Governor Abercrombie Appoints Annelle Amaral to Hawaii Paroling Authority

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment of Annelle C. Amaral to the Hawaii Paroling Authority, effective immediately.

Annelle Amaral

Annelle Amaral

The interim appointment fills a new seat in compliance with Act 139 of the 2012 Legislature, which increased Hawaii Paroling Authority members from three to five. Subject to state Senate confirmation, Amaral’s term will expire June 30, 2015.

“Annelle’s breadth of experience is as impressive as it is diverse, ranging from state Legislator to Native Hawaiian cultural liaison to motorpatrol officer, all of which will provide valuable insight and the necessary perspective critical to her duties on the Hawaii Paroling Authority,”said Gov. Abercrombie.

From 1988 to 1996, Amaral served in the state House of Representatives, where she served as Majority Floor Leader, vice chair of the Judiciary and Housing Committees, and chair of the Women’s Legislative Caucus.

For more than a decade, Amaral has provided community facilitation, strategic planning and community coordination for a wide range of government agencies, businesses and organizations. From 2008 until recently, she worked as a Native Hawaiian liaison to the Garrison Commander, U.S. Army Hawaii, providing information, coordination and direction on matters relating to Army and Native Hawaiian concerns.

Previously, Amaral was director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Hawaii from 2002 to 2008, as well as special projects coordinator on projects relating to domestic violence for Legal Aid Society of Hawaii from 1999 to 2001.

During the Ariyoshi Administration, Amaral coordinated the Governor’s Executive Order for the Affirmative Action program on a statewide basis, provided technical assistance to departments in the executive branch and served as a liaison with federal compliance agencies. She also worked as a coordinator for the Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a program administrator for YWCA Hawaii, an assistant administrator for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a motorpatrol officer for the Honolulu Police Department, and a private investigator.

Amaral is a former state Senate President-appointed member of the Hawaii State Judicial Selection Commission; first vice president of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Oahu Council; and board member of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. She is a past president and founder of Ahahui Siwila Hawaii O Kapolei; past chair of the Oahu County Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawaii; former chair and member of the Hawaii Coalition Against Sexual Assault; and past chair of the Women’s Legislative Coalition.

Her extensive accolades include being the Women’s History Month Honoree of the State Commission on the Status of Women (2011), as well as the recipient of the Patsy T. Mink Award of Excellence (2009), Lei Hulu Mamo Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Hawaiian Business Association (1999), Legislator of the Year from the Hawaii Psychological Association (1991), and Officer of the Year from the International Association of Women Police Officers (1981).

Amaral, who resides in Honolulu, earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Dayton, Ohio.


Update on the Investigation of Body Found Along Bayfront Highway in Hilo

Hawaiʻi Island police continue to requests the public’s assistance in a murder investigation following the discovery of a body along Bayfront Highway in Hilo.


Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section and an evidence specialist continued processing the scene Sunday morning (December 30) and recovered evidence, which will be sent to a forensic lab for analysis.

Bayfront Highway was opened shortly after 10 a.m. after being closed in both directions overnight while detectives investigated the incident, which is classified as a second-degree murder.

Detectives are also reviewing videos from various businesses and establishments along Kamehameha Avenue.

Investigators also want to interview fishermen who frequent the Bayfront area, which is a popular location for shoreline fishing, and who may have left before police could contact them. In addition, police are asking that motorists or pedestrians call police if they were in the area and witnessed a confrontation near a silver or light-colored vehicle that was parked on the makai shoulder of the highway just makai of the Moʻoheau ball field.

On Saturday (December 29) at about 8:47 p.m., police received a number of calls of possible gunshots heard in the area of Moʻoheau Park in Hilo. Responding officers discovered an unresponsive male victim with apparent gunshot wounds.

Faafetai Fiu, 32, of Hilo was identified as the victim. He was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

No arrests have been made in this investigation.

An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday morning to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask that anyone with information or who may have witnessed this incident contact Detective Robert Almeida at 961-2386 or or Detective Norbert Serrao at 961-2383

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.

Why the Honolulu Airport is Named the John Rodgers Airport

Here is the reason why the Honolulu Airport is named the John Rodgers Airport.

Commander John Rodgers

…On August 31, 1925 at 2:55 p.m., Commander John Rodgers and his crew left San Pablo Bay, San Francisco in Navy PN-9 No. 1 to attempt the first flight across the Pacific Ocean from the Mainland U.S. to Hawaii.  The plane was forced to land in the ocean at 4:15 p.m. September 1 after running out of fuel about 365 miles from Oahu.

After three days of waiting to be picked up, the heroic crew crafted sails from the wings of the plane and sailed toward Hawaii.  Their food supply was exhausted after the third day and their water ran out on the sixth day at sea.  On the tenth day, they spotted Kauai.  Ten miles off shore they encountered a submarine which towed them safely into Ahukini Harbor and a heroes welcome.  The 1,841.12 statute miles flown from August 31 to their forced landing on September 1 was accepted by the F.A. I. as a new world airline distance record for Class C seaplanes that remained unbeaten for almost five years.

John Rodgers Airport was dedicated March 21, 1927.  The principal speaker at the dedication was the Honorable E. P. Warner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  The field was named in honor of the late Commander John Rodgers, who had been Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor from 1923 to 1925, when he left to command the Navy’s historical flight between the West Coast and Hawaii…

Two years before Lindbergh flies non-stop across the Atlantic, man and machine attempt this same daring feat across the Pacific resulting in a dramatically different outcome.




2012 Year in Review – My Adventures This Year

Well once again the year is coming to an end and I like to thank everyone for reading my site and making it one of the more well known sites here on the Big Island.  A lot has happened this year… I haven’t been quite as busy as previous years as I made a commitment to myself to cut back on some things every now and then.

So here is a list of my top 10 adventures of 2012:

10. Getting a chance to meet world famous muralist Wyland at the Hawaii Conservation Conference and watching him paint a mural with children of Hawaii was pretty cool.

Wyland and Child

Wyland helps a child with a mural

9. During the Merrie Monarch, I was invited by the US NAVY to check out  Merrie Monarch Royal Court Visiting the USS Crommelin and that was cool because I’d never been on a NAVY ship while it’s been here on the Big Island.

Merrie Monarch Royalty boards the ship

Merrie Monarch Royalty boards the ship

8.  Sam Choy had his First Ever Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest this was a great event, however, sadly this would be the last time I saw my friend Guy Toyama who won in a category.

The late Guy Toyama shows off his award winning Abalone Poke.

The late Guy Toyama shows off his award winning Abalone Poke.

7.  I’ve been fortunate enough to cover the Na Hoku Hanohano Music Awards the last few years and the Big Island did well again at the  2012 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

Graphics Award Winner Kuhao ZaneKUHAO ZANE AND KAMELE ESKARAN, for KAUNALOA, Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Graphics Award Winner Kuhao Zane and Kamele Eskaran for Kaunaloa (Kuana Torres Kahele)

6. My son and his cousins got a chance to Swim With the Dolphins at the Hilton Waikoloa Village and that was real special for them.

Hayden and some of his cousins.

Hayden and some of his cousins.

5. Having an opportunity to cover Big Island Film Festival the last few years has always been special.  You never know who you will bump into!

Huffington Post blogger Jennifer Grisanti, Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Actress Eloise Mumford (The River)

Huffington Post blogger Jennifer Grisanti, Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Actress Eloise Mumford (The River)

4.  I got to go Skydiving…. AGAIN with Skydive Hawaii and every time I do this it’s an adrenaline rush!



3. During the RIMPAC exercises, the USS Essex was based off the Big Island and I got to take an LCAC out to ship where I witnessed a MAN OVERBOARD and a Sailor Fall Off the Navy Ship USS Essex During RIMPAC Exercises

The LCAC Hovercraft that transported me out to the USS Essex.

The LCAC Hovercraft that transported me out to the USS Essex.

2. Visiting the USNS Mercy for the second time was quite an experience as they flew us out there in a helicopter and then we got to travel back in with the ship and watch as the Sailors Manned the Rails of USNS Mercy as they were coming into Pearl Harbor.

The sailors pay their respect to the USS Arizona Memorial

The sailors pay their respect to the USS Arizona Memorial

And the number ONE adventure and/or experience I had in 2012, was getting a chance to hear and meet His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama of Tibet and he actually held my hand!

Yep... that's me on the far right in this picture. Go figure... even His Holiness the Dalai Lama has more hair then me!  (Photo courtesy of Dallas Nagata White)

Yep… that’s me on the far right in this picture. Go figure… even His Holiness the Dalai Lama has more hair then me! (Photo courtesy of Dallas Nagata White)


Big Island Police Launch Murder Investigation After Body Found Along Bayfront Highway

Hawaii Island police have launched a murder investigation after the discovery of a body along the Bayfront Highway in Hilo.

On Saturday (December 29) at about 8:47 p.m., police received a number of calls of possible gunshots heard in the area of Moʻoheau Park in Hilo. Responding officers discovered an unresponsive male victim with apparent gunshot wounds.

Police have positively identified the victim as 32 year-old Faafetai Fiu of Hilo.

The suspect in this investigation remains at large.

The Bayfront Highway was closed to traffic from Pauahi Street to Waianuenue Avenue while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section responded and are continuing the investigation, which is classified as a second-degree murder. The highway is expected to remain closed throughout Sunday. Traffic is being routed onto Kamehameha Avenue into Downtown Hilo.

An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday morning to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask that anyone with information or who may have witnessed this incident contact Detective Robert Almeida at 961-2386 or or Detective Norbert Serrao at 961-2383

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.


Operation Spartan Fury Conducted at Pohakuloa Training Area

Marines from the 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, of Oahu recently took a visit to Hawaii’s Big Island to conduct mortar training.

PTA Mortar Fire

Tech. Sgt. Michael Jackson brings us the story.


Governor Abercrombie Appoints Judge Dean Ochiai to First Circuit Court

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment of District Court Judge Dean E. Ochiai to the Hawaii First Circuit Court.

Judge Dean E. Ochiai

Judge Dean E. Ochiai

Judge Ochiai, 57, will fill a vacancy left by Judge Richard Pollack, who became Associate Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court. Ochiai’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

In 2011, Judge Ochiai was appointed by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald to the District Court of the First Circuit, where he has adjudicated criminal and civil cases relating to misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor crimes against persons, property and status offenses, traffic laws, restraining orders, regular and small claims civil matters, and landlord-tenant matters.

“Judge Ochiai has tried 39 jury trials, more than 300 non-jury trials, arbitrations, mediations and settlements, and he has also supervised and monitored more than 2,000 civil actions,”said Gov. Abercrombie. “I am confident that his extensive and diverse experience will provide a well-rounded perspective to his judicial duties at Circuit Court.”

“I am very humbled by the Governor’s trust in me to become the next Circuit Court judge from a strong field of candidates,”said Judge Ochiai. “I will do my best to be fair, impartial, and to treat those who appear before me with dignity and respect.”

Prior to being a judge, Ochiai was vice president and managing attorney for the First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. from 1991 to 2011 and senior trial attorney for the City and County of Honolulu Department of the Corporation Counsel from 1988 to 1991. Ochiai also worked as an associate attorney for Damon Key Char and Bocken from 1984 to 1988 and Honolulu deputy prosecuting attorney from 1981 to 1984.

In 2004, Judge Ochiai was appointed to the Hawaii Supreme Court Attorneys Disciplinary Board, which is responsible for conducting hearings on attorney disciplinary complaints, fact-finding, and recommending sanctions, if applicable, to the Hawaii Supreme Court. In 2007, he was appointed to the board’s executive committee.

He earned his B.B.A. degree with distinction from the University of Hawaii College of Business Administration and his J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

Ochiai was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1980, as well as the United States Supreme Court, United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United State District Courts for the Districts of Hawaii and Northern California.

Judge Ochiai resides in Honolulu with his wife, Rene, and daughter, Ellie.


Waimea Ocean Film Festival Opens January 3 – Ocean Experience, Ocean Environment, Island Culture

The Waimea Ocean Film Festival (Ocean Film) offers a stellar lineup of films and special guests January 3-11, 2013.  The festival headlines several TEDx and TED global speakers; world, US and Hawai’i premieres; plus a non-stop schedule of 39 stunning and thought-provoking films, breakfast talks and special cultural exhibits and events.

Waimea Ocean Film Festival Page

The festival runs at multiple venues in Waimea and the Kohala Coast before moving to Four Seasons Resort Hualalai January 7.

Find a festival program guide listing all films, talks and activities at

Festival passes are on sale now online or by calling the festival office at 808.854.6095.  Passes will be for sale and available for pickup, along with program guides, at the festival’s hospitality desks January 2-6 at Kahilu Theatre and January 7-11 at the Ballroom Foyer at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

Film presenters and guest speakers headlining the festival include:

  • Jon Shenk, director of The Island President
  • Louie Schwartzberg, director of Hidden Beauty/Wings of Life and the video Gratitude
  • Jeff Orlowski, director, and Paula DuPré Pesman, producer, of Chasing Ice
  • Producer/director Phil Arnone of KGMB’s Duke Kahanamoku: Hawai‘i’s Soul and  IZ-The Man Behind the Music
  • M. Sanjayan, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy and CBS environment and science contributor
  • Noah Idechong, Speaker of the House of the Palau National Congress and former chief of   Palau’s Division of Marine Resources
  • Bradford Schmidt, creative director of GoPro

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel are offering discounted rates to attendees purchasing a festival pass.

The Waimea Ocean Film Festival thanks all 2013 Film Festival partners: GoPro, SanDisk Foundation, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, The Fairmont Orchid, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Hapuna Prince Resort, the Matson Foundation, Blacksand Sound and Show, Kona MacNet, West Hawaii Today, Maria Peterson Catering, Island Girl Eats, All About Chocolate, Big Island Weekly, Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA), Big Island Brewhaus, Redwater Cafe, Parker School, Merrimans, gaiacreative, The Computer Doctor, Ke Ola Magazine, Joe Fagundes III (Kona Law), Maile Charters, Blue Wilderness Dive Adventures and Starbucks Coffee.

For the latest updates on films and speakers, follow the festival on Facebook,, or visit



Big Island Police Searching for California Man Reported Missing and Last Seen in Hilo

Hawaiʻi County police are searching for a 31-year-old California man who was reported missing.

Yogi Yoswara

Yogi Yoswara

Yogi Yoswara was last seen in Hilo at 9 p.m. on December 19.

He is described as 5-foot-7, 140 pounds with short black hair and brown eyes.

Police ask that anyone with information on his whereabouts 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


Siren at Hakalau in North Hilo Replaced

The siren at Hakalau in North Hilo, on Highway 19 just north of mile marker 15 near Chin Chuck Road, has been replaced. The old siren was removed after being rendered unusable as a result of a traffic accident in 2011.

The new Hakalau siren

The new Hakalau siren

A final inspection was completed yesterday to verify the installation and function of the new siren. The new Hakalau siren will better serve the area with enhanced range capability, and increased reliability as a result of electronic activation and photovoltaic panels and batteries to maintain constant power to the siren.

The new siren is mounted on a composite pole, making it more resistant to deterioration caused by the elements or termites.

Hawai‘i County Civil Defense thanks the public for their cooperation and understanding during Thursday’s test of the Hakalau siren. As a reminder, the monthly Emergency Alert System and Siren Warning System test will take place as normally scheduled on the first working day of the month, Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 11:45 a.m.


Centenarian Life in Hawaii

According to the 2010 Hawaii Census Count, Hawaii has 306 folks over the age of 100 years old.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Puna has at least one of them in Saramae Williams Landers!

Saramae Williams Landers, of Pahoa. Hawaii Islands Oldest Resident

Saramae Williams Landers, of Pahoa. Hawaii Islands Oldest Resident

For every 100,000 residents in Hawaii, there are 20 people over the age of 100 years of age compared to on the mainland where there is only 10 people over the age of 100 per 100,000 people according to a USC Doctor that did a study on Centenarians in Hawaii.


Here is a video about the study done by Dr. Murali D. Nair, Clinical Professor at the University of Southern California that attempts to explain this phenomena


Public Meetings Set on Keauhou Bay Survey of Available Moorings

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) will hold two public information meetings in Kona on Monday, Jan. 7, to discuss findings of its survey of Keauhou Bay moorings and locations, as well as other boating issues in West Hawaii.

Keauhou Bay

Keauhou Bay

The survey was conducted by consultant firm Sea Engineering in December and found that outdated moorings in the bay need to be replaced. The meeting will cover DOBOR engineers’ plans to replace them and add new mooring systems to the bay.

The first meeting, from 3 to 5 p.m.., is exclusively for current offshore permit-holders who have moorings in the bay. DOBOR staff will discuss the findings of the survey and how to move forward with new moorings and permits. The meeting will be held at the Honokohau Small Boat Harbor conference room, 74-380 Kealakehe Parkway, Kailua-Kona.

The second meeting, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will serve to inform the general public and boating community about the mooring project, and provide an update on repairs to tsunami-damaged recreational boating facilities, as well as general improvements to state small harbor facilities. The meeting will be held at the Hawaii Big Game Fishing Club, 74-380 Kealakehe Parkway, Kailua Kona. For more information, contact the DOBOR West Hawaii district office at (808) 327-3685.

HI-PAL Hope Chapel 3-on-3 Basketball Jam

The Hawaiʻi Police Activities League (HI-PAL) will have its 23rd annual “HI-PAL Hope Chapel 3-on-3 Basketball Jam” in Kona over the weekend of January 19-21.
Sign-ups are being accepted now through Friday, January 11.

Division are as follows: 5/6, 7/8, 9/10, 11/12, 13/14, Girls 12-under, Girls 14-under. Team rosters are limited to five players.

Due to the limited space available, teams will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. All interested teams should call the West Hawaiʻi HI-PAL office at 326-4646, extension 258, Officer Randy Morris at 936-2789, or the Hilo HI-PAL office at 961-2220 as soon as possible.


Shan Tsutsui Accepts Lieutenant Governor Position

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced that former state Senate President Shan S. Tsutsui has accepted the position of Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, effective immediately under the order of succession. The office was vacated yesterday by the appointment of former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to the U.S. Senate.

Shan S. Tsutsui

“Shan’s acceptance reflects this administration’s commitment to represent all the people of Hawaii as a statewide community, not one that is Oahu-centric,”said Gov. Abercrombie. “As demonstrated during his time in the Legislature and most recently as Senate President, Shan is extremely effective in bringing various parties together to benefit all the people of Hawaii.”

“The decision to leave the state Senate was not a choice I made lightly, but I am eager to make a meaningful contribution to the future of Hawaii as Lt. Governor,”Tsutsui said. “There is much work to be done in the Senate, but I have full confidence in my colleagues at the Legislature. I look forward to working with them this session in my new role.”

Plans are underway to establish an additional Office of the Lt. Governor on Maui, expanding the office’s reach and accessibility to all island communities. The Office of the Lt. Governor will continue to conduct business in the State Capitol in Honolulu.

“In the past, Neighbor Island elected officials might have thought they had to move to Honolulu in order to serve,”Gov. Abercrombie said. “In my view, this may no longer be necessary, especially as technology brings us closer together and the state’s IT transformation plan affords greater opportunities to conduct state business from all islands.”

Tsutsui served as the 12th Senate President of Hawaii. He is the first Senate President from Maui as well as the youngest. Elected to the Senate in 2002 to represent Hawaii’s 4th senatorial district, his previous leadership positions included the Vice Chair of Ways and Means and Majority Caucus Leader.

Tsutsui graduated from Maui High School in 1989 and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Hawaii in 1994. He and his wife, Lyndelle Lee Tsutsui, reside on Maui with their three daughters, Mikayla, Kaylee and Kenna.


Rest In Peace – Susan Rowe Tucker (MOM)

Susan Rowe Tucker, 65, of Hilo, Hawaii, passed away on December 21, 2012 with her son at her side at the Hilo Medical Center.

Mom and I on my 40th Birthday.

Mom and I on my 40th Birthday.

A private family gathering is planned and her ashes will be spread at a later date.

Su was born in Lynden, Washington on MAY 1, 1947 and graduated from Punahou High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Su continued on in her education to receive a BA from Western Washington State College and a Masters Degree from Chapman University.

A Social Worker for many years, Su enjoyed spending time doing arts and crafts and swimming at the local YWCA. She was a strong advocate of supporting the Salvation Army and the Goodwill Industries.

Su is survived by her son Damon Tucker, grandson Hayden Makana Masafumi Konanui-Tucker, her older brother Michael Rowe of East Moriches, New York, younger brother Robert Rowe of Kauai, nieces Courtney, Allison and Whitney Rowe, nephew Logan Rowe as well as many folk she had “adopted” into her house over the years.

Su is preceded in death by her father Dr. Perry E. Rowe (Ted) and her mother Elizabeth Lane Rowe (Betty).

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the Salvation Army or Goodwill Industries.

Video: Brian Schatz is Sworn in as Hawaii’s New U.S. Senator


With Senator Akaka at his side, Vice President Joe Biden formally swore in Brian Schatz as Hawaii’s United States Senator, filling the seat left open by the passing of Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

Schatz Confirmed

After the swearing in, Senator Akaka made remarks in support of Senator Schatz.

Hawaii Entomologists Ramp Up Production of Moth to Control Toxic Fireweed

Hawaii ranchers are hopeful that a small beige-colored moth will be able to control the fireweed, an invasive plant that is toxic to livestock and has caused havoc on the state’s prime pasturelands. For more than 13 years, entomologists and researchers at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) have literally searched the world for a natural enemy of the weed that would be safe to release in Hawaii. The most promising turned out to be an insect called Secusio extensa (Arctiidae), the Madagascan Fireweed Moth, the larvae of which voraciously eats the leaves of fireweed.

Madagascan Fireweed Moth

Madagascan Fireweed Moth

It is believed that the weed came to the islands in hydromulch material imported from Australia where it is a serious pest. HDOA entomologists on Oahu have begun stepping up production of the moth after receiving the long-awaited approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which came on Dec. 6, 2012. The state approved the release of the moth in 2010, but also required approval of a federal permit.  The first release of the biocontrol insects is slated for early 2013, depending on the rearing of the insects in the laboratory.

“Years of extensive research have been conducted on this biocontrol program,” said Russell S. Kokubun, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.  “Control of this weed is one of the more important issues to Hawaii ranchers, and we are hopeful that it can be controlled by this natural process.”

Fireweed Plant

Fireweed Plant

“Fireweed has become an even more aggressive pest during this extended period of drought,” said
Dr. Tim Richards, president of Kahua Ranch on Hawaii Island. “So it’s even more critical to our industry’s sustainability that an effective control prevents additional loss of productive pasturelands.”

In 1999, HDOA began looking for a biological control for the pretty but deadly plant with yellow daisy-like flowers, also known as Madagascar Ragwort. It is estimated that the weed has infested more than 850,000 acres, mainly on Maui and Hawaii Island. Although there are effective pesticides, it is expensive and impractical to use across hundreds and thousands of acres.  Besides Hawaii, fireweed has spread through many parts of the world killing animals in Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Japan. Secusio will be the first biocontrol agent to be released against Madagascar fireweed in the world.

HDOA’s exploratory entomologist, Dr. Mohsen Ramadan, traveled to Australia, South Africa and Madagascar in 1999 and returned with 14 insects and one fungus, which were researched and tested under quarantine conditions.  Some were found to be ineffective, while others were found to harm other native or beneficial plants.  Dr. Ramadan traveled to the region again in 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2012 to look for more potential biocontrols for fireweed and other pests, such as coffee berry borer, small hive beetle and the protea mealybug.

Madagascan Fireweed Moth Larvae

Madagascan Fireweed Moth Larvae

Entomologists and staff in Honolulu were busy not only trying to keep the quarantined pests alive, but it also meant that they also had to grow the fireweed to host the moths.  HDOA is also testing four other potential natural enemies of fireweed, each which appear to attack different parts of the plant.

“Until now, we have been able to keep generations of this moth alive under quarantine conditions,” said Darcy Oishi, section chief of the Biocontrol Section. “We have now switched gears and begun to ramp up production to increase the chances of successful control of fireweed. With the support of the ranchers and others, we hope to release more than one million moths this year.”

“Biological control of pests can be the most efficient and cost-effective method to manage significant pests,” added Dr. Neil Reimer, manager of HDOA’s Plant Pest Control Branch.  “Since 1975, HDOA has released 51 biocontrol agents and all have been successful and none have been found to attack anything but the target pest or weed.”

“Fireweed has proven to be highly invasive and in certain areas has reduced the forage production by as much as 60 percent,” said Dr. Mark Thorne, state range specialist with the University of Hawaii – College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. “With the pending release of Secusio, ranchers will have a valuable tool that will help them recover some of the economic value of their pastures.”

Fireweed Flower

Fireweed Flower

Biological control, which utilizes natural plant enemies and/or diseases, is needed in natural and managed ecosystems as a tool for managing invasive plant species that are too widespread and expensive to control using herbicides and/or mechanical removal methods. Although challenging to implement, effective biocontrol can provide long-term, large-scale, highly selective control of otherwise prolific weeds. Current research methods thoroughly test potential biocontrol agents prior to release to ensure that they only attack the target weed and not other native or beneficial plants or animals.

Hawaii continues to be a leader in biocontrol of pests. The Kingdom of Hawaii was a world leader in biocontrol with successful introductions of a beetle to control cottony cushion scale in 1890. After Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900, biological control methods progressed with the introduction of several insect species to control lantana in 1902. Since then, researchers in Hawaii continue to be internationally recognized in biological control of weeds and plant pests and have collaborated with colleagues worldwide on the biological control of invasive weeds and pests such as miconia, fountain grass, banana poka, ivy gourd, gorse, wiliwili gall wasp and nettle caterpillar, among others.

Hawaii Department of Education Begins College and Career Readiness Assessments Beginning Next Spring

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today announced it will administer college and career readiness assessments to all middle and high school students statewide in grades 8, 9, 10 and 11 beginning next spring.


For the first time ever, the DOE will be able to comprehensively collect and examine college and career readiness data in reading, mathematics, science and English.

“By 2018, Hawaii will rank 10th in the nation in jobs requiring postsecondary degrees,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We are setting a high bar for achievement and delivering optimal tools and resources to accelerate our students’ trajectory toward college and career readiness. All high school graduates must complete a rigorous course of study and be prepared to successfully pursue their dreams, aspirations and goals.”

Starting in April 2013, more than 50,000 students annually will take the ACT EXPLORE test in grades 8 and 9, the PLAN exam in grade 10, and The ACT assessment in grade 11. The new ACT College and Career Readiness System is benchmarked to both the expectations of higher education institutions and workforce. It is also designed to help students plan for future education opportunities and explore careers based on their skills, interests and ambitions.

“The DOE’s decision to administer the ACT College and Career Readiness System for all students in 8 – 11th grades is evidence of their strong commitment to preparing students for postsecondary success,” said Karen Lee, Executive Director of Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education. “The data gathered from the assessments will be invaluable as we work together with institutions of higher education to reach the state’s goal of 55 percent of working age adults having a 2- or 4-year college degree in 2025.”

Schools, educators and youth will benefit from ACT programs and services that reduce the need for remediation, align with state standards, and foster student success in postsecondary education. ACT’s unique student-level assessment data may also be used by counselors to improve the effectiveness of student intervention plans.

“A systematic, statewide college and career readiness assessment system has been a critical need for schools to comprehensively measure and support students’ progress,” said Teri Ushijima, complex area superintendent for Aiea, Moanalua and Radford. “The ACT suite of assessments will serve as a key resource for the DOE to fulfill its strategic goal of ensuring all students are on a path toward success in college, career and citizenship.”

The DOE Systems Accountability Office is leading the implementation of the ACT College and Career Readiness System. ACT, Inc. was recently awarded a contract totaling approximately $882,000 for the system’s assessment package, programs, and services for school year 2012-13.

The DOE is aggressively addressing key statewide goals and strategies outlined in the BOE/DOE Strategic Plan. The ACT College and Career Readiness System will generate measurable and baseline data to ensure all students are gaining the academic skills they need to succeed on the K-12 pathway and throughout their lives.

For more information about the ACT test, log on to



RIP Sen. Dan Inouye – Big Island Memorial Services Being Held Now

The memorial services on the Big Island of Hawaii for Senator Dan Inouye have begun at the Hilo Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Inouye Ceremony

Viewing started at 12:00 noon and then at 1:00 the service began.

Inouye Cover

Here is what the program consisted of:

Inouye Program

Here is a look at the inside of the program:

Inouye Inside

Click to Enlarge

And this is the back of the cover with his famous last words:

Inouye Back

Department of Health to Hold Statewide Meetings to Discuss Mental Health Services

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Adult Mental Health Division (AMHD) is conducting a series of community focus group meetings to solicit input from communities and stakeholders statewide about AMHD services for adults with severe and persistent mental illness. Information gathered at the meetings will be used for developing plans for 2013 and beyond. The meetings are open to the public and will be held in every county from Jan. 9 through Feb. 20, 2013.

Department of Health

“Gathering input from community members about the mental health system in each county plays a critical role in the state’s planning process for improving services,” said Health Director Loretta J. Fuddy. “These sessions offer an important venue for the public to provide their thoughts and insights about mental health services where they live and work. We invite and encourage all community members to participate in these focus groups.”

Schedule of statewide meetings:

Maui (Wailuku), Jan. 9, 2013, 10 – 11:30 a.m., Cameron Center Auditorium, 95 Mahalani St., Wailuku, HI 96793

Hawaii (Hilo), Jan. 16, 2013, 10 – 11:30 a.m., Environmental Health Building Conference Room, 1582 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo 96720Page 2 DOH Holds Statewide Meetings to Discuss Mental Health Services

  • Oahu (Honolulu), Jan. 25, 2013, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., Lanakila Health Center Conference Room, 1700 Lanakila Ave., Honolulu, HI 96817
  • Hawaii (Kona), Jan. 28, 2013, 10 – 11:30 a.m., West Hawaii Civic Center Conference Room, 75-5044 Ane Keohokalole, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
  • Oahu (Leeward), Jan. 29, 2013, 2 – 3:30 p.m., Waipahu Aloha Clubhouse Conference Room, 94-091 Waipio Pt. Access Rd., Waipahu, HI 96797
  • Kauai (Lihue), Jan. 31, 2013, 2 – 3:30 p.m., Kauai District Health Office Conference Room, 3040 Umi St., Lihue, HI 96766
  • Lanai, Feb. 15, 2013, 10 – 11:30 a.m., Hale Kupono O Lanai Elderly Conference Room, Lanai City, HI 96763 (Tentative)
  • Molokai, Feb. 20, 2013, 10 – 11:30 a.m., Office of Hawaiian Affairs Conference Room, Kulana Oiwi Complex, Bldg. D., 600 Maunaloa Hwy., Kalamaula, HI 96748

Registration is not required. If accommodations for hearing or visual impairments are requested, please contact Ms. Judith Clarke at the Adult Mental Health Division (808) 586-4686.