Governor’s Maui Council of Neighbor Island Advisors to Focus on Issues Facing Maui Farmers

The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui meets today, Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 5 p.m. at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center. 

Guest speakers will include:

Anna Mae Shishido, Maui port supervisor, Plant Quarantine Branch, Department of Agriculture, will speak on the agricultural inspection services on Maui.

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Warren Watanabe, president of the Maui Farm Bureau, will address issues facing Maui farmers.

Henry Oliva, deputy director, State Department of Human Services (DHS), and Sandie Hoback, a consultant, will speak on the DHS proposal for a reorganization of public assistance eligibility processing functions.

Governor Linda Lingle created councils of neighbor island advisors to give neighbor island residents a stronger voice in state government. The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui holds monthly public meetings to seek community input, advise the Governor of important issues and make recommendations for state boards and commissions.

The members of the Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui are: Madge Schaefer (chair), Kathryn Ghean, John Henry, Lori Ululani Sablas, Gail K. Takeuchi and Leona Rocha Wilson.

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Workers Trained to Fight Maui’s Newest Pest, The Little Fire Ant

State and County workers on Maui gathered for a special training session to battle Maui’s newest pest, the invasive Little Fire Ant, which was discovered on a farm in Waihee earlier this month.

 

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Mach Fukada (R) shows County employee Tamara Wells a live specimen of the Stinging Nettle Caterpillar, another pest species of particularly high concern because of its ability to deliver painful stings to people and its impact on the agricultural industry. Photo courtesy County of Maui.

More than 50 employees attended the meeting at the Waikapu Community Center on Wednesday.  The session was set up by Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares as a way to ensure the safety of field employees and increase the county’s ability to detect and report sightings as well as prevent widespread establishment of the species.

 

The ant, which is smaller than a grain of rice, has a painful bite that can result in intense itching for two or more weeks in humans, and can cause blindness or death in pets and livestock.

 

“We want to make sure that our employees are informed about Little Fire Ants and taking all the necessary precautions to protect themselves while working in areas that may be infested or may become infested with them,” Mayor Tavares said.

 

“At the same time,” Tavares said, “they can assist the Department of Agriculture by keeping a lookout for LFA and reporting suspected sightings. Early detection and rapid response will be the key to controlling their populations before they become too wide-spread and established.”

 

The session was led by Maui County’s sole entomologist with the Department of Agriculture, Mach Fukada, who was laid off effective mid-December due to State budget cuts.

 

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County of Maui Environmental Coordinator Kuhea Paracuelles (standing, left) addresses County and State employees at the Little Fire Ant training led by entomologist Mach Fukada (standing, right). Photo Courtesy County of Maui.

Attendees were provided with informational brochures and preserved specimens of Little Fire Ants to assist with identification while working in the field. County employees from the Department of Environmental Management, Fire & Safety, Housing & Human Concerns, the Mayor’s Office, Parks and Recreation, Planning, Public Works, Risk Management and Water Supply attended, as well as employees from the State Department of Land & Natural Resources, Forestry & Wildlife and Land Divisions.

 

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Information provided by the County of Maui)

Maui Panel Of Professionals To Address Ag Furloughs

A panel of professionals on Maui will update the pubic on the impacts of potential furloughs facing the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.  Earlier this week, the state announced the temporary restoration of 22 plant quarantine inspector positions that were initially slated for elimination.  The temporary reprieve is good for a single year, but does not cover all of the cuts. Here on Maui, three positions will be eliminated for a total staffing of 11.  The presentation will be hosted by the Kula Community Association on Tuesday, October 6th.

Photo by Wendy Osher.

Photo by Wendy Osher.

The panel was organized by Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares as a way to bring the most up-to-date information to various Maui communities.

Panelists say potential impacts could result in threats to the environment, agricultural industry, tourism, and public health and safety.

The group of presenters include Anna Mae Shishido – Maui County Supervisor of the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch, Warren Watanabe – Executive Director of the Maui County Farm Bureau, Teya Penniman – Manager of the Maui Invasive Species Committee, and Kuhea Paracuelles – Environmental Coordinator, Office of the Mayor.

The Kula Community Association will host the group at its next meeting, which will be open to its entire membership and the community-at-large. It will be held at the Kula Elementary School cafeteria on Tuesday, October 6th, starting at 6:00 p.m.

(Posted by Wendy Osher)