300 ACRES BURNED IN KIHEI BRUSH FIRE

A brush fire burned 300 acres since it was first reported at 12:26 this (Sunday) afternoon. As of 8:30 tonight, the fire was not yet under control. The blaze burned vacant land located mauka of the Piilani Highway in South Maui.

Heavy smoke could be seen from Wailea as a brush fire burned 300 acres of vacant land several miles away in Kihei.  Photo by Wendy OSHER.

Heavy smoke could be seen from Wailea as a brush fire burned 300 acres of vacant land several miles away in Kihei. Photo by Wendy OSHER.

45 firefighters were aided by 4 helicopters conducting water drops, 6 water tankers (provided by the County’s Public Works Department and Goodfellow Brothers Co.), and 6 bulldozers.

Deputy Fire Chief Robert Shimada called the work of the firefighters outstanding as they fought to protect the nearby homes. Shimada also credited the work of the heavy equipment operators who used the bulldozers to cut fire breaks to prevent the fire from spreading to a nearby subdivision located makai side of the area.

Maui County Public Information Officer, Mahina Martin, said the fire came approximately 200 yards to the nearest structures, but no structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is undetermined and under investigation. No evacuations were necessary and no road were closed.

(By Wendy OSHER 2009; Photo by Wendy Osher 2009)

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WAILUKU MAN INDICTED FOR ELECTRONIC ENTICEMENT OF A CHILD

The Attorney General’s office today indicted a Maui man for the 1st degree Electronic Enticement of a Child.

37-year-old Chris Shizuo Mabe of Wailuku is accused of using the internet to solicit a law enforcement officer who he allegedly believed was a 14-year-old girl.

The Attorney General’s office issued a news release today saying Mabe indicated that he wanted to engage in sexual conduct with the “girl” during online chats, and had arranged to meet her at the Waikiki Aquarium.

Mabe was arrested when he arrived at the designated meeting place on May 24, 2009.  Mabe is considered innocent unless and until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a judge or jury.

The investigation and arrest were carried out by members of the Hawaii Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Under state law, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for Internet predators found guilty of committing Electronic Enticement of a Child in the First Degree.

The Hawaii Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has created a web site at www.hicac.com to help parents and young people recognize the dangers of the Internet and take protective measures.  The site contains safety tips and provides information on how to report suspected illegal Internet activity that targets children.

Anyone with information concerning possible Internet crimes against children is encouraged to call the Attorney General at (808) 586-1240.

(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009)

ROYAL ORDER ON MAUI PLANS KAMEHAMEHA DAY COMMEMORATION

The Royal Order of Kamehameha Kahehili Chapter IV on Maui will commemorate the birth of Kamehameha The Great on Thursday June 11, 2009.

The royal society annually observes the day with reverence paying special attention to the significance of Kamehameha’s role in Hawaiian history.

The march down Kaahumanu Avenue is a procession as opposed to the celebratory parades held across the state.

The march begins at 9 a.m. at the main entrance of Maui Community College, with the procession to head in the Paia bound direction, crossing the Kahului Beach Road Intersection, and ending at Ho’aloha park.

Our crews were on hand during the 2008 event and captured the preceding footage:

(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009; VIDEO CREDITS:  Wendy Osher News 06/11/08 Kamehameha Day in Kahului, Maui. Produced by Wendy Osher and Frank W Pulaski III Written by Wendy Osher Camera and Edited by Frank W Pulaski III )

MAUI COUNCIL PASSES 2010 BUDGET UNANIMOUSLY ON 2ND & FINAL READING

The Maui County Council unanimously passed the FY2010 budget on second and final reading this morning.  The budget is $8.8 million less than the Mayor’s $573 million proposal, which translates to a 1.5% difference.

Budget Chair Joe Pontanilla discusses the TAT impact on the county budget during a public hearing in Lahaina.  File photo by Wendy Osher

Budget Chair Joe Pontanilla discusses the TAT impact on the county budget during a public hearing in Lahaina. File photo by Wendy Osher

Budget Chair Joe Pontanilla described the budget as austere and tight for both county departments and nonprofits, but also noted the flexibility presented by the program budget.

“In a program budget, the departments have the option of using funds from vacancies to fund operational needs, including filling vacant positions in situations where the Council reduced the funding,” said Pontanilla.

With $12.5 million in vacancies throughout the county, and additional funding in fringe benefits, Pontanilla said the county already has $21 million in funds appropriated within departments for vacant positions.  Pontanilla noted that the council is not deleting any of the current equivalent personnel, but rather reducing funding for vacant positions.

With amendments already hammered out during first reading two weeks ago, the budget passed in less than an hour with all council members casing 9 ayes in support.

Although she supported the budget, Councilmember Gladys Baisa, was the only one to do so with reservations.   Baisa expressed concern over funding cuts to services within the Department of Parks & Recreation and the Department of Fire and Public Safety saying, “I’m afraid there’s only so much we can cut before it becomes diminishing returns.”  At the same time, she voted in support of the budget with a “margin of confidence” in the work and thought put into the budget by the committee chair.

The committee held 22 meetings in the council Chamber over a six week period to discuss the Mayor’s proposed budget.  The members also held eight district meetings to receive public testimony on the budget from residents throughout the county.

“Should the Administration find that it cannot operate with this budget,” Pontanilla said, “the Mayor has the option of proposing a budget amendment to recognize additional revenue or reallocate funds.”

“I feel we acted cautiously, judiciously and responsibly in bringing about a fiscally prudent budget,” said Councilmember Bill Medeiros who represents East Maui.

Similar remarks were made by fellow Councilmember Michael Victorino who described the budget as “fiscally prudent and lean.”

Lanai Councilmember Sol Kahoohalahala said despite the tough year, the circumstances gave the council the opportunity to look at ways of being innovative and creative.

Council Chair Danny Mateo meantime reflected upon the “sobering moment,” of being faced with the possibility of losing the county’s share of the Transient Accommodation Tax or TAT.  Although the state legislature failed to pass a measure relating the to the item, Mateo said, “The bottom line is we have made a change from business as usual.”

Councilmember Jo Anne Johnson of West Maui agreed that the 11th hour decision on the TAT complicated the budget process.  In cutting and then restoring $4 million in road resurfacing funds, Johnson said, the council was diligent in assuring that provisions were added to address issues of accountability.

Fellow Councilmember Mike Molina said he does not expect the TAT issue to go away next year, summing up the approach to the 2010 budget in a few words:  “We did a lot of belt tightening; I guess you could say we’re on a diet.”

(By Wendy OSHER © 2009; file image by Wendy OSHER ©2009)

Related stories posted earlier:

COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY PASSES BUDGET ON FIRST READING:

DEPARTMENT HEADS FIGHT FOR RESTORATION OF FUNDS IN FINAL BUDGET DELIBERATIONS

KULA HOSPITAL GEARS UP FOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY: SEEKS PHOTOS, STORIES FOR CENTENNIAL BOOK

Kula Hospital is gearing up to celebrate the 100th anniversary in 2010, and as part of that celebration, the Kula Hospital Auxiliary is sponsoring a 100th centennial coffee table book. Alberta Canha is the project coordinator.

Image of Kula Hospital courtesy: http://www.kula.hhsc.org/

Image of Kula Hospital courtesy: http://www.kula.hhsc.org/

“We are working on highlighting historical and current information, stories, and photos about Kula Hospital and the surrounding community,” said Canha. “We are asking for the community’s help in finding photos or stories from the last 100 years about the hospital. The oral history of our elders is so important to the project.  We are hoping that they will help us fill in much of the rich history of the past.”

The Kula Hospital was founded in 1910 by Dr. W. F. McConkey as a tuberculosis hospital that was called Kula Sanitorium or “Kula San.” Since that time the facility has undergone several transitions, even at one time serving the community as a general hospital with a surgery room, medical-surgical unit, and labor and delivery.   In 1976, the name of the facility was changed to Kula Hospital when the patient population was shifted to long-term care.

Kula Hospital has grown today to an extended acute care and long-term care facility.  It was recently awarded a 5-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the highest rating possible.

Dr. Patricia Brown, PhD is the author and editor of this book.  She is a psychologist, educator and researcher, working for 18 years with the California State Department of Education.

“Our goal is to complete and publish the book by the June 2010.  We will be seeking community donations and grants for this book project for this year and for 2010,” adds Canha.

Anyone with old photos or memorabilia from Kula Hospital or those who would like to make a donation, can contact Canha via email at: acanha@hhsc.org.

(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009; Placeholder image courtesy:  http://www.kula.hhsc.org/)

MAKENA WASTEWATER PLANT GOES SOLAR

The private sewage treatment plant at the Makena Resort is on its way to becoming the first net-zero energy wastewater treatment and reclamation plant in the state.

A blessing was held today as Dowling Company unveiled the 549 panel system.  A second phase of the project calls for an additional 498 photovoltaic panels which will produce 300,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.  That is expected to save the resort 175 barrels of oil each year.

Resort officials say the reclamation plant generates enough electricity to power 851 homes on Maui.  In oil savings, officials say it is the equivalent of removing 309 cars from Maui roadways.

The installation of the PV system is part of the Makena Resort’s strict green policy.  Future plans also call for the development of a 35-acre photovoltaic farm and a 12-acre organic farm.

The Hoku Solar PV panels are mounted on the plant’s ground, roof and as a canopy and was designed to shade clarifying basins and reduce algae growth.

The Makena Wastewater Reclamation Plant treats 100% of resort’s wastewater on-site, with a capacity of 750,000 gallons per day.  Wastewater is treated to the R-1 level before it is reclaimed and used for golf course irrigation.

In remarks during the blessing ceremony, Everett Dowling president of Dowling Company and managing partner of Makena Land LLC, which owns Makena Resort, stated:  “The great news about this reclamation plant, aside from offering enormous energy savings by utilizing the power of the sun, is that it provides nutirent-rich water for the golf courses in the resort without using one drop of potable water.”

Over 25 years, the plant is expected to offset more than 4,800 tons of carbon dioxide, 22 tons of sulphur dioxide and 8 tons of nitrous oxide emissions.  The facility also has the capacity to treat 750,000 gallons of water per day, using treated effluent to irrigate the company’s golf course.

(Posted by Wendy Osher © 2009)

PUBLIC INPUT SOUGHT ON SOLAR TELESCOPE ATOP HALEAKALA

Public meetings will be held in June to discuss the proposed Advanced Technology Solar Telescope atop Haleakala on Maui.  The National Science Foundation is considering funding the construction of the telescope that would be 142.8 feet high and 84 feet in diameter.  The solar telescope would be located atop the summit on lands managed by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy.

The purpose of the device is to study solar magnetic activities and variability. Craig Foltz, NSF ATST Program Manager states “The proposed telescope would significantly help in furthering our understanding of solar activity and how it affects space weather.  This knowledge would aid us in understanding how space weather creates hazards for communications to and from satellites, and hazards to astronauts and air travelers.  It also would help us understand the role of solar activity on the Earth’s climate.”

Public hearings on the Supplemental Draft EIS are set for:

  • Wednesday June 3rd from 5-8 p.m. at the Cameron Center Auditorium in Wailuku.
  • Thursday June 4th from 7-10 p.m. at the Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani.

The public is also invited to participate in formal National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultation meetings for the proposed telescope project.  The purpose of these meetings is to address the preservation and protection of cultural, historic and archaeological resources within the project area.  The meetings are as follows:

  • Monday, June 8 from 1-4 p.m. at the Kula Community Center
  • Tuesday, June 9 from 10 .am. to 1 p.m. at the Haiku Community Center
  • Wednesday, June 10 from 3-6 p.m. at the Pilina Building of the Maui Community College campus, multi-purpose room 310.

(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009)

RELATED STORY: PROPOSED TELESCOPE EIS RELEASED-SCIENTISTS SAY HALEAKALA IS ONLY SITE TO SATISFY GOALS (published: 5/13/2009 by Wendy Osher)

The State completed work on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement on a planned Advanced Technology Solar Telescope atop Haleakala.  The project is proposed for location at the High Altitude Observatory site and is subject to a 45 day public comment period.  There will be a series of hearings to discuss the findings in June.  The first meeting is set for June 3rd at 5 p.m. at the Cameron Center Auditorium.  The Maui site is the preferred location under consideration by the National Science Foundation.

Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory Site Aerial Showing Existing Facilities.  Photo Courtesy:  National Science Foundation & Hawaii Department of HealthHaleakalā High Altitude Observatory Site Aerial Showing Existing Facilities. Photo Courtesy: National Science Foundation & Hawaii Department of Health

The proposed ATST Project would be located on State of Hawai’i land within the Conservation District on Pu’u (hill) Kolekole, near the summit of Haleakalā. Pu’u Kolekole is about 0.3 mile from the highest point, Pu’u Ula’ula (Red Hill) Overlook, which is in HALE. At an elevation of 10,023 feet, Haleakalā is one of the prime sites in the world for astronomical and space surveillance activities. The proposed ATST Project would be located within the 18.166-acre HO site at the summit of Haleakalā, County of Maui, Hawai’i, on approximately 0.86 acres of undeveloped land. The 0.86 acres includes the leveling area, buildings, and paved pads. The preferred site is east of the existing C. E. Kenneth Mees Solar Observatory (MSO) and will be referred to in the SDEIS as the Mees site. The alternative site would be a currently unutilized site within HO known as Reber Circle and will be referred to in the SDEIS as the Reber Circle site.

In 1961, an Executive Order (EO) by Governor Quinn set aside 18.166 acres of land on the summit of Haleakalā in a place known as Kolekole to be under the control and management of the UH Institute for Astronomy (IfA) for scientific purposes.

Officials say an unobstructed 4-meter (13-foot) diameter primary mirror combined with the latest in computer and optical technologies would give ATST sharper views of solar activities than any telescope on the ground, in space, or in the planning stages. After a two-year study that began with more than 70 possible worldwide observatory sites, the NSO team, in collaboration with representatives from the solar physics scientific community, found that Haleakalā is the only site satisfying their ATST science goals.

ATST Test Tower at Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory Site.  Photo Courtesy:  National Science Foundation & Hawaii Department of HealthATST Test Tower at Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory Site. Photo Courtesy: National Science Foundation & Hawaii Department of Health

A primary goal of the proposed ATST Project would be to help scientists understand the solar magnetic activities and variability that drive space weather and the hazards it creates for astronauts and air travelers, and for communications to and from satellites.

Another primary objective for the proposed ATST Project would be to resolve fundamental length and time scales of the basic physical processes governing variations in solar activity associated with climate changes on Earth. To meet this challenge, a team led by the NSO is developing the proposed ATST Project as the world’s largest optical solar telescope.

NEPA 45-day Public Comment Period and Hearings: May 8 to June 22, 2009.

  • 1. June 3, 2009, Wednesday, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Cameron Center Auditorium, Wailuku, Maui, HI
  • 2. June 4, 2009, Thursday, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Hannibal Tavares Community Center, Room MHT #1, Pukalani, Maui, HI

National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultation meetings:

  • 1. June 8, 2009, Monday, 1:00 to 4:00 pm Kula Community Center, E. Lower Kula Road, Kula, Maui
  • 2. June 9, 2009, Tuesday, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Haiku Community Center, Hana Highway at Pilialoha Street, Haiku, Maui
  • 3. June 10, 2009, Wednesday, 3:00 to 6:00 pm. Maui Community College, 310 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Pilina Building – Multi-purpose Room, Kahului
Current View of HO from Pu'u Ula'ula.  Photo Courtesy:  National Science Foundation & Hawaii Department of HealthCurrent View of HO from Pu’u Ula’ula. Photo Courtesy: National Science Foundation & Hawaii Department of Health

(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009; Photos Courtesy: National Science Foundation & Hawaii Department of Health)