Hilo Passport Acceptance Fairs

Thinking about applying for a U.S. Passport? Don’t put it off any longer!
hilo-passport-fairApply for your U.S. Passport at a special Saturday Passport Acceptance Fair at Hawai’i Community College on December 3, 2016; April 1, 2017; and May 20, 2017.

To request an appointment, email your name, phone number, and preferred appointment date and time to PassportFair@state.gov. Walk-in customers will be accommodated as time permits.

Improvements to Mauna Kea Recreation Area Unveiled

Located near the 34-mile marker of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway at the center of Hawaiʻi Island, Mauna Kea Recreation Area is the only rest stop for many miles in either direction. On July 1, 2014, County assumed management of the former Mauna Kea State Recreation Area from the State of Hawai‘i and immediately commenced with extensive renovations.

mauna-kea-park-entranceUse of the park has continued to increase since the Kenoi administration began improving the facilities. Since assuming management of Mauna Kea Recreation Area, the County has invested over $11 million in improvements.

“When you ask for something, local style, there’s kuleana that comes with that,” Mayor Kenoi said in reference to the expectation that the County would greatly improve the area once management was transferred from the State. “How dare us let our kupuna travel 60, 70 miles with no place to wash hands or use bathroom? No place for our children to stop, laugh and play?”

mauna-kea-park-bathroomsSpeakers at today’s ceremony included Mayor Billy Kenoi and State Senator Kaialiʻi Kahele, the son and successor of the late Senator Gil Kahele, who along with Senator Mālama Solomon led the charge at the State Capitol to turn the park over to the County. Governor Neil Abercrombie signed an executive order to do so in 2014.

The first wave of work included lighting enhancements, removal of dead trees that posed a fire hazard, fumigation, and installation of new picnic areas. Those improvements were completed in-house by County plumbers, electricians, tree trimmers, grounds crews, and equipment operators from the Departments of Public Works and Parks & Recreation.

In Summer 2015, a new playground was dedicated and a new comfort station was opened for the many cross-island travelers that use the park’s facilities.

mauna-kea-park-playgroundThis latest completed phase of work included repairs and improvements to the cabins, dining hall, and other facilities as well as new roadways, walkways, walking paths, fitness equipment, lighting, and other amenities. GW Construction and a number of sub-contractors completed the work.

The Department of Parks & Recreation expects to open Mauna Kea Recreation Area’s cabins for overnight stays in January 2017. For more information, call the department at 961-8311.

High Winds and Heavy Snow in Hawaii – Mauna Loa Summit Closed

Due to high winds and heavy snow, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park closed the summit of Mauna Loa on Thursday to all day use and overnight camping until it is safe to reopen.

NPS Photo

NPS Photo

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park early Thursday morning. Heavy rain, high winds, and a foot of snow were expected, and by afternoon, a thick blanket of snow was visible as low as 10,000 feet. Visitors at the park’s Jaggar Museum were treated periodically with views of snow-capped Mauna Loa, a novelty for many who don’t expect snow in Hawai‘i.

The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

In January 2014, park rangers and a helicopter pilot rescued a backcountry hiker stranded on Mauna Loa in an unexpected blizzard.

Pepper to Perform at Kona Brewing Company

In honor of Kona Brewing Company’s Makana Series, the company is celebrating two successful years of fundraising with a party at the original brewery in Kona on December 17, 2016.  Pepper, a three piece band originally from Hawaii, will be headlining this special concert event.

Pepper

Pepper

WHAT:  Celebration of Kona Brewing Company’s Makana Series, featuring Pepper.  Makana Series are four limited edition, island-brewed beers, inspired by Hawaii’s landscape and made with island ingredients that tell Kona Brewing Company’s story. In the spirit of makana, a portion of proceeds of all beers sold benefit local non-profit organizations.

The event will celebrate the two years Kona Brewing Company has run the program, which has raised more than $100,000 for four non-profit organizations on the island.

Pepper will headline the special event, with opening acts including Divercité and Kimié.

WHEN: Saturday, December 17, 2016, Gates open at 6.00pm, Pepper on stage at 8.40pm

LOCATION: Kona Brewing Brewpub and adjacent Brewery Block, 74-5612 Pawai Pl, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

COST: General Admission – $39

Tickets are on sale now from https://kiosk.eztix.co/kiosk-optimised/297242.

Kona Brewing Company has been on the island for 22 years, and created the Makana Series as a way to give back and say mahalo to the island. The series is inspired by Earth [Aina], Fire [Wela], Water [Kai] and Wind [Makani]. Proceeds from the sale of these brews benefit local nonprofits committed to the islands’ natural wonder: Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Malama Maunalua, Surfrider Foundation Hawaii and Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative.

Eric Chang, Hawaii Market Manager, Kona Brewing Company, said: “Kona Brewing Company has always made it a priority to help support those who help pave the way for a sustainable future for our planet. For the last two years, we have taken that further by supporting and highlighting four other local charities that share our passion for sustainability and the environment through the Makana Series.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating two years of giving with this special event, and are honored that the local friends from Pepper are able to join us.  “We hope to see many of our ohana here to celebrate with us.”

Hulihe’e Palace Remembers Kamehameha Schools Founder

Enjoy a free Afternoon at Hulihe’e Palace 4-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 to remember the late Princess Bernice Pauahi. Presenting hula and serenade by the Merrie Monarchs, the event is part of a year-long series that honors Hawai‘i’s past monarchs and historical figures; donations are appreciated. Kindly bring a beach mat or chair as seating won’t be provided.

huliheePrincess Bernice Pauahi is most well known as the benefactress of Kamehameha Schools. A great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, she came of age during the Victorian Era. She was well liked and very private. When her cousin, Kamehameha V, chose her as his successor in 1872, she declined. Her refusal ended the Kamehameha Dynasty.

During her lifetime, the princess witnessed the physical and social decline of Hawaiians. Some foreigners brought disease—the native population dwindled from 400,000 in 1778 to fewer than 45,000 a century later—and controlled most commerce. Missionaries introduced a new value system.

“Distressed by the plight of her people, Princess Pauahi created a will in 1883 as an instrument of change,” says Jolee Chip, Hulihe‘e Palace docent coordinator. “She believed education could be the answer to help her people.”

The document established a charitable land trust overseen by trustees to improve the well being of Hawaiians. It operates as Kamehameha Schools today, one of the largest, private trusts in the nation.

“The will was the princess’s way to malama ka ‘aina—practice the ethical, prudent and culturally appropriate stewardship of land and resources,” adds Chip.

Pauahi married Charles Reed Bishop in 1850. She and Bishop shared a love for traveling, teaching and entertaining and the couple became astute property managers. When her favorite cousin, Princess Ruth Ke‘elikolani died, Pauahi received her entire estate (including Hulihe‘e Palace) and this inheritance comprised the major portion of Pauahi’s landholdings. The princess died a year later in 1884. To honor his wife, Charles founded the Bishop Museum in 1889 to house the royal family heirlooms and her extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts.

Hulihe‘e Palace is open for docent-guided and self-guided tours. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday—with the exception of the palace open 1-4 p.m. the Monday following the monthly Kokua Kailua Village stroll.

Palace admission for a self-guided tour is $8 for adults, $6 for kama‘aina, military and seniors, and $1 for keiki 18 years and under. Docent-guided tours are available upon request. For details, contact the palace at 329-1877, the palace office at 329-9555 or visit www.daughtersofhawaii.org. The gift shop, open 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday- Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, can be reached by phoning 329-6558.

Caretakers of Hulihe‘e Palace are the Daughters of Hawai‘i and the Calabash Cousins. The Daughters was founded in 1903 and opens membership to any woman who is directly descended from a person who lived in Hawai‘i prior to 1880. Helping the Daughters in its efforts since 1986 are the Calabash Cousins; membership is available to all.

Kona International Airport to Resume International Flights

Gov. David Y. Ige and the United States Customs and Border Protection announced the re-establishment of a Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility at the Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA). The inaugural international flight from Kona to Tokyo, Japan is scheduled to depart on Dec. 20, 2016. The flight from Tokyo to Kona is scheduled to arrive at the Kona International Airport on Dec. 21, 2016.

ige-announcement“The resumption of international flights to Kona will have a wide-ranging positive impact on Hawai‘i Island and the state as a whole by boosting tourism spending, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars for our economy,” said Gov. David Y. Ige. “I especially thank our partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for working with us to achieve this goal. This was a top priority for my administration and I am pleased that we were able to make the Federal Inspection Service facility in Kona a reality.”

“In fulfilling our important role protecting the border and fostering lawful travel, CBP relies on strong partnerships with stakeholders. This is why we are especially grateful for the commitment of Governor Ige and the people of Hawai‘i to providing adequate airport inspection facilities,” said Brian Humphrey, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, director, field operations. “In equal good faith, CBP is committed to providing a welcoming experience to passengers in Kona while we simultaneously protect America.”

The new FIS will benefit Hawai‘i in several ways. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation estimates new international flights to Kona will result in more than $7 million in annual projected tax benefits. International visitors will also spend tens of millions of dollars at local businesses and attractions, further boosting the economy and generating jobs. Hawai‘i has seen the numbers of international travelers increase by more than one million passengers, or nearly 60 percent, since the economic downturn in 2009. The trend in international passenger arrivals in Hawai‘i is expected to continue to grow, enhancing the need for a second airport to accept flights from international destinations.

The secondary international point of entry in Kona will ease congestion at the Honolulu International Airport, especially during daily peak hours and busy travel seasons. The FIS will improve health and safety by increasing resiliency in an emergency. Should an unforeseen incident occur in Honolulu, international flights would still be able to land safely in Kona. Currently, Honolulu is the only landing option in the state for international flights.

The United States Department of Transportation approved Hawaiian Airlines’ request to fly non-stop international flights between Kona and Haneda International Airport in Tokyo beginning in December.

“We look forward to welcoming our Tokyo guests with our authentic Hawaiian hospitality as they enjoy the convenience of our direct flights to the spectacular Kona coast,” said Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are pleased to return international flights to the Big Island and thankful to all of our government, business and community partners for their support of our newest route.”

Several improvements are being made to the international arrivals section at KOA, including the installation of security cameras and motion sensors, an upgraded access control system, 10 Automated Passport Control kiosks to process incoming international passengers quickly and efficiently, and refurbished restrooms.

“After multiple meetings and on-site visits, we finally made it across the finish line,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “I thank CBP and the Obama Administration for recognizing the potential of our visitor industry and for working with the State of Hawaii, the people of Kona, and many others in state government and the hospitality industry to finally get this done.”

“After six years of working closely with federal and state officials, and community partners to reestablish direct international flights to Kona International Airport, today’s announcement is good news for Hawai‘i’s tourism industry and the Hawai‘i Island economy. In particular, I want to acknowledge the efforts of Customs and Border Protection to work with the state on the Federal Inspection Service facility that made this a reality,” said Sen. Mazie K. Hirono.

“Today’s announcement not only positively impacts our tourism-based economy, it addresses a critical safety and security need for our state by providing a secondary international port in case of emergency,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “This project has been a priority of mine, and became a reality through many years of hard work by community leaders, local businesses, and county, state, and Federal government.  I especially want to thank HDOT and CBP for their leadership and upholding their commitment to reopening international travel to Kona.”

Regularly scheduled international flights to Kona began in 1996 and were discontinued in October 2010.

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE FLAG ORDER: Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of State Representative Clifton Tsuji

As a mark of respect for the late Hawai’i State Representative Clifton Tsuji, Gov. David Ige has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawai‘i shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard, from sunrise to sunset on Friday, December 2, and from sunrise to sunset on Sunday, December 4. 

clift-tsuji“Representative Tsuji was a dedicated public servant who spent the last 12 years passionately and vigorously serving his beloved community of Hilo at the Hawai‘i State Legislature. He was a quiet man with a big heart who will be remembered fondly by his colleagues and Hawai‘i Island residents. I, personally, will miss him at the State Capitol. On behalf of the people of Hawai‘i, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Tsuji ‘‘ohana,” said Gov. David Ige.

Tsuji has served in the State House of Representatives since 2004. He was chairman of the House Committee on Economic Development and Business from 2013-14 and the House Committee on Agriculture from 2007-2012 and from 2015-2016.

He was a vocal supporter of biotechnology and genetically modified crops and a proponent of geothermal energy as an alternative to imported oil.

Tsuji is survived by two sons – Ashley Allen and Ryan Kalei Tsuji.

*Flag orders are issued for the date(s) of the memorial service(s).

Crazy for the 80’s Benefit Concert

A benefit concert for the Big Island Substance Abuse Council featuring 80’s pop stars “Lisa Lisa” and “Shannon” will be held on February 25th, 2017 at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium.

crazy-for-the-80s

Remembrance Ceremony for Representative Clift Tsuji

REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY FOR REPRESENTATIVE CLIFT TSUJI DEC. 2

clift-tsujiWHO:  Remembrance Ceremony for Hawaii Island State Representative Clift Tsuji.

WHAT:  The public is invited to pay their final respects to Rep. Tsuji, who passed away Nov. 15.

WHEN:  On Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, a memorial service will be held begin at 10:30 a.m.  Visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and again following the memorial ceremony.

WHERE:  In the House Chamber at the State Capitol.

OTHER:  A book of condolence will be available for the public to sign at the ceremony. The book will be available after the ceremony in the office of the Sergeant-at-Arms in room 017 until 4 p.m. Dec. 9.

There will be limited public parking at the State Capitol and motorists are encouraged to carpool or use public transportation.

On Sunday, December 4, a Memorial Service will be held in Hilo at Dodo Mortuary, 199 Wainaku Street in Hilo. Visitation will begin at 2:00 p.m. and the service at 4:00 p.m.

Hawai‘i County’s Magic of the Season Open House

The public is invited to Hawai‘i County’s Magic of the Season Open House that will be held 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, December 12, through Friday, December 16, at the Hawai‘i County Building in Hilo.

christmas-at-the-county-2016County volunteers will provide refreshments and light pupu, offer holiday activities, and spread cheer so families may enjoy a safe, community-oriented event. Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning performers Mark Yamanaka and Darlene Ahuna will be joined by the Hawai‘i County Band, hula dancers and other exciting performers.

The Magic of the Season also features dozens of trees that County employees have decorated. Members of the public are encouraged to stop by the County Building, located at 25 Aupuni Street in Hilo, weekdays from at 8 a.m. to enjoy the festive trees.

All activities and entertainment are free.

The following is the schedule of nightly performers:

Monday, December 12

  • Christy Lassiter Trio
  • Lori Lei’s Hula Studio
  • Times Five

Tuesday, December 13

  • Komakakino
  • Kolea
  • Average Joe

Wednesday, December 14

  • Randy Lorenzo & Friends
  • Vaughn Valentino
  • Mark Yamanaka

Thursday, December 15

  • Darlene Ahuna
  • Sarah Bethany Band
  • Hawai‘i County Band

Friday, December 16

  • Kris Fuchigami
  • Hālau O Kou Lima Nani E
  • Delis Estabillio & Friends

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

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Urges President to Immediately Halt Dakota Access Pipeline

In a speech on the House floor Thursday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called on President Obama to immediately halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and announced plans to join thousands of veterans from across the country to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota this weekend.

tulsi-dakota“Growing up in Hawaii, I learned the value of caring for our home, caring for our planet, and the basic principle that we are all connected in a great chain of cause and effect.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline is a threat to this great balance of life. Despite strong opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux and serious concerns raised by the EPA, the Department of Interior, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and other Federal agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers approved permits to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline without adequately consulting the tribes, and without fully evaluating the potential impacts to neighboring tribal lands, sacred sites, and their water supply. Just one spill near the tribe’s reservation could release thousands of barrels of crude oil, contaminating the tribe’s drinking water.

“The impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline is clear. Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Pipeline, has a history of serious pipeline explosions, which have caused injury, death, and significant property damage in the past decade. The future operator of the planned pipeline, Sunoco Logistics, has had over 200 environmentally damaging oil spills in the last 6 years alone—more than any of its competitors.

“Protecting our water is not a partisan political issue—it is an issue that is important to all people and all living beings everywhere. Water is life. We cannot survive without it. Once we allow an aquifer to be polluted, there is very little that can be done about it. This is why it is essential that we prevent water resources from being polluted in the first place.

“Our Founding Fathers took great inspiration from Native American forms of governance, and the democratic principles that they were founded on. Their unique form of governance was built on an agreement called the Great Law of Peace, which states that before beginning their deliberations, the council shall be obliged, and I quote, “to express their gratitude to their cousins and greet them, and they shall make an address and offer thanks to the earth where men dwell, to the streams of water, the pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness, and to the Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives all the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler of health and life.”

“This recognition of our debt to the Creator and our responsibility to be responsible members of this great web of life was there from the beginning of Western democracy.

“Freedom is not a buzzword. The freedom of our Founding Fathers was not the freedom to bulldoze wherever you like.

“Our freedom is a freedom of mind, a freedom of heart, freedom to worship as we see fit, freedom from tyranny and freedom from terror. That’s the freedom this country was founded on, the freedom cultivated by America’s Native people, and the freedom the Standing Rock Sioux are now exercising.

“This weekend I’m joining thousands of veterans from across the country at Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with our Native American brothers and sisters. Together we call on President Obama to immediately halt the construction of this pipeline, respect the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, and respect their right to clean water. The truth is, whether it’s the threat to essential water sources in this region, the lead contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, or the threat posed to a major Hawaiʻi aquifer by the Red Hill fuel leak, each example underscores the vital importance of protecting our water resources.

“We can’t undo history, but we must learn lessons from the past and carry them forward—to encourage cooperation among free people, to protect the sacred, to care for the Earth and for our children, and our children’s children. What’s at stake is our shared heritage of freedom and democracy and our shared future on this Great Turtle Island, our great United States of America.”

Background: In September, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and 18 House Democrats wrote to President Barack Obama calling on the United States Army Corps of Engineers to fulfill their responsibility of holding meaningful consultation and collaboration with the Standing Rock Sioux over the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Full text of the letter is available here.