Guest Column — Regarding The Proposed Lower Puna Community Relief Center

By Bett Bidleman
Thirteen people testified this morning before County Council in Hilo re the proposed Leilani Estates relief shelter, which has since been renamed the “Lower Puna Community Relief Center.” Seven testifiers supported efforts to provide emergency evacuation services, but criticized locating the first lower Puna evacuation center in the middle of Leilani, a few blocks from the East rift zone and 2 miles downwind from the geothermal plant. The remaining six were mostly Leilani Community Association board members who are also CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) members in support of the Leilani shelter. Their concern was not a geothermal disaster but hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes/lava inundations happening somewhere other than Leilani.

Jay Bondesen, spokesperson for the LCA/CERT group, summed up their stance in his testimony. “The geothermal plant was not on my mind as a priority.”

Some of those in opposition to funding the shelter without further study of other locations noted that they had not heard from the newly appointed Civil Defense Chief Ben Fuata. Council Chair Dominic Yagong called a recess so that a call could be made to Fuata’s office.

Fuata is off island until June 12. He has served since 1993 as Commander of the Army Aviation Support Facility in Hilo. He is also the Hawaii National Guard’s director for logistics. In Fuata’s absence, his administrative officer, Bill Hanson, filled in for him. Hanson is a proponent of community self-reliance during environmental disasters and is the coordinator of CERT groups on the Big Island. “We do not object,” Hanson said, about the Leilani proposal, because it falls in line, he said, with “building capacity” of communities to defend themselves.

Hanson added that building an emergency shelter in Leilani “fit” parameters of the Geothermal Asset Fund, ostensibly inferring that these funds might be tapped to pursue this project.

After hearing Hanson’s support for the project, the Council voted unanimously to approve it. Read more

Hawaii News — State Cancels Proposed Cuts To Outpatient Medicaid Services

(Media release) — The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced that it will restore Medicaid coverage for outpatient rehabilitation, prosthetics and optometry services to non-disabled adults younger than 65 years of age.  In addition, DHS will not impose any limits on inpatient hospital services.   Earlier this month, the DHS also announced that it will restore coverage for durable medical equipment.
DHS administrators proposed eliminating those services effective July 1, 2012 as part of its plan to achieve $75 million in savings required by the state biennium budget.  

“Medical assistance enrollment has increased 34 percent since 2008, yet the Med-QUEST staff has worked diligently to restore those services through cost savings and program integrity measures,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie. “The cost of health care is one of the greatest challenges faced by Island families, and the restoration of Medicaid coverage goes a long way in the preservation of access to the full range of medical services for Hawai‘i’s neediest and most vulnerable adults.”

Saving will be generated through a decrease in per-person actuarial costs for services, reduction in eligibility from 200% to 133%, and continuing reduced reimbursement rates.  Additional funding became available through an increase in the federal matching rate providing $15 million, and a supplemental appropriation of $8 million by the Legislature.  Savings also will come from program integrity measures that will include reduction of duplicative enrollment, annual eligibility reviews for adults, fraud reduction, and periodic review of DOH death records.  

Read more

Puna News — Help Puna Police Solve Burglary and Fire

(Media release) — Big Island police are asking for the public’s help in providing information about a burglary and fire Wednesday morning (May 30).

At approximately 5:19 a.m., police and Fire Department personnel responded to a report of a structure fire in the Shipman Industrial Park. Upon arrival, they found a warehouse located on Kipimana Street fully engulfed in flames.

Investigation reveals that the front gate chain was severed to gain entrance to the premises. One or more suspects entered the building from the rear by cutting a hole in the wall and then removed a flatbed pickup truck and some heavy equipment.

Police have initiated burglary and arson investigations.

Police are looking for a dark Ford 4-door pickup truck seen in the area prior to the fire.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Detective Grant Todd at 961-2385.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.
(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Letters — Working Groups Involved With The Pahoa Plan Meet In Nanawale Saturday

Aloha All,
Here is the latest update about the Pahoa Plan. On Saturday, May 19, Pahoa Plan Working Group volunteers came together for the first time to attend an orientation session at the Pahoa Museum from 2-4 pm. The Working Groups (WGs) are expanding ranks to include all those who want to participate in the process and work with one or more WGs.
To that end, all four Working Groups will meet together NEXT SATURDAY, JUNE 2ND, 1-3 PM at the NANAWALE LONGHOUSE. You are welcome to attend to find out more about the working group process and/or join in. The only requirement for participation is your interest in the future of Pahoa Town!
To reach the Nanwale Long House, take Highway 132 towards Kapoho (aka Pahoa-Kapoho Road) from the intersection of Highways 130 & 132. Go approximately 1 mile, then turn left onto Nanawale Blvd. Drive 1 mile until you come to a stop sign. The Long House is on your right, at the intersection of Nanawale Blvd. and Kehau Street, and there’s plenty of parking. Nanawale office phone: 965-8080
The Pahoa Plan Steering Committee

Hilo News — Senior Line Dance Roundup Is June 28-29

(Media release) —  The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce that the 12th Annual Senior Line Dance Roundup will be held June 28 and June 29 at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.

Open to Hawai‘i seniors who are at least 55 years old, this year’s event is called “Can’t Stop Dancing” and will feature a workshop June 28 and line dancing performances the following day.

The workshop will be conducted by Ira Weisburd, an internationally recognized, award-winning line dance choreographer with over 30 years’ experience. The Floridian’s extensive background has allowed him to create a wide array of circle and line dances, including the SBS Shuffle Boggie Soul that won Weisburd the “Dancer’s Choice Award 2010” in Las Vegas, Nev. The dance later became a “Worldwide Flash Mob Project,” generating more than 400 videos from 35 countries. Read more

Hilo News — Kalakaua Park War Memorial Pond Has Been Restored; Celebration Is June 6

(Media release) — The public is invited to join Mayor Billy Kenoi and Parks Director Bob Fitzgerald in honoring the community volunteers, private businesses and government agencies that restored the historic Kalakaua Park War Memorial Pond in downtown Hilo, the Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation announced Wednesday.

A public dedication ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 6. Refreshments will be provided, and attendees are encouraged to enjoy a picnic in their refurbished park.

“We’re delighted to announce completion of this important public-private partnership that successfully restored Kalakaua Park’s unique koi pond at minimal taxpayer cost,” Director Fitzgerald said. “The pond, which had not undergone a thorough draining and cleaning since 1989, is now beautiful due to the hard work of numerous people. Please join me in publically thanking them.”

With a capacity of more than 50,000 gallons, the koi pond was dedicated in 1948 as a permanent memorial to the 157 Hawai‘i Island residents who gave their lives during World War II. Later, plaques were added to honor military personnel who perished during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The Big Island Water Garden Club, B&B Pumping Service and GW Construction provided vital assistance with the restoration effort. Additional help came from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center, which cared for the fish during the project’s cleaning phase, along with U.S. Army firefighters, the Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works, and the Parks Department’s Maintenance Division.

Read more

Letters — Regarding ‘Rock The Vote’ In Pahoa Saturday

Dear One:
       There is something big happening this SATURDAY: June 2nd in Pahoa from 1pm to 8pm in downtown Pahoa, just next to the 7-11 store at the Old Police Station…it’s  ROCK THE VOTE!   Its a live music, voter registration and meet the candidates event.  It should be great!  This was organized by one of the students taking Soc 100 this last Spring!  
       There will be great live Reggae and Rock music all day.  Several bands will play.   The idea is to have a great time and  to bring young people together and get them registered to vote–and to meet the candidates before the imporant AUG 11th ELECTION.  
      It is an alcohol and drug free event.  Just great live music and lots of young people.
      I hope you can come because it will be fun.  We may need help personing the tables with voter registration and explaining the Clean Elections information.  (Some of you know how to do this!)
     Please tell everyone. 
     The latest Big Island Weekly [p.4] covers it and it is on several radio stations.
     [This event is a great example of “community development!”]  
Hope to see you there!  Bring your friends.   
Aloha nui, Noelie Rodriguez

Kona News — Hanohano O Kona Lecture Today Covers Pa‘u Riding

Herb Kawainui Kane art

(Media release) — “Pau Riding: Perpetuating the Tradition in Today’s Generation” will be the Wednesday, May 30, presentation in the Kona Historical Society’s Hanohano O Kona lecture series at the West Hawai’i Civic Center from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

A 10-person, multigenerational panel comprised of members of ranching families and pau riders will provide insights into the tradition of pau riding in general, and as practiced in Kailua-Kona in celebration of Kamehameha Day in particular. Read more

Hilo News — Register Now For Bon Dance 101 Class For Keiki June 26

(Media release) — A Bon Dance class for keiki, 8 years old, and their parents or grandparents is being offered by Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin on Tuesday, June 26 starting at 5 p.m. in the Sangha Hall, 424 Kilauea Avenue.  The classes will be taught by Mrs. Sakae Kaya, Mrs. Jane Miyasaki and others.  This special workshop is open to the public. All children must be accompanied by an adult on the dance floor. There will be a short story telling of “Why O-Bon?” by the Reverend Yuika Hasebe followed by the learning of some bon dances.  Registration is required.  To sign up, please call the temple office at 961-6677.  Following Bon Dance 101 will be the regular Bon Dance practice at 7 p.m., which is also open to the public.  — BJ Soriano

Hawaii News — State DLIR: GoZip LLC Must Pay $13,500 In Fines For September 2011 Fatality


(Media release) — The Hawai‘i State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (DLIR) Hawai‘i Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) has completed its investigation of the September 21, 2011 zip line accident that claimed the life of one employee of GoZip LLC (GoZip) and seriously injured another. The investigation concluded that the tower collapsed because the soil in which the ground anchors were installed failed to withstand the load from the tower, cables and rider. HIOSH concluded that GoZip failed to take reasonable precautions to assure that the anchors could support the load.

“For zip line installers, this tragic accident demonstrates the importance of basing design and construction decisions on measurable objective information, for the safety of workers as well as the general public,” said DLIR Director Dwight Takamine. “Unfortunately, this is another workplace fatality that was preventable and we share the sorrow of the family, friends, co-workers and others affected by this incident.”

HIOSH standards require that employers do everything reasonable and necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees. The owner of GoZip is a member of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), an organization that serves the zip line industry, and served on an ACCT committee that wrote standards for installing zip line courses. The ACCT standards require that guy systems on zip line towers, including ground anchors, be capable of supporting two times the expected load. HIOSH found that GoZip did not use any objective methods to verify that the anchors it installed could support the weight of the towers, cables, and riders or that the guy system could meet the requirements of the ACCT standard.  Read more

Hawaii News — Kapoho Kine Adventures Comments On HIOSH Decision

Regarding the report issued by Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division on the death at a Hawaii Island zipline last year, Tony DeLellis of KapohoKine Adventures issued the following:

“It doesn’t change the tragic loss of a human life,” said DeLellis, “and it troubles us that more rigid standards weren’t applied to these lines by the builder” (Experiential Resources, Inc. and GoZip LLC).

“Lava Hotline’s decision to independently evaluate the course was well founded,” DeLellis said.

Following the accident last fall, which caused the death of an employee of the zipline builder who was testing the line, the operator for the lines, Lava Hotline, hired independent engineers to evaluate the course. “That choice was clearly a sound one,” DeLellis said. The entire course was redesigned and is being rebuilt by an accredited zipline builder. Platforms are being rebuilt, supports are being reinforced and every anchor has been replaced and is undergoing intensive testing.

KapohoKine, a Hilo-based adventure tours company, booked zipline excursions through Lava Hotline. KapohoKine suspended zipline tours after the incident, awaiting full evalutation of integrity of the lines. — Barbara Hastings