Registration Now Available for UH Hilo Media Symposium

Registration for the UH Hilo Media Symposium that will take place at UH Hilo on October 1st from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm is NOW AVAILABLE:

Bionic Robot “Evolta” From Japan to Compete in Kona Ironman

How cool is this!  The Japanese are building their own little “Bionic Man” and he’s going to take on the Kona Ironman!

The Japanese Evolta Robot

After scaling the cliff walls of the Grand Canyon and driving the Le Mans racetrack for 24 hours, a tiny Japanese robot is set for a new challenge — Hawaii’s grueling Ironman Triathlon course.

Fitted with three different bodies and three rechargeable batteries, the hand-sized “Evolta” from electronics firm Panasonic will swim, bicycle and run its way through one of the world’s toughest triathlon routes, the company said on Thursday…

More Here: Japan Robot to Attempt Hawaii Marathon

The Evolta runs Le Mans

The little Panasonic robot manages to make it more than 5 times around the famous Le Mans track in France on just 2 AA batteries in 24 hours for a new Guiness World record.

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County of Hawaii to Celebrate 2nd Annual Citizenship Day on Friday

The county Office of Immigration Information at the Office of the Mayor in partnership with the Exchange Club of Hilo, Aloha Exchange Club, Hilo Lions and Akaka Falls Lions Club is celebrating its second annual Citizenship Day on Friday, September 16, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale in Hilo.

Citizenship Day

The ceremony will honor and recognize the newest Americans who were recently naturalized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The public is invited to attend this free event.  It is also a day to express pride in our citizenship.

September 17 is Constitution and Citizenship Day.  This day commemorates the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. In 2004, Congress passed legislation to make Citizenship Day a federal holiday.

In the past, USCIS (formerly INS) administered the oath-taking ceremonies to those who successfully passed the US naturalization examination at the Third District Court’s Courthouse in Hilo.   A few years ago, the agency ceased their neighbor island outreach services, and it now administers the oath of citizenship exclusively in Honolulu. This limits the ability of friends and relatives to attend the ceremonies.

The Immigration Information Office event will allow families and friends to celebrate what is considered a most profound day with those who have made a choice to become American citizens. The Immigration Office is urging anyone who recently took the oath of US Citizenship to participate in the Citizenship Day 2011.  The Immigration Office also encourages those who are Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR’s or “green card” holders) who are interested in applying for US citizenship to attend because the office will distribute naturalization application and study materials at the event.

For more information, please contact Rose Bautista Immigration Information Specialist at 961-8220 or Email: rbautista@co.hawaii.hi.us

Hawaii County Police Officer Jeremy “Scotty” Lewis Recognized as Officer of the Year

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Jeremy “Scotty” Lewis as “Officer of the Year” in a luncheon ceremony on Wednesday (September 14) at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Officer Jeremy "Scotty" Lewis

Officer Jeremy "Scotty" Lewis

Lewis had already been honored twice this year as “Officer of the Month.”

In April, he was was recognized for his investigation of an unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle case. The case ended with the arrest and successful prosecution of suspects involved in multiple car break-ins targeting tourists. Since then, the Kailua Village area has experienced a downturn in such crimes.

In June, Lewis received an award for his investigation of financial crimes stemming from a burglary and the theft of laptop computers and two credit cards. Through his efforts, Lewis identified two female suspects and initiated 49 additional offenses against them. They were charged with multiple felony financial crimes.

Chief Harry Kubojiri said Officer Lewis epitomizes the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s core values of professionalism, integrity, compassion, team work and community satisfaction. “Because of his dedication and sharp investigative skills, two separate crime sprees no longer plague our community,” Kubojiri said.

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawai’i.

Commentary: Councilman Pete Hoffman on Impact Fee Urban Legends

Councilman Pete Hoffman comments on the Impact Fees

Bill 304, draft 3, establishing a County-wide Impact Fee, received a favorable recommendation from the County’s Planning Committee on 8 Sep.  It will appear on the Council agenda on 21 Sep. and I anticipate the bill will stir considerable discussion.  I welcome comments from constituents and interest groups alike, but in my seven years on the Council, I have not seen the creation of as many “urban legends” surrounding any bill as the Impact Fee ordinance generated.  I don’t deny the bill is a complex document and demands close reading to understand its intent and structure.  Hopefully, those commenting on the bill will have read it carefully before expressing support/opposition.  With this in mind, the following summarizes some of the ‘myths’ that plague reasonable debate on this issue in the expectation that all will arrive at a better understanding of this critical piece of legislation.

IMPACT FEES WILL STOP DEVELOPMENT:   Clearly such a statement can’t be supported in light of the rampant development that has occurred in so many communities that already have adopted impact fees as a vehicle for infrastructure funding.  In fact, the creation of effective planning, which such an ordinance generates, has increased/enhanced development rather than stopped it.

IMPACT FEES ARE HARMFUL TO CONSTRUCTION JOBS:  On the contrary, impact fees paid up front and used as a funding resource for County infrastructure would permit more projects, especially in difficult economic times.  Unions in particular have welcomed impact fees in mainland communities.  Job creation is increased if impact fee monies are available for County use to promote projects.

ADOPTION OF BILL 304 WILL CAUSE INDIVIDUAL LOT OWNERS TO STOP BUILDING THEIR HOMES:   Adoption of the bill could add a cost for all construction.  But each home does cause some impact.  However, Section 36-10 of the bill specifically allows a qualified lot owner the option to have the County pre-pay the impact fee.  The prepayment, interest free, becomes a lien on the property and is repaid only at time of sale of the property or when the home ceases to be the principal residence of the lot owner.  For most individual lot owners, no impact fees would be paid at time of construction.

THE IMPACT FEE ON A SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCE IS TOO LARGE:    Bill 304 establishes five categories for impact fee assessment based on the square footage of the home.  This is not a ‘one size fits all’ program.  Further, the proposed bill sets the fee at approximately 50% of the amount currently charged in the so-called ‘fair share program’.  That figure can also be adjusted by Council at regular intervals, as is done in all mainland communities with an impact fee ordinance.  Finally, the collection of fees is based on infrastructure projects that are approved on the County’s Capital Improvement Project list.  If a project is not on the list, impact fees for that category of infrastructure cannot be collected (per State law).

THE IMPACT FEE ORDINANCE ONLY COLLECTS 50% OF THE CURRENT “FAIR SHARE SYSTEM”   The current ‘fair share system’ is certainly not fair.  The County collects only a fraction of what is assessed, leaving little to complete any project.  Further, ‘fair share’ does not assess commercial or industrial construction, only residential units are assessed.  Bill 304 would correct this obvious unfair situation and, without doubt, would increase the County infrastructure funds almost immediately.  Finally, if the percentage assessed is considered too low or too high, change it in Council.  Nothing prohibits such flexibility.

I’VE PAID PROPERTY TAXES FOR YEARS ON MY VACANT LOT. WHY MUST I NOW PAY AN IMPACT FEE?   The impact fee is assessed because the construction of a residence/business has a direct influence on the County’s infrastructure.  A vacant lot has no such influence.  However, State law (HRS 46-143(d)(5) does allow that property taxes collected over the previous five years can be credited against the impact fee assessment.  For example: if an individual lot owner paid $2,500 in property taxes in the previous five years ($500 per year), the impact fee assessment could be reduced by that amount.

WHAT ABOUT PAYING FOR ROADS OR OTHER FACILITIES IN PRIVATE SUBDIVISIONS?  No.  Impact fees can only be assessed if the facility is listed on the Capital Improvement Project (CIP) list.  No project – no fee!!  The County does not approve private roads or other private facilities for funding.  These projects cannot appear on the CIP.

IF ADOPTED, DOES BILL 304 MEAN I HAVE TO PAY AN IMPACT FEE IF I WANT TO ADD A LANAI?   No.  Impact fees are assessed only when new construction to an existing home results in an additional dwelling unit, i.e. bedroom and cooking facility.  The addition of a garage, dining area, lanai, dog house, etc. does not trigger impact fees.

ADOPTING AN IMPACT FEE WILL CAUSE A SIGNIFICANT ADDITION IN COUNTY STAFFING: Simply not true. That hasn’t been the case in other municipalities that have impact fees.  Computers do most of the work, and while one or two individuals will likely be charged with periodic work on the implementation of the program, experience shows that no community has had to dramatically expand resources to operate the system.  The additional funds obtained more than adequately pays for any increase or software expenditures.

Pete Hoffman

Shangri-La Vacation Rental in Kapoho Up For Sale

MacArthur & Company | Sotheby’s International Realty is the listing agency in charge of the world-renowned vacation property known as Shangri-La located on Kapoho Beach in Hawaii. The exclusive vacation rental has been ranked as the ninth best Luxury Villa in the world by Islands Magazine. Movie producer Steven Spielberg’s chose Shangri-La for his own residence when filming the last “Indiana Jones” movie in 2008. The magazine also chose the property as an Editor’s Pick for being one of ten best Island Villas on the planet.

The extraordinary property, simply coined as “Shangri-La” by some of the world’s most affluent travelers, sits amongst the ranks of other famous destination resorts such as Necker Island. MacArthur & Company | Sotheby’s International Realty has the vacation rental property listed for $1,625,000.00. The property is conveniently located within thirty-minutes from Hilo International Airport.

The gated property is surrounded by volcanic rock walls and has four separate, yet contiguous, enchanting parcels nestled within coconut tree landscape. The celebrated structures include The Round House, The Tea House Bungalow, The Floating Balinese Sleeping Hut, and the Main Hale. Shangri-La exhibits astonishing extravagance with features like natural fresh and salt water bathing lagoons, which are also perfect for swimming and snorkeling. These therapeutic lagoons are heated via geothermal vents. As a result, the water constantly remains at an average temperature of ninety-two degrees. The property is also home to thousands of beautiful, tropical fish who compliment an atmosphere of sultry isolation.

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MacArthur & Company | Sotheby’s International Realty is excited to list this multi-million dollar Hawaiian property. The company understands this half an acre resort will not be listed for long as buyers seeking decadence and tranquility will find both the property’s opulent features and price attractive. Prospect buyers can utilized MacArthur & Company | Sotheby’s International Realty’s interactive website to gain further information on the Shangri-La property. The company’s website is a one-of-a-kind innovative tool recognized by Inman News. Visitors will find the site’s mortgage calculator, agent identification with user registration, comprehensive MLS, and seamless property listing options (Gallery, List view, and GoogleEarth3D) tools help present this, and other Hawaiian properties, in the most realistic, virtual light possible. As a bonus, the website features elevation, an important factor when considering property in Hawaii.

MacArthur & Company was established in1989, the company’s partnership with Sotheby’s International Realty combines over fifty years of experience with worldwide marketing and networking resources. MacArthur & Company | Sotheby’s International Realty is celebrated for providing consumers with an extraordinary experience when purchasing a home in Hawaii.

More information on Shangri-La and MacArthur & Company | Sotheby’s International Realty can be obtained by visiting http://www.BigIslandRealE.com

Solar Parking Lot Lighting Project for Kona Airport Completed

SEPCO recently completed a solar parking lot lighting project for the Kona Airport in Hawaii. These systems consisted of solar power assemblies to power dark sky approved low pressure sodium light fixtures required by a lighting ordinance for the telescopes at the nearby observatory. Instead of traditional electric low pressure sodium lights, SEPCO was able to offer an immediate cost feasible, solar powered green alternative. This helps the airport save on utility costs while also helping to preserve the beautiful Hawaiian environment.

Solar Parking Lot Security and Wildlife Enhancement

Solar Parking Lot Security and Wildlife Enhancement

The 32 systems are installed on multiple long term parking lot areas. They are sized to run dusk to dawn, through five days of inclement weather. Every system features vandal and theft resistant battery placement and are rated for 150 mph wind load ratings. The systems provide security for travelers returning on late flights to proceed to their vehicles, while minimizing effects on local wildlife such as sea turtles and birds such as the shearwater, by reducing light pollution by using cutoff optics and the 55 Watt low pressure sodium lamp.

While SEPCO mass produces solar power assemblies for multiple applications, these assemblies can be configured to provide remote power to many different lighting and power requirements. SEPCO used the Hubbell Lighting Oakland fixture for this project in conjunction with our solar power assemblies.