First Group of New Inmates Arrive at Kulani Correctional Facility

The first group of 21 inmates were transported up to Kulani Correctional Facility this morning.

Kumu Kini K. Burke, dignitaries, and guests gather for the blessing of Kulani Correctional Facility on July 2nd.

Kumu Kini K. Burke, dignitaries, and guests gather for the blessing of Kulani Correctional Facility on July 2nd.

The facility closed in 2009, resulting in the displacement of nearly 100 staff and the transfer of almost 200 Hawaii inmates to other overcrowded state facilities.

On July 1, Gov. Neil Abercrombie joined Public Safety Department (PSD) Director Ted Sakai and members of the East Hawaii community to mark the grand re-opening of Kulani Correctional Facility in Hilo.

Governor Neil Abercrombie and Warden Ruth Coller-Forbes untie the maile lei and officially open the Kulani Correctional Facility.

Governor Neil Abercrombie and Warden Ruth Coller-Forbes untie the maile lei and officially open the Kulani Correctional Facility.

There are currently 56 staff working at the facility. Sixteen new ACOs started Basic Corrections Training on June 30 and will begin their jobs at Kulani upon graduation in August. In addition, 19 more positions are in various stages of recruitment.

Kulani’s 200 low-risk inmates will return in phases. The rest will return in increments over the next five months.

Governor Neil Abercrombie accepts a plaque from the Kulani Staff.

Governor Neil Abercrombie accepts a plaque from the Kulani Staff.

Vocational training and substance abuse treatment programs will be added through partnerships with community providers and other state departments. The vocational programs include a Facility Maintenance Program, Agriculture/Horticulture Program and other technology career training programs.

“The Facilities Maintenance Program teaches the inmates important trade skills like carpentry, drywall, solar installation, and electrical and plumbing fundamentals,” said Kulani Warden Ruth Coller Forbes. “The inmates will be helping to maintain and upgrade Kulani while learning important trade skills. We want them to leave Kulani as self-sufficient, productive members of society and never come back.”

PSD is also working with kupuna from East Hawaii to develop programs based on traditional Hawaiian values. In addition, the Departments of Agriculture and Labor are working with Kulani to develop a plan for a sustainable agriculture program that can help inmates develop essential work skills and provide fresh produce for the facility.

Kulani Banner

Kulani’s reactivation is a major accomplishment of the Abercrombie Administration and is consistent with Hawaii’s participation in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), launched last year. The JRI strategy is a data-driven plan to reduce spending on corrections, reinvest savings generated in strategies that would reverse crime trends and eventually bring inmates housed in Arizona back to Hawaii.

In anticipation of the reopening, $686,400 was allocated for construction and renovation of the facility.

Meet Lava – Hawaii’s Tweeting Two-Colored-Faced Cat

Ok… well every once in a while I come across something pretty strange.  Tonight I think I out did myself.  Meet “Lava” the Tweeting Two-Colored-Face Cat from Honolulu, Hawaii:

Lava's Twitter "Profile" picture

Lava’s Twitter “Profile” picture

Lava tweets about everything a normal cat would… things like the thing she tweeted today:
Lava Tweet 1Lava bills herself as a “Hot Hawaiian Adventure Cat” and seems to live quite the lifestyle:
Lava Tweet 2The owner of the cat said that she named her “Lava” because she looked like lava pouring.  You can check out her entire series of tweets here @ohmylava.

Her first tweets were on Valentines day.

Her first tweets were on Valentines day.

She is only followed by 54 folks at this time… but I expect her to soon beat out Justin Bieber for followers… LOL!

Big Island Police Involved in Hilo Shooting

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a non-fatal officer-involved shooting in Hilo on Monday.

HPDBadgeShortly before 11:30 a.m., South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report of a domestic incident in a pink sports-utility vehicle in the Panaʻewa area.

The officers located the SUV. When they attempted to contact the operator, it fled. Officers followed it to Stainback Highway, where it turned around on a side road and drove recklessly toward two officers. In response, three shots were fired toward the SUV, which continued down Stainback Highway. It then stopped a short distance later and the suspect fled into the bushes.

It was determined that no one else was in the vehicle at that time.

The suspect was located a short time later. He was identified as 38-year-old Riley Asuncion of Pāhoa, arrested on suspicion of terroristic threatening and taken to Hilo Medical Center, where he remains in stable condition with a non-lethal injury to his torso.

Investigation determined that the 30-year old female victim of the reported domestic incident had exited the SUV before officers began following it. She was later located in Hilo.

As is standard practice in any police involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section will conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

Senator Schatz Lobbies FAA to Support Hawaii’s Ban on Aerial Advertising

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed that Honolulu’s aerial advertising ordinance remains valid.

Aerial Banner

The mainland-based company Aerial Banners North has been flying aerial banners over Oahu in violation of Honolulu’s ordinance banning aerial advertising, while ignoring citations from the Honolulu Police Department. The company has argued that its FAA certificate of waiver preempts the Honolulu ordinance and allows it to fly aerial banners over Oahu. In Washington, DC this week, Senator Schatz reached out to the FAA at the request of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and received a written response that the Honolulu ordinance prohibiting aerial advertising remains valid.

“This is great news for Oahu residents who don’t want to see their skies cluttered from mainland companies. One of the things that makes Hawai‘i beautiful is that we have well-thought out rules governing signage,” said Senator Schatz. “This letter from the FAA makes it clear that this rogue company is violating our law and we expect and hope that this clarification will cause them to stop what they’re doing.”

In the 2002 case of Skysign International, Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, 276 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2002), the Ninth Circuit ruled in support of Honolulu’s view that its prohibition on aerial advertising is not preempted by federal law. The FAA confirmed in writing today that the precedent from the Skysign case remains the FAA’s position and that Honolulu has the right to prohibit aerial advertising.

HCA Taps Statewide Cupping Winners at 19th Annual Confab

The Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) celebrated its 19th Annual Conference and 6th Annual Statewide Cupping Competition July 18-20 at Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay located in the world-famous Kona Coffee Belt.

Cupping

The HCA divided more than 82 entries assembled from across the state into two categories: Creative and Commercial. Qualifying for the Commercial division means that at least 1,000 lbs of the entered coffee is available for sale as of April 15.

In the Creative Division, four of the top 10 coffees hailed from Ka’u, including the top two: Ali’i Hawaiian Hula Hands Coffee earned a score of 88.7 out of a possible 100; followed by FL Farm of Wood Valley with a score of 88.5

In the Commercial Division, five of the top 10 coffees were proudly grown in Kona with Aloha Hills Kona Coffee and Maui Grown Coffee tying for the top spot with a score of 87.3. The second spot went Kona’s Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation earning a score of 87.0.

The HCA also presented awards to the highest scoring coffees entered from each of the eight growing districts from across the state. These include Hamakua, Hawai‘i, Ka’u, Kaua‘i, Kona, Maui, O‘ahu and Moloka‘i.

One Heart Farm of Hamakua was the finest coffee sampled from that verdant district, while Hilo Coffee Mill received top honors in the Hawai‘i district tallying a score of 87.2. Kauai Coffee Company captured the top spot for that origin and Kona Mountain Coffee was judged as the premier entry from Kona with a score of 87.4. The award for the highest scoring coffee from Maui was Keokea Farms with their organic entry of Typica, Kent and Caturra varietals with a score of 88.4.

Coffee cupping is a combination of art and science where coffees are evaluated and scored based on subtle characteristics including, flavor, aroma, ‘mouth-feel’, acidity, sweetness and aftertaste.

Complete results can be found at www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org

“I am very impressed with the quality of the coffees coming out of all of the districts. It just keeps getting better”, said David Gridley of Maui, HCA’s Cupping Committee chair. “I applaud all the coffee farmers of Hawai‘i for their remarkable efforts”

Veteran cupper Warren Muller said “The competition was very close” noting an overall increase in scores among a broad spectrum of coffees. “But some just jumped off the table” referring to the outstanding quality of this year’s crop. He remarked that the upward trend signifies continuous improvement and that experimentation was evident in new varietals and processing methods.

The HCA also hosted a Reverse Trade Mission designed to expand markets in Canada. Inbound missionaries included buyers, brokers, industry media and professionals.

HCA members elected a new Board of Directors to include two new representatives in Big Island Coffee Roasters of Mountain View and Isla Custom Coffees of Pahala.

Outgoing two-term President Greg Stille of Maui was replaced by incoming President Jim Wayman of Hawaii Coffee Company in Honolulu.

The HCA Annual Conference was followed on Saturday by the inaugural Roast & Roots event hosting nearly 1,000 attendees. This new event featured notable local chefs participating in culinary demonstrations and competitions and included a People’s Choice coffee tasting won by Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Ka’u Coffee of Pahala. Roast & Roots represents a partnership between the Hawaii Coffee Association, Kamehameha Schools and Hawai‘i’s Department of Agriculture through its ‘Buy Local it Matters’ campaign.

Sunday’s activities included a bus tour of area farms and processing facilities.

The Hawaii Coffee Association’s mission is to represent all sectors of the Hawaii coffee industry, including growers, millers, wholesalers, roasters and retailers.  The HCA’s primary objective is to increase awareness and consumption of Hawaiian coffees.  A major component of HCA’s work is the continuing education of members and consumers. This annual conference has continued to grow each year and has gained increased international attention.

For more information visit Hawaii Coffee Association’s website at www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org.