Kauai Man Faces Felony Charges in Connection with Pregnant Monk Seal Beating

Arrest Result of Joint Federal, State & County Investigation

19 year old Shylo Akuna of Eleele, Kauai was arrested this afternoon by officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) special agents in connection with the beating of a 17-year old pregnant monk seal on April 26, 2016.

Shylo Akuna

Shylo Akuna

A short video clip of the incident was widely posted on social media and was picked up by news organizations around the country. That video, supported by eyewitness accounts led to Akuna’s arrest. He is being held at the Kauai Police Department pending further disposition on suspicion of “taking a monk seal.” This includes harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing or collecting an endangered or threatened aquatic species or terrestrial wildlife. If convicted of this Class C felony, Akuna could face one (1) to five (5) years in prison. Additionally the state environmental court may impose a fine of up to $50,000.

DOCARE Chief Thomas Friel said, “Thanks to the joint efforts of our Kauai branch officers, special agents from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Kauai Police Department, and Hawaii State Sheriffs we were able to investigate this crime, make an arrest, and bring this part of the case to a quick conclusion.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case added, “We’re grateful to the concerned citizens who brought this action to our attention and were willing to step forward with additional information to help law enforcement identify and arrest the suspect. We’re fortunate that the Hawaii State Legislature passed HRS 195D which provides very stiff penalties for these repugnant behaviors.

Ann M. Garrett, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, with the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office said, “NOAA Fisheries sincerely appreciates the outpouring of community support for RK30, the Hawaiian monk seal involved in this incident. She’s an important and productive member of the seal population. It’s clear from this outpouring that folks care a great deal about monk seals, and don’t want to see them harmed. The quick action by DLNR DOCARE, the Kauai Police Department, and NOAA OLE is very commendable, and likely would not have been as successful without the support of caring community members.”

Anyone who witnesses a monk seal or any other endangered or threatened species being threatened or injured in any manner by a person is urged to immediately call the NOAA Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the DOCARE statewide hotline at 643-DLNR.

Hawaii Police Officers of the Month: Daniel Kuwabara and Gregory Horton

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi on Thursday (April 28) recognized Hilo Patrol Officer Daniel Kuwabara as the East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for March and Puna Patrol Officer Gregory Horton as the East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for April.

Officer Kuwabara was honored for his efforts in a sexual assault case, leading to a suspect being taken into custody within an hour.

Aloha Exchange Club member Joey Estrella presents an "Officer of the Month" award to Officer Daniel Kuwabara.

Aloha Exchange Club member Joey Estrella presents an “Officer of the Month” award to Officer Daniel Kuwabara.

Last October, an adult female reported she had been sexually assaulted in Hilo. Meanwhile, officers responded to a report of a disorderly man at a nearby location. Officer Kuwabara relayed to the officers arresting the 34-year-old Hilo man for disorderly conduct that the descriptions of the two suspects were similar except for differences in the descriptions of their clothing. Kuwabara met with the sex assault victim and was able to obtain a better description, including that of a tattoo. As a result of that detail, police were able to charge the suspect not only with disorderly conduct but also with kidnapping, burglary and sexual assault.

Officer Horton was honored for providing field training to a police recruit that included drafting a search warrant and recovering evidence that led to felony charges.

Aloha Exchange Club member John Stewart presents an "Officer of the Month" award to Officer Gregory Horton.

Aloha Exchange Club member John Stewart presents an “Officer of the Month” award to Officer Gregory Horton.

On February 8, Horton and his recruit were conducting a roving patrol on Highway 130 near Orchidland when they made a 2 a.m. traffic stop on a sports-utility vehicle traveling slowly without any lights. While making contact with the driver, an assisting officer identified a partially concealed rifle on the passenger side floor mat within arm’s reach of the driver. Recognizing the seriousness of the case, Horton elected to work the case through to its completion with the recruit. Over a two-day period, they drafted and obtained a search warrant, leading to the recovery of a loaded rifle, loose ammunition, crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The 20-year-old driver was charged with nine drug and weapons offenses and the officers initiated forfeiture proceedings on his SUV.

As “Officer of the Month,” both Kuwabara and Horton are eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” award is a project of the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi.

Visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 Creates $151,246,200 in Economic Benefits

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,832,660 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 spent $151,246,200 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,834 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $189,391,100.

NPS Photo of visitors at Sulphur Banks in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

NPS Photo of visitors at Sulphur Banks in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

The park’s 2015 visitation is up 8.25 percent from 2014 (1,693,005 visitors), and reflects a steady trend of rising visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park since 2009. The park, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year along with the National Park Service, shares two of earth’s most active volcanoes, Hawaiian culture, and native ecosystems with local residents and visitors.

“We are pleased to again report an increase in both visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and the important economic impact park visitors have by spending money and creating jobs in our local community,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.  “National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s clearly a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities,” Orlando said.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economist Catherine Cullinane Thomas and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz.  The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.

According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added and output effects by sector for national, state and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: http://go.nps.gov/vse or https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.

To learn more about national parks in Hawai‘i and how the National Park Service works with Hawai‘i communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/hawaii.

Roller Derby Triple Header – Waimea, Hawaii Pacific and Hilo Duke It Out

Paradise Roller Girls will host a full night of roller derby on April 30 including a round robin of bouts with Pacific Roller Girls and Waimea Wranglers Rough Rollers.

Roller derby triple header on April 30 will be held at the Civic at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.. Tickets are $5. Hilo Tavern will host the afterparty where the cover charge is waived if a bout ticket stub is presented.

Roller derby triple header on April 30 will be held at the Civic at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.. Tickets are $5. Hilo Tavern will host the afterparty where the cover charge is waived if a bout ticket stub is presented.

Taking place in the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, the first bout between Waimea and Pacific is scheduled for 2 p.m.. Pacific will then battle PRG at 4:30 p.m. and end the night with PRG playing Waimea at 7 p.m.

“This bout is our first home game of the season and we are pumped to have people come cheer us on,” Kelli “Kellfire” Bolger, Paradise Roller Girls skater, said. “We’ve been working really hard in preparation.”

Between each sanctioned bout will be a junior derby game where PRG’s junior skaters will be skating against each other during a 10 minute mini bout.

Vendor, sponsor, and merchandise booths will be on site. Hilo Tavern will host an after party with no cover fee if a ticket stub is presented upon entry.

Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under the age of 5. Tickets can be bought at Jungle Love, CD Wizzard, Mt. View Video, Kadota Liquor, Lucy’s Taqueria, at the door or from any of the Paradise Roller Girls.

Volcanoes National Park Reopens Nāmakanipaio Campground

Nāmakanipaio Campground in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has reopened. Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company, which manages the campground under a concession contract for the park, is taking reservations immediately.

Volcano Cabins

The popular campground has been closed since last September for the removal of large, falling and hazardous non-native eucalyptus trees in the area.

“We mahalo the public for their patience while we ensure the campground is safe again,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We are delighted to reopen ahead of summer,” she said.

Nāmakanipaio is popular with local residents and visitors, and is nestled near the summit of Kīlauea volcano at 4,000-feet, off Highway 11. Established in the 1960s, today the campground features drive-in campsites for tent camping, restrooms, showers, barbecues, and 10 rustic one-room A-frame cabins. The cabins feature bunk beds and can sleep four.

Campsite rates for tent camping are $15 a night, and the A-frame cabins start at $80 a night ($50/night for Hawai‘i residents). To make reservations for Nāmakanipaio campsites or cabins, contact Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company at (808) 756-9625, or visit http://www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com/cabins-campsites/.  Park entrance fees apply (good for seven days).

Now that the hazardous eucalyptus trees have been removed, native tree species, including ‘ōhi‘a and koa, can flourish. The campground has a fresh light and open look during the day, Mauna Loa is again visible, and at night, campers can enjoy a wider view of the sky, illuminated by stars and the glow from the lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u Crater. The Jaggar Museum observation deck, the closest vantage point to this eruption site, is an easy half-mile hike from Nāmakanipaio.

YWCA Honoring Rose Bautista, Barbara Hastings as Remarkable

The YWCA of Hawaii Island will honor local immigration lawyer Rose Bautista and public relations professional Barbara Hastings as its 2016 Remarkable People.

Barbara Hastings

Barbara Hastings

The pair will be honored at the eighth annual Remarkable Person Luncheon Thursday, June 2, at 11:30 a.m. at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Moku Ola Ballroom.

Rose Bautista

Rose Bautista

“The YWCA is proud to recognize Barbara and Rose for their achievements and leadership,” said Kathleen McGilvray, CEO of YWCA of Hawaii Island. “These glass-ceiling-breaking women have inspired those around them with their raw dedication in business and commitment to helping women, children and community.”

For more than a quarter century, Bautista has helped immigrants with legal matters, and is a tireless advocate on their behalf. Hastings, a former newspaper journalist and founding partner of Hastings & Pleadwell: A Communication Company (H&P) has provided thought-leadership and support to clients and community groups across Hawaii.

There are a limited number of tickets and sponsorship opportunities available. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Naomi at the YWCA of Hawaii Island office at 930-5705 or via email: tuyemura@ywcahawaiiisland.org.

Bautista was born in Sinait Ilocos Sur, Philippines. She immigrated to the United States at age seven and was raised in North Kohala. Bautista received her bachelors in political science from Mount St. Mary’s College in 1983. She went on to earn a Juris Doctor in 1989 from the Seattle University School of Law, formerly the University of Puget Sound School of Law. In 1990, she opened the Law Offices of Rose Y. Bautista in Washington State and practiced immigration and personal injury law. Bautista was appointed immigration specialist for Hawaii County in 2001. She was instrumental in bringing the Honolulu Philippine Consulate General to Hawaii Island for the first Consulate on Wheels service, and initiated the county’s first Citizenship Day celebration.

Bautista’s experience of immigrating and adjusting to a new country served as a foundation for her understanding, empathy and zealous advocacy for immigrant communities.

She is founder of Ating Bahay, a group dedicated to addressing domestic violence in the immigrant community, and is a representative to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a component of the Department of Homeland Security. Bautista is an active member of the Washington State Bar Association and a member of many law associations. She is the Children and Youth Group coordinator of Malia Puka O Kalani Catholic Church in Keaukaha and sits on the boards of St. Joseph School and Micronesians United Big Island. Bautista is past president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce and for years has volunteered with Filipino associations around the island. In 2013, she received the Purple Ribbon Award in recognition for her work in domestic violence prevention. Bautista lives in Hilo and is married to Steve Bader. They have two college-age children, Sam and Alexa.

Hastings has been a public relations professional in Hawaii for a quarter century. She has been a newspaper journalist and professional communicator for 40 years in Honolulu and on the Mainland. As a journalist, she worked as both editor and reporter, and for a time specialized in energy and science reporting. She has received local and national recognition for her writing, campaign strategy and crisis management.

Hastings was the communication director for the Hawaii Department of Health in the early 1990s, and helped the Office of Hawaiian Affairs with communication strategies in the mid 90s. She worked for the Honolulu Advertiser, Trenton (NJ) Times and earned a fellowship to Stanford University for her energy writing.

H&P, which has offices in Honolulu and Hilo, is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. In 2007, Hastings and partner Barbra Pleadwell received the Small Business Administration’s Champion of Women in Business Award for Hawaii and Region IX.

Hastings is deeply involved with organizations that advance community wellbeing. She sits on the boards of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii, Hawaii Public Radio, the Lyman Museum and Zonta International District 9. She is area director for Zonta’s Hawaii Clubs and is past president of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Hilo Bay and Zonta Club of Hilo. Hastings is married to retired journalist Mike Middlesworth. She has one daughter, Rhea Olsen, and two grandsons, Logan and Brendan.