Molasses Spill Closes Keehi Lagoon

Effective today, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has closed Keehi Lagoon to commercial and recreational ocean activities – including fishing and canoe paddling – for public safety due to impacts of Monday’s molasses spill in nearby Honolulu harbor. Warning signs are being posted by DLNR and the Hawaii Department of Health.

Molasses Sharks

“We are asking the public’s cooperation to keep out these waters for their wellbeing as conditions are unsafe for public activity due to risks of attracting ocean predators, as well as the possibility for contamination due to decayed marine life and bacteria,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We are working with the Department of Health to post warning signs along the shores of Keehi Lagoon, small boat harbor and west side of Sand Island nearest Keehi channel. Our officers will also patrol the area to warn the public to remain out of these waters until water conditions are safe again.”

The closure will affect two permitted commercial thrillcraft (jet ski) operations in Keehi Lagoon, Aloha Jetski and Diamond Head Parasails and Water Sports. These companies will not be able to continue renting jetskis to clients to use in the lagoon jetski riding area.

“The operators understand the reasons why we are closing them for the time being,” said Aila. “They are able to make a claim to Matson for lost revenues.”

DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Rcreation (DOBOR) is also restricting any recreational use of thrill craft in Keehi Lagoon and the designated riding area off the reef runway. DOBOR staff is reaching out to canoe clubs that launch from Sand Island State Recreation Area, and has also contacted the ILH regarding a planned kayak event scheduled tomorrow at Keehi Lagoon.


Opihi Picker Dies on the Big Island

Hawaii Fire Department Company 8 responded to call of a 27 year-old male swimmer in distress near an area called “Kawela’s” located in Honoka’a.  Members of the fire department proceeded down to the location via gravel road to location at the ocean.  Chopper 1 was on the scene with rescue swimmer.

Billy Pugh Net

Billy Pugh Net

Upon arrival the male party located in the ocean, floating face down.  The rescue swimmer on the  Chopper was deployed and he retrieved the unconscious victim by billy pugh net. They both were flown to the awaiting Medic unit for transport to the nearest hospital.

The man was reported to be picking opihi when he got in trouble.

Big Island Police Charge 28-Year-Old Kona Man With Multiple Offenses

Big Island detectives have charged a 28-year-old Kona man in connection with the unlawful entry into a motor vehicle on Tuesday (September 10) in Kailua-Kona.

At approximately 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Kona Patrol Officers responded to a report of a theft from a motor vehicle within a parking lot in downtown Kailua-Kona. The victim, a 37-year-old Holualoa woman reported that she had placed personal belongings into a public storage rack located at the entrance of the Kailua Pier while she went swimming. Upon her return she found several items including her vehicle key were missing. She later found that her vehicle had been entered and property from within it had also been removed.

Travis Sanders

Travis Sanders

During the investigation officers developed information that lead to the identity of a local male seen in the area where the victim’s property had been removed at the Kailua Pier and also the parking lot where the victim’s vehicle was entered. On Wednesday (September 11) officers located and arrested Travis Ray Maunakea Sanders of Kailua-Kona, on suspicion of unlawful enter into a motor vehicle.

Detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigation section continued the investigation which led to a search warrant of a backpack that was in the suspect’s possession at the time of his arrest. During the execution of the search warrant detectives recovered several items of the victim’s stolen property along with illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia.

On Friday (September 13) detectives charged Sanders with unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, two counts of theft-third degree, theft of a credit card, unauthorized possession of confidential information, two counts of promoting a dangerous drug-third degree, promoting a detrimental drug third degree and two counts of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $75,000. Sanders remained at the Kona Cellblock pending his initial court appearance on Monday (September 16).

UH Hilo Hosts Talk on Climate Change and World Peace

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo marks International Day of Peace (September 21) with an address by Professor Maxine Burkett, entitled “Is Climate Change a Threat to World Peace?” The event, to be held on Friday, September 20, in University Classroom Building (UCB) 127, is free and open to the public.
Climate Refugees

Burkett’s talk will be preceded by a viewing of the award winning film “Climate Refugees.” The documentary about the human face of climate change has been shown to audiences including prime ministers, presidents, the United Nations, and universities around the world, and is credited with changing the way the world is looking at climate change. The screening of “Climate Refugees” begins at 3:30 pm, followed by Burkett’s address at 5 pm.

Burkett is a professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law and Director of the Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy. She will discuss how vulnerability to climate change may reverse human development gains globally and increase the possibility of conflict through events like climate-induced migration.

“Migration might introduce unprecedented strains on the global community, while demanding that international law resolve novel questions of statehood and self-determination,” Burkett said.
The event is supported through funding UH Hilo received from the Public Education for Peacebuilding Support initiative of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and is being organized by the UH Hilo International Student Services and Intercultural Education program.

For more information or to request accommodations, call the UH Hilo International Student Services and Intercultural Education office at (808) 974-7313.


Hawaii Receives $230,000 for Oral Disease Prevention

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Family Health Services Division (FHSD) recently received a State Oral Disease Prevention grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Department of Health

The aim of this grant program is to assist state health departments in improving the oral health of their state residents, in particular those children and adults who are most at risk for oral diseases such as tooth decay (cavities).

“With CDC support, the states receiving these awards will be better able to monitor their population’s oral health, identify priorities and target efforts, and expand activities aimed at preventing oral diseases among individuals, families, and communities,” stated Dr. William Bailey, DDS, MPH, Acting Director, CDC Division of Oral Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Hawaii is one of three states to receive $230,000 under the program’s entry-level component, “Basic Capacity for Collective Impact.”

The grants are renewable for up to five years. “The grant is an important step to help rebuild the department’s public dental health infrastructure,” said Health Director Loretta J. Fuddy. “Hawaii received a failing grade for children’s dental health in 2010 and 2011 from a national health policy review panel, meeting only one of eight benchmarks, and this assistance will aid ongoing efforts to turn that around.”

The funding is designed to improve basic state oral health services, including support for program leadership and additional staff, monitoring oral disease levels and risk factors for oral disease, developing strong partnerships, educating state residents on ways to prevent oral diseases, and developing and evaluating prevention programs.


Representative Roy Takumi to Serve as Vice-Chair of the Education Commission of the States

House Education Chair Selected as Second in Command of National Education Commission

Roy Takumi

Rep. Roy Takumi

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) elected Hawaii State Representative Roy Takumi as the next ECS Vice-Chair at the National Forum on Education Policy held in Atlanta recently. He will serve a two-year term.

ECS was created in 1965 when states and territories made a commitment to work together to tackle tough education problems. Through ECS, state policymakers and education leaders exchange information, ideas and experiences to improve public education. ECS supports their work by providing nonpartisan and unbiased research, analysis, and technical assistance on education issues from Pre-K to postsecondary.

“I look forward to working with ECS Chair, Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and the other ECS commissioners to continue to push for education reform that provides opportunities for students across the nation,” said Takumi.

“ECS thanks Representative Takumi for his willingness to be part of our leadership team. We are looking forward to working with him to advance states’ educational priorities and improve student achievement across the country,” ECS President Jeremy Anderson said.

ECS is the only nationwide, nonpartisan organization that works directly with governors, legislators, chief state school officers, higher education officials and other leaders across all areas of education, from Pre-K to college and the workforce. We track policy, translate research, provide advice and create opportunities for state policymakers to learn from one another. ECS is located in Denver and maintains the nation’s most extensive clearinghouse on education policy.


Mayor Kenoi Testifies Before State Land Board Regarding Naniloa Volcanoes Resort

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi testified before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources today in Honolulu, urging the board to firmly enforce the lease terms and give no special consideration to the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort.

Below is Mayor Kenoi’s testimony:

September 13, 2013

Honorable William J. Aila Jr., Chair and Members of the Board of Land and Natural Resources

Re: Agenda Item D-10, Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case No. 12-02279 and General Lease Nos. S-5844 and S-5372 to Hawaii Outdoor Tours Inc.

Aloha Chair Aila and Board Members:
Thank you for this opportunity to express our deep concern with the deteriorating situation at the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort. Banyan Drive has traditionally been the hub of East Hawai‘i’s resort activity, which makes it critically important to the economy of the Island of Hawai‘i. The Banyan Drive properties should be an economic engine and a job creator that provides benefits to our working families. The Naniloa property is a crucial component of this area, and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has failed to ensure this property is properly managed for the benefit of our state and our community.
Hawai‘i Outdoor Tours Inc. has now held the lease for the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort and the Banyan Drive golf course for more than seven years, and the result has been a disaster for East Hawai‘i. The Kilauea Tower of the resort has been gutted and empty for years, and the property is in a shambles. Valuable retail space on the grounds of the resort that could be contributing to the local economy and generating jobs is vacant and closed. Despite the lessee’s well-publicized promises to restore the area as a top- quality destination, a lounge adjoining the hotel is usually closed, and the pool on the Banyan Drive side of the property has been drained. Only a fraction of the rooms in the Naniloa have actually been renovated. Since much of the hotel is empty, the facility operates with minimal staff.
Many of our East Hawai‘i residents are traveling 100 miles to work at jobs in Kona and the Kohala Coast resort areas, while the once-beautiful 391-room Naniloa property is deteriorating in Hilo. Hawai‘i Outdoor Tours has been given ample opportunity over the last seven years to restore the property, and we cannot continue to stand by while a single hotel operator holds an entire community economic hostage.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources has failed to enforce the terms of its lease with Hawai‘i Outdoor Tours. To give a few examples, this lessee failed to maintain the $1 million performance bond required by the lease. This lessee previously failed to stay current on the lease rent, and was issued notices of default. This lessee filed for bankruptcy protection a year ago, yet the lease specifically allows for termination “if the Lessee shall become bankrupt.”
Our greatest concern is the manner in which this lessee allowed the historic Naniloa property to dramatically deteriorate despite clear language in the lease that requires the lessee to “keep, repair, and maintain all buildings and improvements…on the premises in good order, condition and repair….”
On Aug. 1, this lessee failed to make the required semi-annual rent payment, and was granted an extension. Now this board is being asked for another extension to delay this required payment to the end of the year.
For the good of our working families and the business climate in all of East Hawai‘i, we respectfully urge the Board of Land and Natural Resources to firmly enforce the terms of lease S-5844. No special consideration should be given to lessee Hawai‘i Outdoor Tours or to First Citizens Bank, which is the lien holder in this case. If the current lessee or the lien holder cannot meet such basic requirements as paying the required ground lease rent or maintaining construction or performance bonds to protect state interests, then the board should declare the lessee in default and move to terminate the lease.
This department has collected millions of dollars in ground lease rents from the Banyan Drive tenants over the years. At a minimum, DLNR has an obligation to actively manage the Banyan Drive leases to assure those properties are properly maintained and operated by tenants who comply with the terms of their leases. This will create jobs, boost the Hawai‘i Island economy, increase state transient accommodation and excise tax collections, and eventually result in increased lease rent collections for the DLNR.
The land board must address these problems head-on, and clear the way for prompt restoration of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort. We need action now.
Thank you for your consideration.

William P. Kenoi


Nine Schools Receive Adjustments to Strive HI Performance System Results

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today issued adjustments to Strive HI Performance System results for nine schools. The revisions were made after further analysis of the system’s criteria.

“The Department continues to fine tune its process to ensure schools receive timely, accurate information to assist with their improvement efforts,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We appreciate schools’ patience and collaboration during the transition to the new Strive HI Performance System, which provides us all with more comprehensive information to understand schools’ performance and progress.”

The Strive HI Performance System is the DOE’s new school accountability and improvement system approved in May by the U.S. Department of Education. It replaces many requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) with multiple measures of success to meet the needs of Hawaii’s students, educators and schools. Schools earn points based on achievement, growth, readiness and achievement gap measures. In combination with several automatic classification factors, these points determine a school’s classification into one of five steps: Recognition, Continuous Improvement, Focus, Priority and Superintendent’s Zone.

The adjustments made to the nine schools were based on the following reasons:

1. Chronic Absenteeism: The Department incorporated new chronic absenteeism data for elementary charter schools that had been previously excluded.
2. Graduation rule: The Department corrected an error whereby high schools were classified as Priority schools based on only two years of graduation rate data when the rules require three years of data.
3. Change in number of Focus Schools: Changes in the number of schools classified as Focus and Priority allowed for one school to move up from Focus into Continuous Improvement status.

Below is a summary of the adjustments:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

More information about the Strive HI Performance System can be found at

On Tuesday, the DOE recognized 14 top-performing schools for exceptional achievement with awards ranging from $20,000 to $95,000. These schools were “recognition” schools – those demonstrating the highest progress towards raising student achievement, graduation rates, and closing the achievement gap.

Anuhea and Friends to Play at Lava Lava Beach Club

Anuhea and friends will be welcomed for a special night of music under the moon and stars at Lava Lava Beach Club on Saturday, October 5 from 7:00 to 9:00pm. This one-night-only event will feature Anhuea, her full band, and surprise special guests.

Anuhea playing at the Hawaii Conservation Conference

Anuhea playing at the Hawaii Conservation Conference

With a delicate balance of fragility, strength and sass, Hawaiian-born singer songwriter Anuhea blends engaging lyrics, acoustic soul, pop, rap and reggae into a style that has earned her a reputation as one of Hawaii’s top female artists. Her signature guitar rhythms, sultry vocals and honest song writing weave acoustic soul, R&B, jazz and hip hop with pop appeal.

First come, first served reservations for dinner to enjoy this special concert are by telephone only at 808-769-5282. A $10 per person entertainment charge will be applied to all checks in the Lava Lava Beach Club Restaurant, bar and on the beach beginning at 7:00pm.

Anuhea will also be doing a meet, greet and autograph signing after the show.

Don’t miss this special one night only performance at Lava Lava Beach Club. Learn more at

Pacific Rim Education Foundation (PREF) Offering Host of Activities in Kona for Peace Day


In conjunction with the annual United Nations International Day of Peace on Saturday, Sept. 21, the Pacific Rim Education Foundation (PREF) is sponsoring three activities on two days to promote a culture of peace:

  • Hawai’i Peace Ping Pong Tournament 5-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at Kona Outdoor Circle, 76-6280 Kuakini Highway. The public, aged 18 and older, is invited for some friendly competition and fellowship. The tourney is followed by a light buffet dinner, entertainment and brief talk on peace. Entrance fee is $5 and cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place tourney winners. RSVP to or phone 326-2344.
  • Embracing Our Most Challenging Relationships Workshop by Andrea Pro, 10 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 with a light lunch to follow at Hawaii Queen Coffee Gardens. Donation appreciated. Hawaiian Queen Coffee Gardens is located across and up Henry Street from Safeway at 75-1048 Henry St. RSVP to or phone 808-315-1893.

This mini-session explores what keeps people from engaging wholeheartedly in relationships and practices the art of showing empathy and honesty with others. Pro, of Pathways to Compassion, has been offering workshops based on nonviolent communication in Kona for seven years.

  • PREF offers a “Prayer for Our Island,” which is available on Pref’s Facebook page and is being shared via advertising in West Hawaii Today on September 16 and 19.

“We encourage people to offer this prayer, first for yourself and then for another whom you care about,” says Farley Jones, president of PREF. “Then offer it for the people of our island so that—starting with individuals—an island of peace, a culture of peace and a world of peace might emerge.”

PREF: The Pacific Rim Education Foundation sponsors educational programs, funds charitable activities and supports practices that nurture love, wisdom and peace within individuals and families, and which promote understanding and connectedness among communities. For more information visit