USS Hawaii Returns to Pearl Harbor

Friends and families of the crew from the USS Hawaii (SSN 776) gathered at the submarine piers to welcome back the Virginia-class submarine as she returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific region, Nov. 20.

Commander Rogeness of the USS CHEYENNE and I in front of the USS Cheyenne Submarine when I got to tour the sub in Pearl Harbor

“It was an honor and privilege to sail with these warriors, ambassadors and Sailors, taking the war canoe on her second Western Pacific deployment, “said Cmdr. Stephan G. Mack, USS Hawaii commanding officer. “We are very proud of them for their accomplishments.”

During the deployment, Hawaii accomplished tasking in support of theatre and national interests and participated in two combined anti-submarine warfare exercises.

Hawaii also conducted several port visits that strengthened relationships with key regional allies, including Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines throughout her six months away from Pearl Harbor. While in the foreign ports, the crew experienced different cultures and participated in social events with their host ships.

Mack said the crew of 137 performed flawlessly in all respects in the six month deployment. They were also highly successful in the area of professional development with 24 Sailors having earned their submarine qualification or “Dolphins” and many returning to homeport advanced to the next higher pay grade.

“Deployment exposed all Hawaii Sailors to the dynamic operational environment of the Western Pacific, enabling all hands to achieve more senior qualification and gain valuable at sea experience,” said Mack. “The experience we gained operating Hawaii for six months forward-deployed, away from shore-based support, demonstrates our capability for extended operations, our commitment to distant friends, and the flexibility, endurance, and mobility of these mighty warships.”

For 57 of the 137 Sailors on board, this was their first deployment experience according to Mack. Sonar Technician Submarines Seaman Craig Parazak describes the deployment as eye opening and something that he has a new found respect for.

“It was the hardest work that I have ever had to do, but very rewarding,” said Parazak.

Mack said the submarine’s return home from deployment back to family and friends was made even better by their return to the beautiful island of Hawaii.

“There is nothing better than being on the Hawaii in Hawaii,” said Mack.

Hawaii is the first commissioned vessel of its name. The submarine was named to recognize the tremendous support the Navy has enjoyed from the people and state of Hawaii, and in honor of the rich heritage of submarines in the Pacific.

Kona Movie Theater Robbed

Big Island police are investigating a burglary at a movie theater complex in Kailua-Kona.

Makalapua Stadium Cinemas

Sometime between 2:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. Monday (November 19), an unknown person or persons entered the Makalapua Stadium Cinemas complex on Kamakaeha Street and removed cash and electronic devices.

Police ask that anyone with information about the identity of the burglar or burglars call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Two Men and A Woman Arrested in Connection With Hilo Gambling Operation

Thanks to tips from the public, Hawaiʻi Island police arrested two men and a woman Tuesday (November 20) in connection with a gambling investigation in Hilo.

At approximately 9:45 a.m., Vice Section officers from Area I and II, Community Policing officers and South Hilo Patrol officers executed a search warrant at Pay Day Loans/Internet Café, located at 133 Makaʻala Street in Hilo. The search warrant was the result of an ongoing investigation using undercover officers and tips from the public, which helped corroborate suspected gambling activities at that location.

While executing the search warrant, officers seized 15 suspected gambling devices, suspected gambling records and an undisclosed sum of cash.

Serena Valenzuela

Officers arrested 40-year-old Serena Valenzuela of Pāhoa, 26-year-old Davin Maballo of Honolulu and 60-year-old Samuel Maballo of Keaʻau, all on suspicion of promoting gambling. They were later released pending further investigation.

The Hawaiʻi Police Department thanks the public for providing tips and information that assisted police with the disruption of this suspected illegal gambling operation.

Kona Coffee Fest Names Company Label and Website Winners

The 13th annual Kona Coffee Label & Website Competition awarded companies that market Kona coffee with top-notch packaging—whether it’s on the bag or on the Internet.

Hosted by Kamehameha Investment Corporation (KIC), the contest fosters “truth in labeling” and is a highlight of the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. Winners of both contests earned ribbons and cash.

Taking first place among 29 entries in the label division was Pu’u Nani Farms of Kailua-Kona

Followed by two second place winners: Makahiki Farms of Captain Cook

and Wakefield & Sons of Kealakekua.

Placing third was Kona Rising Coffee Company of Kealakekua

The People’s Choice Award went to Ohana Harbor Coffee Company of Holualoa. Piko 2 Piko of Kailua-Kona and Hualalai Harvest of Holualoa were tied for the Sponsors Award.

Copy and graphics with a strong identity to Kona coffee are the major criteria for judging labels. Educating the consumer as to what makes Kona Coffee so special is a plus while complying with state label laws. The website contest is similarly judged but requires sites be dedicated to the promotion of Kona coffee only, with a strong emphasis on Kona. The order process must be simple and have a secure system.

Nearly 25 coffee companies entered the website division and Kuaiwi Farm of Captain Cook took first place; Halama Farms of Holualoa earned second place; and Buddha’s Cup of Holualoa and Konaloha Coffee Company of Eureka, Calif. were tied for third place. Rancho Aloha of Holualoa was tapped with the Sponsors Award. The winning websites can be found at www.kuaiwifarm.com, www.halamafarms.com, www.buddhascup.com, www.konaloha.com and www.ranchoaloha.com.

“Kamehameha Investment Corporation continues to support our hard-working coffee farmers who best market their product—and the coveted Kona brand—with effective and attractive labels and websites,” says Valery O’Brien, KIC marketing director.

Competing coffee labels and websites were displayed at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay during the recent Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

Big Island Police Searching for 43-Year-Old Man Wanted for Bench Warrant and Questioning

Big Island police are looking for a 43-year-old man wanted on a bench warrant and for questioning.

Michael Torres

Michael Torres, who has no permanent address, is wanted on a $20,000 bench warrant for violating probation. He is also wanted for questioning in connection with a drug case and an unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle case.

He is described as 5-foot-9, 300 pounds with brown eyes and black and gray hair.

Police alert the public not to contact or approach Torres. Instead, anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Ho, Ho, Ho! Volcano Comedy Show!

Back by popular demand, Volcano Art Center is reuniting the best in local entertainment for a new comedy showcase with a holiday twist.

“Ho, Ho, Ho! Volcano Comedy Show!” will feature a hilarious lineup of the Big Island’s most amusing merry-makers to brighten your spirits and leave you laughing all the way ho–ho–home. With two side-splitting shows to choose from, there’s enough festive fun for everyone this holiday season.

Tickets are on sale now for the evening performance on Saturday, December 15 at 6:30pm and the matinee on Sunday, December 16 at 2:00pm. Tickets may be purchased in person or over the phone at (808) 967-8222 for $12 or $10 for VAC members.

“Ho, Ho, Ho! Volcano Comedy Show!” will be held at VAC’s Niaulani Campus located at 19-4074 Old Volcano Road in Volcano Village. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime and both shows are expected to sell out early. For more information, visit www.volcanoartcenter.org .

[youtube=http://youtu.be/RbEViCmr3XI]

Big Island Police Searching for 20-Year-Old Wanted on Nine Bench Warrants

Big Island police are looking for a 20-year-old man wanted on nine bench warrants.

Michael Alameda

Michael Alameda is wanted for eight bench warrants for contempt of court with bail totaling $2,200. He is also wanted on a no-bail warrant for violation of probation.

He is described as 5-foot-7, 130 pounds with brown eyes and short black hair. He may be in the South Kohala area and he may be operating a primer gray/black 1991 Honda Accord, license plate NNU 454.

Police alert the public not to contact or approach him.

Instead, anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Vote for Your Favorite Student Film by November 26

Eleven short films created by island students for the park’s Digital Mountain Film Festival are ready for viewing and voting on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/DigitalMountain2012?feature=watch. Each film is approximately three minutes in length.

Eleven films were entered. Click for more details.

The last day to vote is Mon., Nov. 26. Send votes to Park Ranger Kūpono McDaniel by email at kupono_mcdaniel@nps.gov.

The public is also invited to attend the fourth annual Digital Mountain Film Festival, held at the park’s Kīlauea Visitor Center on Sat., Dec. 1. A potluck celebration starts at 5:30 p.m. (please bring a dish), and the film festival gets underway at 6 p.m. Winners, who have a chance to win Mac laptop computers and digital cameras, will be announced at the festival.

“It’s very inspirational and enlightening to see how our island youth perceive Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. They understand the park isn’t just for tourists but is their park, too. I hope everyone has a chance to vote for their favorite film and come and celebrate our talented youth at the film festival,” McDaniel said.

This project was made possible in part by a grant from the National Park Foundation through the generous support of L.L. Bean, Disney, the Anschutz Foundation, and the Ahmanson Foundation.

Additional help, funding, and support comes from the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and the Big Island Film Office.

For more information, contact Ranger Kūpono McDaniel at 985-6015 or by email at kupono_mcdaniel@nps.gov, and visit the festival’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DigitalMountainFilmFestival.

Federal Jury Convicts Honolulu Man For Indoor Marijuana Operation

On November 16, 2012, a federal jury found Chico Martines, age 36, guilty of conspiracy to manufacture and cultivate more than 100 marijuana plants after a five-day trial. According to information produced in court, Martines was growing marijuana indoors on the second floor of a commercial establishment in Honolulu. Martines was acquitted of a second marijuana charge.

Chico Martines

United States Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni said that Martines, a Honolulu resident, faces up to life imprisonment for his convictions, with a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years due to his having a prior methamphetamine trafficking conviction, when he is sentenced on March 4, 2013.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State of Hawaii Narcotics Enforcement Division and the Honolulu Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Muehleck handled the prosecution.

Obama Nominates Hawaiian to Serve as Federal Judge for U.S. District Court for District of Hawaii

President Barack Obama nominated Derrick Kahala Watson to serve as a federal judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii.

Upon Senate confirmation, Watson will fill a vacancy left by U.S. District Judge David Ezra who took senior status on June 27, 2012.

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus says Watson will be the only person of Native Hawaiian descent serving as an Article III judge, and only the fourth to serve in U.S. history.

Watson went to Harvard University after graduating in 1984 from the Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu, a private school system primarily attended by native Hawaiians.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in 1988 and earned his law degree there three years later.

Watson joined the San Francisco firm of Landels, Ripley & Diamond as an associate in 1991. He then worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of California from 1995 to 2000, serving as deputy chief of the Civil Division.  Returning to the private sector, Watson next joined Farella Braun & Martel in San Francisco and became a partner there in 2003.  Watson next started as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Hawaii in 2007, becoming chief of the office’s Civil Division in 2009.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii had 1,697 new case filings in 2011 and currently has one vacancy.

Watson will earn a salary of $174,000 per year.