In brief | Big Island & state briefs 082313


Shared-ride taxi coupons available to bar owners

The Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency recently announced shared-ride taxi coupons are available for purchase in bulk by bar owners for patrons who may be too impaired to safely drive home. To encourage use of the program and help bar owners prepare for Labor Day weekend, the county will provide 10 free coupons to bar owners making their first purchase of at least 10 coupons, now through August 30.

For as little as $2, a shared-ride coupon will cover a taxi ride of up to 4 miles with a participating company. A change to the administrative rules that govern the shared-ride taxi program was made in June to allow agencies, organizations, and businesses with a compelling interest in the safe point-to-point transport of their clients or patrons – such agencies helping clients get to work, organizations serving people with mobility challenges, or establishments serving alcohol providing a responsible alternative to driving home under the influence – to purchase these coupons in bulk. Purchases by individuals for personal use are unaffected by this rule change.

The Police Department will increase enforcement of drunk driving as part of a national campaign called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” which runs through Sept. 2. During the campaign, police will conduct 20 to 30 sobriety checkpoints islandwide.

For more information or to purchase shared-ride taxi coupons, call 961-8343.

Social security video conferencing service available

A video conferencing service recently launched is connecting West Hawaii residents with the nearest Social Security office – a two-hour drive away. The service, provided by the Social Security Administration, AARP volunteers, and Hawaii County, will allow most people to conduct their Social Security business without making the trip to Hilo.

After the Social Security Kona satellite office was closed last year, West Hawaii residents who needed direct assistance had to make the four-hour round trip drive to Hilo to get answers to their questions and handle routine business, such as ordering a duplicate Social Security card.

Coordination between the Social Security Administration, AARP Hawaii, the Hawaii Executive Office on Aging’s Sage PLUS program, the office of Senator Mazie Hirono, the county Department of Information Technology, and the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi made this service possible to serve the needs of the West Hawaii community.

The video conferencing will be held the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the West Hawaii Civic Center. No appointments are necessary. On a first come first served basis, constituents are escorted into a room to chat privately over a secure connection with a Social Security representative in the Hilo office.

Hawaii offers flu vaccines for students

HONOLULU — Flu vaccines will be available to elementary and middle school students across Hawaii.

The state Department of Health’s “Stop Flu at School” program vaccinates more than 65,000 students statewide each year.

To sign-up for the free vaccinations, parents or guardians must return signed consent forms to schools by Sept. 6.

Vaccination clinics will be held in October and November.

Health Director Loretta Fuddy says vaccinating children helps protect communities against the flu.

She says with cuts to federal funding, public-private partnerships are important to continue the vaccination program. The health department’s partnerships include school administrators, health care providers, pediatric associations and health insurers.

Guam governor vetoes budget passed by Legislature

HAGATNA, Guam — The governor of Guam has vetoed a budget bill approved by the territorial Legislature, saying it represents empty promises and doesn’t give enough to health and safety agencies.

Pacific Daily News reported Thursday that Gov. Eddie Calvo is expected to submit a new version of the bill for the fiscal year starting in October.

Calvo said in a letter to Speaker Judith Won Pat that agencies including public safety agencies are already operating at low levels that affect how services are delivered.

The bill gives health agencies $3.7 million less than what they need based on the Legislature’s amendments.

Calvo said he is concerned about proposed salary increases for government employees.

The governor said the $15.4 million in new spending comes at the expense of health and safety, calling it “unsustainable and, therefore, subject to being cut through the fiscal year or in subsequent years.”

Calvo said he was also concerned with tax refunds, the general fund and the tourist attraction fund.

The chairman of the Legislature’s finance committee, Sen. Ben Pangelinan, said Calvo can use a line-item veto to disagree with certain portions of the budget.

But 10 Senate votes are needed to override the veto and the bill passed 8-6. Democrats and Republicans voted along party lines.

Historian returns old postcard to Kauai

LIHUE, Kauai — A postcard sent 106 years ago from Kauai has made it back to the island.

The Garden Island reports Florida author and historian Ginger Pedersen spotted the card Aug. 10 at a postcard show. She saw it had been sent by Francis Gay, co-founder of the Gay & Robinson sugar cane plantation and cattle ranch, and decided it should be sent to the Kauai Museum, where she’s a member.

“Some postcards take longer than others to find their way,” Pedersen said. “I am mailing this back to the Kauai Museum to complete its round-trip of 106 years.”

Gay was born in New Zealand in 1852. He moved to Hawaii in 1864. He and a cousin, Aubrey Robinson, formed a partnership as Gay and Robinson at Makaweli in 1889 for cattle ranching and sugar cane cultivation.

His postcard was mailed to a congressman from Kansas, U.S. Rep. Philip P. Campbell of Kansas. It shows a sailboat heading toward “Cocoanut Island” in Kaneohe Bay. Gay’s message was, “With aloha nui from us all and wishing you a very pleasant trip.”

Gay served as a legislator in the Territory of Hawaii and may have greeted members of Congress visiting Hawaii.

“That’s his signature,” Kauai Museum curator Chris Faye said after receiving the card. “I’ve seen enough documents signed by him, and I recognize the signature.”

Gay dated the card Aug. 6, 1907. Campbell likely visited the island, Faye said.

“The first movie ever made in Hawaii featured Congress people,” Faye said. “According to a Garden Island newspaper of the period, Philip P. Campbell, a Congressman from Kansas for 20 years, was scheduled to visit Hawaii in 1915.”

UH Foundation raises $66.3M in fiscal year

HONOLULU — The nonprofit organization that raises money to support Hawaii’s public university system has raised $66.3 million in the fiscal year.

The University of Hawaii Foundation said Thursday the money was raised between July 1, 2012 and June 30 for the system’s 10 campuses statewide.

The foundation says nearly $17 million was raised for student aid and nearly $11 million was raised for faculty and academic support.

For 99 percent of the gifts, donors were able to decide how and where money would be used.

Alumni donated nearly $15 million. The bulk of the money— about $30 million— came from “other individuals.” Corporations kicked in nearly $7 million and parents raised about $240,000.

By local and wire sources

Mayor does not sign council resolutions

The mayor does not sign council resolutions. Because of incorrect information provided to the newspaper, an article in Thursday’s editions said otherwise.

Overstock n Discounts supports Kaanalike

Overstock n Discounts, a salvage retailer in Kona, supports nonprofit Kaanalike and not vice versa as stated in an article on Page 7A in Monday’s edition.

It is the policy of West Hawaii Today to correct promptly any incorrect or misleading information when it is brought to the attention of the newspaper.