Coast Guard Searching for Mariner in Distress Off the Big Island

The Coast Guard is coordinating the search for a mariner in distress aboard a 24-foot sailboat approximately 944 miles northeast of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Rimas in Hilo on December 17, 2013

Rimas in Hilo on December 17, 2013

At 8:47 a.m., watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center received notification from a concerned friend that the vessel’s owner, Rimas Meleshyus, transmitted a text via satellite stating, “I lost my life raft, in danger now.”

Meleshyus departed Hilo, Hawaii, Feb. 9 on a solo voyage to San Francisco aboard his vessel Pier Pressure.

Rimas Meleshyus's boat the

Rimas Meleshyus’s Sailboat

Attempts were made to establish communications with Meleshyus via cell phone, computer and satellite device.

At 10:32 a.m., an HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu diverted from a training mission and is enroute to the vessel’s last known position.The flight to the Pier Pressure’s last known position is approximately four hours. The Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Honolulu was also diverted to assist in the search.

Coast Guard watchstanders have identified two Good Samaritan vessels in the area. The Liberia-flagged tanker ship Athens Star and Bahama-flagged carrier ship Lapis Arrow have diverted to assist.

The Coast Guard also requested, through the Federal Aviation Administration, that aircraft passing through the area remain alert for any signs of distress.

Weather conditions at the last known position of the Pier Pressure are gale force winds and seas of 20 feet.

For more information, contact the 14th Coast Guard District public affairs office at (808) 535-3230.

According to his Facebook page… he was heading to Samoa:

Rimas Meleshyus

February 8

I tomorrow leave now for American Somoa. To all so grateful for help and friendship! So thankful! In morning I set sail for open sea 7:30!

 

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Senator J. Kalani English’s Statement on Fatal Lanai Plane Crash

Senator J. Kalani English (District 7- Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe), Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs, today issued the following statement after learning of the fatal plane crash near Lāna‘i Airport:

Sen. J. Kalani English

Sen. J. Kalani English

“It is with great sadness that I extend my most heartfelt condolences to the friends and families of those who passed in last night’s fatal plane crash on Lāna‘i. I continue to keep the survivors who are currently under the care of Queen’s Medical Center in my thoughts and prayers.”

“We lost two officials from Maui County’s Department of Planning and the pilot of the charter plane, with three others injured. They were on their way back from a Lāna‘i Planning Commission meeting that ended at 8:30 p.m. Their flight left around 9:05, about an hour after the last commercial flight leaving Lāna‘i. The Maui Planning Department officials played an integral part in development of the county and will be remembered for their service to the community.”

“Maui County has endured great tragedy in just a few months. We are still grieving the loss of Loretta Fuddy, Hawai‘i’s State health director, to a plane crash off the shores of Kalaupapa, Moloka‘i.

“As a unique and isolated county, small chartered planes are necessary for travel within the county. As such, air travel safety is an issue that is highly important to us. Maui Air had a previously unblemished record and I trust that a thorough investigation of the crash will occur. For those traveling by air to and from Lāna‘i, I want to assure you that services are safe and will continue.”

“We are grateful to the first responders in the crash and for their continued commitment to protecting Hawai‘i and those who visit our state.”

“On behalf of the Hawai‘i State Senate, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives and will keep the survivors in our thoughts and prayers.”

 

Commentary – Governor Abercrombie’s Administration’s Continued Lack Of Transparency

I received a phone call from Governor Abercrombie’s West Hawaii liaison after my last letter to the editor was published in January.

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway opened this weekend.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Photo by Aaron Stene

The meeting with Ms. Barbara Dalton was a very uncomfortable experience.   She asked me why I wrote that letter, which criticized Governor Abercrombie’s administration for not being transparent with the public regarding highway projects. In addition, she told me not write anymore letters criticizing the governor and go through her if I have any more concerns in the future.

I wrote several e-mails to Governor Abercrombie’s Honolulu staff regarding the meeting I had with Ms. Dalton. Someone from Governor’s Honolulu office called me a few days later. He apparently told Ms. Dalton that it was inappropriate to tell me not to write letters criticizing the governor.

This individual, who I didn’t get his name, also promised to get an update on the stalled right of way acquisition for the final east side Daniel K. Inouye Highway phase.

Its been over a month and I’m still waiting for this person to call me back. I’ve sent several e-mails to various individuals in the governor’s Honolulu office with no response. They don’t care about my concerns it seems like, which is deeply frustrating. I will remember this when I vote for governor in November.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

USS Lake Erie to Deploy to Western Pacific

The Hawaii-based Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) will depart Feb. 18 for a Western Pacific deployment, the ship’s last while being homeported in Pearl Harbor.

My Uncle and Aunt before they got a private tour of the USS Lake Erie.

My Uncle and Aunt before they got a private tour of the USS Lake Erie.

While deployed, Lake Erie will conduct theater security operations with partner nations while providing deterrence, promoting peace and security, preserving freedom of the seas and providing humanitarian assistance/disaster response.

Upon completion of this deployment, Lake Erie is expected to replace John Paul Jones as a rotational Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) deployer out of San Diego.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 27, 2014) Guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) operates with other cruisers off the coast of Hawaii during Koa Kai 14-1. Koa Kai is a semiannual exercise in the waters around Hawaii designed to prepare independent deployers in multiple warfare areas and provide training in multi-ship environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro/ Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 27, 2014) Guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) operates with other cruisers off the coast of Hawaii during Koa Kai 14-1. Koa Kai is a semiannual exercise in the waters around Hawaii designed to prepare independent deployers in multiple warfare areas and provide training in multi-ship environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro/ Released)

“We are trained and ready for deployment,” said Lake Erie Commanding Officer Capt. John S. Banigan. “I am very proud of this crew and all that they have accomplished. We have an amazing team of professionals, and I have the utmost faith in their abilities. I could not ask for a better group of Sailors to go to sea alongside.”

Lake Erie Commanding Officer Capt. John S. Banigan talks to some of his crew.

Lake Erie Commanding Officer Capt. John S. Banigan talks to some of his crew.

Lake Erie is one of 11 surface ships of Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. USS Lake Erie is named in commemoration of the Battle of Lake Erie fought Sept. 10, 1813. During the pivotal engagement, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry hoisted a crudely stitched flag bearing the dying words of his friend, Capt. James Lawrence, “DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP!” That proud motto served as the battle cry that day, and continues to inspire today.

I got to tour the ship in December of 2013.

I got to tour the ship in December of 2013.

U.S. Navy guided-missile cruisers are multi-mission surface combatants capable of supporting carrier strike groups, amphibious readiness groups, surface action groups or operating independently.

Commander, U.S. Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific leads and manages the overall warfighting capability of the Surface Combatant Force homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), Hawaii to achieve the highest levels of combat readiness; to coordinate with external organizations for products and services to directly support surface combatant force mission readiness; and to support the type commanders and numbered fleet commanders in the development of surface warfare requirements, policies, programs, standards, and business practices to meet operational readiness goals.

Hawaii Drivers License Exams Now Available in Variety of Languages Including Hawaiian

The state Department of Transportation (DOT), the City & County of Honolulu, along with Maui, Hawaii and Kauai Counties announce that beginning Monday, March 17, 2014, the state driver license exam will be available in a variety of languages.

Hawaii Drivers License Sample

In addition to English, twelve languages are being offered to better serve our diverse communities. The languages include the following: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tongan, Samoan, Tagalog, Ilocano, Hawaiian, Spanish, Chuukese and Marshallese.

Driver license exams are offered at the following locations:

City and County of Honolulu
• Kalihi-Kapalama – 1199 Dillingham Blvd., Driver Licensing A-101, (808) 532-7730
• Wahiawa – 330 North Cane St., (808) 621-7255
• Waianae – 85-670 Farrington Hwy., (808) 768-4222
• Kapolei – 1000 Ulu`ohi`a St., (808) 768-3100
• Koolau – 47-388 Hui Iwa St., Suite 19, (808) 239-6301

Maui County
• Kahului – 70 E. Kaahumanu Ave., Suite A-17 (Maui Mall Shopping Center), (808) 270-7363
• Kihei – 303 East Lipoa St., (808) 270-7363
• Lahaina – 900 Front St., Unit I-17, (808) 270-7363
• Pukalani – 91 Pukalani St. (Hannibal Tavares Community Center), (808) 270-7363
• Hana – Hana Hwy. and Uakea Rd. (County Public Works Office), (808) 248-7280
• Lanai – 309 Seventh St. #101, (808) 565-7878
• Molokai – 100 Ailoa St. (Mitchell Pauole Center), (808) 553-3430

Hawaii County
• Hilo – 349 Kapiolani St., (808) 961-2222
• Kona – 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy. (West Hawaii Civic Center), (808) 323-4800
• Waimea – 67-5185 Kamammalu St. (808) 887-3087
• Pahoa – 15-2615 Keaau-Pahoa Rd., (808) 965-2721

Kauai County
• Lihue – 4444 Rice St.,Suite A-480, (808) 241-4242

South Kona Fatality Update

An autopsy was conducted Friday (February 7) on the body of 52-year-old Matthew B. Lee of Kailua-Kona, who died Wednesday (February 5) in a two-vehicle crash on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway around the 71.5 mile marker.

HPDBadgeThe medical examiner determined that Matthew B. Lee died from a medical condition and not from injuries sustained in the crash.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has reclassified the negligent homicide investigation to a coroner’s inquest.

As a result, the traffic fatality count has been reduced to three fatalities this year compared with seven at this time last year.

Hawaii Tuskegee Airmen a Big Hit at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Today

Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, USAF (Ret.) from Michigan, Hawaii’s own Tuskegee Airman Philip Baham, Dr. Dorothy Goldsborough, PhD, and a panel of members of the Baham Goldsborough Chapter of the Hawaii Tuskegee Airmen discussed the legacy of the first African-American military aviators who served during WWII. The Hangar Talk, “Tuskegee Airmen Then and Now” in the Museum Theater was followed with a Meet & Greet in the Gallery. Both in Hangar 37.

Tuskegee3

Lt. Col. Alexender Jefferson, USAF (Ret.) flew P-51s with the “Red Tail”  332nd Fighter Group 301st Fighter Squadron escorting B-17s and B-24s. He was shot down over Germany after flying 18 long range missions and was a prisoner of war for nine months. After the war, he became a science teacher and later an assistant principal in the Michigan school system. He is the author of Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman and POW.

Tuskegee1

One of the original WWII Tuskegee Airmen, Philip Baham was drafted into the Army Air Corps at 21 years of age and served as crew chief assigned to the 377th Composite Group at Tuskegee Field.

Dr. Dorothy Goldsborough, PhD, is a Professor Emerita at Chaminade University and a lecturer at University of Hawaii Manoa. She is the wife of the late Romaine Goldsborough, another documented original Tuskegee Airman who served in the 332nd Fighter Group during World War II.

On the panel, also were: Mario Taryer, Tuskegee Airmen Hawaii Chapter vice president and Master Chief Dewayne Barnes of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

For more information, call (808) 441-1007, email Education@PacificAviationMuseum.org or visit online http://www.PacificAviationMuseum.org.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, which depends on membership and donations for support. A Smithsonian Affiliate Museum, it is rated one of the top 10 aviation attractions nationally by TripAdvisor®. It is located at 319 Lexington Boulevard, Historic Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818.  www.PacificAviationMuseum.org.

Man Identified From Yesterday’s Two-Vehicle Car Crash

A 52-year-old Kona man died Wednesday (February 5) from injuries he sustained in a two-vehicle crash on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway.

HPDBadge

He was identified as Matthew B. Lee of Kailua-Kona.

Responding to an 11:30 a.m. call, South Kohala patrol officers determined that Lee, who was operating a 1997 Ford F-250 pickup truck loaded with several empty propane gas tanks, was traveling south on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway between the 71- and 72-mile markers when he veered across the centerline into the north-bound traffic lane and sideswiped a 2013 Dodge Dart 4-door sedan being operated by a 62-year-old man from Alberta, Canada.  Also in the Dodge Dart were three other adults. No one in the Dodge Dart was injured. After colliding with the car, Matthew’s truck struck an embankment on the north-bound shoulder and came to a stop.

Lee was pronounced dead upon arrival at North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital.

Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway was closed to traffic at about 11:35 a.m. and reopened around 4:15 p.m.

Police do not believe that alcohol or speed contributed to this collision.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation and has ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Christopher Kapua-Allison at 326-4646, ext. 229.

This is the fourth fatality this year compared with seven at this time last year.

Public Comments Sought on Park’s Administrative Aviation Plan and Environmental Assessment

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has released its Mission Critical Administrative Aviation Plan and Environmental Assessment (plan/EA) for managing the use of administrative aviation over the park. The public is invited to comment online or via mail by March 7, 2014.

Air Tour

The park and cooperating agencies use helicopters over the 333,086-acre park to respond to eruption activity, monitor and study Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, control invasive species, recover rare species, restore degraded ecosystems, protect cultural resources, and conduct wildland fire, search and rescue, and law enforcement operations.

The plan/EA outlines project alternatives, including a no-action alternative and a preferred alternative. Under the no-action alternative, park staff and cooperating agencies would continue to use aviation as needed. Under the preferred alternative, aviation would be used for the health and safety of visitors, employees, and island residents, and for park resource protection and restoration activities. Under this plan, formal best-management practices (BMPs), area closures, and flight restrictions would be instituted to minimize impacts to park resources, soundscapes, wilderness, visitors, and adjoining landowners.

To review the plan/EA, and provide comments online, go to http://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo. Select the Mission Critical Administrative Aviation Plan link, and click “Open for Comment” on the left, then open the document name. Download the document, or comment directly on the page. Comments can also be mailed to Superintendent, re: Admin Aviation Mgmt Plan/EA, PO Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI  96718-0052. Comments are due March 7, 2014.

Commercial air tours over the park are being addressed through a separate planning process to develop an Air Tour Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (ATMP/EIS). The lead agency for the ATMP/EIS is the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Park Service is a cooperator.

Maps of Old Puna Surface Courtesy of Ho’okuleana

The following maps were posted on my Facebook site by Peter Young of  Ho’okuleana LLC after I raised a question about the Old Government Rd. that follows the coastline from Puna into Hilo.

This is a map of 1902 Puna:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

This is a map of the Puna District of Hawaii from 1875:

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Man Dies in Traffic Collision on Kona Highway

Hawaiʻi Island police closed a portion of Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway Wednesday (February 5) between Puakō Beach Drive and the entrance to the Mauna Lani Resort while officers investigated a fatal traffic collision near the 71-mile marker just South of Puakō Beach Drive.

HPDBadge

At approximately 11:25 a.m., officers responded to the collision and learned that a 52-year-old man was traveling south in a 1997 Ford F-250 pickup truck when he reportedly crossed the centerline and struck a 2013 Dodge Dart traveling in the opposite direction being driven by a 62-year-old man visiting from Canada.

The driver, who was the sole occupant of the truck, was taken to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Neither the driver of the other vehicle nor his three passengers were injured.

At approximately 1:15 p.m., one lane of traffic was reopened on the highway. The other lane remained close.

Police have initiated a standard negligent homicide investigation, which is being continued by the Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit.

Living History Day at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Another Success

History came alive at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor today Saturday, February 1, 2014, when visitors experienced the people, the aircraft, and the stories of Pacific aviation “stars” — from the early years of flight to today’s space age. Historical characters in period attire, a Pacific Warbirds T-6 flyover, the Nisei Veterans, musical performances, hands-on activities for the keiki, open cockpits to explore, and film screenings were featured.

Living History

Collected short films spotlighting the Asian-Pacific American experience were featured in the Museum’s Main Theater as part of the Smithsonian Young Historians, Living Histories Project. The two documentaries, researched and produced by students from Aliamanu Middle School on Oahu, explore the experiences of Pan Am Nisei stewardesses, and the life of Chinese American pioneer aviator Tom Gunn.

Living History Flyover tower

Living History Day activities also took place at Battleship Missouri Memorial, making this a full day of fun and learning on Historic Ford Island.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) private nonprofit organization that depends on memberships and donations for its Restoration and Education projects. Open 9am to 5pm daily the Museum’s two hangars and tower are located at 319 Lexington Boulevard, Historic Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818. Named “one of the top 10 aviation attractions” nationally by TripAdvisor, it is a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum. Main contact: 808-441-1000; http://www.PacificAviationMuseum.org

Hawaiian Electric Industries Contributes $250,000 for Hokulea’s Historic Voyage

The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) has been awarded a five-year, $250,000 grant from Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) and its related companies American Savings Bank,  Hawaiian Electric, Hawaii Electric Light and Maui Electric to support its historic voyage, Malama Honua (care for the Earth), a five-year, around-the-world odyssey by long-distance canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia.

PVS has been awarded a five-year, $250,000 grant from Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) to support Hokulea. Standing left to right are: Jenna Ishii (PVS), Nainoa Thompson (PVS), Rich Wacker (American Savings Bank), Connie Lau (HEI), Dick Rosenblum (Hawaiian Electric) and Clyde Namuo (PVS). Photo credit: Oiwi TV.

PVS has been awarded a five-year, $250,000 grant from Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) to support Hokulea. Standing left to right are: Jenna Ishii (PVS), Nainoa Thompson (PVS), Rich Wacker (American Savings Bank), Connie Lau (HEI), Dick Rosenblum (Hawaiian Electric) and Clyde Namuo (PVS). Photo credit: Oiwi TV.

HEI’s grant will help to document the voyage and collect, interpret and share scientific and cultural data for a global audience. While Hokulea is the traditionally navigated voyaging canoe using ancestral knowledge and signs of nature to navigate the ocean, Hikianalia is the ecologically friendly and high-tech support canoe powered by photovoltaic panels, electric motors and sails with satellite communications capability. The two vessels will bridge culture, tradition and indigenous knowledge with modern technology while they serve as platforms for exploration, communication and connection.

“We are proud to be a part of this extraordinary journey which will build relationships across the globe,” said Connie Lau, HEI president and CEO. “We applaud PVS for their efforts to foster culture, education, exploration and sustainability as we share the same commitment to make Hawaii and the world a better place for our children and generations to follow.”

American Savings Bank plans to further support Hokulea awareness and fundraising efforts in their marketing and public relations activities, as well as tie in to their Bank for Education program which promotes excellence in education. The Hawaiian Electric Companies also are partnering with PVS to raise awareness. The Companies are interested in the efforts of the solar- and wind-powered vessel Hikianalia which will capture and use data to provide curricula and lesson plans directly from the voyaging canoes to classrooms in Hawaii.

“We are grateful for the strong partnerships with individuals, businesses and organizations like Hawaiian Electric Industries who share our values and vision for the Worldwide Voyage,” said Nainoa Thompson, PVS president.  “HEI’s contribution will help assure a sustainable future that honors the health and well-being of our islands, oceans, culture and people.”

“Hokulea’s historic voyage reminds us of our host culture’s courage and knowledge as well as our willingness to embrace the future,” added Alan Oshima, president of HEI’s Charitable Foundation. “We think the attention that will be given to the two canoes and their crews will inspire us to overcome challenges, hopefully inspiring new leaders.  For these reasons, we are proud to support Malama Honua.”

Wordless Wednesday – “I Lost My Implants…”

I saw this truck parked at Island Naturals in Pahoa on the Big Island yesterday:

Implants

 

This Saturday – 2014 Voyager Concert

Voyager Concert

Cruise Ship to Miss Hilo Port of Call After Coast Guard Conducts Medical Evacuation of Injured Woman

An aircrew from U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego conducted a medical evacuation for an injured woman aboard a cruise ship approximately 150 miles southwest of San Diego, Thursday morning.

An aircrew from U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego transfers an injured woman to emergency medical personnel after medically evacuating her from a cruise approximately 150 miles west of San Diego, Jan. 23, 2014. The 69-year-old woman fell down a stairwell and suffered possible head injuries and internal bleeding. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy)

An aircrew from U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego transfers an injured woman to emergency medical personnel after medically evacuating her from a cruise approximately 150 miles west of San Diego, Jan. 23, 2014. The 69-year-old woman fell down a stairwell and suffered possible head injuries and internal bleeding. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy)

The crew of the cruise ship Veendam contacted the Coast Guard Wednesday evening, requesting a medevac for a 69-year-old woman who fell down a stairwell and suffered possible head injuries and internal bleeding.

The Veendam, which was approximately 460 miles off shore transiting to Hawaii, changed course to decrease the distance to San Diego.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched from Sector San Diego at approximately 7 a.m., Thursday, and flew to the cruise ship’s location.

An aircrew from U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego transfers an injured woman to emergency medical personnel after medically evacuating her from a cruise approximately 150 miles west of San Diego, Jan. 23, 2014. The 69-year-old woman fell down a stairwell and suffered possible head injuries and internal bleeding. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy)

An aircrew from U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego transfers an injured woman to emergency medical personnel after medically evacuating her from a cruise approximately 150 miles west of San Diego, Jan. 23, 2014. The 69-year-old woman fell down a stairwell and suffered possible head injuries and internal bleeding. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy)

The Jayhawk crew hoisted the injured woman into the helicopter and transported her to Sector San Diego, where she was transferred to emergency medical personnel for further care at approximately 10 a.m.

Cruise Critic reports that due to this incident… the ship will miss it’s Hilo port of call:

“…reports that the ship will arrive in Hawaii on Tuesday — one day late — as a result of the detour. Passengers will miss a planned call on Hilo on Monday, and they’re slated to arrive later than scheduled in Honolulu, Tuesday’s planned port of call.

Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act – New Bill Promotes Safer Roads and Communities

Senator Will Espero, Chair of Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, today announced that he is introducing the Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act, which would allow access to driver’s licenses for individuals who cannot show proof of authorized presence or who may be undocumented residents.

Sample Driving License

“This bill will improve public safety for drivers, pedestrians, residents of and visitors to Hawaii, by helping ensure that eligible drivers pass a driving test and obtain proof of insurance before driving their vehicles in Hawaii,” said Espero. The bill details how applicants can prove identity and Hawaii residency.

Currently, the paperwork requirements mean that many people cannot apply for a driver’s license. “Immigrants cannot apply for the driver’s license they need to take their children to school, go to work, church, or carry out other daily activities,” said Reverend Stan Bain, retired United Methodist pastor.

Unlicensed, uninsured drivers cause damage claims that other policy holders must cover. If these drivers can get licensed and insured, the cost of covering accidents involving uninsured motorists will decline, and everyone will pay lower insurance rates. Since New Mexico began issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants in 2003, its rate of uninsured motorists fell from 33 percent to 9 percent.

Another benefit of the bill is that it fosters community trust with law enforcement. Driver’s licenses help law enforcement officers perform their jobs more safely, effectively and efficiently. They enable law enforcement officers to identify the drivers they stop, and check the driver’s traffic and criminal record.  In addition, licenses will assist first responders and health care providers in determining the identity of the person they are assisting.

Nationwide state legislatures are creating and moving legislation to ensure roadway safety for all. These policies are being adopted to decrease the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers and increase public safety. Eleven states, in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have enacted laws to increase access to driver’s licenses.

Commentary – “The Coupe Family Single-Handedly Held Up the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass for 11 Years”

The acquisition the of right of way for highway projects is an ongoing issue for the State and County of Hawaii it seems.  Two projects come to mind; the second phase of the Mamalahoa Highway bypass and the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

Inouye Highway Photo by Aaron Stene

Daniel K. Inouye Highway.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Coupe family single-handedly held up the Mamalahoa  Highway bypass for 11 years. They fought the condemnation of  1,500 feet of their property all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court declined to hear the Coupe’s petition, which ended their battle and paved the way for the county to acquire the necessary right of way for this much-needed highway.

I’m deeply concerned the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is facing the same fate. Three holdout landowners (Marvin Arruda, Richard Alderson and Rick Towill) refuse to convey part of their lands for this 5.7 mile highway. These parcels are located on the Puna side of the Puainako Street Extension and Country Club Drive.

I’ve tried to ask the Land Transportation Division of the State Attorney General’s office where things stand with the right of way acquisition for this phase, but they refuse to acknowledge my e-mails and hide behind attorney-client privilege.  The Hawaii Department of Transportation response to my inquiries isn’t much better.

The final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is currently unfunded.  I firmly believe its important to finalize the right of way acquisition, so this phase is shovel ready when funding is available.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan Receives National Award

The Hawaii Department of Transportation is honored to be selected for the 2014 National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation Planning by the American Planning Association.  HDOT’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan was chosen as part of the best planning efforts that create communities of lasting value.

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan prioritizes pedestrian safety, mobility, and accessibility, and is the first in the nation to have a statewide pedestrian focus.  In conjunction with other efforts, the pedestrian master plan focuses on infrastructure improvements that may help lower pedestrian fatalities while enhancing connectivity.

“The Hawaii Pedestrian Toolbox is a key component of the plan and includes guidelines and best practices for the planning, design, operation and maintenance of pedestrian facilities,” said DOT Director Glenn M. Okimoto.  “The Toolbox offers a one-stop resource for pedestrian improvements that planners and designers will use as they move forward on HDOT’s many highway projects.”

For more information on Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan go to the HDOT website at hidot.hawaii.gov.

To view all of the APA 2014 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit http://www.planning.org/awards/2014. APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

2014 Auto Body Hawaii Senior & High School Teacher Essay Contest

Auto Body Hawaii is announcing their 3rd annual Essay Contest for Seniors & High School Teachers. Auto Body Hawaii will provide West Hawaii’s graduating High School Seniors the opportunity to showcase their writing skills for the chance to win $500.

Auto Body Hawaii

Auto Body Hawaii will also award $500, as well as a gift certificate for a Super Wash Detailing Service; to the winning High School teacher. Teachers often choose to spend their own money to buy additional supplies for classes need; Auto Body Hawaii would like to help.

Here is 2014’s essay theme:

“If you had the opportunity to recommend a new subject that is not currently being offered in your school’s curriculum, what would you recommend & why would it be beneficial for students to learn”!

Contest deadline is April 30th 2014. For a list of invited participating schools & contest rules please visit: www.autobodyhawaii.com!

Call Tiffiny Taylor, 329-2544; essay@autobodyhawaii.com for more information.