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Hawaiʻi May See Snow, Downpours & Flash Flooding This Week

Hawaiʻi residents may face snow, flash flooding and landslides as a plume of deep tropical moisture is expected to surge northward to Hawaiʻi this week that will provide the fuel for heavier and more frequent downpours for some of the islands.

Hawaiʻi residents and vacationers will need to be on alert.

“The first round of heavy rainfall is expected on Monday and Tuesday, with torrential downpours focusing on the Big Island and Maui,” AccuWeather meteorologist Faith Eherts said.

Stronger-than-normal northeasterly trade winds will blow across the islands and up the windward slopes, and by combining with the deep tropical moisture will lead to very heavy rainfall.

“Rainfall rates of up to 2 inches per hour can result in dangerous flash flooding as well as landslides, which could topple trees and power lines and block or wash out roads,” Eherts warned.

Rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches are expected for Hilo and other windward coastal areas into the midweek, with higher amounts farther inland across the Big Island and Maui.

It will be cold enough across the summits of Maunakea and Mauna Loa for heavy snowfall during this time. A few inches are expected with localized amounts of up to a foot possible. Hikers will need to be vigilant and keep a close eye on weather conditions.

While rainfall amounts will be less on the leeward side of the islands, moisture may wrap around at times and lead to heavier showers.

Moloka‘i, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi will miss out on the heaviest rain, but a slight uptick in moisture will still bring more numerous and enhanced trade showers over the next few days.

Northeastward-facing coasts will face elevated surf this week thanks to the strong trade winds. Occasional wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph will also occur.

The first part of the week will be very wet across some of the Hawaiian Islands, but the second half of the week and into the weekend could be just as wet, if not wetter.

Deep tropical moisture will remain strung out over Hawaiʻi and there are indications that an area of low pressure could develop in the area by Friday. If this were to occur, there could be widespread enhanced showers for some or even all of the islands.

“Another round of heavy rain would exacerbate any existing flooding or bring new flooding problems to the other islands,” Eherts said.

Half of Hawaii’s Coral Bleached in One Year

Scientists estimate that beaching affected 56 percent of the coral around the Big Island, 44 percent of that along West Maui and 32 percent around Oahu over a one-year period spanning 2014-2015.

Researchers recently completed an 88-day expedition aboard the NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai to survey two remote regions in the Pacific. First, they traveled to the islands of Jarvis, Howland, Baker and Wake, all part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Then they traversed to the Mariana Archipelago, working their way up the island chain from the populated islands in the south to remote locations in the north.

map of mission area

During the expedition, researchers collected data to evaluate climate and ocean change, coral ecosystem health, and the extent of coral bleaching. Scientists with NOAA, the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, San Diego University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution participated in the mission.

1. Coral Bleaching in the Pacific

The Pacific Islands experienced unusually warm ocean temperatures in the last few years, during the longest global coral bleaching event on record to date. Prior to the bleaching event, Jarvis Island had very high coral cover. Preliminary surveys in 2015 and 2016 indicated that most coral colonies died due to coral bleaching. While at Jarvis in 2017, researchers surveyed these coral reef communities and assessed the recovery potential from the thermal stress that caused the coral to bleach.
All images courtesy of NOAA:
Coral reef colonies near Jarvis Island; Image credit:Tate Wester

2. Bumphead Parrotfish

The giant bumphead parrotfish is an amazing fish that can live to be 40 years old, growing up to four feet long and 100 pounds. They use their large head bumps to literally bump heads during competitive displays, when large numbers of fish aggregate to spawn on a lunar cycle. Researchers saw many bumpheads during their first day at Wake Island. The bumphead parrotfish has been heavily targeted by fishing throughout much of it’s range and is now considered globally rare by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The giant Bumphead parrotfish; credit: Andrew E. Gray
 3. Reef Life

On the east side of Agrihan Island, an octopus takes off across the rocky reef after being discovered by a diver. All reef life is important, including this clever invertebrate. These fascinating creatures can rapidly change color to blend in with their surroundings, making them difficult to spot.

octopus near Agrihan Island; credit Louise Giuseffi)
 4. Crown-of-thorns Sea Stars

The scientists found many crown-of-thorns sea stars at Alamagan Island. These prickly invertebrates feed on coral tissue. Here, the sea star leaves only the skeleton of this Acropora coral in its wake. In large numbers, they can do significant damage to coral reefs, but in small numbers, they are a natural key component of the coral reef ecosystem.

Crown-of-thorns sea stars at Alamagan Island; credit: Keisha Bahr
 5. A Rare Sighting

An extremely rare sighting at Farallon de Pajaros, scientists found this female angelfish after completing their fish survey. Little is published about this species beyond aquarium enthusiast blogs. Some describe it as being endemic to the Bonin or Osagawara Islands just south of Japan, although the researchers discovered this fish within the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument waters during their expedition.

Rare anglefish species; credit: NOAA, Andrew E. Gray)
 6. Volcanic Vents

Underwater volcanic vents near the Maug Islands release carbon dioxide gas that cause surrounding waters to acidify—a localized example of how carbon dioxide emissions in our atmosphere cause global climate change and ocean acidification. Maug’s carbon dioxide vents occur near coral reef ecosystems, allowing scientists to glimpse the future of these ecosystems along a naturally occurring gradient of changing ocean chemistry conditions.

Maug's underwater volcanic vents; credit: Kaylyn McCoy)
 7. Bubble Coral

Despite their appearance, these Plerogyra corals, also known as bubble coral, are actually a type of Scleractinian, or hard coral. The tissue is soft and bubble-like, and hides the hard skeleton underneath.

Bubble coral; credit: Tate Wester
 8. Colorful Nudibranch

Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) uncover many beautiful creatures, including this nudibranch. a nudibranch; credit: Ingrid Knapp)

9. Healthy Coral

Corals at Pagan Island seem to have fared much better than other areas hit hardest by the recent global coral bleaching event. Here is a close-up of an Acropora coral (typically more susceptible to bleaching events), which appears to be doing just fine.
healthy coral in Pagan; credit: Ingrid Knapp
 10. Stars in the Sand

If you look closely in the sand, sometimes you can find “star dust,” or the star-shaped skeletal remains of Foraminifera, microscopic unicellular organisms that form an important part of the marine food chain.

Star-shaped skeletal remains of Foraminifera, microscopic unicellular protists; credit: Louise Giuseffi)

Job Seekers Invited to 4th Annual Job Fair & Job Readiness Workshop

The Hawai‘i County Workforce Development Board is pleased to invite job seekers to attend its 4th Annual Job Fair and Job Readiness Workshop, hosted by the Big Island Workplace Connection (BIWC), a proud partner of the American Job Center.The Job Readiness Workshop: Assists participants to prepare for the job fair by offering guidance on resume writing, interviewing skills, properly completing an application and instruction on dressing for success. For easy access and portability of new and updated resumes, participants will need to provide their own jump drive.

  • When: Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Where: Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale, 799 Pi`ilani Street, Hilo.

The 4th Annual Job Fair: Will host over 80 island-wide businesses looking for employees to fill vacancies.  Participants should come prepared with resumes and in professional attire, as interviews may be done on site.  Many participating businesses will be offering door prizes.

  • When: Thursday, October 26, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Where: Edith Kanakaʻole Tennis Stadium

These events are free and open to the public.  For more information, please call Office of Housing and Community Development at 961-8379.

Criminal Pretrial Task Force Public Meeting Announcement

The Criminal Pretrial Task Force will be holding a public meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. on Friday, October 13, at Aliiolani Hale, 417 South King Street, room 101 on the first floor.

The purpose of the meeting is to gather input from individuals and interested organizations about criminal pretrial practices and procedures.

“We want to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to provide feedback to the task force,” said Judge Rom A. Trader, chair of the task force. “For example, we want to know if the current pretrial system is working. What needs to be done to improve it? What features would a highly-functioning and fair pretrial system have?

“We also welcome thoughts or suggestions relating to criminal pretrial reform for the task force’s consideration as it develops recommendations to the Legislature,” Judge Trader added.

House Concurrent Resolution No. 134, HD1 was adopted by the 2017 Legislature and requested the Judiciary to convene a task force to examine and, as needed, recommend legislation and revisions to criminal pretrial practices and procedures to increase public safety while maximizing pretrial release of those who do not pose a danger or a flight risk. The task force is also charged with identifying and defining best practices and metrics to measure the relative effectiveness of the criminal pretrial system, and establish ongoing procedures to take such measurements at appropriate time intervals.

Members of the task force represent a broad cross section of agencies who participate in the criminal justice system in different ways.

For those who are unable to attend the meeting, comments may be sent to  HCR134.Jud@courts.hawaii.gov by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 13. Include your name, contact information, and affiliation.

Anyone needing auxiliary aids or services to participate in this meeting (i.e., ASL, foreign language interpreter or wheelchair accessibility) should contact the Judiciary Legislative Coordinating Office at 539-4893 at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

Hawaii Launches New Online Workforce Tax Credit Application

Tax Credits for Hiring Vets Can Be Just a Click Away

Businesses applying for tax credits for hiring veterans and others can now do it online the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced. The Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal program that makes tax credits available to employers who hire veterans and individuals with significant barriers to employment.

“Making these requests available online is part of my effort to make government more effective and efficient while also facilitating the employment of our veterans and other job seekers,” said Gov. Ige. “I especially appreciate the department using special federal grant monies to develop the eApplication without State funds.”

Using the WOTC eApplication service, employers fill out online forms and their requests are immediately entered in to the processing queue. The WOTC eApplication also centralizes the processing of requests and serves as a repository for supporting documentation, all of which results in improved efficiency in processing.

“The department receives nearly 400 certification requests a month for the tax credit,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “This service enables employers to monitor the status of their requests via a personalized dashboard, which is a level of service we could not provide before.”

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) Workforce Development Division developed the WOTC eApplication service as part of the eHawaii.gov State Portal Program (portal.ehawaii.gov). The department strongly recommends that employers use the new electronic system, but anticipates lag time before the federal government updates its website. Businesses seeking to use the new system may inquire through the following methods:

Email: dlir.workforce.develpment@hawaii.gov
Phone: (808) 686-8877
Mail: Workforce Development Division
Rm 112
830 Punchbowl St
Honolulu, HI 96813

About the Workforce Development Division
Workforce Development Division (WDD) is a customer-driven workforce development system that assists job seekers, workers and industries. WDD provides a free referral and placement service that links qualified job seekers with employers. WDD also strives to develop and maintain various partnerships with the private sector to identify emerging employment trends, technological advances, declining industries and economic issues. The division develops grant proposals in coordination with other agencies to carry out employment and training program activities and services.

Governor Ige Marks Family Assessment Center’s First Anniversary, Outlines Progress on Homelessness

Gov. David Ige today highlighted the state’s overall progress in addressing homelessness while recognizing the first anniversary of the state’s Family Assessment Center (FAC).

The FAC temporarily houses homeless families while they are being connected to services and long-term housing with the assistance of specialists from Catholic Charities Hawai‘i. More than 90 percent of families who have stayed at the FAC and have left the facility over the past year, have been housed, or 35 families out of 38 families serviced. In addition, the average time from intake to placement is 82 days ­– eight days fewer than the 90-day goal the state previously set.

Gov. Ige also said the FAC reflects the state’s overall gains on homelessness, pointing to a nine percent overall decrease in homelessness between 2016-17 – the first decrease in eight years – and a 19 percent reduction in family homelessness.

“The Family Assessment Center is a game-changer that is making a difference in the lives of unsheltered families and helping to provide the stability they need to improve their lives,” Gov. Ige said.

The success of the FAC illustrates the ʻOhana Nui approach, which includes a focus on the whole family; a priority on children, particularly those between infancy and age 5; and collaboration to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

“The Department of Human Services is proud to work hand-in-hand with the Governor’s Coordinator and Catholic Charities on long-term solutions to end homelessness,” said DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “The Family Assessment Center is a testament to the power of generative partnerships and a focus on connecting families to an array of services suited to their needs. We see that when we can work together to meet families where they are, families can thrive and not just survive.”

The FAC, which is operated by Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, is modeled after housing navigation centers in San Francisco.  Its small population – no more than 50 people, or 12-15 households at a time – enables more individualized care. Guests are not required to have identification, which is a key obstacle for many people experiencing homelessness.  Families are quickly transitioned to permanent housing or other appropriate services in 90 days or less. The facility opened on September 26, 2016.

Public Hearings Scheduled on Proposal to Increase Commercial Marine License Fees

The Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) has scheduled statewide public hearings on proposed administrative rule amendments that would increase the annual commercial marine license fees from the current $50/year to $100/year initially, then to $150/year on January 1, 2018. This date may be delayed until later in the year, depending on when the rules are approved. The proposed rules also would establish a reporting deadline for dealers who buy marine life directly from commercial fishers.

Click to view proposed amendments

Bruce Anderson, DAR administrator said, “Commercial license fees haven’t increased in nearly 20 years.  We’re updating the fee schedule to reflect current and future needs.  Increased revenues from these fees will offset losses in revenues from non-resident fees for on-going operational expenses and to add new on-line reporting and licensing options to our website to better serve the fishing public.”

The hearings will be held at the following times and locations:

Thursday, September 28, 2017
MOLOKA‘I – Mitchell Pau‘ole Center Conference Room, 90 Ainoa Street, Kaunakakai, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Friday, September 29, 2017
O‘AHU – Stevenson Middle School Cafeteria, 1202 Prospect Street, Honolulu, 6 to 9 p.m..
LANA‘I – Lana‘i High/Elementary School Cafeteria, 555 Fraser Avenue, Lana‘i City, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
HILO – Hawai‘i County Aupuni Center Conference Room, 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 101, Hilo, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
KONA – Honokohau Harbor Big Game Fishing Clubhouse, Kailua-Kona, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
MAUI – Maui Waena School Cafeteria, 795 Onehe‘e Street, Kahului, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 5, 2017
KAUA‘I – Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School Cafeteria, Lihue, 4431 Nuhou Street, 6 to 9 p.m.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
KAUA‘I – Kapa‘a Elementary School, 4886 Kawaihau Road, Kapa‘a, 6 to 9 p.m.

All interested persons are urged to attend the public hearing to present relevant information and individual opinion for the DLNR to consider. Persons unable to attend or wishing to present additional comments, may mail written testimony by Friday, October 13, 2017 to the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 330, Honolulu, HI 96813.

Anyone with a hearing impairment who desires to attend the public hearing may request assistance of a sign language interpreter. The request may be made in writing (to the DAR address in the preceding paragraph), or by calling 587-0100 (voice or TDD) in Honolulu. The request will need to be received at least seven days before the hearing is scheduled to start. Additional information or a copy of the proposed rules will be mailed at no charge upon receipt of verbal or written request to the DAR address.

To view the draft rule, go to the Division of Aquatic Resources website at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/files/2017/08/HAR_13-74dr.pdf

Additional Open Application Period Begins Today for Preschool Open Doors Program

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has opened an additional application period for its Preschool Open Doors (POD) program and encourages families to apply between September 11, 2017 and October 31, 2017.  Applications received during this period will be considered for preschool participation during January 1, 2018 and June 30, 2018.

This program, which currently serves more than 1,400 children statewide, provides child care subsidies to eligible low- and moderate-income families to pay preschool tuition. POD aims to provide children whose families might otherwise not be able to afford preschool the opportunity to gain essential skills to be successful in school and in life.

To qualify for the program, children must be eligible to enter kindergarten in the 2018-2019 school year (born between August 1, 2012 and July 31, 2013). Families are reminded that a child must be five years old on or before July 31 to enter kindergarten. Families may choose any one of the 426 state-licensed preschools. Underserved or at-risk children receive priority consideration for the POD program, and funds are limited.

Interested families may request an application beginning Monday, September 11, 2017 from the Department’s POD contractor, PATCH, by visiting patchhawaii.org or calling 791-2130 or toll free 1-800-746-5620.  PATCH can also help families locate a preschool convenient for them.

Applications must be received by Tuesday, October 31, 2017 to be considered during the January 1, 2018-June 30, 2018 program period. Applications should be dropped off, mailed, faxed, or emailed to the following:

PATCH – POD

560 N. Nimitz Hwy, Suite 218

Honolulu, HI 96817

Fax: (808) 694-3066

Email: PODAdmin@patch-hi.org

Eligibility and priorities for POD program selection are detailed online in HAR §17-799, which is available online at humanservices.hawaii.gov/admin-rules-2/admin-rules-for-programs.  For more information about other DHS programs and services, visit humanservices.hawaii.gov.

Notices to Women Regarding Access to Family Planning Services Must Be Allowed, State Argues

Yesterday the Department of the Attorney General filed a memorandum opposing an attempt by certain religiously-affiliated organizations to prevent a new law concerning women’s access to information regarding reproductive health services from being enforced. The law, Senate Bill 501 (2017), was passed by the Hawaii state legislature on May 4, 2017, and signed into law as Act 200 on July 12, 2017. It requires limited service pregnancy centers to notify women in writing regarding the availability of state-funded reproductive health services.

The Department’s memo argues that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over several Western states including Hawaii, already upheld a similar law passed by California in 2015.
The opposition memo states in part:

The Legislature has found that “[m]any women in Hawaii … remain unaware of the public programs available to provide them with contraception, health education and counseling, family planning, prenatal care, pregnancy-related, and birth-related services.” To address this concern, [Act 200] was enacted into law. It requires “limited service pregnancy centers,” as defined in the Act, to disseminate a written notice to clients or patients informing them that Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services.

A similar filing was made in a related case yesterday as well.

Hawaii Garners National Recognition for Investment in Energy Efficiency

A national network of energy efficiency experts recently honored Hawaii with its “Race to the Top Award” for the pioneering work being done by state and county agencies to boost investment in energy efficiency projects that are helping the state meet its clean energy goals.

The nonprofit Energy Services Coalition (ESC) for the sixth consecutive year recognized Hawaii as the nation’s per capita leader in energy performance contracting (EPC), a form of innovative financing for capital improvements that allows government agencies to pay for energy efficiency upgrades with the savings on their utility bills. In addition, the ESC for the second straight year named Hawaii one of its “Energy Stewardship Champions” for achieving infrastructure modernization, environmental stewardship, and economic development through performance contracting.

“The growth of energy performance contracting is making a significant impact on Hawaii’s use of imported fossil fuels while helping diversify our economy by sustaining and creating jobs in the clean tech sector,” said Luis P. Salaveria, director of the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. “I commend the state and county agencies that are executing energy performance contracts, and for playing a leadership role in Hawaii’s clean energy transformation.”

EPC uses the savings from upgrades such as digital controls for energy systems, and lighting, plumbing and air conditioning improvements to repay the cost of the equipment and its installation. The costs are borne by the performance contractor and paid back out of the energy savings.  The ESC in its annual “Race to the Top” program ranks the 50 states based on the per capita amount invested in performance contracts for government buildings. Hawaii’s investment of $372.81 per capita in 2017 earned the state a sixth consecutive No. 1 ranking. The national average for EPC investment is $62.72 per capita.

“Using a tool like energy performance contracting to retrofit buildings not only makes them more efficient and comfortable, it delivers meaningful energy cost savings to building owners,” said Carilyn Shon, HSEO administrator. “Furthermore, using energy more efficiently is the fastest, most cost-effective way to pursue Hawaii’s clean energy goals.”

In addition to the Race to the Top honor, Hawaii was one of 12 states that earned the ESC’s Energy Stewardship Champion award for a combination of its political leadership, programmatic design, and the amount of private sector investment in guaranteed energy savings performance contracting (GESPC) in their states.

“GESPC is a financial strategy leveraging guaranteed future energy savings to pay for energy efficiency upgrades today,” said Jim Arwood, ESC Executive Director. “Hawaii has achieved considerable recent success in support of implementing energy efficiency projects in public buildings and infrastructure through the use of a GESPC.”

The Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO), a division of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, accepted the Race to the Top and Energy Stewardship Champion awards during the ESC’s annual conference August 9-11 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Nevada.

HSEO provides technical assistance to state and country agencies entering into energy performance contracts. The EPC projects vary widely and include office buildings, community colleges, airports, highways, and prisons. In a typical EPC, the building owner contracts with an energy service company to install the energy improvements and guarantee the energy savings over the contract term. The contractor is then paid out of the energy savings and captures the incentives made available by Hawai‘i Energy to promote investment in energy efficiency.

“Hawaii continues to be a national leader in clean energy and energy efficiency,” said Brian Kealoha, executive director of Hawaii Energy.  “Since 1996, Hawaii state government agencies have saved, on average, more than 5 million kilowatt hours a year, equating to over $24 million in savings, with the majority of this coming through EPCs. Hawaii Energy has worked with the State Energy Office and state agencies to help them make smart energy choices. Hawaii Energy has rewarded these agencies with over $11 million in incentives for projects such as lighting, air conditioning system efficiency upgrades, and advanced building automation systems to promote investments that ultimately save taxpayers money while helping Hawai‘i achieve its 100 percent clean energy goal faster.”

Performance contracts signed by state and local government agencies in Hawaii since 1996 include 295 buildings and facilities covering more than 112 million square feet. The savings are the equivalent of powering 388,210 homes for one year.

Legacy Land Conservation Program Seeks Applications for Grants From the Hawaii Land Conservation Fund

Grants from the State of Hawai‘i Land Conservation Fund support efforts by state agencies, counties, and nonprofit land conservation organizations to acquire land and protect resources for public benefit. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), through its Legacy Land Conservation Program, seeks applications from these partners for grants to preserve — forever — land that has natural, environmental, recreational, scenic, cultural, agricultural production, or historic value, including park and trail systems that provide access to such land.DLNR’s Legacy Land Conservation Program works with partners to spend state conveyance tax revenue for important environmental and social purposes, often leveraging the state funds to meet the matching requirements of federal and private co-sponsors. Grant applications for land acquisition, and for debt service payment on previous state-financed acquisitions, are vetted in a thorough process of public review and government approval that involves three consulting state agencies; the all-volunteer Legacy Land Conservation Commission; the President of the State Senate and the Speaker of the State House of Representatives; the State Board of Land and Natural Resources; the State Department of Budget and Finance; and the Governor.

DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case explained that the Legacy Land Conservation Program has completed transactions to conserve 30 properties over the last 11 years, with 15 more transactions nearing completion. “Through this program, DLNR has helped to secure over 11,000 acres against ongoing degradation and future land use conversion, and to save a wealth of key resources from neglect, damage, and destruction. These achievements would not be possible without the dedication of conservation-minded landowners, the commitment and persistence of community and government organizations, the generosity of private donors, and the policy decisions of our elected officials,” Case said.

Applications are due September 25, 2017, for approximately $2 million that is available for the 2017-2018 grant cycle. Application materials are available at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/llcp/apply.

DLNR encourages state agencies, counties, and nonprofit land conservation organizations that are interested in securing a grant from the Land Conservation Fund to contact the Legacy Land Conservation Program, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, at (808) 586-0921, or by email at legacyland@hawaii.gov.

For more information about the Legacy Land Conservation Program, go to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/llcp/.

 

Hawaii Receives Approximately $477,000 in Settlement with Drug Manufacturer

Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that Hawaii joined 29 states and the federal government last week in settling claims against Celgene Corporation (Celgene), a pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Celgene had permission from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its drug Thalamid for skin conditions associated with leprosy and its drug Revlimid for transfusion induced anemia. This settlement resolves allegations that Celgene illegally marketed both drugs for cancer treatments that were unrelated to the skin conditions and anemia. Celgene’s promotions encouraged what the FDA considers “off label” uses without first securing FDA approval.

As a result of the settlement with Celgene, Hawaii will receive approximately $477,000. This money will be split between Hawaii’s MedQuest program and the Hawaii Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Attorney General Chin said of the settlement, “Money from the settlement will help with further investigations and prosecutions of medical fraud in this state.”

Celgene’s alleged illegal marketing included monetary kickbacks to doctors, forged clinical studies and medical literature, and manipulated medical diagnostic codes in order to increase sales of Thalamid and Revlimid.

A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units team participated in the settlement negotiations with Celgene on behalf of the states. It included representatives from the offices of the attorneys general for the states of California, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Hawaii State Moves Forest Carbon Project Forward

4,700 Acres Made Available for Reforestation to Generate Carbon Credits

A first-of-its-kind initiative in Hawai‘i to use carbon offset credits for reforestation and recovery of Hawai‘i Island pasture land is moving forward with the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP).  The program involves planting of native tree species such as koa and mamane, restoration of the watershed on the north slopes of Mauna Kea, and habitat restoration for the endangered native bird, the palila. The initiative will generate revenues for all the activities through the sale of carbon offset credits.

One “carbon offset credit” certifies the storage of one metric ton of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in plants and other organic material. Carbon offset credits are used to offset carbon emissions, often referred to as greenhouse gas emissions, from transportation, commercial activities, and other carbon emitting activities. Offsetting carbon emissions is recognized as an important way to reduce the impact of climate change. The market for voluntary carbon offset credits has been growing worldwide for many years spurred by individuals and corporations that wish to reduce their carbon footprint. By making the Pu’u Mali Restoration Area available for a forest carbon project, DLNR is creating opportunities to generate carbon credits locally.

Philipp LaHaela Walter, State Resource and Survey Forester in the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) explained, “Our goal is to give companies and individuals a transparent and measurable way to contribute to the protection of Hawai’i’s watersheds and forests for future generations. We are noticing that the local business community is increasingly making the conservation of our natural resources such as beautiful, healthy reefs, stunning mountain forests, and clean freshwater a part of their kuleana. We are excited to provide opportunities to contribute and to help continue the State’s national leadership in building sustainable communities through this innovative approach.” Proposals in response to the RFP will be due on August 31, 2017. A site visit at the Pu’u Mali Restoration Area was held for entities interested in submitting a proposal on August 1.

If you drive a car, fly in a plane, use air-conditioning to cool your home, or engage in any activity that creates greenhouse gas emissions, you’ll soon have a way to offset your emissions locally.  The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved this first State carbon offset project in early July.

Forest Carbon Project Video News Release, 8-7-17 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

UPDATED FAQ’s on National Park Specialty License Plates – Available Statewide for Limited Time Only

Updated FAQs: National Park Specialty State License Plates Available at DMV locations throughout Hawai‘i.

License plate frame not included!

Q: Are there any plates left?
A: Yes! There are plenty of plates statewide. (Editors Note – Plate availability is very limited and note that many offices have run out on their first batch received already).

Q: How much do the plates cost?
A: $35.50, and $18 goes to support the corresponding park. There is an annual renewal fee of $25, and $18 is again donated to the corresponding park.

Q: Can I get personalized license plates in the specialty design?
A: The plates are pre-numbered, so customizing isn’t an option.

Q: I have two vehicles. Can I get one of each?
A: Yes! Visit your local DMV, and go to www.hawaiiparkplates.com for the location nearest you.

Q: Can I get the specialty plate for my electric vehicle?
A: You can exchange your EV plates for the specialty plates, however, it does not come with the EV designation so you’d have to forego the benefits of having an EV plate.

Q: Can I get the specialty plate for my motorcycle?
A: There is not a motorcycle option at this time.

Q: Can I get a military/veteran plate transferred to a national park plate?
A: You can exchange your military/veteran plates for the specialty plates, however, you can’t have both.

Q: Are the plates tax deductible?
A: Individuals would have to check with their tax accountants, but specialty plates haven’t been tax deductible in the past.

Q: Can I pay with a credit card?
A: No. The DMV accepts cash or check only (at least that’s the case in Hilo)

We hope to see you on the road and in the park with your gorgeous new license plates soon! Post a photo to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #FindYourVolcano to show your park pride!

Mahalo for supporting your local parks!

Hawaii Governor Announces Stepped Up Efforts to Prevent Rat Lungworm Disease and Expanded Role of Joint Task Force

Gov. David Y. Ige, together with the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) and the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) announced today the state’s plans to place a stronger emphasis on the prevention of rat lungworm disease.

This year, the state confirmed a total of 15 cases of the serious parasitic infection, which is the highest number of cases reported in the state over the last decade.

“We are bringing together local experts from relevant fields to increase public awareness, improve our response activities, and explore ways to control and treat the disease,” said Gov. Ige. “They will work together with the Joint Task Force we established last year to step up prevention efforts beyond Hawai‘i Island, where the first cases were reported.”Dr. Kenton Kramer, Associate Professor of the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology with the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH-JABSOM), who is serving as Joint Task Force chair said, “The Joint Task Force to combat rat lungworm disease will reconvene in August. Experts from the medical, scientific, environmental, and public health communities will collaborate to develop guidelines for schools, farms, food establishments, physicians and other groups on best practices to prevent, control, and treat rat lungworm disease.”

The Joint Task Force, established in May 2016, consists of members from UH-JABSOM, Pacific Biosciences Research Center; The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo; HDOA’s Plant Industry and Quality Assurance Divisions; USDA Agriculture Research Service; Kaiser Permanente Hawaii; Hilo Medical Center; Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children; Hawaii County; and the DOH’s State Laboratories Division, District Health Offices of Hawaii Island, Maui, and Kaua‘i, Vector Control Branch, Safe Drinking Water Branch, Disease Outbreak Control Division, and Sanitation Branch.

Because of rising concerns over the recent increase in confirmed cases this year, the 2017 Hawai‘i State Legislature appropriated $1 million ($500,000 over two years) to the DOH to increase public education and improve control and prevention of rat lungworm disease. The funding will make possible a statewide media campaign in partnership with the Hawai‘i Association of Broadcasters to build public awareness of ways to prevent the spread of the parasitic disease.

Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler said, “We appreciate the Legislature’s support in allowing the state to accelerate our efforts on this important initiative. The funds will provide much needed resources for our public health communications efforts as well as strengthen our disease investigation and vector control measures for rat lungworm disease.”

In addition to a statewide public awareness campaign, the DOH will work in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Hawai‘i, HDOA, and other agencies to conduct a targeted rat, slug and snail study to identify disease routes and provide data on disease risks from these vectors. A statewide study of this kind has never been conducted in Hawaii before because of limited resources. Findings from the study will guide vector control activities for rat lungworm prevention.

Funding from the Legislature will also support two temporary full-time staff positions to coordinate prevention efforts between county, state, federal, and private sector partners.

Currently, the DOH’s food safety inspectors and vector control staff are collaborating with HDOA to investigate any reports of produce shipments from any farmer or vendor (local or mainland) with an infestation of slugs or snails. If the shipment is traced to a local farm, inspectors work with the farmer to ensure proper pest reduction measures are implemented.

Rat lungworm disease is caused by a parasitic roundworm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The parasite can be passed from the feces of infected rodents to snails, slugs and certain other animals, which become intermediate hosts for the parasite. People can become infected when they consume infected raw or undercooked intermediate hosts (slugs, snails, freshwater prawns, frogs, crayfish, and crabs).

Although the rat lungworm parasite has been found in slugs and snails throughout the state, Hawai‘i Island has experienced the majority of the confirmed cases. Some infected people don’t show any symptoms or have mild symptoms. For others, the symptoms can be much more severe and debilitating, and can include headaches, stiffness of the neck, tingling or pain on the skin or in extremities, low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting.

Sometimes, a temporary paralysis of the face may occur, as well as light sensitivity. This infection can also cause a rare and serious type of meningitis (eosinophilic meningitis).

To prevent the spread of rat lungworm infection, the public is urged to take these important steps:

  • Always practice safe eating habits by inspecting, thoroughly washing, and properly storing raw produce, especially leafy greens, regardless of where it came from, and/or cooking it properly to kill any parasites. Washing raw vegetables and fruits thoroughly under running water before eating not only prevents rat lungworm, but also rinses off other contaminants.
  • Eliminate snails, slugs and rats — all of which are potential vectors for the disease  — both around residential home gardens and agricultural operations of all scales.
  • Prevent the consumption of snails and slugs by covering all containers, from water catchment tanks to drink and food dishes. Supervise young children while playing outdoors to prevent them from putting a slug or snail in their mouths.

Watch todays video here: https://www.facebook.com/GovernorDavidIge/videos/856480491194011/

For more information on preventing rat lungworm disease, go to the DOH website at www.health.hawaii.gov

Project Vision Celebrates 10 Years with Inaugural Eye Ball

September 2017 marks 10 years of Project Vision Hawaii (PVH) providing free vision and health screenings to underserved and low-income communities across the State of Hawaii.To celebrate, this visionary non-profit is hosting its inaugural Eye Ball fundraiser on Friday, September 22 at Waialae Country Club. The goal is to raise $150,000. The vintage-Hawaii themed gala will feature traditional Hawaiian food, entertainment and an “eyegasmic” silent auction.

For every dollar raised, 91 cents will go toward vision and health care programs and services for people in need. Money raised will help allow Project Vision to work towards its goal to provide 15,000 children with eyeglasses, thousands of seniors with vision screening and public health education and thousands of homeless people with much-needed health and education services.

“We are proud and grateful to be celebrating a decade of vision and public health services throughout the state of Hawaii,” said Annie Valentin, PVH executive director. “Project Vision Hawaii is all about the strength of our partnerships, sponsors, volunteers, board and staff. Eye Ball is our opportunity to share our accomplishments, and most importantly a time to thank everyone helping some of Hawaii’s neediest communities.”

There are a limited sponsorship opportunities available. For more information, contact call (808) 282-2265 or email eyeball@projectvisionhawaii.org

Project Vision operates four mobile screening units across the islands – one to serve Oahu, Molokai and Lanai, and one each on Hawaii Island, Maui and Kauai – in an effort to increase access to health care as well as identify and address eye diseases early on. Project Vision partners with other nonprofits including Vision To Learn, local ophthalmologists and civic groups such as Lions Clubs to conduct screenings.

Big Island’s Do-It-Yourself Used Motor Oil Collection Sites

Used motor oil contains toxic substances that can contaminate our land, ground water and ocean. The County of Hawai‘i operates a program for the do-it-yourself person who changes their own non-business vehicle’s motor oil.

Do-it-yourself used motor oil collection sites at the following seven locations are open and accepting used motor oil:

  • Lex Brodie’s Tire & Service Center in Hilo
  • Pa‘auilo Village Service
  • Kealakehe High School Auto Shop
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts in Kona
  • CarTow Kohala in Hāwī
  • RPM Kawaihae
  • South Point U-Cart in Ocean View

Unfortunately, at this time, empty motor oil containers are not recyclable at a global level. Research is being conducted to study how to remove oil from plastic, but is still in development. To avoid contamination of other recyclable plastic, empty motor oil containers need to be placed in regular disposal.

For more information on hours of operation, acceptability conditions, and contact information, please visit our Used Motor Oil page at www.hawaiizerowaste.org/recycle/motor-oil. 

Hawaii Department of Health Certifies Lab to Begin Testing Medical Cannabis

Steep Hill Hawaii, a private independent laboratory on Oahu, can now begin testing medical cannabis from Hawaii’s licensed medical cannabis dispensaries and registered patients and caregivers. The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) granted Steep Hill a provisional certification today after the laboratory successfully passed its final onsite inspection and met requirements that demonstrate it has the capacity and proficiency to test cannabis and manufactured cannabis in compliance with state law.

Click to visit

“We realize that registered patients and caregivers and some of the licensed dispensaries have been waiting for a laboratory to become operational to test medical cannabis prior to consumption and sale. This is a major step forward as it allows the dispensaries to now begin testing their products to sell to qualified patients,” said Keith Ridley, Chief of DOH’s Office of Health Care Assurance, who oversees the medical cannabis dispensary program.

A laboratory is restricted from handling, testing, or analyzing cannabis or manufactured cannabis products until it is certified by the state. Under the interim administrative rules governing the medical cannabis dispensary program, certification allows a laboratory to conduct specific tests required to ensure the safety of products sold to registered patients in Hawaii.

“Certification follows a rigorous scientific process that requires meticulous attention to detail and constant refining to ensure product and patient safety,” said Chris Whelen, chief of DOH’s State Laboratories Division. “Our State Laboratories Division team is currently working closely with two other private independent labs to help them obtain certification. They are continuing to submit or resubmit their validation studies for certification.”

To receive certification, a laboratory must submit validation studies to demonstrate it is capable of conducting testing with consistent and accurate results for the following areas: cannabinoid profile (including THC), compound that are considered “active ingredients,” heavy metals such as arsenic, pesticides, solvents, moisture content, microbial contaminants, intestinal bacteria and pathogens, dangerous molds that can cause infection and disease, and toxins produced by molds. In addition, a laboratory must also meet the accreditation standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii are required to have their products tested for safety by a state-certified independent laboratory prior to sale. Laboratories interested in providing testing for medical cannabis on Kauai, Hawaii Island, Maui, or Oahu may apply for state certification at http://health.hawaii.gov/statelab.

Hawaii Governor’s Statement on the Request for Voter Roll Data from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

Governor Ige’s Statement on the request for voter roll data from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The State of Hawai‘i has received no request for voter roll data from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  Taking a look at what other states have received, I’m skeptical.  At this point, we have no assurance that personal information would be secured.  It also appears that the commission aims to address voter fraud.  By all accounts, incidents of actual voter fraud are extremely rare.  I’m concerned this type of investigation would lead to a denial of voter access.  When we get the request, I will share my concerns with state and county elections officials.

From what I’ve heard, I don’t think we should share these records.

AirAsia X Touches Down in Honolulu – Inaugural Flight Marks Successful Entry Into the U.S.

Flight D7 001 from long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X landed at Honolulu International Airport on June 28, marking the airline’s first foray into the US.

(PRNewsfoto/AirAsia X)

The four times weekly route departed from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for Honolulu, Hawaii via Osaka, Japan.

The successful inaugural flight was followed by a celebration and press conference event at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, graced by State of Hawaii Chief of Staff Mike McCartney; Malaysian Ambassador to the US HE Tan Sri Dr Zulhasnan Rafique; Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO George D. Szigeti; AirAsia X Chairperson Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail.

AirAsia X Chairperson Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz said, “We are here to democratize air travel for everyone so flying long haul would no longer be a luxury only a few could enjoy. This landmark route to Hawaii is a bold new chapter in that quest to help more people travel farther for less. But this is just the beginning, and soon our guests will be able to enjoy flights to even more destinations in the US as we continue to grow our international footprint.”

Last week, AirAsia was named the World’s Best Low Cost Airline for the ninth straight years while AirAsia X won the World’s Best Low Cost Airline Premium Cabin and Premium Seat awards for the fifth consecutive year at the Skytrax World Airline Awards held at the Paris Air Show.

“We are deeply honored AirAsia X has chosen Honolulu as its initial destination to expand service in the United States and appreciate how this route strengthens our ties with the people and culture of Malaysia,” said George D. Szigeti, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “AirAsia X customers in Kuala Lumpur and Osaka will enjoy the convenience of this direct service and how it connects them with the welcoming aloha spirit of the Hawaiian culture, the spectacular natural beauty of our islands, and the diversity of Asia Pacific influences that enriches the experience of being in Hawaii.”

To celebrate the inaugural flight, AirAsia X will be offering one-way fares from as low as USD189* for a standard seat or USD799* for the award-winning Premium Flatbed from Honolulu to Kuala Lumpur; or USD149* for a standard seat or USD699* for the Premium Flatbed from Honolulu to Osaka. These promotional fares are available on airasia.com now through July 2 for travel between October 1, 2017 and August 28, 2018.

The capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is known around the world for its iconic, modern skyline featuring the Petronas Twin Towers. The city is a major shopping haven for tourists and its multi-cultural culinary scene attracts visitors from across the globe. Outside the city limits, Kuala Lumpur serves as a gateway to the UNESCO Heritage Site of Melaka, just about two hour’s drive away from the airport. No matter what your interests, it all happens in Kuala Lumpur.

Osaka is Japan’s third largest city located in the Kansai region. A city that loves to eat, Osaka’s unofficial slogan is kuidaore. which literally means ‘eat until you drop.’ Takoyaki (octopus balls), Okonomiyaki (pan-fried batter cake), udon and other traditional Japanese culinary are some of the must-try food in Osaka. Visitor can stroll along the river at Dotombori and take a selfie with the famous Glico billboard, visit the majestic Osaka Castle, enjoy the thrills at Universal Studio Japan and many more.

* One-way all-in fare inclusive of taxes and fees. Terms and conditions apply.

Flight Schedule for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL) to Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL) via Osaka, Japan (KIX)

Note: All times listed are local unless otherwise stated.