How Does a Blind Person Sail From New Mexico to Hawaii?

Editors Note… I don’t know how ANYONE  sails from New Mexico to Hawaii… but I guess our Police Department has figured that one out… New Mexico is landlocked!

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Marlin Hopson as “Officer of the Month” for March in a luncheon ceremony Wednesday (March 4) at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona.

Officer Marlin Hopson

Officer Marlin Hopson

Hopson was honored for providing assistance beyond the call of duty to two shipwrecked persons.

On May 18, 2014, Officer Hopson responded to a report that a 45-foot sailboat had run aground at the Old Airport Beach Park. The couple on the boat had sailed from New Mexico to Hawaiʻi. The owner, who is blind, lost his navigation aids on the way to Honokohau Harbor, causing the boat to run ashore at night. The pair managed to swim to shore but their belongings were left behind and couldn’t be retrieved because of darkness and rough surf.

Hopson invited the couple to spend that night in his home and they accepted.

“Officer Hopson exemplified the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s core values of compassion and community satisfaction, going above and beyond to help these victims, said Sergeant Akira Edmoundson, who nominated Hopson for the honor.

As “Officer of the Month,” Hopson is eligible to become “Officer of the Year.”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawaiʻi.

New Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-In-Charge

The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Christina (Tina) Neal to serve as the new Scientist-in-Charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Neal succeeds Jim Kauahikaua, who served in the position for the past ten years.

Christina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Christina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

It is a fitting coincidence that Neal, only the second woman to lead USGS HVO in its 103-year-long history, takes the helm on March 8, International Women’s Day, a day established to celebrate the achievements of women around the world.

“Tina brings to the HVO Scientist-in-Charge position the required breadth of scientific background, strong communication skills, and eruption response experience, including much work with various communities at risk. I was thrilled when she accepted the position, because I knew that both HVO and the communities that it serves will be in good hands going forward,” said Tom Murray, Director of the USGS Volcano Science Center, which oversees all five U.S. volcano observatories.

Neal comes to Hawai‘i from Alaska, where she spent almost 25 years working as a USGS geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory. After so many years in the land of the midnight sun, swapping snowshoes for ‘slippahs’ (flip-flops) might seem a drastic change, but she’s no stranger to the aloha state—or HVO.

From 1983 to 1989, Neal lived in Volcano, and worked on the staff at HVO.  Her work included monitoring Kīlauea Volcano during the early years of its ongoing East Rift Zone eruption, as well as Mauna Loa during its 1984 eruption. She fondly recalls one day in March 1984, when she spent the morning working atop the erupting Mauna Loa and the afternoon collecting lava samples from the active Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent on Kīlauea.  For a volcanologist, simultaneous eruptions on two volcanoes made for an unforgettable workday.

As part of the Big Island Mapping Project, Neal mapped the summit of Kīlauea, resulting in the USGS publication “Geologic Map of the Summit Region of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii.” She also mapped Kīlauea’s Southwest Rift Zone for the “Geologic Map of the Island of Hawai‘i.”

In 1990, Neal moved to Alaska to work at the newly-created AVO in Anchorage.  There, she monitored and studied a number of Alaskan volcanoes and their eruptions, including Redoubt (1989–1990 and 2009), Mount Spurr (1992), Augustine (2005–2006), and Okmok (2008). Working on remote Alaskan stratovolcanoes is not for the faint-hearted—the steep-sided, glacier-covered volcanic mountains are hazardous even when not erupting—a tip-off to the mettle of which Neal is made.

In 1998, Neal accepted a two-year assignment in Washington, D.C., as the first USGS geoscience advisor to the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, within the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is responsible for coordinating U.S. government responses to disasters overseas. Her travels during this assignment took her to Thailand, Nepal, Ecuador, Colombia, Kazakhstan, and other foreign countries, where she reviewed or assisted with the implementation of hazard mitigation programs.

When Neal returned to AVO in 2000, she resumed her work as a geologist—mapping and studying active Alaskan volcanoes. With colleagues, she strengthened the Alaska-based interagency response system for volcanic eruptions and coordinated AVO’s eruption monitoring and crisis response efforts with Russian volcanology counterparts. She is also internationally recognized for her efforts to reduce the risk of volcanic ash to aviation in the North Pacific and globally.

In addition to outstanding geologic work, Neal honed her managerial skills during two details as Chief of Staff and Deputy Regional Director for the USGS Western Regional Office in 2009–2010 and as Acting Scientist-in-Charge at AVO in 2010.

Over the years, Neal has maintained ties to HVO.  In 2012, she helped with HVO’s 100th Anniversary Open House, and in October 2014, she spent two weeks at HVO assisting with monitoring efforts and community meetings as Kīlauea’s active lava flow moved toward Pāhoa.

Big Island Police Arrest Four on Drug Offenses

Three men and a woman were charged with an assortment of drug offenses after Vice officers served a search warrant Tuesday (March 3) in Hōlualoa.

During the search at a home on the 75-5200 block of Māmalahoa Highway, officers recovered 13.7 grams of a crystalline substance, 0.3 grams of a brown tar-like substance, 1.2 grams of a dried, green leafy material, one suspected MDMA pill (commonly known as “ecstasy”), one unprescribed prescription pill, paraphernalia associated with meth use and distribution, a loaded, unregistered .22-caliber revolver and $344 in cash for forfeiture.

Edward Schoeppner

Edward Schoeppner

Arrested at the scene were the resident, 63-year-old Edward Schoeppner Jr. of Hōlualoa, along with 38-year-old Jose Garcia, who has no permanent address, 40-year-old David Mahi, who has no permanent address, and 43-year-old Teri Pedro of Kailua-Kona. They were taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Vice Section continued the investigation.

Wednesday afternoon, Schoeppner was charged with meth trafficking, promoting a dangerous drug and possessing drug paraphernalia in connection with Tuesday’s search warrant. He was also charged with meth trafficking, promoting a dangerous drug, promoting a harmful drug and two counts of possessing drug paraphernalia for a December search warrant at the same house, during which he fled the scene. His bail was set at $96,500.

Jose Garcia

Jose Garcia

Garcia was charged with meth trafficking, promoting a detrimental drug, two counts of promoting a dangerous drug, two counts of possessing drug paraphernalia and five firearms offenses. His bail was set at $193,000.

David Mahi

David Mahi

Mahi was charged with two counts each of promoting a dangerous drug and possessing drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $8,000.

Teri Pedro

Teri Pedro

Pedro was charged with promoting a dangerous drug, promoting a harmful drug and possessing drug paraphernalia. Her bail was set at $5,000.

They remained at the cellblock until their initial court appearance on Thursday.

Hawaii State Legislature Forms Outdoor Heritage Caucus

Today, Senator Laura Thielen (25th Senatorial District) and Representative Cindy Evans (7th House District) announced the launch of the Outdoor Heritage Caucus.

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The caucus’s mission is to identify, protect, and promote the State of Hawai‘i’s heritage of subsistence hunting and fishing, outdoor cultural practices and recreational activities, and to foster appreciation and respect for outdoor heritage.

The caucus will focus on: (1) ensuring public access to public lands for the enjoyment of outdoor pursuits; (2) safeguarding the integrity of user-pays trust funds, license revenues, and other dedicated financial contributions by hunter men and women, fishermen and women, and outdoor recreational users; and (3) enhancing state aquatic and wildlife habitat conservation for current and future generations. Legislators in this caucus will watch national debate on issues related to outdoor cultural practices, recreational activities, and hunting and fishing.

“We are pleased to announce the formation of the Outdoor Heritage Caucus,” Evans stated. “With population growth and challenges of liability, many people are looking at our natural resources from different aspects. We need to find balance to make sure that we can use the outdoors but still maintain protection of our natural resources so we can pass on our practices. The group of legislators in this caucus would like to send a strong statement that we value the quality of life in Hawai‘i and perpetuate the joys and opportunities outdoors for future generations.”

“The Outdoor Heritage Caucus is a great way to showcase and advocate for outdoor recreation in Hawai‘i,” said Thielen. As more and more residents and tourists explore our state’s varied outdoor recreational opportunities, it is important to ensure that there is adequate support and funding for these opportunities.”

outdoor caucus