Hawaii’s Last Frigate USS Reuben James to be Decommissioned Tomorrow

USS Reuben James (FFG 57), the last remaining guided-missile frigate homeported in Hawaii, will be decommissioned  tomorrow, July 18, after nearly thirty years of distinguished naval service.

USS Reuben James (FFG 57) returns to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in May after completing its final deployment. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tiarra Fulgham)

USS Reuben James (FFG 57) returns to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in May after completing its final deployment. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tiarra Fulgham)

The officers and crew of USS Reuben James will host nearly 100 friends, family, alumni and honored guests during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Among those expected to attend are 30 former crew members and their families, including five “plank-owners” (crew members who were assigned to the ship when it was commissioned) and six former commanding officers of the ship.

“This ceremony is an opportunity for us to say fair winds, farewell, and “a job well done‟ — not only to the crew today but also to the thousands of Sailors who served aboard Reuben James over the years,” said Capt. Chris Bushnell, Deputy Commodore of Destroyer Squadron 31. “It was my pleasure to thank “Fightin’ 57‟ and her crew for their fine service and hard work and also to present Reuben James the Ney Award last Thursday.”

Guest speaker at the decommissioning this Thursday will be retired Navy Captain Faris T. Farwell, former commanding officer of the ship, 1997-1999. CAPT Brent Smith, chief of staff for Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, will officiate.

The ship returned from deployment in early May after participating in a series of bilateral maritime exercises for Cooperative Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) in the Seventh Fleet area of responsibility.

Capt. Dan Valascho said, “It was a privilege to have taken Reuben James on her last deployment forward this year. This proud warship has served the Navy for 27 years. I am grateful for this opportunity to thank all the Sailors and family members who have been part of the Reuben James ohana.”

With the departure of the Reuben James as the last remaining frigate homeported here, all of Navy‟s surface ships homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will be guided-missile destroyers and cruisers.

Guided-missile frigates are multi-mission surface combatants, capable of Under-Sea Warfare (USW) and Surface Warfare (SW) missions. Reuben James has been assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron 31 under Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, in Hawaii.


Governor Releases $3.09 Million in Capital Improvement Grants

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $3.09 million in capital improvement grants to Maui and Hawaii Counties as well as two local nonprofit organizations.

The Kress Building in downtown Hilo will get funding

The Kress Building will get renovated to support Connections Public Charters Schools upgrades and improvements

“I am pleased to inform Mayors Arakawa and Kenoi that these capital improvement grant funds are now available to move their roadway and pedestrian safety projects forward,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Funds will also go toward two nonprofits in Hilo and Kaneohe that serve island youth and families in their respective communities, a wise investment in our state’s future.”

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

$998,000 – Maui County Old Haleakala Highway Sidewalk Project – Planning, design and construction of a new sidewalk along one side of the Old Haleakala Highway, from the Kula Highway to Pukalani Street; the Old Haleakala Highway is frequently used by students attending King Kekaulike High School, and the new path will improve safety

$300,000 – Hawaii County Puainako Street Extension – Right-of-way land acquisition for the conversion of easements on private properties necessary for the extension of Puainako Street, from Komohana Street to the intersection of Kaumana Drive and Country Club Road in upper Kaumana; the project includes a new 4.8-mile, two-lane road with turning lanes, paved shoulders and swales, and drainage improvements

$1,500,000 – Community Based Education Support Services (CBESS) – Friends of Connections, in Hilo – Planning, design, construction and equipment for the first phase of the Kress Building’s renovation to support Connections Public Charter Schools upgrades and improvements; CBESS-Friends of Connections, a Hilo-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, purchased the 40,000 square foot building in December 2006

Kahalu'u Multi-Purpose Facility

Kahalu’u Multi-Purpose Facility

$300,000 – Kualoa-Heeia Ecumenical Youth (KEY) Project, Kaneohe, Oahu – Design and construction to upgrade and renovate restrooms, storage and other infrastructure at the Kahaluu Multi-Purpose Facility; the KEY Project, a Kaneohe-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, operates the facility as part of its mission to coordinate and enhance educational, recreational and stewardship opportunities for neighborhood families and their children in a safe environment

State Honors Hawaii County Outstanding Older American Awardee Shirley Ito

While in Hilo this Friday, July 19, Gov. Neil Abercrombie will honor Older Americans Month Hawaii County (East Hawaii) awardee Shirley Ito in a ceremony held in the Hilo State Building, 2nd Floor.

Older Americans Month

Every year, eight kupuna — one male and one female from each county — are selected as Older American volunteer honorees for the exemplary work they do to aid and support their individual communities.

After proclaiming May as “Older Americans Month” in Hawaii on May 3, the Governor recognized honorees from Honolulu, Betty Goya and John McGuire; Kauai County, Dr. Lucy Miller and William Neil Rapozo, Sr.; and Hawaii County (West Hawaii), Peter Hoffmann, at events on their respective is lands. Honorees from Maui County, Diane Logsdon and Richard Endsley, will be meeting with the Governor in a ceremony on Maui later this month.

Ito, a Hilo resident, was nominated for the award by Hui Okinawa. Ito has volunteered with Hui Okinawa for the past 10 years, serving on its Board of Directors since January 2011. Ito assists in organizing Hui Okinawa’s annual summer five-day Cultural Day Camp for children by helping teachers with crafts and other projects and accompanying the students on field trips.

“It’s folks like Shirley Ito that build the social fabric of a community and make it strong,” stated Hui Okinawa in the nomination letter. “In any organization or club you need members who are willing to actively participate and lead activities if the group is to continue to be a vibrant contributor to community life. That’s Shirley!”

At the youthful age of 74, Ito has receive ed Hui Okinawa’s Hatarachaa Award (2003) and Chibayaa Award (2009) for her dedication and diligent service. In addition to her outstanding dedication to Hui Okinawa, Ito has dedicated her time to volunteer for ARC of Hilo cleanups, serve as chair on the ARC’s Vision and Hearing Programs, and serve as president and regional chair for the Lions Club.

“Older Americans Month celebrations acknowledge the value that older adults continue to bring to our communities by applauding recent achievements of local kupuna and inviting them to share the activities they do to unleash the power of age,” said Wes Lum, director of the Executive Office on Aging.

This year’s Older Americans Month theme – “Unleash the Power of Age” – emphasizes the important role of our kupuna. Seniors across the nation are being recognized as productive, active, and influential members of society.

For more information and to find ongoing opportunities to celebrate and support older Americans, contact the Executive Office on Aging at (808) 586-0100 or local Area Agency on Aging by visiting the Aging and Disability Resource Center at www.hawaiiadrc.org or (808) 643-2372.


Department of Education Rolling out “Get on Board” Initiative

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is rolling out the first phase of its “Get on Board” initiative, a multi-year, multi-faceted commitment to reform its public school student bus transportation system. The initiative kicks off on the first day of school, Monday, August 5, and will serve as many as 1,000 students at 30 schools who use buses in the Aiea, Moanalua, Pearl City, Radford and Waipahu High complex areas.

School Bus Hawaii
The first phase will reflect routes from last year and includes route restoration to Aiea Heights, Halawa Heights and Waikele Elementary School attendance areas. One of the more significant features of the Get on Board initiative is the use of a technology solution that includes routing software, GPS tracking on the buses, and an updated and contemporary contracting and procurement process. The DOE is planning to implement Get on Board at all Oahu schools by 2014-2015, and then statewide the following school year.

“The pilot areas for Get on Board were strategically chosen by what makes the most fiscal sense, to the department, our bus contractors and taxpayers,” said Ray L’Heureux, assistant superintendent, DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “There is a large amount of riders in these areas – enough to give us important data on ridership we need to move forward with our reform efforts.”

In June 2012, the DOE announced more than 100 bus routes were being eliminated statewide due to rising costs and a loss of funding. Since then, the DOE has streamlined services and restored a number of the routes, and also contracted Management Partnership Services (MPS) to conduct a study of Hawaii’s student bus transportation system. Earlier this month, Gov. Abercrombie signed into law two Senate bills that give the DOE more flexibility in how it awards its bus contracts. These changes, as detailed in the MPS report, are being implemented with Request for Proposals being finalized this month for the 2014-15 school year.

In addition, the DOE has developed a number of communications protocols between bus vendors, schools, parents and students to ensure the most efficient level of service.

Parents can register their children for bus ridership at their schools. Letters to public school parents are being mailed this week regarding bus registration requirements. The department has established a Get on Board Call Center at 206-7936, or via e-mail at getonboard@hawaiidoe.org. Additional updates can also be found on the DOE’s new website at http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/BeyondTheClassroom/Transportation/Pages/Home.aspx.

3.8 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes the Pahala Area of the Big Island

A 3.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Pahala area of the Big Island this morning and was also felt in Captain Cook, Hilo, Holualoa, Kailua, Kealakekua, Mountain View, Pahoa and Waimea.  No tsunami was generated from the quake.

38 pahala

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