A small brush fire in Waikapu today scorched only about a quarter-acre, but it happened in some of the hottest and most humid conditions of the year. Temperatures at the time were over 90 degrees and humidity was extremely high, making the “feels like” temperature closer to 100.
At 12:22 this afternoon, Fire Fighters from Wailuku and Kahului were dispatched to a brush fire just off of Waiko Road in Waikapu, at the end of the old rubbish dump road. Crews arrived to a quarter acre area of brush and trash involved. The fire was called under control by 12:40 p.m. and extinguished at 1:27 p.m. The cause of the fire was undetermined. No monetary losses or injuries were reported.
As part of the new Commercial Service Plan, five commercial-free days have been determined for Haleakalā National Park, beginning in July 2015. As specified in the plan, these days are intended to provide opportunities for Native Hawaiians to conduct traditional cultural practices in the park without any impacts from commercial tours. Although commercial tours will not be permitted during commercial-free days, the park will remain open to all visitors.
Park officials sought input from Native Hawaiian Staff, community members, and the park’s kūpuna group in determining the following dates:
Notice of the commercial-free days is being given now to allow sufficient time for the park’s commercial tour operators to adjust their reservation schedules and operations. “We will be very interested to see how the community responds to these commercial free days during the first year of their implementation, said Superintendent Natalie Gates. “We will be open to comments and may change the dates in future years if the community response warrants.” For more information on the park’s commercial services plan please visit http://www.nps.gov/hale/parkmgmt/csp.htm.
HONOLULU- Hawaii Ecotourism Association (HEA) announced the winners of environmentally-friendly tourism awards at a luncheon today in Waikiki. Seventeen tour operators were honored by HEA, a local nonprofit organization that protects Hawaii’s unique natural environment and host culture by promoting responsible travel. The event marked HEA’s 20th Anniversary.
Hawaiian Legacy Tours, a company known for sustaining the environment by planting native Koa forests on Hawaii Island, was awarded with the coveted 2014 Certified Sustainable Tour Operator Award. “This outstanding example of a sustainable tour operation far exceeds HEA’s mission and goal of protecting the unique natural and cultural resources of Hawaii nei,” said Aaron Lowe, President of the Board of Directors of HEA.
The 2014 Ecotour Guides of the Year were announced as follows (Maui County winners are highlighted in bold type):
Seventeen tour operators were honored for having achieved HEA’s Sustainable Tourism Certification for the 2014-2016 term. They are as follows: Atlantis Adventures, Bike Hawaii, Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure, Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks, Ko Olina Ocean Adventures, Kualoa Ranch, Pacific Islands Institute, Wild Side Specialty Tours, Hawaiian Paddle Sports, Maui Kayak Adventures, Pacific Whale Foundation, Trilogy Excursions, Fair Wind Cruises, Hawaii Forest & Trail, Hawaiian Legacy Tours, Big Island Divers, and Volcano Discovery Hawaii.
“As a founding member of the organization, it is really exciting to see the goal of tour operator certification finally come to fruition,” said Annette Kaohelaulii, former President on the Board of which she is currently a member. The Sustainable Tourism Certification process was developed to ensure tour operator and visitor industry accountability for the impact their business may have on the unique natural and cultural resources of Hawaii and to promote sustainable and restorative practices as part of Hawaii’s visitor industry product. In April 2013, Hawaii Tourism Authority awarded funding to HEA, to ensure implementation of the program permanently in Hawaii’s visitor industry.
The 2014 HEA Annual Awards Luncheon commemorates the 20th anniversary of the 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. HEA was formed by members of the planning committee of the Statewide Conference on Ecotourism in 1994.
HONOLULU – The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) advises Hawaii residents to exercise caution when searching for a loan through an online lender.
Consumers searching for a loan online may actually be dealing with an online lead generator that may sell the personal financial information to data brokers. Data brokers then resell the information to lenders. The lenders may use this personal information to gain access to personal checking accounts to deposit unauthorized loans and debit unauthorized fees without consent.
“Hawaii residents should be extremely cautious before giving out their personal identification or financial account information to anyone they’ve never dealt with before, whether in person, on the phone or online,” OCP Executive Director Bruce B. Kim said.
This week, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced an enforcement action against the Hydra Group (Hydra) alleging that Hydra operates through a maze of corporate entities such as SSM Group, Hydra Financial Limited Funds, PCMO Services, and Piggycash Online Holdings, created to avoid regulatory oversight. The CFPB alleges that the consumers’ trouble began after submitting sensitive, personal financial information to online lead generators that matched consumers with payday lenders. The lead generators auctioned off the consumer’s information to firms that make payday loans. In some cases, they sell large volumes of leads to data brokers that then re-sell them to lenders. The Hydra group would buy this information, use it to access consumer’s checking accounts to deposit unauthorized payday loans, and then begin debiting unauthorized fees.
When unsuspecting consumers complained about the unauthorized loans, they were presented with bogus documents allegedly justifying the withdrawals. If consumers closed their checking accounts to avoid the unauthorized withdrawals, Hydra may have sold the bogus debt to third-party debt collectors, who then pursued repayment of the bogus loans and charges.
The CFPB obtained an order from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on Sept. 9, 2014, freezing the defendants’ assets and installing a receiver to oversee the business and ensure that any illegal conduct is stopped. The court has scheduled a hearing on the CFPB’s request for a preliminary injunction, in which the CFPB seeks to keep the relief in place while the case proceeds. A copy of the CFPB’s complaint against Hydra can be found at:http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201409_cfpb_complaint_hydra-group.pdf
Whether or not dealing with an online lender results in a loan, simply entering information on the site may result in severe unintended financial consequences. Selling personal and financial information is a big business. People who buy personal information may use it to sell unsuspecting consumers goods and services, charge them for goods and services they never agreed to buy, charge amounts other than what was authorized, or try to commit identity theft.
For information about online lenders, visit the Federal Trade Commission website at: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0249-online-payday-loans
Consumers can also contact OCP in Honolulu at 586-2630 with questions, or to file a complaint. People can also visit OCP’s website at cca.hawaii.gov/ocp for more information about filing a complaint.
The State of Hawaii’s DCCA Office of Consumer Protection educates and protects consumers from unlawful acts or practices by companies that may cause harm to consumers. If you have further questions about our services, contact the Office of Consumer Protection at (808) 586-2636.
Kahului – The public is invited to join the Maui Disability Alliance at its 18th Annual Legislative Forum on Wednesday, September 24th from 4:30-7:00 pm at the UH Maui College campus. The forum will discuss housing, employment, transportation, and mental health issues impacting those with disabilities. Participants will be able to engage with Maui policymakers, individuals with disabilities, family members, service providers, and other advocates to discuss, list, and prioritize needs and concerns.
The Maui Disability Alliance is comprised of 36 public, private, government and non-profit agencies, the community at large and state-level organizations working together to bring community and political awareness of issues impacting persons with disabilities and to effect positive change.
Candidates who have committed to participate in the forum include: Mayor Alan Arakawa and candidate Tamara Paltin; Council Member, East Maui – Bob Carroll and candidate Nick Nikhilananda; Council Member, West Maui – Elle Cochran and candidate Kaala Buenconsejo; Council Member, Makawao-Haiku-Paia – Mike White and candidate Mike Molina; Council Member, Kahului – Don Guzman; Council Member, Wailuku-Waiheʻe-Waikapu candidate Joe Blackburn; Council Member, Upcountry – Gladys Baisa; Council Member, Molokai Stacey Crivello; State Senator District 5, Gil Keith-Agaran; State Senator District 6, Roz Baker; State Rep. District 8, Joe Souki; State Rep. District 11, Kaniela Ing; State Rep. District 12, candidate Richard Pohle; Governor, candidate Jeff Davis.
The event will start with refreshments and the opportunity to network with other disability advocates, followed by a moderated question and answer panel with candidates, and ending with dessert, evaluations, and continued conversation.
The event is free and open to the public, and will take place on the UHMC campus in the Pilina building’s Multi-Purpose room. For more information, questions or concerns, or those who require access accommodations, please call Rob Tarver at (808) 984-8218 or email MDAmaui2014@gmail.com.
HONOLULU — The Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (DLIR) today announced that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was 4.3 percent, down from 4.4 percent in July. Statewide, 634,150 were employed and 28,600 unemployed in August for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 662,700. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 6.1 percent in August from 6.2 percent in July. The rate is the lowest in six years.
Both initial claims and weeks claims decreased by 243 or -14.3% and 2,012 or -17.2% respectively for unemployment benefits compared to one year ago. Over the month, both initial claims and weeks claims also decreased by -2.5% and -6.7% respectively from July 2014.
In Maui County, The overall jobless rate dropped from 4.7 in July, 2014 to August. One year ago the countywide rate was 5.0 percent. On the island of Maui, the latest rate dropped from 4.5 percent to 4.0. Last year it was 4.8 percent. Moloka’i is going the other way, however. The unemployment rate a year ago was 10.5 percent. Last month it was 14.1 percent – up from 12 percent in July. On Lana’i, job numbers are reminiscent of “the good old days” with unemployment down to 2.4 percent. Last month it was 2.7 percent and it was 3.2 percent in August of 2013.
The unemployment rate figures for the State of Hawaii and the U.S. in this release are seasonally adjusted, in accordance with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) methodology. The not seasonally adjusted rate for the State was 4.1 percent in August, down from 4.6 percent in July.
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