News Bites

bluewaikiki.com / Flickr
bluewaikiki.com / Flickr

Some change is in the works at Honolulu’s largest art museum.

Stephan Jost is stepping down as the director of the Honolulu Museum to lead Canada's largest art gallery the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Over the last five years he oversaw the rebranding of the museum’s different locations including the Spalding House on Tantalus and the historic Doris Duke estate on the slopes of Diamond Head.

Jost is credited with balancing the museum’s budget as well as increasing the museum’s attendance, programs and membership.

Christopher Michel / Flickr
Christopher Michel / Flickr

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary will remain in its current form.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had proposed broadening the sanctuary to include a larger area and the protection of other species.

But after a lengthy process including public hearings and discussions with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, NOAA has decided to withdraw its proposal.

Allen Tom is the Regional Director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Pacific Fire Exchange
Pacific Fire Exchange

Scientists with the University of Hawai‘i are mapping the human impact of wildfires in the islands.

Over the past decade, the state has experienced on average, more than 1,000 fires burning over 20,000 acres each year.  Relative to total land area, the percentage of Hawai‘i’s land that burned from 2005 to 2011 was roughly equivalent to a fire consuming the western United States.

Robert Hartwick
Robert Hartwick

Box jellyfish are responsible for more deaths each year than shark attacks.  But despite the danger, scientists and medical professionals still do not agree on the best way to treat and manage jellyfish stings.

Researchers at UH Mānoa have developed an array of experiments to allow scientists to safely test first-aid measures used for box jellyfish stings without using human subjects.  By creating an artificial skin with human cells, scientists were able to simulate a sting and test different scenarios.

TravelingOtter / Flickr
TravelingOtter / Flickr

A project to measure sediment runoff on Lāna‘i is connecting the effectiveness of watershed restoration techniques used on land. Runoff is caused by soil erosion, allowing dirt to flow downstream where it empties onto coral reefs.

Alan L / Flickr
Alan L / Flickr

Hawai‘i residents will have a rare opportunity to visit the telescopes atop Mauna Kea.

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will begin a series of tours beginning this Saturday to see the telescopes and learn about the cultural and environmental importance of the mountain. The Kama‘āina Visitor Experience is held on every third Saturday, and space is limited.  It’s offered on a first come, first served basis with only 24 seats available each month. 

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Officials of Maui County and Alexander and Baldwin are putting together a task force to assist workers displaced by the closing of the state’s last sugar mill.

Last week Alexander and Baldwin announced they would cease cane operations on Maui---affecting nearly seven-hundred workers. Beginning in March- half of the HC&S workers will be laid off, with the rest staying until the end of the 2016 harvest.

Brett Neilson / Flickr
Brett Neilson / Flickr

After years of planning, the Bishop Museum is pushing its primary focus back to its visitors.  It’s begun a 5 year plan to help the museum become more self-sustaining and less reliant on government funding.  The museum has already implemented a $24-million renovation to Hawai‘i Hall and the J. Watumull planetarium.

Ilya / Flick
Ilya / Flick

Hawai‘i’s gas utility is looking into adding renewable gas into its product.  Hawai‘i Gas has released a request for proposals to buy raw bio-methane from municipal wastewater treatment centers and landfills in Hawai‘i.  The company is seeking proposals from local and national suppliers who can provide large quantities of gas on a daily basis.

Alejandro Forero Cuervo / Flickr
Alejandro Forero Cuervo / Flickr

The State Department of Health has selected the on-line “seed-to-sale” tracking system that will manage Hawai‘i’s medical marijuana inventory.

Florida based BioTrackTHC was awarded the contract yesterday.  Their system will track every plant with a unique number, measuring each fraction-of-a-gram of cannabis from seed, through sale. Patrick Vo is the CEO of BioTrack THC. He says the system is important to bring transparency and accountability to cannabis operations.  

Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr
Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr

On Maui, a piece of history is scheduled to be destroyed….on purpose.

The Hana Pier was built in the early 1920’s.  It was fenced off in 2010 after falling into disrepair with exposed holes and rebar in the deck.  The Department of Transportation reviewed various options for rebuilding the pier but settled on its removal following public feedback.

Tim Sakahara is the spokesperson for the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation.

Microbeads Get Banned

Jan 6, 2016
Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are often added to beauty products to gently exfoliate the skin.  But environmental advocates say their small size makes them extremely difficult to filter and clean from water.  They add that marine life often mistake the particles for food and when consumed the beads enter the food chain. 

Norbert Schörghofer via aaarjournal.org
Norbert Schörghofer via aaarjournal.org

Researchers with the University of Hawai‘i are studying the potential impact of climate change on melting ice on Mauna Loa.

In the 1970’s researchers documented two frozen lava tubes perched more than eleven-thousand feet above sea level.  Scientists say the lava tubes could be between 750 and 1,500 years old - and the ice inside may contain clues to Hawai‘i’s past environmental conditions.

The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land

A historical area of land on the Southern Coast of Hawai‘i Island will be protected from development.

The Kuamo‘o battlefield and burial grounds cover forty-seven acres of land south of Kona.  In 1819- the Nephew of Kamehameha the first clashed with Liholiho over keeping the traditional Kapu system of order in place.  Liholiho was victorious, but many warriors from both sides perished in battle and were buried on the property.

Rose Parade Honors Float Designer

Jan 1, 2016
John Zak
John Zak

Part of this New Year’s Day is the 127th Rose Parade in southern California. One of its millions of fans is HPR classical music host John Zak, who has a story from Pasadena about an artist, a bird, and more than five-hundred parade floats.

Nick Yee
Nick Yee

For some families in Hawai‘i the end of the year brings the tradition of Mochitsuki or mochi pounding.

Glutinous rice is steamed, and then put into a mortar where it’s pounded.  It’s then cut, formed into balls, and filled with sweet beans or covered in soybean powder.

HPR visited the Kubo family for their annual gathering.

Mariah OConnell / Flickr
Mariah OConnell / Flickr

Hawaii will become the first state in the nation to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21 beginning on January 1st.  A secondary measure will prohibit the sales of electronic cigarettes (E-Cigarettes) to anyone under 21.

Nick Yee
Nick Yee

Two locations of a popular Honolulu café chain are suddenly closing their doors.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

November was another record-breaking month for the hospitality industry in Hawai‘i. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority reports visitor arrivals were up nearly four-percent from a year ago. HPR’s Bill Dorman has some of the stories behind the numbers.

Brett Levin / Flickr
Brett Levin / Flickr

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health has released operation guidelines for the medical marijuana licensing program.

Under the current law, the DOH will establish eight dispensaries – three on O‘ahu, two for both Maui and Hawai‘i Island, and one for Kaua‘i. The rules explain the process for awarding dispensary licenses, and outlines security, safety, and tracking requirements.

Earlier this month the department announced that an on-line “seed to sale” system will be installed to track all marijuana in the islands.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

The state says there’s been some significant progress on the road to Hawai‘i’s clean energy objectives.

The Hawai‘i State Energy Office released its Energy Resources Coordinator’s Annual Report for 2015.  The report outlines the State’s current energy policies in accordance with the goal to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045.

Kyle Nishioka / Flickr
Kyle Nishioka / Flickr

Thousands of runners have already made their way to O‘ahu…as the Honolulu Marathon takes place this weekend.

It’s the 4th largest race in the country and attendance for this year is expected to be even larger than last year- with more than 32,000-participants already signed up- and more expected throughout the weekend.  13,000 runners are coming from Japan alone and participants from the US mainland are up 30% with more than 1,000 coming from California alone.  The event is expected to bring $130-million into the local economy.

 PMNM
PMNM

Scientists are connecting a Hollywood movie with a shipwreck in the North Hawaiian Islands.

In 1823 a Nantucket whaling ship called the Two Brothers ran aground on the reef in the French Frigate shoals- north of the Hawaiian Islands. Its captain was George Pollard Jr. – Survivor of the Essex- the ship wrecked by a sperm whale which became the inspiration for Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, or The Whale.

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

The Hawai‘i State Teachers Association says higher taxes are needed to improve education in the state.

The group has released a 10-part agenda for the 2016 legislative session. Topics include a reduction in class sizes, teacher retention, equal access to preschool, and an end to high stakes testing. The measure also calls for adequate funding of rural schools and repairs to air conditioning.

To fund the project – the measure recommends a one-percent increase in the state general excise tax. Corey Rosenlee is the HSTA President.

Tony Webster / Flickr
Tony Webster / Flickr

The deadline for comment on a proposed bridge between Native Hawaiians and the US Government is closing soon.

In the fall the US Department of the Interior proposed establishing a formal government-to-government relationship as part of the reconciliation process.  The proposal would give Native Hawaiians a legal framework that would help the native Hawaiian community work with the US government.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Construction is underway for a temporary shelter for homeless families near the Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park.  It’ll be located inside a 5,000-square-foot maintenance shed formerly used by the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority. Governor David Ige says the facility will be able to house around 15 families, each staying for a short duration before making the transition to more permanent housing.

Scott Morishige is the State Homeless Coordinator and says the space is designed to address the lack of shelter available for homeless families. 

paepaeoheeia
paepaeoheeia

Around 1,000 people are expected to gather in a few weeks to put the finishing touches on a historic Hawaiian fishpond. 

The Pani Ka Puka campaign has worked to restore the wall of the Paepae o He’eia fishpond in Kāne‘ohe bay. The organization has been working to restore the pond for more than thirteen years, and this event will complete and enclose the pond.  The project allows the community to learn the traditional Hawaiian aquaculture practice of trapping and raising fish.

Nick Yee
Nick Yee

Steel guitars have played an essential role in Hawaiian music since they were pioneered by musicians like Joseph Kekuku and Sol Ho‘opi‘i.  In the early nineteen-hundreds - Herman Weisseborn developed a new type of instrument by creating a square hollow neck on the guitar that increased the volume of the steel strings.  But the introduction of electric amplification made that acoustic style obsolete.

Bielman
Bielman

 The three-month holding period for the 31st annual “In Memory of Eddie Aikau” big wave surfing competition begins on December 1st.  The one-day big wave surfing event held in Waimea bay follows strict wave height requirements that mimic conditions Eddie Aikau liked to ride with faces of 40-feet and hold for at least eight hours.

Kim Steutermann Rogers
Kim Steutermann Rogers

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is reminding Kaua‘i residents to be mindful of Albatross breeding season between now and July.  Laysan albatross nest primarily in Hawai‘i - returning to the same breeding areas each year and laying only a single egg.  Their ground level nests make the birds and their young vulnerable to attacks from domesticated dogs and cats.

But the albatross are also vulnerable to a long term threat from climate change as rising oceans cover their nesting areas further up the Hawaiian chain.

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