congress and the go-to faculty member for program review, assessment and accreditation, one nominator noted. He was a key author of the new Program Review Handbook that went into effect two years ago, and also spearheaded one of the nation’s biggest mathematical curricular redesigns by working with the State Department of Education to align its mathematics curriculum to state Common Core Standards (CCSS). His efforts have helped make Hawai’i a model for curricular alignment to CCSS.

Kaliko Trapp, lecturer, Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, received the Distinguished Service Award for Improving Student Life for making outstanding contributions beyond the boundaries of his official responsibilities.

His student nominator, Vanessa Winchester-Sai, who is largely confined to a wheelchair, credits Trapp with helping her get the most out of her educational experience. In addition to being an instructor, he provided the technical accommodations necessary for Winchester-Sai to participate in her other classes as well. She said Trapp has made a profound difference in her life, for which she is eternally grateful.

The Pūlama ʻIke Award, which recognizes a significant contribution to developing and promoting the spirit and mission of the University, was presented to Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, interim vice chancellor for student affairs.

As a member of UH President David Lassner’s Hawai’i Papa O Ke Ao task force to indigenize each campus, she has spearheaded activities to increase student success, faculty and staff development, and institutional and extramural funding. Makuakāne-Lundin has led the Kupa ʻĀina Summer Bridge program with Kamehameha Schools, which provides incoming students with a six-week residential experience focused on cultivating academic learning, personal development and professional skill sets. Her U.S. Department of Education grant-funded Ho’okahua initiative provided $1 million in improvements and renovations to the Hale Kanilehua dormitory while funding a Scholars-in-Residence program that included Dr. Manulani Meyer and Keali’i Reichel among its participants.

Dr. Mahavir Chougule, associate professor, department of pharmaceutical sciences, was awarded the Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation, which recognizes creativity in teaching, scholarship and artistic production at UH Hilo.

Chougule has contributed to UH Hilo’s training and research mission with innovative nanotechnology research, focusing on targeted delivery to improve the therapeutic outcomes of diseases such as cancer and asthma that resulted in filing a provisional application for a patent. His research has led to establishment of the first nanotechnology-based extramural funded lung cancer and asthma program in the State of Hawaiʻi, bringing national recognition to the University in the form of the American Association of Cancer Research Minority-Serving Institution Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research Award.

The Excellence in Building & Grounds Maintenance Award was presented to Kevin Hand, the University’s electrician.

Hand is currently UH Hilo’s only electrician, who is currently working on a campus-wide lighting conversion. The replacement of old fluorescent light fixtures with modern LED fixtures is enabling the University to maintain existing light levels with half as many lights, while saving an estimated 60 percent on electricity for lighting. He has also helped beautify the grounds and buildings by installing new conduits inside and underneath buildings.

Jamie Ouye, Housing’s senior resident student assistant, was named Student Employee of the Year.

Selected for a strong work ethic and attention to detail, Ouye plans and implements engaging training and staff outreach, and has coordinated various informational outreach and awareness programs, such as suicidal ideation, the effects of bullying, stress management, and the importance of community service. Ouye was also credited for going the extra mile for her co-workers by covering shifts during breaks and holidays to allow them to travel home to visit family.

The event also recognized retired employees and those receiving various years of service awards.

Hawaii Police Community Satisfaction Survey Results

Chief Harry Kubojiri wishes to thank the 583 members of the public who participated in the Hawai’i Police Department’s 2016 Community Satisfaction Survey during the month of March.

As in previous surveys, Chief Kubojiri said the survey was a tool to assist him in:

  • identifying problem areas the community is experiencing with the Police Department
  • determining if he can rectify those issues through specific training of Police Department personnel
  • making changes to policies and procedures if necessary
  • clarifying misinformation about laws and/or police practices

“Your feedback has been invaluable in providing input into the impressions of the community and visitors to our island,” Kurojiri said. “Your input is one of the many tools we use in our continuing efforts to improve how we provide services to the public.”

The survey results can be viewed here.

Click to see all the results of the survey

Click to see all the results of the survey

The chief encourages the public to continue to provide feedback throughout the year by using the “Feedback” link on the Police Department’s website.

Volcanoes National Park Escape Road Improvements Begin Monday

A project to improve and repair Escape Road from Highway 11 to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will begin Monday, May 9. The road will be closed Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of June or until the project is complete.

escape road

The section of road from Highway 11 to Nāhuku will be open when work is not scheduled.  The section of Escape Road from Nāhuku to Mauna Ulu will not be impacted.

Escape Road is an emergency access route that cyclists, hikers and equestrians enjoy.

Commentary: East Hawaii vs. West Hawaii – Paradigm Changed After Kenoi was Elected

I don’t think it would be wise to split Hawaii County into two counties. Yes, West Hawaii does pay 70% of the property taxes. However, this disparity is due in part to the value of the homes being higher on the west side versus the east side. In other words, West Hawaii homeowners are subsidizing the lower property taxes paid from East Hawaii residents.

Hawaii in Half

This was a bone of contention during Mayor Harry Kim’s eight years in office. West Hawaii paid most of the property taxes, but got very little in return between 2000-2008. The paradigm changed after Mayor Billy Kenoi was elected in 2008. His administration brought West Hawaii back into the fold by constructing needed infrastructure improvements, and by bringing county government closer to the residents living in West Hawaii.

This is a non-inclusive list of these infrastructure improvements completed between 2008 and 2016 by Mayor Kenoi’s administration; West Hawaii Civic Center, La’aloa Avenue Extension, Mamalahoa Highway bypass, Kaiminani Drive rehabilitation phases 1 & 2, Makalei Fire Station, Ane Keohokalole Highway, etc. Mayor Harry Kim’s track record was less than stellar.

His administration dropped the  ball with Ali’i Parkway, and failed to address burgeoning traffic issues on the west side. The only noteworthy project started in West Hawaii during Mayor Kim’s term was the realignment of the Kealaka’a Street intersection.

Mayor Kenoi’s administration has thoroughly addressed that burgeoning west side traffic congestion issue, and has largely put to rest any talk of splitting Hawaii County. However, this issue has started to percolate to surface again due to upcoming election, and because Mayor Kenoi’s term is ending at the end of this year.

There is at least one current mayoral candidate, who believes splitting the county into two would be wise. I believe this would be huge mistake.

Hawaii County currently receives 18% of the yearly Federal Highways fund allotment, and $19.2 million dollars in transient accommodation tax revenue. If another county is conceived, these funds would have to be shared. On top of that, it would establish a new layer of unneeded government bureaucracy on this island I firmly believe we should stay one county, instead of splitting into two. We have to help each other, especially since we’re so isolated from the rest of the world.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Kona Business Ends Affiliation With Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce

Today, a well known business that was a member of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce requested to be removed from all affiliations with the Chamber of Commerce.

It all began when a deal fell through and Parker had to do what anybody would do when they were wronged.

It all began when a deal fell through and Parker had to do what anybody would do when they were wronged.

Tiki Shark Art Inc, its Owners and Board of Directors recently won a $43,000.00 judgment against a Middle Eastern Firm out of Dubai and today Tiki Shark Art Agent Abbas Hassan sent a letter to the Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Kirstin Kahaloa, expressing his displeasure in the Chambers decision in having one of its board members defending the foreign corporation.

Hassan writes:

Kirstin (Kahaloa)…..thank you for taking the time to come see me.

As discussed in our meeting this morning, Tiki Shark Art Inc, its Owners and Board of Directors are not comfortable with the fact that one of your Board members is actually defending a foreign Corporation in a legal motion against us. That too when a local Hawaiian judge has already ruled in our favor over a month ago.  Furthermore, this individual may have been previewed to information via casual conversation in Chamber gatherings that could potentially effect the outcome of the case………just does not make sense to any of us!

Anyway’s it is with a heavy heart that I inform you of our immediate withdrawal as a member of the Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

Please make sure our name is taken off and “unsubscribed” to all mailing lists.

I wish you and your Chamber the very best in the future.

Sincerely,

Abbas Hassan

Well known artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker weighed in and said, “This seems unfair. It’s a question of responsibility. Someone who sits as an officer on the board of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce represents the Chamber, and to some extent, also the City of Kailua-Kona. That’s a big responsibility. To the average guy on the beach, when he hears that a law suit is being filed against a local small business and the prosecuting attorney is a officer of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, well, in the court of public opinion, the Chamber is probably in the right and the small business man is probably in the wrong.”

Hawaii State Senate Adjourns 2016 Regular Session

The Hawai‘i State Senate adjourned the 2016 regular session with a sense of accomplishment in passing a fiscally responsible budget, addressing priority needs for the state, and tackling a number of challenging issues as highlighted in the Hawai‘i Senate Majority Legislative Program at the start of the 2016 Session.

Capital

Over the course of this legislative session, Senators, along with their House counterparts, approved substantial funding to install air conditioning for our public schools, provided an unprecedented appropriation for homeless programs statewide, delivered additional support to meet the housing needs for Hawai‘i’s families, and improved health care services.

In his closing remarks, Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Dist. 8 -Kaua’i, Ni’ihau) reflected upon the trials the body faced this session with the passing of Sen. Gilbert Kahele, as well as the health challenges faced by Senators Breene Harimoto and Sam Slom.  He praised the courage of Senators Harimoto and Slom, and complimented the Senate staff for working hard under trying circumstances to get the work of the people done.

“In the face of difficulty, I congratulate each and every one of you for continuing to focus on the important work of the Legislature,” said Kouchi. “Through collaboration and cooperation, we are able to present not only a fiscally responsible budget, but also sound policy of which the citizens of Hawai‘i will see benefits.”

In alignment with the Hawai‘i Senate Majority Legislative Program theme of providing for our families (Mālama ‘Ohana), a $12 million lump sum appropriation for homeless programs is a recognition of this statewide concern and represents a significant opportunity to change the way to approach the homeless problem.  In understanding the holistic need to address this crisis, $160 million in funds for improvements at the Hawai‘i State Hospital, along with $3 million in general funds for the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority and $75 million allocated toward the rental Housing Assistance Revolving Fund and Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund will support efforts to approach the homeless issue from a variety of angles.

In an investment in our children, lawmakers took a bold step and increased Preschool Open Doors base funding to $10 million, which will help struggling families with real opportunities for school readiness. Lawmakers also found a fiscally creative solution to fund a $100 million emergency appropriation for air conditioning and heat abatement measures that will help move forward the Department of Education program to cool schools.

In terms of nurturing our earth, (Mālama Honua) lawmakers provided substantial resources to study in-stream flow standards and assess water availability, a number of bills along with $1.6 million in general funds for various water infrastructure support statewide and more than $4.7 million in general funds was provided in bills for conservation efforts and the fight against invasive species.  More than $4.8 in general funds in various measures provide a solid foundation to reinforce agriculture as an industry moving forward.

By focusing on growing jobs and our economy, appropriations and measures to provide $4 million in grants and allocating funds to strengthen our infrastructure and position in the Pacific through the Hawai‘i Broadband Initiative, along with $1 million in general funds to budget for HI-Growth and $100,000 in matching general funds for the state’s Creative Labs program, fall in line with sustaining our communities (Mālama Kaiāulu).

Lawmakers passed measures that reflected good governance (Mālama Aupuni) by making steps toward taking care of our debts and obligations by approving $150 million for the Rainy Day Fund and $81.9 million to pay down unfunded liabilities.

“This puts us on a more solid financial footing going forward, knowing that if and when times get tough, paying less always helps,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda (Dist.24 – Kane‘ohe, Kane‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Ahuimanu), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

Lawmakers also provided $1.15 billion in general obligation bonds and $2.5 billion for projects funded by all other means of financing for capital improvement projects that will play a vital role in rebuilding our economy and strengthening our social infrastructure.

On the contentious issues this session, such as water rights and transient accommodations tax collection, the Senate displayed its ability to participate in healthy debate, yet continue to collaborate while keeping the best interests of the people of Hawai‘i in mind.

“One of the strengths of the Senate is our ability to have differing opinions, yet recognize when to put those sentiments aside to get to work and come up with solutions,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “The measures we passed this session achieved our goal of improving the quality of life for our keiki, kūpuna, and nā ‘ohana who are most in need and we will continue to work to ensure what we’ve put in place this session will continue to move our state forward.”

The Hawai‘i Senate Majority 2016 Legislative Program can be viewed on the website: www.hawaiisenatemajority.com

Hawaii Senate District 1 Awarded Over $89 Million in Capital Improvement Project Funds

With the adoption of the supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2017, Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele (Dist. 1 – Hilo) is proud to announce more than $89 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding has been appropriated for various projects for District 1. These projects address aging infrastructure, improve existing schools and facilities, and establish additional safety measures.

Kai Kahele Profile

“The projects funded by the budget will help move East Hawai‘i forward by creating jobs, enhancing our public infrastructure and facilities, and investing in education,” said Sen. Kahele. “By working collaboratively with my colleagues, Senator Lorraine R. Inouye, Representatives Mark M. Nakashima, Clift Tsuji and Richard H.K. Onishi, we will continue to secure funds to drive our economy and improve our quality of life.”

In realizing that the real future lies in the hands of our children and grandchildren, legislators reflected a Senate Majority priority goal of providing for our families and allocated funds for a covered play court at Chiefess Kapi‘olani and Ha‘aheo Elementary Schools, providing kitchen equipment for the Keaukaha Elementary School cafeteria and electrical upgrades for Waiākea Intermediate School.  In passing SB3126 SD2 HD2 CD1, $100 million was allocated to the Department of Education to assist in moving forward their program to install air conditioning and other heat abatement measures in our public schools and providing students with a better learning environment.

Lawmakers also recognized other imperative concerns of District 1 and allocated significant resources for the airports, harbors and health services.

“Throughout my life, my father taught me the importance of community service and I’m honored to carry on his legislative initiatives,” said Sen. Kai Kahele.

Notable CIP funding highlights for District 1 include:

  • $31.8 million for renovations on the Keaukaha Military Reservation
  • $2 million for covered playcourt for Ha‘aheo Elementary School
  • $1.5 million for design and construction for a covered playcourt at Kapi‘olani Elementary School
  • $252,000 for plans, design and construction for electrical systems upgrades for Waiākea Intermediate School
  • $6.75 million for improvements for the Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center
  • $300,000 for construction for a new adult day care facility at the Hawai‘i Island Community Development Corporation
  • $2 million for land acquisition to expand the Hilo Forest Reserve
  • $21 million for design and construction of a new support building, housing and support offices and security system for Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center
  • $3.5 million for improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $7.95 million for demolition of pier shed and water tower and other improvements for Hilo Harbor
  • $2.2 million for plans for rehabilitation and/or replacement of Wailuku Bridge along Hawaii Belt Road (Route 19)
  • $600,000 for design and construction for cafeteria equipment installation; ground and site improvement; equipment and appurtenances at Keaukaha Elementary School

In addition to the executive budget CIP funding, appropriations for Grants-in-Aid (GIA) were also awarded to organizations for the benefit of the Hilo community:

  • $1 million for design and construction for an education facility for Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce
  • $1 million for plans, design and construction for a health facility for Panaewa Community Alliance
  • $500,000 for construction for a new Island Heritage Gallery Exhibit at Lyman House Memorial Museum
  • $217,000 for Rainbow Falls Botanical Garden and Visitor Center
  • $200,000 for program to assist with at risk and low income school students to prevent from dropping out of High School in Hilo
  • $150,000 for Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center

Student Photographers Excel in First Time Competition

The Shops at Mauna Lani presented nine students with cash scholarships and prizes in its first annual Student Photography Competition on Saturday, April 30, 2016. From 80 total entries, winning photos were selected based on technical excellence, composition, artistic merit, creative excellence, overall vitality, impact and more.

Courtesy The Shops at Mauna Lani. L to R: Marketing Assistant Manager Kawelina Gomes, Thomas Scott, Taylor Mabuni, Nuuhiwa Beatty, Sammi Goldberg, Jordan Vedelli, Priscilla Lange, General Manager Michael Oh

Courtesy The Shops at Mauna Lani. L to R: Marketing Assistant Manager Kawelina Gomes, Thomas Scott, Taylor Mabuni, Nuuhiwa Beatty, Sammi Goldberg, Jordan Vedelli, Priscilla Lange, General Manager Michael Oh

In First Place, Taylor Mabuni, Grade 11 at Makua Lani Christian Academy, won a $500 cash scholarship for his work, showing artistic eye and technical expertise in expressing The Shops’ architectural features and inviting ambiance. Jordan Vedelli, Grade 8 at Parker School, Second Place ($300), captured the fun and vitality of a family dinner at Monstera Noodles & Sushi restaurant. Third Place ($200) went to Priscilla Lange, Grade 8 at West Hawaii Explorations Academy, whose winning photo spotlighted the weekly hula and fire dance performance.

Special category awards went to:

  • Thomas Scott, Grade 10 at American School Distance Learning Program, Technical Excellence
  • Lily Kassis, Grade 6 at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Composition Excellence
  • Eima Kozakai, Grade 9 at Kealakehe High School, Artistic Excellence
  • Orlando Corrado, Grade 9 at Kealakehe High School, Creative Excellence
  • Sammi Goldberg, Grade 11 at West Hawaii Explorations Academy, Overall Vitality
  • Nuuhiwa Beatty, Grade 6 at Makua Lani Academy, Overall Impact

“We were thrilled with the quantity, and the quality of all the photos,” said Michael Oh, General Manager. “These young photographers exceeded our expectations in every way. We are delighted to honor them, and wish them much success in their career. And, we are already looking forward to our next Student Photography Contest.”

Hawaii House of Representatives Adjourns 2016 Regular Session – Passing Several Bills

The House of Representatives today adjourned the 2016 regular legislative session, passing several remaining bills, including Senate Bill 2077, House Bill 2086, House Bill 1654 and House Bill 2543.

Capital

SB2077 SD1 HD2 CD2 authorizes Hawaii Hospital Systems Corp. employees facing reduction-in-force or workforce restructuring to opt to receive either severance benefits or a special retirement benefit in lieu of exercising any reduction-in-force rights.  The bill is in response to the pending privatization of Maui Memorial Hospital.

HB2086 HD2 SD2 appropriates $37 million into the state highway fund as a subsidy, and requires the Governor to provide a plan to sustain the state highway fund.

HB1654 HD1 SD2 allows a permanent absentee voter to temporarily receive a ballot at an alternate address for elections within an election cycle. Clarifies that certain conditions that normally lead to a termination of permanent absentee voter status do not apply if the voter resides in an absentee ballot only area. Replaces references to facsimile ballots with references to electronically transmitted ballots. Allows a voter to receive an absentee ballot by electronic transmission if the voter requires such a ballot within five days of an election, or the voter would otherwise not be able to return a properly issued ballot by the close of polls.

HB2543 HD2 SD 1 makes permanent the requirement that the state and the counties take action within 60 days for broadband-related permit applications, take action within 145 days for use applications for broadband facilities within the conservation district, and establish other requirements regarding broadband-related permits, and weight load for utility poles to capacities established by the FCC and PUC.

Click on this link for all bills passed during the 2016 session.

During the session, the House approved major funding for affordable housing and homelessness, air conditioning and heat abatement for 1,000 classroom statewide, the largest ever disbursement to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, help for displaced Maui sugar workers and significant pay down of the state’s unfunded liabilities.

“In January, I asked you to use the momentum created from our last session to keep us and Hawaii moving forward.  During this session, you did just that with hard work and perseverance,” according to House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu) in written remarks to state representatives.

“You helped shape a budget that is fiscally prudent, forward looking, and addresses the state’s priorities on the homeless and affordable housing, our classrooms and education, our public hospitals and healthcare, our prisons and public safety, and Hawaiian Home lands and our host culture.”

Souki thanked House members for providing $100 million for air conditioning in public school classrooms, $650,000 to retrain and support displaced Maui sugar plantation workers, $2.5 million to sustain Wahiawa General Hospital, $150 million to replenish the state’s Rainy Day fund, and $81.9 to pay down unfunded liabilities (owed toward the state retirees’ post-employment benefits).

“You also put us on a path toward building affordable housing units on state owned parcels along our future rail system,” Souki wrote.  “This effort offers great potential for not just home building but community building.

“An essential part of community building is to make that community sustainable for the long term.  That’s why it was important for us to protect prime agriculture land between Wahiawa and Waialua and invest $31.5 million to purchase those lands from Dole Food Co.”

Finally, Souki thanked the representatives for providing funding to support Maui workers and their families affected by the closure of Hawaii Commercial and Sugar Company, as well as for working out a compromise measure dealing with the issue of water rights among competing interests on Maui.

“It is never an easy task to deal with competing interests and priorities,” Souki wrote.  “Each priority seems so obvious in isolation.  But the devil is never in a single priority, but always in the prioritization process itself.

“It’s easy enough to throw your hands up and call them no-win situations.  But our job is to provide leadership and make the difficult decisions.  In doing so, you may not win any popularity contest.  But you will have earned the respect and appreciation from those who see the big picture, and understand your position and your responsibility to all the people of Hawaii.”

Temple Children Launches Mural Project to Activate Hilo

This week, globally renowned artists Lauren YS, Wooden Wave and David “MEGGS” Hooke are painting sustainability-themed murals as part of a concerted effort to invigorate and beautify Downtown Hilo.
Hilo Mural
Bay Area artist Lauren YS, who studied at Stanford University, is painting the Hilo Town Tavern. Lāʻie-based artist Matthew Ortiz of Wooden Wave is leading the mural at Short N Sweet Bakery in collaboration with Australian artist, MEGGS.

At the Hilo Town Tavern, Lauren pays homage to her sister Dani, who recently graduated from Barnard College at Columbia University with an astrobiology degree. Dani is depicted as a “cyber-hybrid space biologist traversing a sustainable future dreamscape in search of nutrient rich, local flora” because of Dani’s focus during her NASA internship to find plants that could possibly be used to sustain life on Mars.

The maritime scene at Short N Sweet was commissioned by Energy Excelerator, a mission-driven nonprofit dedicated to solving the world’s energy challenges. Inspired by Hawaiʻi’s mandated clean energy goals, Wooden Wave’s mural depicts a large sustainability boat equipped with various permaculture and energy producing systems. The ‘community on a boat’ is outfitted with a bakery, a nod to the building’s history and Hilo’s iconic mom-and-pop shops.

Hilo Mural 2The Hilo murals are led by Temple Children, an arts-based organization founded by Hilo-native Miya Tsukazaki and her partner MEGGS that coordinates projects to strengthen communities, promote social and environmental innovation, and incite positive global change. Ashley Kierkiewicz rounds out the team as Temple Children’s Regional Director.

To support the project, HPM Building Supply generously donated Pratt & Lambert paint and various supplies; Hilo Town Tavern and Short N Sweet provided additional onsite assistance.

The murals are expected to be complete this Saturday, May 7. A third and final mural led by MEGGS in collaboration with Oahu-based muralist and tattoo artist Lucky Olelo will commence at Lucy’s Taqueria/Laundry Express the week of May 15.

Individuals or organizations interested in contributing to the project or inquiring about a mural commission in the Hawaii region may contact Ashley Kierkiewicz at (808) 989-4004.

Big Island Entrepreneurs Launch $25,000 Business Plan Competition

Two long-time Big Island businessmen are aiming to give would-be entrepreneurs a serious jump start.

Click for more information

Click for more information

World-renowned aquaculture expert Dr. Jim Wyban and Kelly Moran, President/Founder of Hilo Brokers, are co-chairing the upcoming “Best Big Island Business Plan” competition, to be hosted by the University of Hawaii at Hilo in the fall of 2016.

At stake is a total of $25,000 in seed money from a variety of sponsors including the Natural Energy Lab, the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and the Ulupono Initiative..  Entry is open to any and all types of businesses, from Astronomy and Agriculture to Technology and Tourism.

“As long as it’s Big Island-based, it qualifies,” explains Moran, adding, “there’s so much talent out there, and this is a great opportunity to fast-forward someone’s killer concept.”

But the purpose of the competition goes beyond jump-starting a lone entrepreneur or co-op.  Both men are confident that by encouraging budding businesses to put their ideas forward, a better entrepreneurial ecosystem can be built on the Big Island.

“Good ideas can’t thrive in isolation,” describes Dr. Wyban, adding, “it takes peers, mentors and even competitors to push a venture to its full potential.”

Dr. Wyban speaks from experience.  An aquaculture pioneer, he helped to develop pathogen-free shrimp varieties that helped to quadruple global production before selling his technology to a multinational corporation.

Moran is a 30-year real estate veteran, who has overseen more than $500 million worth of transactions in his career.

Plan entries are being accepted now.  Competition proceedings will be held at the University of Hawaii at Hilo in the Fall 2016 semester, exact date and time to be announced.

For more information on the competition and to download entry forms, visit the Best Big Island Business Plan’s website at www.BBIBP.org.

Questions can be directed to Dr. Wyban by emailing jim@BBIBP.org.

National Science Foundation Awards $20 Million Dollar Grant to UH System for Clean Water Research Project

Today, Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $20,000,000 grant to the University of Hawaii System for a clean water research project. The project, titled Ike Wai from the Hawaiian words for knowledge and water, will address the critical needs of the state to maintain its supply of clean water, most of which comes from groundwater sources.

Ike Wai

“This grant will greatly improve our understanding of one of Hawaii’s most precious natural resources,” said Representative Mark Takai (HI-01). “Through public-private collaboration with federal, state and local agencies, we can increase the efficiency of our state’s water management, and ensure that we have the federal resources necessary to promote a workforce capable of conducting this type of research for generations to come.”

“Due to our volcanic origins, our system of aquifers is far more complex than we once thought,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). “This grant will allow scientists to use modern mapping tools to provide policymakers with critical information about our water resources, and help ensure that there is enough for the needs of people, agriculture, and future generations.”

“Hawaii’s water is a precious resource, and this competitive funding will support the University of Hawaii’s research into protecting our fresh water sources for future generations,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power. “Ike Wai and other projects that build an innovative, sustainable future are essential to understanding and finding solutions for our island state’s unique needs, and also underscore the importance of significant federal investments in research in these critical areas, something that I strongly support.”

“Pollution, fracking, unsustainable farming practices, and over development have put serious pressure on our clean water supply across the globe. It is essential that we protect and maintain access to fresh and clean water in Hawaiʻi due our isolated location in the Pacific,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “There is still much unknown about how water flows through the unique landscapes and volcanic foundations of our islands. This grant from the National Science Foundation will help us to better understand how to use our precious natural resources to ensure a continuous and high quality water supply.”

Ike Wai Valley

The Ike Wai project, awarded under the NSF’s Research Infrastructure Improvements Program, will greatly improve understanding of where the water that provides for the needs of Hawaii’s cities, farms, and industries comes from and how to ensure a continued, high quality supply. This supply is under increasing pressures from population growth, economic development, and climate change. The funding provided by the NSF will encourage collaboration with federal, state, and local agencies and community groups concerned with water management.

Lawmakers Pass Resolution to Preserve Kapua Lands

Members of the Senate Committee on Water, Land and Agriculture today voted to pass Senate Resolution 46.

sr46SR46 requests the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to engage in negotiations with the current land owners of the makai lands of Kapua to acquire the lands on behalf of the state or to lease those lands in perpetuity on behalf of the state.

“Our late colleague, Senator Gil Kahele, had the dream of the state purchasing the Kapua makai lands. This resolution will make it possible to see this dream become reality,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Water, Land and Agriculture committee, in recommending the resolution be passed.

As one of his last actions as a state legislator, the late Senator Gilbert Kahele signed SB3071 for its introduction during the 2016 session, which would have required the DLNR to engage in negotiations to acquire the Kapua makai lands. Kaiali‘i Kahele was appointed to the seat vacated by his father, following his death in January. SR46 was drafted by Sen. Kahele who was determined to ensure the process to preserve the lands would continue, despite the SB3071 being stalled in conference.

“This is not just for my dad, but for generations of keiki,” said Sen. Kahele. “This area has significant archeological and culturally historical value and must be preserved.”

SR46 is the final resolution to be heard this legislative session and will be voted on the floor on Thursday, May 5, 2016.

29-Year-Old Man Survives Two-Months at Sea – Three Others Perish at Sea

A 29-year-old man arrived in good condition to Honolulu Wednesday aboard a Coast Guard small boat after being rescued by merchant mariners in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean and surviving a two- month ordeal at sea.

coast guard rescue man

A Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Honolulu safely transported the man from the motor vessel Nikkei Verde offshore of Honolulu to the Coast Guard Base Wednesday morning to meet awaiting EMS in stable condition.

“This mariner had great fortitude and is very fortunate the crew of the Nikkei Verde happened upon him as the area he was in is not heavily trafficked,” said Lt. Cmdr. John MacKinnon, Joint Rescue Coordination Center chief with the Coast Guard 14th District. “The Pacific is vast and inherently dangerous and all mariners respect that. These merchant mariners did the right thing in rendering assistance and most mariners heed the obligation to render assistance at sea, found in the Safety Of Life At Sea Convention, out of a sense of duty and understanding rather than required compliance.”

JRCC watchstanders in Honolulu received notification April 26, from the master of the motor vessel, reporting while on their voyage to China his crew had located a man stranded at sea aboard a 23-foot skiff. They brought him aboard and requested medical advice and assistance to return the man to his home country. They were located about 2,150 miles southeast of Hilo, but still within the Coast Guard’s area of responsibility for search and rescue at the time of the report.

A Coast Guard flight surgeon provided medical advice to the crew. Coast Guard officials worked with the Nikkei Verde crew to arrange a transfer near Honolulu and coordinated with the Colombian consul in San Francisco who arranged for transportation, Customs clearance, lodging, any hospital care, and an escort ahead of his arrival to Honolulu.

According to the survivor he and three companions set out from Columbia more than two months earlier. Once the skiff’s engine became disabled they were adrift. He said he caught and ate fish and seagulls to stay alive. The three other men reportedly perished at sea. Their bodies were not aboard the skiff when located by Nikkei Verde’s crew; however, the survivor did surrender their passports to officials.

The Coast Guard assisted in the man’s rescue but is not investigating the case as the circumstances fall outside Coast Guard purview.

The Nikkei Verde is a Panamanian-flagged 618-foot bulk carrier. JRCC Honolulu is located at the Coast Guard 14th District in Honolulu and has responsibility for search and rescue across 12.2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean to include the Main Hawaiian Islands, Guam and Saipan extending out in all directions. The Coast Guard maintains several search and rescue agreements with sovereign Pacific Island nations and regional partner countries.

Officer Mike Thompson Named “Officer of the Month”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Mike Thompson as “Officer of the Month” for May in a luncheon ceremony Wednesday (May 4) at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona.

Officer Mike Thompson

Officer Mike Thompson

Thompson was honored for an act of kindness his supervisor described as “far beyond compassion.”

On December 19, 2015, an 88-year-old woman called 911 just after noon to report that Meals on Wheels had missed a 9:30 a.m. delivery and she was hungry. Dispatchers attempted to contact the appropriate agency but were unable to reach anyone, so Officer Thompson was assigned to check on the woman’s welfare and determine whether she needed medical attention.

On his way to the caller’s house, Thompson stopped at his own home and gathered food items from his pantry to share with her. He then went to her house and prepared her a meal. When he learned that she was unable to open cans on her own, he opened additional cans of food and placed them in her refrigerator in plastic containers for future use.

Sergeant Grad Elarionoff nominated Thompson for the award. “In a time when police officers are becoming increasingly hardened, a simple gesture of aloha reminds us all that police officers are people too, caring people,” Elarionoff wrote in nomination papers. “I’m at a loss for words.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Thompson is eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawaiʻi.