DLNR Arrests Guide For Illegal Lava Tour Trespass On State Land

State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers last night arrested a tour guide involved in conducting illegal commercial tours within the Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve.  The Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve has been closed by DLNR due to hazardous conditions related to ongoing volcanic activity in the area.  

Joel D. Scharer works at Ahui Tour Company.

Joel D. Scharer works at Ahiu Tour Company.

An investigation conducted by DOCARE officers resulted in their arrest of Joel D. Scharer, Jr., age 24, of Hilo.  The investigation revealed that Scharer was a tour guide who had led a tour into the closed natural area reserve.  Scharer was transported to the Hilo Police Station for booking.  He is being charged with the following:  criminal trespass in the 2nd degree which is a petty misdemeanor, and reckless endangering in the 2nd degree, prohibited entry into a Natural area reserve and illegal commercial activities within the natural area reserve, all of which are misdemeanor offenses.  

“The safety of the public remains our top priority,” said Carty S. Chang, Interim DLNR Chairperson.   “Illegal commercial tours into areas closed by volcanic activity are dangerous to both the public as well as rescue responders. Violators will face citation or arrest,” Chang added.  

To report suspected trespass or illegal commercial activity within the closed Kahaualea NAR as well as the closed Wao Kele O Puna Forest Reserve call DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) at 643-DLNR.

Medical Use of Marijuana Program Transferred to Department of Health

Effective January 1, 2015, Hawaii’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program was transferred from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health, according to Act 177.   Act 178  amends sections of HRS 329 Part IX , some notable changes, which became effective January 1, 2015, are:

  • “Adequate supply” changes from “three mature marijuana plants, four immature marijuana plants, and one ounce of usable marijuana” to “seven marijuana plants, whether immature or mature, and four ounces of usable marijuana at any given time.”
  • Notification of changes to information on the application – if the information provided to the department of health for registration changes, the registered program participant MUST report this change to the department of health “within ten working days” of the change. The previous requirement was “within five working days”

To get a complete understanding of ALL changes to the law, please read Act 178.

Medical MarijuanaClick Here to Learn What’s New About the Program

Click Here to Learn What’s Staying the Same

Click Here to Download the General Information FAQ

Other Documents related to Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Program

Act 228 SLH 2000.  Hawaii’s initial Medical Use of Marijuana law.

Act178 SLH  2013 –  Makes several changes to the current law (such as: “adequate supply” of medical marijuana changes to 7 plants, regardless of maturity; useable marijuana changes to 4 oz; increase in registration fees from $25 to $35; and other changes) please read Act 178 for more information.

HRS-329 Hawaii’s Uniformed Controlled Substances Act (see part IX – Medical Use of Marijuana).

Department of Public Safety Medical Marijunana Program Info

U.S. Department of Justice “Update to Marijuana Enforcement Policy  Aug. 29, 2013.

U.S. Department of Justice “Formal Medical Marijuana Guidelines”  Oct. 9, 2009.

Hawaii House Representative Submits Letters of Resignation

Representative Mele Carroll delivered today letters to Governor Ige and House Speaker Souki announcing that on February 1, 2015, with the support of her family and friends, she is resigning from representing the 13th District in the Hawaii State House Representatives.

Rep. Mele Carroll has announced she will retire from her Hawaii House of Representative seat.

Rep. Mele Carroll has announced she will retire from her Hawaii House of Representative seat.

After consulting with doctors, contemplating her situation, and confirming with her husband and family, Rep. Carroll decided to resign due to her health.  Complications from her previous cancer treatments have arisen in the recent months that now affect her quality of life and which may affect her ability to do her job.  The time has come for her to address her health and spend quality time with her loved ones and closest friends.

“While it is with deep sadness that I accept the resignation of Rep. Carroll from the State House, I fully understand and support her priorities regarding her health,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki.  “I speak for every member of the House in wishing her well and in expressing our gratitude for all that she has done for the people of her district, the Legislature and the State of Hawaii.

“Rep. Carroll has worked hard to call attention to the needs and wishes of the people of Maui, and I’ve personally witnessed how much she has sacrificed and seen how passionate she is about her role as their representative.”

In 2005 Representative Mele Carroll started her Legislative career when she received a phone call from then Governor Linda Lingle in the first week of February to represent the 13th District in the State House of Representatives.  At the time she was working as the chief legislative liaison for Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and humbly accepted the call to serve her community by representing them at the state level.

Representative Carroll was re-elected on November 4, 2014 to begin her sixth term representing the 13th House district.   The 13th District is a “canoe” district that includes East Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokini.

“Making the decision to step down has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It is a heartbreaking reality that I have to face,” Carroll said.  “Serving in the State House of Representatives has been a truly rewarding experience.  I am thankful that the people of the 13th District have trusted in me to represent them as their elected legislator.  Every day that I came to work was a blessing and something I never took for granted.  I cannot say enough about the dedication of people I have met in my journey through the State Capitol, they and my fellow legislators have become my family.

“I want to thank Speaker Souki for his support and understanding as I made this difficult decision, as well as Speaker Emeritus Calvin Say for his support during his tenure and while I served as the Chair of the House Hawaiian Legislative Caucus.  Both Speakers showed me their compassion and understanding as I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments during my service in the State House.  I will never forget the sensitivity and compassion they bestowed upon me.  They made my fight a little easier.   My colleagues have been a tremendous support throughout my tenure at the Capitol and I am confident the people of Hawaii will continue to be served honorably by our state legislators,” Carroll said.

Carroll served as the Chair of the House Committee on Human Services and as a member for the Committees on Health and Housing.  During her tenure, she also served as the chair of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus, and a member of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, Keiki Caucus, Kupuna Caucus, as well as the Historical Preservation Caucus.

Prior to her appointment in 2005 by Gov. Linda Lingle, Carroll served as the executive assistant and the chief legislative liaison to County of Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and was responsible for representing Maui at the Legislature by providing oral and written testimony, researching and drafting bills as well as providing community updates through public forums and meetings.

As the Mayor’s chief legislative liaison, she was also responsible for writing a federal grant proposal to the U. S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for $2 million that contributed to the purchase of Muolea Point (73 acres) in Hana and worked with the community to develop a management plan to preserve Muolea Point which was known as King David Kalakaua’s summer home for the alii.

Carroll was a key leader and instrumental in helping secure funding for the new emergency medical helicopter service for Maui County. She did this by working with a bi-partisan coalition of community leaders.  The Maui representative also served as chief of staff to State Senator J. Kalani English for two years, in addition to serving four years as his chief of staff at the Maui County Council.  She was appointed and served on the state’s Cable Television Advisory Committee and the state’s Na Ala Hele Trails Council.

Carroll’s community service includes serving on the following boards of non-profit organizations:  past president of the Waikikena Foundation;  past president of the Maui AIDS Foundation; past vice president for the Friends of Maui County Health Organization; past board director of the `Aha Ali`i Kapuaiwa O Kamehameha V Royal Order of Kamehameha II; past board director for the Maui Adult Day Care Center; member of the Aloha Festivals Maui Steering Committee; past board director of the Na Po’e Kokua; and Paia Youth & Cultural Center.  She also served as the head coach of the Lahainaluna High School’s girls varsity basketball team.

“Again, thank you for this honor,” Rep. Carroll said in closing. “This has been an extremely rewarding experience that I will never forget.”

According to state law, Governor Ige has 60 calendar days from the date of the vacancy to name a replacement for Representative Carroll’s House seat from a list of three names submitted by the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

Hawaii Facilities Report 3 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemical Released During 2013

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report that showed that the majority of toxic chemicals managed at industrial facilities in the U.S. were not released into the environment. Nationally in 2013, approximately 84 percent of the 26 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were managed through the use of preferred practices such as recycling.

Of the 4 billion pounds that were disposed of or otherwise released to the environment, 66 percent went to land, 19 percent to air, 5 percent to water, and 10 percent was transferred to other facilities. Individual fact sheets for the Pacific Southwest Region states and territories were also made available yesterday.

toxic releases 2013

A total of 35 Hawaii facilities reported 3 million pounds of toxic chemical releases during 2013. Hawaii’s total reported on-site and off-site releases increased when compared to the 2.7 million pounds reported in 2012. AES Hawaii Inc., and Hawaiian Electric Co.’s Kahe Generating Station, both electric generation utilities, were the top two facilities for total on-site and off-site releases. For detailed Hawaii information and the list of the top facilities, please visit: http://iaspub.epa.gov/triexplorer/tri_factsheet.factsheet_forstate?&pstate=HI&pyear=2013&pDataSet=TRIQ1

Power Continues to Get Restored to Storm Hit Big Island

Hawaii Electric Light crews continue to make progress on restoring electric service to customers affected by recent severe weather conditions. Crews worked through the night to restore service to approximately 3,300 customers island-wide. All transmission lines were repaired and are back in service.

Shaka For HELCOAbout 1,700 customers are currently without service. Today crews will be working in the following areas: Kaloko, Captain Cook, Holualoa, Kamuela, Hawi, Ahualoa, Honokaa, Kalopa, Paauilo, Nanawale, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Volcano, Upper Puna, Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, and Kau.

The areas from Lindsey Road to Ahualoa suffered substantial damage. Customers in these areas are advised to prepare for an extended outage through Tuesday.

Hawaii Electric Light asks customers who have not yet reported their power outage to call its trouble line at 969-6666. Due to the high call volume, customers may experience a longer wait time before speaking with a representative. The company sincerely apologizes for this inconvenience and thanks customers for their patience and understanding.

The company urges the community to be safe and treat downed power lines as energized and dangerous. Do not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment. If someone is injured by a downed power line, do not approach them. Call 9-1-1 for assistance.

2015 Ushered In By Largest First Day Hike In America

Sunrise on this first day of 2015 was foiled by heavy cloud cover, but an estimated 500 early morning hikers still made the one and a half mile trek to the Makapu’u Lookout in Kaiwi State Park in East Oahu, as part of the annual First Day Hike.
2015 Sunrise
For the past four years, First Day Hikes have been organized by state park systems in all 50 states.  Hawaii has the distinction of attracting what is perhaps, the largest number of hikers for a single event, according to America’s State Parks, the umbrella organization that initiated the annual hikes and tracks them around the country.
2015 Hawaii First Day Hike from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Curt Cottrell, the assistant administrator of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has organized the Makapu’u First Day Hike for each of the last four years.  He said, “When you consider the stunning views of Kaiwi Channel and the neighbor islands of Molokai, Lanai and Maui, Windward Oahu, Diamond Head, Koko Crater, and the opportunity to maybe see humpback whales breaching – all during the first sunrise of the new year, it’s really little wonder that Hawaii’s hike is the most unique and probably has the most participation for a single-location hike in the country.”

People lined the paved pathway for at least a half mile below the uppermost overlook in the state park.  The Hawaii event has grown steadily every year and seems to be particularly popular with Japanese visitors.  Sunrise at 7:09 a.m. was greeted with a pu by Gabriel Spencer of Ali’i Entertainment. Taiko drumming was provided for a third year, by the Taiko Center of the PacificIt is a school of traditional and contemporary Japanese drumming established in 1994 by Kenny and Chizuko Endo to preserve traditional Japanese drumming and to create new music for taiko.
A visitor from Taiwan set out from Waikiki on his bicycle at 2 a.m.  He arrived at 4 a.m. and was greeted with solitude and silence.  Less than an hour later, hundreds of people began arriving.

James Fritz of Waimanalo was among a group of people who crowded onto the uppermost viewing area where the Taiwanese cyclist was resting.  Fritz said he missed the first two First Day Hikes and barely made the third, but arrived on top early to secure a good viewing spot.  Commenting on the weather prior to sunrise he said, “Oh it’s beautiful. The stars are out, it’s cold.  If everybody bundled together we could stay pretty warm.”

Hilo Folks are Big Spenders During the Holidays

Yep… us folks in Hilo are big spenders come Christmas time.  According to Nerdwallet, Hilo ranks 2nd in the most expensive places for holiday spending.

The average family in Hilo spends about $1,172.02 during the holidays.  The national average for a family of four is $877.22.

spending

Thermal Images Shows Pahoa Not Out of Danger Yet

This satellite image was captured today by the Advanced Land Imager instrument onboard NASA’s Earth Observing 1 satellite. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see.

Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.  (Click to enlarge)

Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds. (Click to enlarge)

Although the farthest tip of the June 27th lava flow, in Pāhoa, is stalled, this image shows that breakouts remain active upslope.

These breakouts are focused in two areas. First, there is a breakout about 4 km (2.5 miles) northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Second, breakouts are active in the area of ground cracks farther downslope.

The farthest tip of these breakouts has advanced a short distance north over the past day and was 5.8 km (3.6 miles) upslope of Apaʻa St. as measured along a straight line.

Coast Guardsman Convicted of Lewd Act on Minor

A Coast Guardsman was convicted of committing a lewd act on a minor and other violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice during a general court-martial at the United States District Court – District of Hawaii Thursday.

Petty Officer 1st Class Shane E. Reese was found guilty of Article 120b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for committing a lewd act on a minor on the Island of Oahu between January and May 2013.

Reese was also found guilty of Article 134 for threats to the victim, Article 107 for making false official statements during the course of the investigation, and Article 112a for wrongful possession, distribution and use of marijuana.

He was sentenced to five years confinement in a military brig, a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a reduction to paygrade E-1, the military’s lowest enlisted grade.

While awaiting court-martial, Reese served at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point as an aviation maintenance technician and was assigned to the unit at the time of the offenses.

According the the Coast Guard Facebook page:

Petty Officer 1st Class Shane E. Reese was found guilty of Article 120b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for committing a lewd act on a minor on the Island of Oahu between January and May 2013.
Reese was also found guilty of Article 134 for threats to the victim, Article 107 for making false official statements during the course of the investigation, and Article 112a for wrongful possession, distribution and use of marijuana.

He was sentenced to five years confinement in a military brig, a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a reduction to paygrade E-1, the military’s lowest enlisted grade.
While awaiting court-martial, Reese served at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point as an aviation maintenance technician and was assigned to the unit at the time of the offenses.

Lava Flow Bypasses the Pahoa Transfer Station For Now

The June 27 Lava Flow has moved past the Pahoa Transfer Station and is now moving down slope towards Pahoa Village Road.

“This map uses a satellite image acquired in March 2014 (provided by Digital Globe) as a base to show the area around the front of the June 27th lava flow.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The area of the flow on October 25, 2014, at 5:00 PM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on October 26 at 12:30 PM is shown in red. The dotted blue lines show steepest-descent paths in the area, calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM).”

Civil Defense Update on Eruption and Lava Flow

This is a civil defense message.

Civildefense

This is an Eruption and Lava Flow Information Update for Wednesday September 10th at 8:15 AM.

This morning’s assessment shows the surface lava flow continues and is moving in a north/northeast direction.  There is no wildfire threat at this time.  Weather and fire conditions are being monitored closely.  Due to a light inversion this morning smoke conditions in the area were moderate.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

The surface flow has advanced approximately 250 yards since yesterday.  The surface flow is moving slowly and does not pose an immediate threat to area residents.  The surface flow is located approximately .6 miles southwest or upslope of the Wao Kele Puna Forest Reserve boundary and moving in a north/northeast direction and parallel to the forest reserve boundary.

Presently, the current activities and flow does not present with an immediate or imminent threat to area communities.  No evacuation is required at this time.  Eruption activity will continue to be monitored and additional updates will be provided.

Although the current flow activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities, residents are encouraged to continue to review their emergency plans in the event conditions change and should an evacuation be necessary.

The public is reminded that the flow cannot be accessed and is not visible from any public areas.  Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision will be restricted and limited to subdivision residents only.

Mayor Kenoi Statement on FEMA Denial of Funds for Iselle Victims

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi issued the following statement in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of the state’s request for individual assistance:

“We are very disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny the state’s request for individual assistance for the victims of Tropical Storm Iselle. Our residents and families suffered destroyed homes, property losses and many other impacts from this historic storm. For many people, their lives have still not returned to normal, and the federal government must help our communities. We strongly urge Governor Abercrombie to appeal the FEMA decision directly to President Obama. We hope the president will recognize that the residents of Puna need his help, and deserve all the support and assistance that we can give them.”

Video – Hurricane Iselle Damage & Recovery in Puna, Hawaii

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Iselle devastated Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii on August 7, 2014.

Fragile invasive albizia trees shattered, downing utility lines and blocking major roads.

Falling Branches

The storm surge at Kapoho flooded and demolished homes. The community immediately started to pitch in with food, water, and ice. The government efficiently organized resources, and cleared roads and beach parks and HELCO is working overtime to get electricity back to folks systematically.

Much mahalos to everyone for your aloha spirit during this challenging time. Imua!

Medical Marijuana Policy Advocates Announce Series of August Events on Oahu, Hawai‘i Island

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (co-founders of the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii) have announced three free, public events on medical marijuana policy in August.

Medical Marijuana Meetings

Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are requested by 8/20, walk ins welcome, space permitting. RSVP for any event to: office@acluhawaii.org or call (808) 522-5906. Neighbor Islands call toll free, 1-877-544-5906. All venues ADA-accessible, request special accommodation by 8/18.

  • Oahu, Saturday, 8/23/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” featuring Robert Jacob, Mayor of Sebastopol, CA and Executive Director of Peace in Medicine, a non-profit healing center and cannabis dispensary, and James Anthony, a former Oakland City prosecutor, now a full time attorney specialized in medical cannabis dispensary land use law. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Blaisdell Center Maui Room (second floor), 777 Ward Avenue.
  • Hilo, Sunday, 8/24/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” repeats. 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Hilo YWCA, 145 Ululani Street.
  • Kona, Friday, 8/29/14: “Medical Marijuana TalkStory”. A free form conversation among patients, caregivers, doctors and advocates conducted by staff of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii. 2pm to 4pm at the Royal Kona Resort, in the Resolution Room. 75-5852 Ali‘i Drive.

SNAP Hurricane Victims Eligible for Money for Food Losses Caused by Hurricane Iselle

Thousands of Hawaii households remain without electricity in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle this past weekend.  Most people affected by power outages reside on the east side of Hawaii Island. Others are scattered across Oahu and Maui County.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) reminds beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly known as Food Stamps) that beneficiary households may request reimbursement for the actual dollar value of food destroyed by storm related power outages.  The reimbursement cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment (HAR 17-681-31).

To qualify for reimbursement, the affected household must have been participating in the SNAP when the disaster occurred, and report the loss to the DHS Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) within 10 business days of the severe weather event. The deadline to submit reimbursement requests for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle is Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

To be considered for the reimbursement, the affected SNAP household must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1) Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2) General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3) Length of time household power was out of service;

4) Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5) Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned within 10 days.

BEFORE MAILING OR DROPPING OFF the reimbursement request, SNAP beneficiaries should contact the BESSD Processing Center that maintains their case file for additional instructions. Individuals who don’t know which Processing Center maintains their file may call (808) 586-5720 to inquire.

An estimated 98,000 households currently receive SNAP benefits statewide.  There are approximately 25,000 SNAP households on Hawaii Island; 5,000 on Kauai; and 12,000 in Maui County.  To learn more about the Hawaii SNAP, visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/bessd/snap.

Civil Defense Update for Hurricane Iselle

This is a civil defense message.

This is a Hurricane Warning information update for Wednesday August 6th at 12:00 Noon.

Hurriane Iselle

The National Weather Service has issued a Hurricane Warning for  the Island of Hawaii remains in effect.  A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions can be expected within the next 36 hours.  The hurricane conditions will include high surf and surge along all coastal areas, heavy rains and possible thunder showers that may present with flood conditions, and sustained storm force winds of over 75 mph and higher gusts.  Residents and visitors are advised to take precautions and to prepare for hazardous conditions.  Boat owners are advised to check moorings and to secure all vessels.  All preparation activities should be completed before tonight.  Hurricane Iselle continues to be monitored and is currently located approximately 625 miles east southeast of Hilo and moving west northwest at 16 miles per hour.  Although hurricane Iselle had previously shown signs of weakening current assessment show the system is maintaining hurricane force conditions.  Hurricane Iselle will continue to be monitored and additional updates will be broadcasted as information is made available.  All schools are open today however the following schools will be closing at 2:00 PM today and the after school programs and activities at these schools will be suspended:

  • Laupahoehoe School
  • Kohala HS & Elem.
  • Kealakehe HS
  • Konawaena HS
  • Hilo HS
  • Waiakea HS
  • Keaau HS
  • Pahoa HS & Int
  • Honokaa HS & Int
  • Kau HS
  • Waikoloa Elem

The department of Education reports that all Hawaii Island Schools will be closed tomorrow Thursday August 7th.

In addition, all beach parks will be closed effective tonight and remain closed until conditions improve and it is safe to reopen.

Updated information for the Big Island, Maui county and the surrounding coastal waters.

Situation overview

Iselle is expected to bring heavy rains, high surf and damaging winds. Hurricane conditions are expected on the Big Island of Hawaii on Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are expected to spread to Maui county Thursday night and possibly to Oahu on Friday. Swells generated by Iselle are expected to reach the main Hawaiian islands today, possibly becoming damaging along some coastlines starting late tonight or Thursday. High surf is expected to reach the islands ahead of the heavy rains and strong winds. The high surf may bring coastal flooding, particularly when combined with afternoon astronomical high tides.

While there is still some uncertainty in the exact track and strength of Iselle, the Big Island and Maui are expected to be impacted first. The rest of the state remains at Risk to experience the impacts of Iselle.

Hawaii State Closing Areas in Preparation of Hurricane Iselle

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is advising the public to follow instructions of State Civil Defense and County Civil Defense agencies to prepare for the possibility of heavy rain, flooding, strong winds, power outages, large surf and coastal surge with the arrival of tropical storm system Iselle as early as Thursday on the Big Island.

Iselle

Both Iselle, and Julio in its wake, are evolving storm systems whose track and intensity may be affected by various weather factors. However, people should heed National Weather Service reports and be ready in event of emergency situations.

DLNR is asking for the public’s cooperation with this announcement of area closures as the storms approach. Additional closures may follow as the storms approach. People are advised to avoid forested and coastal areas due to potential for rising streams, flash flooding, falling trees or high surf.

Areas closing on Wednesday August 6:
Hawaii – By 6 p.m., Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will close all of its managed lands, including forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, natural area reserves, Na Ala Hele hiking trails, game management areas, including Keanakolu cabins, Ainapo hiking trail, Muliwai trail and Waimanu valley campground until further notice. DOFAW has suspended issuing camping permits.

Maui County – By 6 p.m., Maui DOFAW will close all of its managed lands, including forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, natural area reserves, Na Ala Hele hiking trails, game management areas (including Lanai GMA); this closure also affects Polipoli State Park (persons with camping permits are being notified).

Oahu – DOFAW has closed the Peacock Flats camping area to hiking and camping, and the Manoa Falls trail.

Kauai – By 6 p.m. DOFAW camping areas, including Waimea Canyon, Alakai Wilderness, Sugi Grove and Kawaikoi will be closed. As of Wednesday morning, Division of State Parks will close Napali Coast State Wilderness Park and the Kalalau trail will be closed to entering hikers. Trail closed signs will be posted at the Kalalau trailhead. State Parks will send a helicopter out on Wednesday to warn campers at Kalalau beach to evacuate or shelter in place.

Division of State Parks is suspending issuance of any new park camping permits statewide that would begin before Tuesday August 12th. This directive may be modified island by island as the track of the storms and their effects become known.

Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) does not plan to close any state small boat harbors but is advising boaters to monitor VHF radio for Coast Guard information on port closures and other safety advisories.

Hurricane #Iselle School Closures and Emergency Shelters Being Set Up

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is scheduling closures at designated public schools in advance of storms Iselle and Julio.

DOE ReleaseOn Thursday, Aug. 7, all public schools in Hawaii and Maui Counties (Maui, Molokai, Lanai) will be closed. All other public schools will remain open and continue their regular school schedule and afterschool activities.

School closures are being made according to the storms’ paths and in preparation of designated emergency shelter sites.

“The force of these storms remain uncertain, however, we do not want to wait until last minute to close our schools,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Additionally, many of our schools are designated emergency shelters and it is necessary to prepare these facilities as the storms approach.”

State and County Civil Defense officials expect Iselle to impact Hawaii Island and Maui County (Maui, Molokai, Lanai) on Thursday. Julio is forecasted to impact the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday.

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 6: The following Hawaii County public schools, which are designated emergency shelters, will close at 2 p.m. This means all afterschool activities for students and staff are canceled at these schools, as well as any scheduled public meetings:

  • Laupahoehoe
  • Kohala High & Elementary
  • Kealakehe High (pet friendly)
  • Konawaena High (pet friendly)
  • Hilo High (pet friendly)
  • Waiakea High (pet friendly)
  • Keaau High (pet friendly)
  • Pahoa High & Intermediate (pet friendly)
  • Honokaa High & Intermediate (pet friendly)
  • Kau High (pet friendly)
  • Waikoloa Elementary

THURSDAY, AUG. 7: All public schools in Hawaii and Maui Counties (Maui, Molokai, Lanai) will be closed.

FRIDAY, AUG. 8: The schools in Hawaii and Maui Counties that are designated emergency shelters will remain closed on Friday. The Hawaii County schools are listed above, Maui County designated shelters are:

  • Baldwin High
  • Lokelani Intermediate
  • Kekaulike High
  • Hana High & Elementary
  • Molokai High
  • Kilohana Elementary

In Hawaii County, three complex areas serve more than 23,000 students: Hilo-Laupahoehoe-Waiakea (7,864), Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena (10,167), Kau-Keaau-Pahoa (5,414). There are more than 21,000 students in Maui County on three islands. Statewide, the DOE serves about 185,000 students at 289 public schools and charter schools.

DOE officials continue to meet with State Civil Defense and are closely monitoring the storms’ patterns. Information regarding public schools and afterschool activities will be announced as needed.

For updated information, follow the DOE on Twitter at @HIDOE808.

Hawaii Missed Opportunities to Improve Drinking Water Infrastructure

Millions of dollars in federal funds intended for drinking water projects in Hawaii and four other states have sat unspent, according to a federal report.

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA's OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren't compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states.  Click to view report

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA’s OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren’t compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states. Click to view report

The Office of Inspector General for the Environmental Protection Agency said it found that five states reviewed — Missouri, California, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Mexico — have $231 million in unspent balances above the goal level in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans for cities, towns and local water districts to make drinking water infrastructure improvements.

We found that the EPA and the five states we reviewed took many actions to reduce DWSRF unliquidated balances, but those actions have not reduced DWSRF unliquidated balances to the goal of below 13 percent of the cumulative federal capitalization grants awarded.

For the period we examined the five states reviewed — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico — executed small numbers of loans each year and did not maximize the use of all DWSRF resources, including capitalization grant awards. State programs reviewed were not adequately projecting the DWSRF resources that would be available in the future to enable the states to anticipate the amount of projects needed to be ready for loan execution in a given year.

As a result, $231 million of capitalization grant funds remained idle, loans were not issued, and communities were not able to implement needed drinking water improvements.

We also noted that states’ project lists included in the capitalization grant application —called fundable lists —did not reflect projects that would be funded in the current year and overestimated the number of projects that will receive funding.

Less than one-third of the projects on the fundable lists we reviewed resulted in executed DWSRF loans during the current grant year.

We found that, generally, these states did not have a consistent “ready-to-proceed” definition.

When projects are not ready to proceed, expected environmental benefits are delayed.

Because states use the fundable lists to justify their annual capitalization grants, the fundable lists should communicate to the EPA and the public the projects that will be funded with taxpayer money.

Recommendations and Planned Corrective Actions

  • We recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Water require states with unliquidated obligations that exceed the Office of Water’s 13-percent-cutoff goal to project future cash flows to ensure funds are expended as efficiently as possible.
  • We also recommend that the Assistant Administrator develop guidance for states on what projects are to be included on the fundable lists and require regions, when reviewing capitalization grant applications, to ensure states are complying with the guidance.

The EPA agreed to take sufficient corrective actions on most of the recommendations.  The EPA still needs to take steps to ensure states have adopted the EPA’s guidance on the definition of “ready to proceed.

Hawaii’s Waitlist Trend Increased; Hospital Stays Shorter but Still Longer than Average

Statewide, between 6.9 and 7.8 percent of hospital admissions were waitlisted —that is, remaining in the hospital after the need for acute care ceases—over a five year period (2006-2011), according to discharge data analyzed by the Hawaii Health Information Corporation (HHIC), the state’s premier healthcare data collector and analyzer.

Click to read report

Click to read report

Waitlist patients are those needing treatment after hospital discharge, but not at the severity level that requires inpatient care.  These patients often continue to stay in a hospital because there are limited available community placement options that meet the patient’s needs.

For Hawaii’s neighbor islands, however, the waitlist patterns are significantly different. On Maui, the rate ranged between 12 and 16 percent, whereas on Kauai, the rates varied between 8 and 10.5 percent. Except for 2007 and 2009 (7.7 and 9.2 percent, respectively), Hawaii Island’s rate was similar to the Oahu rate of 6 to 7 percent.

While there were more waitlisted patients statewide in 2011 than in 2006, they experienced shorter hospital stays, according to the HHIC analysis.  Compared to 2006 data, HHIC found that the 2011 average length of stay (ALOS) for waitlisted patients decreased 25 percent, from 21.7 to 16.5 days, across all counties except Maui, which increased 12 percent, from 16.8 to 18.8 days.

However, the ALOS for waitlist patients is still more than the average non-waitlisted patient—nearly four times longer. HHIC found that the risk of a patient being waitlisted increased with age and increased significantly with each decade of life.

Neighbor island hospitals experienced a higher cost and volume of waitlist patients than Oahu with chronic-related disease conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, degenerative nervous system disorders and diabetes.

Bed availability does not appear to be a problem as there was an 11 percent increase in the number of long-term care beds statewide between 2006 and 2011. Appropriately matching the health needs of a waitlisted patient with a sufficiently staffed bed is likely an issue.

The key barriers to community placement of waitlisted patients include insufficient staff with higher skill-mix in nursing homes and other placement alternatives to meet the needs of those with complex conditions, a lack of specialty equipment to provide appropriate care, the cost of multiple or high-cost antibiotics, and lack of community-based resources to support patients with underlying mentally illness in managing their other medical conditions.

“Our analyses make clear that the waitlist problem exists statewide but that has very special dimensions on each island,” said Peter Sybinsky, Ph.D., president and CEO of HHIC.  “Efforts by health plans, hospitals and other providers and community agencies need to take into account this variation as they work together to solve this vexing problem.”

About the Data
Findings are based on data collected from all hospitals across the state, except Tripler Army Medical Center.  The report was prepared based on funding provided by Hawaii Medical Service Association, Kaiser-Permanente, AlohaCare, Ohana Healthcare and United Healthcare, in an attempt to provide a clear description of Hawaii’s waitlist population and estimate the financial impact on Hawaii’s hospitals.

About HHIC/Health Knuggets
Established in 1994, HHIC maintains one of the largest comprehensive health care databases in the state, comprised of local and national inpatient, emergency department, ambulatory care, financial data and other data. The research and data compiled are analyzed and disseminated statewide and are used to help shape healthcare policy and educate decision makers, health care providers and industry experts. Through HHIC Knowledge Nuggets, the organization seeks to inform the public about important healthcare topics. For more information, visit www.hhic.org.