Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, June 26, 2014

The state Board of Land & Natural Resources will consider the project to elevate Hwy 11 at Kawa during its meeting tomorrow.
Photo from Final Environmental Assessment
ELEVATING HWY 11 AT KAWA is on tomorrow’s meeting agenda of the state Board of Land & Natural Resources. The state Department of Transportation seeks a Conservation District Use Permit for its plan to raise the highway along some 3,000 feet of road to alleviate flooding risks. When Kawa floods, access is cut off to Ka`u Hospital in Pahala from Na`alehu. Emergency vehicles, school buses and around-the-island traffic are blocked along the coastal road and must take the old sugar cane haul road in the mountains.
Officials explained the Hwy 11 Kawa project at a public meeting
in Ka`u in Dec. 2011. Photo by Julia Neal
      For travel during construction of the raised road, a bypass would be built makai of Hwy 11, starting about 100 yards south of the main entrance into Kawa’s surfing beach. The secondary entrance to Kawa would also remain during and after construction.
      The Kawa Drainage Project Environmental Assessment, available at hawaii.gov/oeqc, explains that Hwy 11 would be raised some 10 feet above grade to 46 feet above sea level. An 84-foot-wide culvert, eight feet high, would be placed beneath the highway.
      During a public meeting held in Dec. 2011, planners said that the wetlands, springs and other features would not be disturbed at Kawa by the new flood project.
      The $3.8 million project is 80 percent funded by the Federal Highway Administration and 20 percent by the state of Hawai`i. The improvements would be along approximately 3,700 feet of Hwy 11.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

SANJEEV “SONNY” BHAGOWALIA, Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s chief advisor for technology and cybersecurity, has received the 2014 Government Technology Research Alliance’s Government Innovator of the Year award. Bhagowalia received the award for facilitating Hawai`i’s business and technology transformation, launched in 2011 under the Abercrombie Administration.
Sanjeev "Sonny" Bhagowalia receives his Innovator of the Year award.
      “This prestigious award recognizes the finest leaders and innovators in government,” Abercrombie said. “Under Sonny’s innovative leadership, Hawai`i has developed an ambitious business and technology plan, established a stable technology foundation, launched key programs to transform delivery of online services and significantly improved transparency and accountability. Our state government is now being recognized as a leader in the nation for our steady and incremental transformation gains.”
      Bhagowalia received the honor amid a field of nominees from federal, state, local and tribal governments. Hawai`i was the sole state recipient in the Government Innovator of the Year category, beating out two federal finalists from the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
      The award was one of 24 handed out at this week’s GTRA GOVTek Executive Government Technology Awards Gala, which celebrates and recognizes government and industry information technology leaders whose vision, innovation and accomplishments have improved efficiency, the delivery of government services, citizen engagement, information sharing and national security.
      Bhagowalia was nominated for his accomplishments as the first leader of state Office of Information Management Technology and his achievements over the past year in transforming business and technology in the state through the innovative use of enterprise architectures, strategic planning, program management, transparency and personal transformation.
      After being appointed by Abercrombie as the state’s first chief information officer and serving in that capacity for three years, Bhagowalia was promoted to governor’s chief advisor for technology and cybersecurity in February 2014. The new executive leadership position was created to establish Hawai`i as a premier technology and cybersecurity hub in the Asia-Pacific region and to strengthen ties between Hawai`i and Washington, D.C. in support of the state’s business and technology transformation.
      Bhagowalia is working with the new state CIO, Keone Kali, and other stakeholders to publish a cybersecurity report on Hawai`i’s next steps to align with the National Cybersecurity Framework and establish itself as a world-class cybersecurity center of excellence for the emerging 21st Century Asia-Pacific region.
      “Hawai`i is on track and being recognized at the national level for making steady progress in modernizing and securing our technology infrastructure and reengineering the way government does business – online versus waiting in line,” Bhagowalia said. “A cybersecurity framework of cooperation and investment will be required by government, industry and academia with local, national and international representation to help Hawai`i realize its promise as a crossroads of the Pacific in the Information Age.”
      For more information on GTRA Awards, see june2014.gtra.org/awards.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. Mazie Hirono addresses the Veterans' Affairs
Conference Committee.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, A MEMBER of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Conference Committee, gave an opening statement on Hawai`i veterans’ wait times for health care at VA facilities during the committee’s first meeting. The committee is working on a compromise version of the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act, which was recently passed by the House and Senate. The meeting is the first Veterans’ Affairs conference committee since 1990.
      “This Conference Committee has an important task in the coming days and weeks,” Hirono said. “That is to finalize legislation that does three important things:

  1. Directly address the emergency circumstances that have been uncovered at the Veterans’ Administration;
  2. Ensure all of our veterans receive access to the care that they deserve; and
  3. Begin the longer-term work of restoring veterans’ trust not only in the VA, but in Congress’s ability to effectively oversee the VA and provide the resources needed to care for our veterans.

      “Investing in the VA is an essential step towards building back the trust of our veterans.

 I recognize that expanding access to non-VA providers is needed to immediately address this emergency. 

With this expansion, we must ensure every veteran in our country, whether rural or urban, can easily get the care they need if the VA is not available.

 For Hawai`i veterans, that should include being able to get care from community health centers, Department of Defense facilities or from the Native Hawaiian Health Care System.

 But that doesn’t mean that getting care outside of the system is the long-term solution.
      “I do not support an approach that will lead to atrophy of the VA.

 I do not support voucherizing VA. 

I do support Congressional leadership and action that addresses the current emergency, ensures our veterans’ can access the care that they deserve and lays the groundwork so that the VA can effectively address long-term needs.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaking to a Hawai`i Island veteran.
KA`U’S U.S. REP. TULSI GABBARD encourages veterans to contact her if they need assistance with the Veterans’ Affairs or Pacific Islands Health Care System. “My team and I can help local veterans who feel they have been treated unfairly by the VA or who have not received a timely response for care or benefits.” See gabbard.house.gov or call 808-541-1986.
      Gabbard has called for Pres. Barack Obama to use his executive power to alleviate the crisis of long wait times for veterans to receive health care. She also wants new leadership in Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System, saying Director Wayne Pfeffer should be fired, following reports that veterans in Hawai`i have the nation’s longest wait times. She also wants “a thorough review of the cause for the excessive 145-day wait times.”

      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Na`alehu's Independence Day Celebration
is two days away. Photo by Julia Neal
HAWAI`I COUNTY ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY COUNCIL continues its help with electric bills through the end of the month. The Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program is available at Ocean View Community Center today, tomorrow and Monday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Low-income families can sign up in Pahala today and tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
     For information for Pahala, call 936-8396. For Ocean View, call 936-9296. Na`alehu and other Ka`u residents can go to either location.

VOLUNTEERS MEET AT KILAUEA VISITOR CENTER to help remove invasive Himalayan ginger from Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park trails tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Free; park entrance fees apply.

STORYTELLING WITH DOODIE DOWNS takes place tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Aloha Friday programs are supported in part by a grant from the County of Hawai`i Department of Research and Development and Hawai`i Tourism Authority. Free; park entrance fees apply.

NA`ALEHU INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE starts at 11 a.m. Saturday. To participate, volunteer or donate, call Debra McIntosh at 929-9872 or see okaukakou.org/4th-of-july-parade and click on the volunteer button.
     After the parade, `O Ka`u Kakou provides fun times at Na`alehu Park for all ages with free shaved ice, hot dogs, games for keiki and Bingo for seniors.


See kaucalendar.com/Directory2014.swf.
Click at bottom right to turn pages.

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