The U.S. Postal Service is considering shuttering a tiny Molokai post office in the remote Kalaupapa peninsula known as a former leprosy settlement, accessible only by plane or mule.
The one-woman Kalaupapa office that serves less than 100 residents is on a list of about 3,700 locations nationwide the postal service announced Tuesday are being considered for closure.
“The post office is the lifeline for the residents out here at Kalaupapa,” Stephen Prokop, Kalaupapa National Historical Park superintendent, said Wednesday. “There is no Internet access, no cellphone access. Mail is the only way we can communicate.”
Hansen’s disease patients were forced into isolation there in 1866, where they were cared for by Father Damien, who became Hawaii’s first saint in 2009. About a dozen patients still live there since the quarantine was lifted in 1969, Prokop said. The rest of the residents are mostly National Park Service employees who tend to more than 200 historic structures.
“The youngest patient is 70. For them to not have access to regular mail is extreme,” Prokop said.
Mail is processed in Honolulu and then flown once a day to the Kalaupapa office, which “serves the most isolated population of postal customers in the state,” said USPS spokesman Duke Gonzales. “We understand especially in a community like Kalaupapa the necessity of mail and what mail means to them.”
That’s why the postal service is looking for alternative ways Kalaupapa residents can receive mail if the office closes, including using a privately operated office or a mail receiving agency that distributes mail for a larger organization such as a college. Gonzales said the post office won’t close without finding a way to give customers access to mail service.
The Kalaupapa post office is an example of other historical relationships the postal service has with remote areas, such a settlement of Native Americans in the Grand Canyon that get mail delivered by a mule.
“There are others that are more remote,” Gonzales said. Kalaupapa is “only a short plane ride from Oahu.”
The unique way mail arrives to Kalaupapa, where residents pick up letters and packages from the post office, was first highlighted by The Maui News on Wednesday.
Two post offices on Oahu and one on Kauai are also on the list of potential closures. Most of the 3,653 post offices nationwide being studied for closure have so little foot traffic that workers average less than two hours of per day and average sales are less than $50 a day, Gonzales said.
Law enforcement officers with the U.S. Marshals Service Hawaii Fugitive Task Force arrested today in Kahului a Montana man wanted on various sex offenses.
The Marshal’s Office said Joseph Lee Guseman, 31, of Glendive, Mont., had posted bail in June and fled Montana before investigators could arrest him on more serious charges tied to allegations that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl.
Guseman was arrested at a Glendive home on June 21 on three counts of criminal obscenity, marshals said.
He was later charged with four counts of sexual intercourse without consent of a minor, and four counts of sexual abuse of a children. But Guseman reportedly had posted bail and fled Montana before he could be arrested on the more serious charges, marshals said.
U.S. marshals tracked the fugitive to Maui and at 11:15 a.m. today, Guseman was arrested by deputy U.S. marshals, Maui police officers and state sheriffs at a Kahalui home without incident.
He was scheduled to be sent back to Montana for an extradition hearing.
HONOLULU – The small hive beetle (SHB), a serious pest of honeybees, has been detected on Maui and Moloka`i. The pest is considered widespread on Hawai`i Island and O`ahu after it was found in April 2010 and November 2010, respectively.
“We have recently detected low population levels of the small hive beetle on Maui and Moloka`i,” said Danielle Downey, Apiculture Specialist with the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA). “It is important that beekeepers survey their hives and report any suspected infestation because I firmly believe that the impact of this pest can be minimized through education and good management practices.”
HDOA is holding the following informational meetings for beekeepers:
Maui – Monday, August 1st, at Maui Community College, Ka Lama Room 103 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
O`ahu – Tuesday, August 2nd, HDOA Boardroom, 1428 S. King Street, Honolulu from 5:30–7:00 p.m.
Staff will provide beekeepers with detailed information on how to identify the SHB and to how use traps.
In early May 2011, a beekeeper at Keoneku‘ino, Moloka`i reported the presence of SHB – this was confirmed by researchers at the University of Hawai`i @ Manoa. On July 27, 2011, entomologists from HDOA confirmed SHB in a sample taken from hives in East Maui, Maui. HDOA and the University of Hawai`i @ Manoa Honey Bee Team are currently working with beekeepers on Maui and Moloka`i to determine the distribution of SHB on those islands.
HDOA staff have been working with beekeepers on O`ahu and Hawai`i Island in using traps to control and manage SHB-infested hives. The traps have helped in moderate to heavy infestations, and can be an effective tool in detecting SHB in low infestations. Suspected SHB should be collected and reported to Downey at (808)936-5483 (Hilo).
Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) adults are about four to five millimeters in length and are yellowish-brown in color, turning brownish, then to black at maturity. They feed on most anything inside a beehive, including honey, pollen, wax, as well as honeybee eggs and larvae. As they feed, they tunnel through the hive, damaging or destroying the honeycomb and contaminating the honey. Symptoms of SHB infestation include discolored honey, an odor of decaying oranges, and fermentation and frothiness in the honey. Heavy infestations may cause honeybee colonies to abandon hives.
SHB is native to sub-Saharan Africa and was first detected in the U.S in 1996 in South Carolina. It was subsequently detected in Florida in 1998 and is currently found in many states in the south and central areas of the U.S. and California. Although found in the U.S., SHB is under international regulation for export of queen bees and it is a concern that some foreign countries may impose restrictions on the importation of queen bees from Hawai`i.
Besides being honey producers, bees are critical pollinators for many food crops, including melons, watermelons, cucumbers, squash, lychee, mango, Macadamia nut, coffee, eggplant, avocado, guava, herbs and some flowering plants, such as sunflowers. HDOA estimated in 2007 that about 70 percent of Hawai`i’s food crops depend on pollination by bees.
MANILA, Philippines >> Heavy rains and floods battered the northeastern Philippines for a third day Wednesday, swamping homes of about a half million people and raising the death toll to at least 25 with 31 others missing.
Waist-deep floodwaters swamped the houses of nearly half of the population of eastern Albay province after Tropical Storm Nock-ten set off pounding rains since Monday and sent residents to seek shelter in churches and village halls, said Gov. Joey Salceda.
Regional civil defense chief Rafaelito Alejandro said floodwaters in Albay started to subside by noon Wednesday after the storm made landfall in Aurora, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) to the north. It packed maximum winds of 59 miles (95 kilometers) per hour and gusts of up to 75 mph (120 kph).
Alejandro said at least 20 people died in the Bicol region, which includes Albay. Eight of those were buried in landslides in Albay’s Polangui township and in nearby Camarines Norte province.
Other fatalities included a mother who was bitten by a poisonous snake that was swept into her home by a flashflood near the Albay provincial capital of Legazpi.
National civil defense administrator Benito Ramos said two others drowned in Cavite province just south of Manila and one each in the provinces of Quezon, Marinduque and Iloilo.
Most of the missing are poor fishermen who ventured out to sea despite the stormy weather.
A fishing boat with 32 men on board capsized in rough waters off central Masbate province early Wednesday. Ten fishermen were rescued but the coast guard has not found the others, bringing the number of missing in the storm to 31, Ramos said.
The storm weakened slightly after hitting land, said forecaster Sonny Pajarilla. It is expected to blow out of the country to the South China Sea by Thursday after cutting through the heart of Luzon Island.
Authorities cut off electricity to most of the region to prevent electrocutions, Ramos said.
One of the victims during the power outage was Salceda’s mother, who fell on her head after slipping in the dark bathroom, Alejandro said, adding that she wasn’t counted as a storm fatality.
Power was restored in Legazpi and most of the other provincial urban centers later Wednesday. Workers removed toppled trees, rocks and other debris blocking roads and firefighters hosed away mud from the streets.
Many domestic flights were canceled and about 1,600 ferry passengers stranded.
CHICAGO – For the third time, vascular surgeon, George S. Lavenson, Jr, MD, of Lahania, HI, volunteered to spend two weeks treating wounded American soldiers transported from Afghanistan and Iraq to the U.S. Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany.
“I volunteered for two weeks at LRMC because I wanted to help cover the need for vascular surgery for our military personnel,” said Dr. Lavenson. “Our military must be afforded the best care possible. I provided additional services to the excellent care already afforded by the team at LRMC.
“The experience was rewarding but somewhat difficult because of the seriousness of the injuries,” he said. “I also volunteered because I wanted to be back with my military ‘band of brothers and sisters.’”
A retired U.S. Army Medical Officer, Dr. Lavenson served at the 24th Evacuation Hospital in Viet Nam from 1968-1969. He returned to active duty during the Gulf War and served at the 44th Evacuation Hospital in Saudi Arabia along the Iraqi border. An Adjunct Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr. Lavenson continues to teach Advanced Trauma Life Support.
From May 25, 2011 to June 12, 2011, Dr. Lavenson served as a volunteer vascular surgeon at LRMC. As the largest American hospital outside the United States, more than 66,000 military personnel have been treated at LRMC since 2004.
Since Sept. 2007, 72 Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) members have volunteered to supplement the limited number of vascular surgeons at the medical center. “The Society for Vascular Surgery is proud to have provided continuous two-week rotations of vascular surgeons at LRMC for the past four years,” said 2011-2012 SVS President Dr. Richard Cambia.
“As vascular surgeons, we help to repair the damaged arteries and veins of Allied military personnel in the Global War on Terror.”
In 2007, SVS member and retired U.S. Army Col. David Gillespie of the Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General and professor of surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., asked Society members to share their medical expertise as volunteer surgeons at LRMC. Immediately, SVS members responded to support the troops. Currently, there is a waiting list for SVS surgeons who are willing to volunteer at LRMC during 2011.
WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – The County of Maui, Real Property Tax Division announced today that real property taxes are due on Monday August 22, 2011 for the first installment of fiscal year 2011-2012. The deadline set by the Maui County Code of August 20 falls on a Saturday, thereby making this year’s deadline the following business day, Monday the 22nd.
Real Property tax bills from the County of Maui have been mailed to property owners or the agents servicing their accounts. Property owners who pay their real property taxes directly and who have not received a real property tax bill should check on their taxes by contacting the County of Maui Real Property Tax Division by phone at (808) 270-7697, in person at the Maui Mall Service Center (Mon-Fri 8am – 4pm), or online at www.mauipropertytax.com.
The Real Property Tax Division is offering electronic payment options for Real Property Taxes. Electronic payments are accepted via the internet or phone. This service is being offered through a private vendor Link2Gov. The service provider will be charging a convenience fee. These fees are not being collected by the County of Maui. To make an electronic payment it is a good idea to have your tax bill on hand because you will need your 13 digit tax map key number. To find out more about electronic payment options visit http://www.mauicounty.gov/departments/Finance/rptpayment.htm. To make an online payment go to https://gate.link2gov.com/MauiRPT/. You must have an email address to use the online payment service. To make a payment by phone call 1-877-729-4775 and follow the voice instructions.
Property owners are reminded that failure to pay their taxes on time because of non-receipt of a tax bill will not excuse them from being assessed a 10 percent penalty plus interest at the rate of 12 percent per year. Unless hand delivered on time, the United States Postal Service cancellation mark is the date of receipt by the County of Maui. It is the taxpayer’s responsibility when sending via postal mail to assure that all envelopes are timely postmarked by the USPS on or before August 22, 2011.
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