Big Island Senator Urges Action on Federal Highway Fund Extension

The recently appointed Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy is expressing grave concern over the looming expiration date on federal transportation funding.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye

Sen. Lorraine Inouye

Senator Lorraine Inouye (Dist. 4 – N. Kona, Kohala, N. Hilo, Hāmākua) addressed Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation in a letter urging action on federal funding authorization to avoid a lapse in funding that would severely impact state projects and to support the passage of a bill that will create a more sustainable funding stream for individual transportation projects on a long-term basis.

“Hawai‘i relies greatly on federal funds, as do other states, and our State’s transportation projects depend on long-term commitments from federal funding,” said Sen. Inouye. “It is imperative for Congress to continue to fund projects that have already started while looking for additional long-term solutions that continue to support Hawai‘i’s needs.”

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved HR 2353, the Highway Transportation Funding Act of 2015.  The bill extends funding for the Highway Trust Fund until July 31 through a series of “reconciliation of funds” measures amending the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014. The bill now goes on to the Senate.

Congress has until May 31 to take action on authorizing federal funding for state highway, bridge, and transit projects.  Without action prior to this date, federal aid funds for state projects would be halted. 

Hawaii Ranks Fourth for Senior Health According to Annual America’s Health Rankings Senior Report

Hawaii ranked fourth for senior health this year, according to the third edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities.

2015 Senior Report

Nationwide, the report shows positive trends for senior health, especially for those measures that look at whether seniors are getting the right care in a setting of their choice. Seniors are experiencing lower hospital readmission rates and preventable hospitalization rates compared to last year, while hospice care use and the number of home healthcare workers have increased.

“United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is a vital tool for understanding where we, as a state, are making strides in senior health and where key challenges for Hawaii’s seniors remain,” said Ron Fujimoto, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare’s Community Plan for Hawaii. “With America’s senior population poised to double by 2050, we must continue to invest in programs and solutions that address our seniors’ health needs and help them live the best lives they possibly can.”

Hawaii’s Overall Health

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report finds that Hawaii has its share of strengths and challenges.

Hawaii’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of obesity
  • Low geriatrician shortfall
  • Low hip fracture rate

Hawaii’s Challenges

  • High prevalence of underweight seniors
  • High prevalence of activity-limiting arthritis pain
  • High percentage of hospital deaths

50-State Snapshot: Vermont is the Healthiest State for Seniors

According to the report, Vermont is the healthiest state for seniors, rising from fourth place last year. New Hampshire ranks second, improving one spot from last year. Minnesota fell to third after being ranked first for two years in a row, while Hawaii (4) and Utah (5) round out the top five states. Louisiana ranks 50th as the least healthy state for older adults, followed by Mississippi (49), Kentucky (48), Arkansas (47) and Oklahoma (46).

To see the Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org/senior

The report shows that seniors are improving in key care trends, particularly in metrics that examine whether seniors are getting the right care in the setting of their choice, pointing to a health system that may be working better for seniors.

Key findings include:

  • Preventable hospitalizations dropped 8.6 percent, from 64.9 percent of discharges for Medicare beneficiaries last year to 59.3 percent of discharges in 2015. The decrease marks an 11 percent decline in preventable hospitalizations since the 2013 edition.
  • More seniors are spending their last days in the setting they prefer. Hospice care – which can be delivered in a home setting – increased from 47.5 percent to 50.6 percent of decedents aged 65 and older, while hospital deaths decreased from 25 percent to 22.8 percent of decedents. Hospice care rose 38 percent since the report’s inception in 2013.
  • The number of home healthcare workers increased 9.3 percent compared to last year, which may indicate that home care is an increasingly accessible option for today’s seniors.
  • More seniors received the flu vaccine compared to last year, rising from 60.1 percent of seniors in 2014 to 62.8 percent this year. Seniors are particularly susceptible to flu and flu-related complications, making it vital that they receive the vaccine each year.
  • Seniors are reporting feeling better. The findings showed a 4.8 percent increase in self-reported high health status to 41.8 percent this year, contributing to a 9 percent increase over the past two years.

“It is heartening to see seniors’ health is improving, but our societal challenge remains finding ways to encourage more seniors to be more active,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation, and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “Strong community support is an essential part of promoting positive health among seniors. We must work together – across states, communities and our own families – to encourage all seniors to find ways to be as active as they’re able to be.”

After showing promising improvements in last year’s edition, physical inactivity rates increased in 2015; one-third of seniors (33.1 percent) did not get any physical activity or exercise outside of work, marking a 15.3 percent increase from the previous year (28.7 percent). Other worrisome trends for senior health include:

  • 37.6 percent of seniors have four or more chronic conditions;
  • 26.7 percent of seniors are obese;
  • 8.7 percent of seniors smoke; and
  • 16.1 percent of seniors have had all of their teeth removed due to tooth decay or gum disease.

In addition, despite promising gains in end-of-life care metrics, community support spending per capita for seniors – support that helps older adults stay in their homes – has declined by 23.9 percent in the past two years.

“Progress in key metrics such as preventable hospitalizations and hospice care show that more seniors are aging comfortably and receiving preferred types of support – a trend that not only benefits our healthcare system but helps ensure seniors’ well-being at each step of the aging process,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “We are excited to be making progress toward strong, personalized care for all seniors and look forward to seeing continued momentum in this area.”

To see the state Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org/senior

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

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

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

It will be visible beginning tonight, Saturday, April 25 at 8:10 PM. It will be visible for approximately 1 minute.  Maximum Height: 43 degrees, and it will appear in the West Northwest part of the sky and disappear to the Southwest.

Venomous Spiders Found in Foreign Container

A venomous spider was captured by agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Honolulu on Mon., April 13th.

Spider2

The spider was found in a container of granite and flagstone from Brazil that was being off-loaded in Honolulu. The CBP agents sealed the container and immediately turned the spider over to entomologists at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), who identified it as a venomous Brazilian wandering spider (genus: Phoneutria). The brown-colored spider had a leg span that measured about 3.5 inches.

Yesterday, a second container from the same shipment was opened and another spider was found and  killed immediately by a worker unloading the container. The spider was destroyed to the extent it could not be positively identified, but the worker said it looked like the photo of the Brazilian wandering spider. The second container was sealed and quarantined. The Plant Quarantine Branch is working with the importer to have the containers shipped back to Brazil.

“This incident emphasizes the importance of coordinated efforts between federal and state inspection agencies in preventing invasive species from entering Hawaii,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We each have our own inspection areas and duties, but communication is key in protecting the state.”

spider

The CBP is responsible, not only for keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S., but also screening international visitors and foreign cargo. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is charged with inspection of agricultural material and animals transported from foreign countries into the U.S. and the HDOA is responsible for agricultural inspections from ports within the U.S. entering the State of Hawaii.

The Brazilian wandering spider is found in most areas of South America; however, it is not established in North America. They are considered one of the most venomous spiders in the world and may grow to have a leg span of five inches. Their venom is a strong neurotoxin that can cause increased blood pressure and heart rate, vomiting, blurred vision and intense pain where the bite occurs.

This species of spider does not spin webs, but wanders around for their food – thus the name. Their diet consists of insects, other spiders, lizards and small rodents.
Suspected invasive species should be reported immediately to the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE –

643-PEST (7378).

Family Urges Passage of “Cinderella” Bill

Noboru and Elaine Kawamoto are living separately now because the State does not allow two private pay clients in a community care foster family home (CCFFH) as space needs to be available for Medicaid clients.

noburo2Noboru and Elaine are able to pay their own way (private pay) but because of the State requirement Elaine has to live away from Noboru and only sees him on weekends. Vice Speaker John M. Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley and portion of Lower Kalihi) introduced HB600 which would allow married private pay couples to be cared for in the same CCFFH.

noburo1Janice Stinson, daughter of Elaine and Noboru, and her daughter Emiko, arrived on Tuesday to visit and to assist her parents in their efforts to get back together. “I find it difficult to believe that there is a State law that bars my parents from living together after 67 years of marriage.

They dearly love each other and miss each other because they are separated.” said Janice. “I am a health care professional in California with a PHD in Nursing and spent 38 years in the Navy Nurse Corps. Throughout my career I have understood the need for married couples to be together.”

Granddaughter Emiko adds “I don’t understand how there can be a law keeping a married couple of 67 years apart. My grandparents have been great role models for me my whole life and to see them kept apart now, makes me sad.”

The Kawamoto’s son Norman says “We have always been a close knit family. My Mom and Dad really miss each other very much being separated. There is nothing complicated about it; they simply want to live out their days together. They enjoy the basic things in life: watching TV together, singing songs together. The passage of HB600 will allow them to return to the life they have always enjoyed.”

Jonathan and Arlene Hanks, Noboru’s caregivers, offered “We support the Kawamoto family, Noboru and Elaine, we are here for them, and will help them in any way possible. We want to see HB600 pass into law. It’s just common sense; it’s the right thing to do.”

HB600 has passed both houses and is going to a conference committee next week to hopefully iron out the differences in the House version and the Senate version.

Vice Speaker John M. Mizuno adds “HB600 is the Cinderella bill of the 2015 legislative session because it involves a love story of a married couple of 67 years, separated by a State regulation which does not allow them to live in the same community care foster family home. I’ve always said that marriage is a fundamental right and the State should not have the right to deprive this married couple the right to live together in the same community care home.

Noboru fought in World War II and defended our country and now that he is 94 years of age, we feel the urgency to pass this bill and allow Elaine and Noboru to enjoy their golden years together.”

Office of Information Practice Advising Agencies to Disclose P-Card Records to Requesters

In light of numerous inquiries about the disclosure of P-Card usage by government employees, the state Office of Information Practices (OIP) is generally advising agencies to disclose unredacted P-Card records to requesters, because all purchases made on the cards are supposed to be justified as work-related expenses.

pcard

In rare circumstances, there may be confidential information that should be redacted because of a significant privacy interest, such as medical information.

P-Card usage is distinguished from personal credit card reimbursements sought by employees for work expenses.  In the case of employees’ requests for reimbursement of work-related expenses paid for by their personal credit cards, it is proper to redact all personal or confidential information on the personal credit card invoices, such as all non-work related purchases, personal address, credit card number, interest rates, balances, payments due, and rewards points.

P-Card records to requesters, agencies are further cautioned to redact confidential P-Card account numbers and any taxpayer identification numbers for vendors.  Oftentimes, a vendor’s taxpayer ID number is a person’s social security number, which should be redacted prior to disclosure.

For the latest open government news, check for archived copies of What’s New articles that are posted here, or e-mailed upon request. To be added to OIP’s e-mail list, please e-mail oip@hawaii.gov.  Also, if you would like to receive What’s New articles or attachments in a Word format, please contact OIP at (808) 586-1400 or oip@hawaii.gov.

Hawaii Moon RIDERS Honored at Capital

The House of Representatives today recognized the Iolani School and Kealakehe High School robotics team, known as the Moon RIDERS, for their work on the electrodynamic dust shield lunar project and their partnerships with PISCES, NASA, and Google Lunar Xprize. 

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

In February, the group was selected to take part in an experiment involving electrodynamic dust shield technology that will be conducted on the surface of the moon by the end of 2016. 

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

The selected Hawaii students will be mentored by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.  The project came about through an agreement with PISCES and NASA to work on a Hawaii high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project.

Big Island Hosting 11 Nations: Trans-Pacific Partnership Meeting Begins

Eleven nations will be meeting tomorrow here on the Big Island at an undisclosed location  to work on passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.

Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.

U.S. failure to pass a trans-Pacific agreement would leave a political vacuum for China to fill.

Beginning tomorrow on the Big Island of Hawaii, U.S. officials will host trade negotiators from 11 nations spanning Asia and the Americas to work toward completing what could be the most significant trade deal in a generation. Five years in the making, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would cover 40% of global gross domestic product and a third of world trade.

Any such deal ultimately will have to make it through the U.S. Congress. In order to prevent lawmakers from amending the agreement and undoing years of international negotiations, Congress will first have to provide President Obama with trade promotion authority, also known as “fast-track,” that allows a yes-or-no vote on the package.

The remainder of this Wall Street Journal opinion piece can be found here: A Trade Deal With a Bonus For National Security

Hawaii State Legislature Forms Outdoor Heritage Caucus

Today, Senator Laura Thielen (25th Senatorial District) and Representative Cindy Evans (7th House District) announced the launch of the Outdoor Heritage Caucus.

capital

The caucus’s mission is to identify, protect, and promote the State of Hawai‘i’s heritage of subsistence hunting and fishing, outdoor cultural practices and recreational activities, and to foster appreciation and respect for outdoor heritage.

The caucus will focus on: (1) ensuring public access to public lands for the enjoyment of outdoor pursuits; (2) safeguarding the integrity of user-pays trust funds, license revenues, and other dedicated financial contributions by hunter men and women, fishermen and women, and outdoor recreational users; and (3) enhancing state aquatic and wildlife habitat conservation for current and future generations. Legislators in this caucus will watch national debate on issues related to outdoor cultural practices, recreational activities, and hunting and fishing.

“We are pleased to announce the formation of the Outdoor Heritage Caucus,” Evans stated. “With population growth and challenges of liability, many people are looking at our natural resources from different aspects. We need to find balance to make sure that we can use the outdoors but still maintain protection of our natural resources so we can pass on our practices. The group of legislators in this caucus would like to send a strong statement that we value the quality of life in Hawai‘i and perpetuate the joys and opportunities outdoors for future generations.”

“The Outdoor Heritage Caucus is a great way to showcase and advocate for outdoor recreation in Hawai‘i,” said Thielen. As more and more residents and tourists explore our state’s varied outdoor recreational opportunities, it is important to ensure that there is adequate support and funding for these opportunities.”

outdoor caucus

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.