Chocolate Lover’s Paradise – The Big Island Chocolate Festival is Coming Up!

The alluring, rich taste of chocolate, in both its sweet and savory forms, is showcased at the third annual Big Island Chocolate Festival (BICF) May 2-3 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i. Headlining the event is “Mr. Chocolate” Jacques Torres, Food Network celebrity from New York City, plus Derek Poirier of Valrhona USA, Donald Wressell of Guittard and Stanton Ho for Amoretti.

Big Island Chocolate FestivalThe two-day chocolate decadence opens with a student competition on Friday, followed by public culinary and agriculture-themed, hands-on seminars and demonstrations on Saturday. Fun culminates 6-10 p.m. May 3 with the festival gala in the Grand Ballroom—indulge at a host of sweet and savory culinary stations presented by top isle chefs, chocolatiers and confectioners.

Culinary stations will be vying for awards in a variety of categories judged by a panel of celebrity chefs led by Torres. Attendees can get in on the friendly voting by casting a ballot for the People’s Choice Award.

Chocolate Festival

Also on tap will be fine wines and handcrafted ales, chocolate sculptures, live entertainment, dancing and a silent auction. Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), event proceeds benefit the $150,000 “Equip the Kitchens” campaign for the future Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui and efforts to build a community amphitheatre at the Waldorf-inspired Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.

“The Big Island Chocolate Festival is a fantasyland of chocolate,” says KCA President Farsheed Bonakdar. “It inspires our chefs, encourages our island farmers to grow cacao and shows our chocolatiers that chocolate can be a viable business.”

Early bird tickets for Hawai‘i’s premiere chocolate gala are $65 until sold out or through Feb. 28. Pre-sale tickets are $75 and will be $100 at the door. New this year is the VIP Fast Wine Pass with early event admission and personalized wine service. Buy tickets and find event details online at www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com. Questions? Phone 808-324-6100.

Chocolate Festival

Also available is an inclusive Chocolate Lovers package that includes a two-night’s stay at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, plus all festival activities at the ocean-side Four Diamond resort; contact info@BigIslandChocolateFestival.com. Attendees who want to stay at the resort during the festival can get a discounted room rate of $269 per night including daily breakfast for two and can book direct with the hotel at 808-885-2000 or 800-845-9905 and mention “Big Island Chocolate Festival.”

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.

Senator Introduces Law Enforcement Bills

Senator Will Espero, chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, introduced six bills related to law enforcement that address several concerns of public safety around the state.
capital

“These bills will improve and strengthen our law enforcement at the county and state level,” said Espero (D, ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages). “The bills are good for law enforcement officers and for the general public as a whole.”

One of the bills, SB2590, prompted by the Christopher Deedy trial, in which the defendant, a federal agent, was charged with murder after shooting a man at a fast-food restaurant after a night of bar-hopping, seeks to prohibit all county and state law enforcement officers from the consumption of alcohol while carrying a firearm. (On Aug. 26, 2013, a Honolulu judge declared a mistrial as the jury was unable to reach a verdict.)

“We expect the best from those who serve and protect, and we hold them to the highest standards,” said Espero. “This bill helps to ensure the safety of both civilians and law enforcement in the state.”

“On another issue of firearms, I’ve introduced a bill that would establish an online firearms registration process to streamline the process for owners and officials,” he added, “One of the biggest complaints about government is inefficiency. With this measure, everyone will save time and money.”

IMPROVING AND STRENGTHENING LAW ENFORCEMENT

SB2937 Relating to a Law Enforcement Standards Board

Establishes a statewide law enforcement standards board for the licensing and certification of county police officers, state public safety officers, and employees of the departments of transportation and land and natural resources with police powers. Establishes a special fund. Appropriates funds.  Hawaii is only state in the nation without any state-level regulation of police.

SB2591 Relating to Law Enforcement

Requires the chief of each county police department to submit an annual report to the legislature of misconduct incidents that resulted in suspension or discharge of a police officer from the calendar year immediately prior to the year of the report submission. Requires the county police departments to provide updated information in each successive annual report until the highest non-judicial grievance adjustment procedure has concluded. Requires the county police departments to retain the disciplinary records in accordance with its record retention policy or for at least six months, whichever period is longer.

SB2589 Relating to Law Enforcement

Transfers the law enforcement functions of the harbors division of the department of transportation to the department of public safety, effective July 1, 2016.

SB2938 Relating to Firearms Registration

Requires each county to establish an online firearms registration process to be fully implemented by July 1, 2015.

SB2590 Relating to Firearms

Prohibits state and county law enforcement officers who are authorized to carry firearms from consuming alcohol or ingesting prescription medications that would impair the judgment or physical response of the employee while carrying a firearm. Prohibits the consumption of alcohol for an unspecified number of hours prior to carrying a firearm.

SB2588 Relating to Unsworn Falsification to a Law Enforcement Officer

Creates the offense of unsworn falsification to a law enforcement officer and a penalty of not less than a misdemeanor.

Man Wanted in Connection With Robbery Involving Hatchet Arrested

A a Kaʻū man who was being sought in connection with a robbery involving a hatchet has been arrested.

Kainoa Kahele-Bishop

Kainoa Kahele-Bishop

Kaʻū patrol officers arrested 23-year-old Kainoa Kahele-Bishop of Ocean View Thursday morning (January 30). He was taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

The arrest stems from a report Sunday (January 26) that a 47-year-old Discovery Harbor woman walking near her parked car on South Point Road had been threatened with a hatchet by another woman who got out of a white Toyota sedan.

The two women scuffled and the victim was able to take the hatchet away and throw it into the brush on the side of the road. During the scuffle, the victim suffered a bite on the right forearm. A man then exited the Toyota, reached into the victim’s car and removed a bag containing a laptop, a cellular telephone and a wallet.

The male suspect fled in the Toyota after a passerby stopped to intervene. The female suspect entered the victim’s car and unsuccessfully attempted to start it. She then ran into the bushes.

Trinety Crapser

Trinety Crapser

Police investigation led to the identity of the suspects. The woman, 25-year-old Trinety Crapser of Ocean View, was arrested Monday (January 27) and charged Tuesday (January 28) with first-degree robbery, third-degree assault and unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle.

Senate Bill Restores Resources for Hawaii Public School Athletics

State Senator David Ige (D-16 Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Hālawa, Pearl Harbor), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, has introduced Senate Bill 3083, which, if passed, would make an appropriation to restore resources to the athletic programs in public schools throughout the state. The measure would also increase the positions authorized for school athletics and allow the Department of Education to create, fill and fund full-time equivalent, permanent, or temporary positions for fiscal year 2014-2015 for its athletic programs.

SB3083

SB3083 is also supported by Senator Michelle Kidani (D-18 Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia), vice chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Jill Tokuda (D-24 Kāneohe, Kāneohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Āhuimanu), chairwoman of the Education Committee.

“During the time of the ‘Great Recession’, the athletic programs at public schools have borne much of the brunt of the budget cuts made in education. This measure will help to provide additional resources to assure the development and safety of our high school athletes,” said Ige. “For many students in our public schools, the opportunity to play sports motivates and positively impacts their success in the classroom. In recognizing the positive influence coaches and athletics can have on our students, this measure helps illustrate the investment we are making in our students to help them succeed in both the classroom and on the playing field.”

SB3083 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Monday, February 10 at 1:15 p.m.  Those wishing to submit testimony or to sign up to provide testimony via teleconferencing can do so by visiting www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Hiker Caught in Hawaii Snowstorm is Rescued from Mauna Loa

Park rangers rescued a lone hiker Thursday morning who was  stranded on Mauna Loa after a winter snowstorm pummeled  the summit and lower elevations with heavy snow and high winds.

Search-and-rescue pilot David Okita shows snow-covered Mauna Loa and the cindercone Pohaku o Hanalei in foreground, near where Sverdlov was spotted. Snow-covered Mauna Kea is seen in the distance.

Search-and-rescue pilot David Okita shows snow-covered Mauna Loa and the cindercone Pohaku o Hanalei in foreground, near where Sverdlov was spotted. Snow-covered Mauna Kea is seen in the distance.

Last Sunday, New York resident Alex Sverdlov, 36, began the grueling 18-mile trek from the top of Mauna Loa Road at 6,662 feet towards the summit of Mauna Loa. He reached the 13,677-foot summit on Tuesday, after dropping off his heavy gear at a lower elevation.  The snowstorm struck on his late-afternoon descent, creating a blinding white-out. Night fell, and after a few futile attempts to locate his pack, Sverdlov decided to hunker down in the snow until daylight. His only protection was the clothes he had on, and a bottle of frozen water.

Earlier Tuesday, park management closed the mountain to visitors because of the dangerous weather. Sverdlov was the only registered hiker, and park rangers tried unsuccessfully to call his cell phone. They drove up Mauna Loa Road, and confirmed his car was there. When Sverdlov’s car was still there Wednesday afternoon, Park Ranger John Broward decided to search for him by helicopter Thursday morning. Sverdlov was located by 9 a.m.

Rescued hiker Alex Sverdlov (middle) stands with his rescuers, park ranger John Broward (right) and park ranger Tyler Paul (left) outside the park's Visitor Emergency Operations Center on Thursday.  NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Rescued hiker Alex Sverdlov (middle) stands with his rescuers, park ranger John Broward (right) and park ranger Tyler Paul (left) outside the park’s Visitor Emergency Operations Center on Thursday. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

“I’ve done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill,” said Sverdlov, an experienced hiker who successfully summited Mauna Loa last winter. After locating his pack Wednesday morning, the deep snow made it impossible to gain much ground, and he spent a second frozen night on the mountain. Sverdlov worried that he’d die on Mauna Loa, and was astonished when he heard the helicopter.

“Even the most experienced and prepared hikers can get into trouble in the park,” said Broward, who serves as the park’s search-and-rescue coordinator. “What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit so we knew he was up there, he is extremely fit, and he stayed calm. We’re all fortunate this had a happy ending.”

On Thursday afternoon, his face sun-burned and wind-whipped, Sverdlov applied for another backcountry permit, for the park’s remote coastal area. “This time I’m going to the sunny part of the park,” he said.

Two Students Arrested at Hilo High School After Explosion Puts School on Lockdown

Two high school students are in police custody in connection with a small explosion at Hilo High School.

Lockdown

No one was injured in the incident.

At 11:34 a.m. Thursday (January 30), South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report that a device had detonated on campus. When police arrived, the school went into lockdown.

Lockdown2

Police recovered the remnants of a plastic liquid container and an unidentified liquid substance. The device was in an open corridor near the school’s auditorium. The only damage was residue at the site.

Patrol officers and school security guards screened the campus for any additional devices but found none.

Lockdown3The lockdown was lifted shortly before 1 p.m.
Lockdown4
Two 16-year-old male students were arrested and taken into custody while detectives from the Juvenile Aid Section continue the investigation.

Some Good News Amid Bad News, for Hawaii’s Endangered Honeycreepers

Warming temperatures due to climate change are exposing endangered Hawaiian forest birds to greater risk of avian malaria. But new research led by the U.S. Geological Survey holds out some hope that the birds may be able to adapt.

Hawaiian Honeycreeper Photographer: Carter Atkinson, USGS

Hawaiian Honeycreeper Photographer: Carter Atkinson, USGS

For decades, scientists have documented declines and extinctions among species of Hawaiian honeycreepers due to the spread of avian malaria and other diseases. At one time, the Hawaiian Islands had no mosquitoes—and no mosquito-borne diseases. But, by the late 1800s, mosquitoes were firmly established in the islands. Another invasive species—feral pigs—helped the mosquito population boom by creating larval habitat as they rooted through forests. The honeycreepers had no natural defense against a disease they had never before experienced.

“Honeycreepers are exquisitely sensitive to avian malaria,” said Dr. Carter Atkinson, a USGS microbiologist based at the USGS Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center in Hawai’i. Atkinson is the lead author of two new research papers examining how climate change is increasing the honeycreepers’ risk of infection.

One paper, accepted for publication by the journal Global Change Biology, confirms the bad news that infection has doubled in the last 20 years among birds in one of the last high elevation refuges in the Hawaiian Islands. Atkinson and his colleagues compared data collected from birds at three sites on the remote, rugged `Alakai Plateau of Kaua`i during 1994-1997 and 2007-2013. The most disturbing result was found at the highest elevation site, where malarial infection increased from 2.0 percent to 19.3 percent.

Alakai Plateau

Alakai Plateau

“These increases in infection appear to be driven by a combination of environmental factors,” said Atkinson. “Warming temperatures, decreased precipitation, and changes in streamflow may be allowing mosquitoes and disease transmission to invade the highest reaches of the Plateau.”

The other paper, published in EcoHealth, provides a glimmer of good news. Atkinson and his colleagues found that a rapidly expanding, low elevation population of a honeycreeper species, the Hawai’i‘Amakihi, on the island of Hawai’i has developed a tolerance for the disease.

In this study, Atkinson and his research team captured birds from both the low elevation population and from a higher elevation site. The birds were screened to ensure that they were not infected with avian malaria, and then assigned to experimental or control groups. Birds in the experimental group were exposed to malarial infection, while birds in the control group were not.

Results showed that the low elevation ‘Amakihi were able to tolerate infection much better than birds from higher elevation. Mortality rates were lower, and the low elevation birds lost less weight and maintained normal food consumption.

But why?

“That’s the next step,” said Atkinson. “The emergence of this population provides an exceptional opportunity for determining the physiological mechanisms and genetic markers associated with malaria tolerance. Adaptation may be the best long-term hope for recovery for many of these species.”

Target to Open First Store in Maui – Will Employ 200… Candidates Can Apply Online

Target is pleased to announce plans to open a new store in the city of Kahului on the island of Maui in Hawaii, in March 2015. The store will be located on Hookele Street as part of the Pu‘unēnē Shopping Center.  This will be the first Target store in Maui.

Target Location

The Maui store will be approximately 140,000 square feet, and will offer guests the everyday essentials and exclusive brands they have come to expect from Target. In addition, the store will include a selection of fresh produce, fresh packaged meat and pre-packaged baked goods, as well as a Starbucks and a Target Pharmacy, to further enhance guests’ shopping experience.

The Maui location will employ approximately 200 team members. Target will host job fairs approximately two months prior to the new store opening, at which prospective candidates may apply and interview for open team member positions. Candidates may also apply online at Target.com/careers or at in-store kiosks located in all Target stores approximately three months prior to the new store opening.

“Target is excited about our first store on the island of Maui,” said Cary Strouse, Target’s senior vice president of stores in the Western region.  “Since opening our first store in Hawaii in 2009, we’ve created strong partnerships with the local community and delivered our ‘Expect More. Pay Less.’ brand promise to guests throughout the islands.”

Target creates strong partnerships with local organizations in all of the communities where the company does business through Target’s community giving programs. This store will start a local grant program, contribute to the United Way and donate food to a Feeding America member, or approved agency. Target also encourages team members to volunteer their time to serve the needs of their community.