Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Thursday, July 21, 2016

National Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch for Ka`u as Darby edges toward Hawai`i Island.
See more below. Image from NOAA
HAWAI`I STATE LEGISLATURE, meeting in special session, yesterday overrode Gov. David Ige’s veto of Senate Bill 2077. The bill authorizes Hawai`i Health Systems Corp. employees on Maui to opt to receive either severance benefits or a special retirement benefit in lieu of exercising any reduction-in-force rights. The employees face position abolishment, reduction-in-force or workforce restructuring as a result of HHSC’s Maui Region facilities moving from state to private operation. HHSC also operates Ka`u Hospital.
HHSC operates facilities throughout the state. Map from HHSC
      “Our primary concern is and always has been the health and well-being of Maui’s residents and visitors as we work to privatize Maui region hospitals,” Ige said. “We are committed to a successful transfer and transition to a new Maui health care system for all stakeholders, which includes our employees.
      “However, this transaction must be done correctly for the common good. The concerns expressed in my veto message have not changed. Three areas of concern remain: the bill jeopardizes the Employees Retirement System’s tax exempt status; the bill does not appropriate funds for lump-sum cash payments for affected employees; the bill adds an additional unfunded liability of about $17.2 million to the ERS and $18.4 million to the Employer Union Benefits Trust Fund. This puts the state’s long-term financial position, along with its bond ratings in jeopardy. Bond ratings determine what the state pays in interest on borrowed funds.
      “The next steps for my administration include conferring with the attorney general to assess and evaluate the impact of the veto override, continuing to work in good faith with the UPW to bring resolution to the federal court injunction and to finalize the details, … (and) continuing to work on a smooth transition in order to provide a new system of health care for Maui.
      “This is an historic, complex multi-stakeholder transformation, and we are optimistic that we will resolve all unforeseen issues.
      “In the interim, I am confident that the existing Maui hospital staff and operations team will continue to provide quality health care services to the people of Maui.”
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Tropical Storm Darby tracking toward Hawai`i Island.
Map from NOAA
KA`U IS UNDER A TROPICAL storm watch. The National Weather Service issued the watch this morning, as Tropical Storm Darby edges closer to Hawai`i Island. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. The watch follows a flash flood watch issued earlier this morning.
      At 11 a.m., Darby was 595 miles east of South Point and forecast to make landfall Saturday evening. Maximum sustained winds were near 65 mph with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours.
      “Interests in the Hawaiian islands should monitor the progress of Darby,” Central Pacific Hurricane Center reported. “Remember, it is important not to focus too closely on the exact track and intensity forecasts because the average track error 72 hours out is near 100 miles, while the average intensity error is about 15 knots. In addition, the hazards of a tropical cyclone can extend over a broad area well away from the center.”
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Lava was visible at Kilauea's summit lava lake yesterday.
Photo from Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
“A LONG, HOT HIKE WAS NOT NEEDED to see red lava” yesterday, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists reported this morning. Vigorous spattering from Kilauea Volcano's summit lava lake was visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The lava lake surface, measured at 82 feet below the vent rim, was high enough for spattering to be seen from afar.
      The 61G lava flow active on Kilauea’s south flank, which does require a long, hot hike to view, is currently .4 miles from the coastal emergency road and .5 miles from the ocean. Advancement is slow, with lava spreading out on the coastal plain.
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U.S. REP. MARK TAKAI lost his battle with cancer yesterday. He had recently announced that he would not seek re-election in his First Congressional District because of health issues. The district encompasses much of O`ahu and is one of the only predominantly Asian American districts in the United States.
The late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai
Photo from Office of Rep. Takai
      Takai served as a member of Hawai`i National Guard for 17 years. He deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009.
      Takai was a 20-year member of the state House of Representatives before being elected to Congress in 2014, where he served on Armed Forces and Small Business Committees.
      “I’m deeply saddened today as we mourn the passing of my friend, colleague and fellow soldier, Congressman Mark Takai,” U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said. “I’m grateful to have known and worked with Mark for over a decade. With a servant’s heart, full of aloha, he dedicated his life to serving the people of Hawai`i and our nation, in the Hawai`i State Legislature, in the Hawai`i Army National Guard, and in Congress. I had the good fortune of serving with Mark in all three of these capacities and saw firsthand that no matter where he was, he always kept his service to Hawai`i’s people at the forefront of his actions. Mark’s smiling face and ready laugh will truly be missed, but the impact that he made through his life of service to the people of Hawai`i will always be remembered. My heart and prayers are with Sami, Matthew, Kaila and all of Mark’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.”
      “This is the deepest of losses and one that I feel very personally because of my friendship with Mark,” Sen. Brian Schatz said. “Throughout his life, he was all about serving the people of Hawai`i. He gave so much and had so much more yet to give. My condolences to his wife Sami, his children, his parents and his whole `ohana, whose pride and support meant everything to Mark. This is a sad day for all of Hawai`i.”
The late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai with Gov. David Ige
Photo from Office of Gov. Ige
      “I affectionately called Mark my younger brother,” Sen. Mazie Hirono said. “We shared so many of the same values and supported each other during challenging times. Mark’s passing is a tremendous loss for all of us who loved him and for the state of Hawai`i. But he said it best: ‘As often happens, we find ourselves on a different journey than we had planned.’ While we find that our journey is not as bright without Mark, we will continue his work to make Hawai`i a better place. My thoughts and aloha go to his wife Sami, his children Matthew and Kaila, and the Takai `ohana.”
      “Mark humbly and effectively served the people of his state House and Congressional districts,” Gov. David Ige said. “In the often tumultuous world of politics, he has been a shining example of what it means to be a public servant.
      “While we will deeply feel the loss of Mark Takai in the public arena, we cannot forget that he was a family man first. His wife, children and extended family will miss him every moment from this day on. Dawn and I extend our deepest sympathies to Sami, Matthew and Kaila. Your husband and father was a man of principle and goodwill. Thank you for sharing him with the citizens Hawai`i.”
Explore Mauna Loa's Southwest Rift Zone Saturday.
Photo from NPS
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EXPLORE MAUNA LOA’S Southwest Rift Zone Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. After a short hike to an overlook on the Upper Palm Trail in the Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, rangers orient participants to numerous prominent geologic features of the many eruptions in the area. Learn about the fascinating natural processes that create these features and the cultural traditions associated with them.
      Pack a lunch to enjoy during the program.
      See nps.gov/havo.


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