Passes for “HawaiiCon 2016” On Sale Now

Kama’aina passes for HawaiiCon 2016 go on sale today. This year’s science and sci-fi convention takes place September 15-18 on the beach at the luxurious Mauna Lani Bay Hotel. Highly discounted rooms are available to all attendees who book through the HawaiiCon website.

Hawaiicon2016Beyond an exciting array of panels and workshops, HawaiiCon, will be offering fans the most unique celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, featuring: a lu’au under the Milky Way with sci-fi stars on the beach, a hula lesson with Star Trek crew members, and amazing, real adventures with the crew of the Enterprise. Go snorkeling with Leeta (Chase Masterson) from DeepSpace 9, or night diving and snorkeling with giant manta rays next to both Rod Roddenberry (son of Star Trek’s creator Gene Roddenberry) and Next Generation’s Number One Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes).

hawaiicon 2016 membersOriginal Star Trek crew members Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) will also be on hand to meet fans and you can celebrate Walter‘s 80th birthday at a delicious gourmet dinner at Daylight Mind Waikoloa. If you are a Battlestar Galactica fan, go ziplining via Kapohokine Adventures with Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) and the Chief (Aaron Douglas).

HawaiiCon 2016 brings together leading cast members from the various Star Trek series, as well as over twenty other celebrity guests including New York Times Best Selling Author John Scalzi (Red Shirts).

HawaiiCon 2016 will be held at the Mauna Lani Resort.

HawaiiCon 2016 will be held at the Mauna Lani Resort.

The event also features well-known cosplayers, space scientists, visionaries, gamers, comicbook artists, and writers. Each day of the convention offers scores of panels and workshops to choose from. A popular day to come to the event is Saturday because of the Keiki and Adult Cosplay contests that draw hundreds of costumed fans. This year, a special category has been added to the contest, Star Trek, with prizes for the best costumes of characters from the original series.

Rod Roddenberry calls HawaiiCon, “The best convention I’ve been to.”

HawaiiCon, a non-profit, helps children of the Big Island ‘Reach for the Stars’ in science and the performing arts.

For more information and booking go to www.hawaiicon.com and follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/hawaiicon and @HawaiiCon on Twitter/Instagram.

Island Air Launches Kona Service – George Applegate Named Island Air’s Hawaii Island Representative

Island Air today launched daily air service to Hawaiʻi Island as part of its continuing efforts to expand its presence in the Islands and offer residents and visitors an alternative option for interisland travel. The airline also announced it has hired veteran tourism industry leader George Applegate to serve as its representative on Hawaiʻi Island.

Photos courtesy of Island Air

Photos courtesy of Island Air

Island Air officials, along with government, business and visitor industry leaders from Hawaiʻi Island and Oʻahu gathered at the Kona International Airport this morning for a blessing of the airline’s new check-in counter located in Terminal 1 and departure/arrival gate (Gate 5). Following the blessing, passengers on the inaugural flights arriving into and departing from Kona were greeted with lei and entertained by keiki from Waimea’s Hālau Hula Ka Noʻeau. In partnership with the Big Island Visitors Bureau (BIVB), guests also were given a tour of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority located a short drive from the airport.

During the celebration, Island Air’s president and chief executive officer David Uchiyama announced that Applegate will serve as Island Air’s representative on Hawaiʻi Island. Applegate will support the airline’s sales efforts and assist in promoting Island Air’s business on Hawaiʻi Island.

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“Over the years, George has played an integral role in strengthening Hawaiʻi Island’s tourism industry. We are excited to have him join the Island Air team as we work to grow our Kona service,” said Uchiyama. “Our entire Island Air team recognizes the importance of having reliable interisland air travel options that allow local families and businesses to remain connected, support the local economy and provide alternatives for residents and visitors to enjoy Hawai‘i the Island way.”

Applegate has more than 40 years of experience in the visitor industry, including 24 years with the BIVB, 13 of those as its executive director before he retired in 2013. In 2015, he served as an executive assistant to Mayor Billy Kenoi where he assisted with various tourism projects for Hawaiʻi Island. He continues to provide tourism-related consulting services on a contractual basis to the County of Hawaiʻi through his firm George Applegate Consulting.

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“Having another alternative for interisland travel is critical for our community and visitor industry, which is why I am excited about this opportunity to assist with the growth of a second interisland airline that will support both residents and visitors,” said Applegate.

In addition to increasing seat capacity to Hawaiʻi Island with five daily roundtrip flights between Kona and Honolulu, Island Air hired 22 employees to service the new route. The Kona-based team of customer service agents and ramp agents is being led by Shardae Kaupu Lopez, who will serve as Island Air’s Kona station manager and oversee the airline’s airport operations. Lopez is originally from Miloliʻi and started working for Island Air in 2012.

Meet Hawaii Island’s New Film Commissioner

Hawaii Island has a new film commissioner and his name is Justin Finestone.

Justin Finestone introduces himself to filmmakers at the Big Island Film Festival

Justin Finestone introduces himself to filmmakers at the Big Island Film Festival

He introduced himself as the new commissioner at the Big Island Film Festival recently where he welcomed the filmmakers to the Big Island and talked to them about the benefits of filming here on the Island.

He has only been in the position for about a month now and I asked him the following questions as a follow-up to the festival:

Where are you from and what is your background?

I grew up in the Los Angeles area and attended the University of Southern California.  I graduated with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science.  I worked in television news and production for 16 years before starting a career in public sector marketing and communications.  Before moving to Hawai’i Island, I spent the past eight years as the Communications Director for the City of Bend, Oregon.

What goals do you have for the County of Hawaii as our Film Commissioner?

We want to grow the film and television industries on Hawai’i Island.  Even small productions spend money here on things like hotels and meals.  That type of spending helps provide jobs for the people who live here.  In addition, there are talented people who live here that work in the film industry.   The more productions that are here, the more industry workers can make a living.  We want to accomplish all this with cultural sensitivities in mind, making sure productions are doing the right thing and respecting the culture and the land.

What are the duties of a county film commissioner?

It’s a pretty diverse job.  I market Hawai’i Island’s incredible locations and resources to filmmakers, help filmmakers connect with local workers and talent, assist filmmakers while they are here, make sure they are aware of and respecting cultural sensitivities, issue permits for shooting on county property, and pretty much anything else that comes up!

Are there any films or projects currently filming on the Big Island and if so what are the names of the projects and where are they being shot at?

There is always something going on, whether its film, television or print photography.  Many productions want to stay under-the-radar, but I can say that the Nickelodeon show Paradise Run is wrapping up at the Hilton Waikoloa and the HGTV show Hawai’i Life is returning soon.

Why is the Big Island of Hawaii an ideal place for filmmakers to make films?

There are so many reasons.  Nowhere else in the state can match the diversity of locations on Hawai’i Island.  We have 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones.  The state offers generous tax credits to filmmakers who come to Hawai’i Island.  It’s 25 percent and includes all aspects of a production.  If you shoot on Oahu, you only receive a 20 percent credit.

We have the infrastructure filmmakers need, like a world class facility, Honua Studios.  Private, dedicated fiber connections worldwide, great local crew, consistent weather all year, top-rated hotels, and it’s a very safe place to work.

Are there any large budget films planned for the Big Island in the near future?

Nothing scheduled for production at this time.

What are your impressions of our home-grown film festival, the Big Island Film Festival, which happened recently at the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii?

I’ve attended a few film festivals over the years but nothing like the Big Island Film Festival.  Everything from the venues to the people that put on the festival was first-class.  The films I saw were very good.  I think one of my favorite parts was hearing the filmmakers talk about their productions.  You could feel the passion that they had for their craft, and they were just really nice people.

 

Commentary – Highway Legislation Was to Appease Constituents

Senator Lorraine Inouye was one of the co-sponsors of the legislation
that would increase the speed  limit on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway to 60MPH between m.m 12 and m.m 51 -except for the segment by Mauna Kea State Park.

Inouye Highway 2 by Aaron Stene

I had reservations about this bill because HDOT should  have sole authority to set highway speed limits. The state legislature shouldn’t be politicizing what the highway speeds are on a certain highway.

I e-mailed Senator Inouye’s office three amendments to SB2375 despite my reservations. The first amendment would change the east side start of the speed limit increase from m.m 19 to m.m 12.  This change was included in the final bill transmitted to the governor. However, she disregarded  the other two amendments I suggested.

These proposed amendments would’ve obligated the HDOT to review the current speed limits at m.m 18, m.m 36-40, amd m.m 39, and increased the speed limit on m.m 6 to m.m 11 segment after the highway is improved to Federal Highway standards by August 27, 2017.

Senator Inouye stated this bill wouldn’t pass the legislature if these
amendments were added, which doesn’t make any sense. She didn’t want to infringe on the HDOT’s obligation to follow Federal Highway standards. I pointed out to her that requiring the HDOT increase the speed limit on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway already infringed on the HDOT’s obligations, so her argument doesn’t hold water.

I strongly believe the sole purpose of this legislation was to appease
her constituents, who probably complained about the county police’s
incessant speed traps up on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. This proposed legislation shouldn’t be the way the speed limits are set up there.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona