Two Separate Incidents of Theft From the State of Hawaii Result in Felony Charges

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that two Oahu residents were charged last Friday in separate incidents of alleged theft from State of Hawaii accounts.

Michael Powers

In the first incident, convicted felon Michael Powers, 48 years old and a Pearl City resident, allegedly wrote 22 forged checks totaling $715,696.92 using bank routing numbers and account numbers belonging to the Hawaii budget and finance department. Powers was charged Friday with attempted first degree theft and multiple counts of forgery in the second degree.

In the second incident, Michael K. Mills, 30 years old and a Kapolei resident, allegedly billed the State of Hawaii for more than $35,000.00 in equipment and supplies that were not related to a State contract with Mills’s employer. Mills was charged Friday with first degree theft.

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “State dollars are your taxpayer dollars. People who cheat the State will be prosecuted.”

First degree Theft is a class B felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine. Forgery in the second degree is a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.

Bail for each defendant has been set at $5,000 and bench warrants have been issued for their arrests.

Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A copy of the indictment for each defendant is attached: Powers & Mills.

Three Bridges on Pa’auilo Mauka Road to be Repaired

The Ka’apahu-Waika’alulu Gulch Bridges No.44-2, No.44-3 and the Waika’alulu Bridge No.44-5 located on Pa‘auilo Mauka Road, between Ho’okahua Road and Kukuipapa Road, will be closed for repair work between the hours of  8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. beginning on Thursday, March 2 , 2017 through Friday, March 10, 2017, weather and construction conditions permitting. 

There will be no work on the weekend and the bridges will re-open at the end of each workday by 2:00 p.m.  Motorists are advised to use alternate routes during the bridge closure hours.

The repair work involves the rehabilitation of the existing bridge structure which includes replacing the old timber components with new wood preservative treated components. 

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding.  If there are any questions or concerns, please call Barett Otani, Information and Education Specialist, at 961-8787.

Mainland Model & Talent Agency Opens Big Island Division – Seeking Photographers, Actors and Models

NASS Talent Management / ALL FACES Model & Talent Agency has opened a new division here on the Big Island of Hawaii and is currently seeking talented photographers, actors and models to add to their current portfolio.


PHOTOGRAPHERS
We are looking for freelance Photographers, with fashion and lifestyle photography experience to recommend to our models and actors needing to create or update their digital marketing portfolios .

ACTORS and MODELS
If you are not represented by any other agency and you are interested in allowing us to represent and submit you for TV, Film, Commercial, Print, and Voice-Over projects, speaking and non speaking roles, please email us and provide us with the following minimum photos and information:

  • Two current close-up photos (chest up) – 1 smile, 1 no smile
  • One current full body
  • Height, Weight Eye Color, Hair Colo, Date of Birth, Nationality
  • Contact information and your location

Send information to: NASS Talent Management
Talent Agent/Manager Jennie Saks  knownagent.js@gmail.com or Talent Associate: LoveyMae Tagalicod  knownagent.lt@gmail.com

Hawaii Department of Health Orders Meadow Gold Dairies to Stop Distribution and Sale of 2% Reduced Fat Milk

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has ordered Meadow Gold Dairies to stop its distribution and sale of two-percent reduced fat milk. DOH issued a Cease and Desist Order to the company today after laboratory results from routine milk samples exceeded standard limits for Coliform bacteria.

“Milk production is regulated with routine testing both at the farm and after packaging to ensure a safe product,” said Peter Oshiro, program manager of the DOH Sanitation Branch. “Department of Health inspectors will work with Meadow Gold Dairies to investigate the possible source of contamination, approve a plan of correction, and conduct further testing to confirm the company meets the standards to resume two-percent reduced fat milk distribution and sale.”

Samples of two-percent reduced fat milk taken from Meadow Gold Dairies on Jan. 19, Feb. 6 and 22, 2017, revealed excessive Coliform counts of more than 150/ml, 130/ml and more than 150/ml respectively. The maximum allowed Coliform limit for pasteurized milk is 10/ml. Coliform is used an indicator of post-pasteurization contamination.

DOH conducts monthly testing of samples of all Grade A raw and pasteurized milk produced at dairy farms and milk plants in Hawaii. State and Federal regulations require that samples be taken a minimum of four out of every six months, though most jurisdictions in the nation, like Hawaii, conduct sampling every month. DOH may also accelerate routine sampling of a specific product whenever product samples do not meet required standards.

Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 11 Chapter15 states that the DOH may suspend the distribution and sale of a particular milk product produced by a milk plant, whenever the product is in violation three times out of the last five consecutive samples for the first three Critical Control Point (CCP) standards listed below.

Critical Control Point/Critical Limits:

  • Temperature – 45°F or less
  • Bacterial Limits -1 0,000/ml or less
  • Coliform – 10/ml or less
  • Phosphatase – 1mcg/ml or less
  • Antibiotics – No Positive results on drug residue detection

To resume distribution and sale of two-percent reduced fat milk, Meadow Gold Dairies must pass health inspections and undergo additional testing of product samples. All other milk products from Meadow Gold Dairies meet state and federal standards required for distribution and sale.

Hokulea Crew Overcomes Major Navigational Challenge and Finds Rapa Nui

The crew of Hokulea arrived safely at Rapa Nui today after sailing for about 16 days across approximately 1,900 nautical miles of deep ocean. A team of four apprentice navigators successfully lead the Hokulea and the major navigational challenge of spotting the tiny remote island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) yesterday at sunset. The crew spotted the island about 43 nautical miles out.

“Finding Rapa Nui was by far one of the biggest challenges our crew has faced,” said Hokulea captain, Archie Kalepa. “With a few more months left in this journey, we’re glad to be back in Polynesian waters and for the opportunity to reconnect with the Rapa Nui community.”

This is the first time Hokulea has visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site since her last voyage to the island 18 years ago. The Rapa Nui arrival also marks the voyaging canoe’s return to the Polynesian triangle since departing these waters three years ago on the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

The team of apprentice navigators have been working together on navigating and turning studies into practice since departing the Galapagos Islands on February 12, 2017. They have been guiding the way by using their knowledge of the stars and taking directional cues derived from their observations of nature. Because of its tiny size and remote location, Rapa Nui is considered one of the most difficult islands to find using traditional wayfinding.

After making landfall in Rapa Nui, the crew will be joined by a teacher and student delegation from Hawaii and the group will spend the week participating in cultural and educational engagements with Rapa Nui leaders and the community.  Activities will include meeting both the Governor and Mayor of Rapa Nui, a visit to the kupuna (elders) of Hare Koa Tiare Care Home, and a tour of Museo Rapa Nui. The crew and delegation will also connect with the Toki School of Music for a day of community service and voyaging outreach.

With famed archaeological sites including nearly 900 monumental statues called moai and an isolated environment rich with unique diversity, the small volcanic island of Rapa Nui represents an opportunity for the crew to learn more about the island’s status as a World Heritage Site as well as the strong cultural history of its Polynesian ancestors.

Following Rapa Nui, Hokulea will sail to French Polynesia before her return home to Magic Island on June 17, 2017.

Grammy Foundation Award Winning Honoka’a High School Jazz Band at The Shops at Mauna Lani

The Shops at Mauna Lani invites the community to its first annual Moonlight Mele Jazz Concert on Friday, March 10, 6-7 p.m. The event features the musical stylings of nationally recognized, Honoka’a High School Jazz Band.

Under the direction of Gary Washburn, a dedicated teacher, accomplished jazz artist, the band is considered one of the top in the nation. The ensemble consists of advanced music students who uphold a long tradition of excellence at Honoka’a High and Intermediate Schools.

The Jazz Band has played on National Public Radio’s “From the Top,” and opened for the Royal Hawaiian Band at Iolani Palace where they were recognized by the State Legislature. They do a yearly multi-concert tour of Oahu to celebrate National Jazz Appreciation Month, and their 14th CD (an annual fundraiser) has just been released. In 2011, they received a national Grammy Signature Schools Award.

The Moonlight Mele Jazz Concert at The Shops at Mauna Lani is free, and all are welcome.  For more information, visit www.shopsatmaunalani.com, or call (808) 885-9501.

Focus On Invading Parakeets During Hawaii Invasive Species Week

It’s another spectacular sunset near Spouting Horn on Kauai’s south side.  As people gather at the shoreline to catch a glimpse of the fabled green flash, their eyes turn inland for the green flash in the sky. This is the nightly invasion of rose-ringed parakeets. Their highly visible presence on the Garden Island provides a current and dramatic example of how a seemingly innocuous species, left unchecked and over time, can become a public health hazard, a real nuisance, and have serious impacts on the economy and the environment.

Kaua‘i County Council Member Derek Kawakami explained, “What turned out to be a novelty and something we’d kind of entertain ourselves with while we watched them roost in the evenings, turned into a nuisance once our farmers approached us and started saying, hey as cute as these birds are, they are very destructive to our lychee and longan crops. Increasingly we’ve been hearing more and more concerns from our farmers, our gardeners, from people who live in these neighborhoods; that unfortunately play host to these rose-ring parakeets. “  

They’re also known as the ring-necked parakeets. Kawakami is one of numerous government representatives fielding calls about what’s become the most visible invasive species on Kaua‘i. Rewind to circa 1968 and Bill Lucey of the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee shared what he learned. “We did research through the Bishop Museum and discovered there was a bed and breakfast somewhere in Lāwaʻi and they brought in some rose-ringed parakeets and clipped their primaries and had them sort of hanging out free by the front porch and around the B&B.  They got away from there and started establishing themselves at some point after 1968.” Figuring out what to do about this marauding, winged invader has become a top priority for Lucey, his team, and many others around the Garden Island. He explained, “Parakeets are what we call a slow invader actually, since they’ve been here for 50 years or so. They don’t really exhibit a fast explosion until they reach a critical mass. So for a number of years there were 50 or a few hundred and then over time they reached the point where there are a few thousand and then they’re all having off spring. At that point it becomes a very strong invasion and the invasion curve starts increasing rapidly.”

Current estimates put the rose-ringed population at around 5,000 birds. That’s plenty to cause big headaches for Kaua‘i’s agricultural seed companies, small independent farmers, backyard growers and condo owners. Learn their stories and see the damage this efficient winged army is causing environmentally and economically, and you begin to understand why so many people are so concerned and want strong measures for a counterattack.

Junior Extension Agent Kathryn Fiedler with the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) is one of the front-line experts now tracking the damage the parakeets are causing. She says she’s never seen such intense flocking and added, “It’s really astounding the damage they can cause. Rose-ringed parakeets are a small bird.  You wouldn’t think they could do too much. We’ve seen some homeowners have an entire tangerine tree striped in one day.  It’s quite extensive actually. The problem is they are birds and they bring in other diseases as well, so even if you see just a little bit of feeding it pretty much ruins the crop around it too. So they physically remove the fruit and also contaminate fruits and vegetables as well.”

Farmer Jerry Ornellas confirms that saying, “We definitely have the issue of food safety. These birds will land in the tops of the trees, they’ll poop and if any of their droppings gets onto the other fruit… even if it hasn’t been damaged by the birds, you have to discard that fruit. And if you ever get a food safety audit and they see birds in the trees, you’re in trouble. You’re not going to pass the audit.” In 2016 Ornellas said he lost 30 percent of his crop to the parakeet or about six thousand dollars. He also verifies that like any strong invasion force, the parakeets utilize advance scouts and choose lofty look- outs. “They don’t like to hang on the sides of the trees. They don’t like to be vulnerable apparently so they like to perch where they can see what’s going on. So they’ll take all the fruit off the top of the tree, which is the best fruit because it gets the best sunlight and sizes up pretty well.” Farmers like Ornellas are using netting to try and protect their crops. It works okay for low growing fruits and vegetables, but is expensive and tough to put on broad, towering trees like lychee.

Outside the CTAHR office in Lihue, farmer Gary Ueunten holds a hollow shell. It’s all that’s left of a once ripe lilikoi, another of the bird’s many favored pickings. On his farm in Lāwaʻi he explains, “The parakeet invasion started about four or five years ago. The first crop they started doing damage on was lychee and they devastated my lychee for one season when we had a lot of fruit. The next season I used wax bags from Japan until they figured out they could eat right through the bag so that didn’t work. Then I went to netting, the black netting, but that’s really cumbersome and hard to put on trees. And it also will catch other birds and that’s not desirable.” He says a flock of parakeets can wipe out an entire tree overnight.

Vast fields of seed corn on Kaua‘i’s west side are also being victimized by these voracious eaters. Large agricultural interests the Syngenta Corp. have been forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to protect fields of corn from the birds. Syngenta’s site manager on Kaua‘i Robin Young, surveys long rows of corn now draped in huge, beige nets. It’s the company’s costly response to the invading parakeets.  Young remarked, “Oh it’s devastating. For example the field I’m standing in is about a 2 ½ acre field. I started noticing the parrots coming into the area about two weeks ago; at first maybe four or five of them. I watched them every evening. I wasn’t too concerned until about five days ago they came in by the flocks. There were probably about 500 out in this field I’d guesstimate.”

From the corn fields, to fruit farms, to condo complexes around Poʻipū many people have developed a quick and dramatic change of heart about the rose-ringed parakeet. No longer viewed as pretty, smart, and interesting birds to observe, the parakeets are now seen as public enemy number one in some corners of Kauai.

At the Prince Kuhio Condos near Spouting Horn, manager Matt Drake and homeowner’s association president Jack Barnard detail the horrible and unhealthy messes the parakeet flocks leave in their wake. Until they started using some tools of modern warfare, like drones and lasers, to try and scare dozens of birds out of Royal palms and other trees each night, they felt powerless. Drake explained, “Originally when they first showed up it was about four hours a day of just poop clean up on our property.

Since we’ve started shooting lasers at the tree tops we’ve whittled it down to two hours a day and flying a drone as a deterrent, we’re actually down quite a bit with that as well.” The complex had to cut down three trees around the swimming pool to keep the deck and the water from being covered in bird droppings. Barnard said, “It seems, if you’re successful in winning one battle they simply take flight and the fight elsewhere, using surprise to their advantage. One day there were no parakeets and the very next day our entire property was covered in droppings. It happened overnight and it was very overwhelming.”

Across the road at the Kuhio Shores Condominiums, manager Albert Fernandez joked, “If you were to rent a black convertible, the next day it’s going to be a white splattered convertible.”  The palm trees lining the property are favored roosts for the birds so Fernandez said he had the trees butchered to try and prevent landings. Most now have three or four short, vertical palm fronds remaining. Fernandez adds, “We had to do a lot of serious haircutting and then we had to butcher those palm trees. Boy, it doesn’t look good after we trimmed those. It’s just a small spike sticking up there and a lot of our tourists don’t really understand why our palm trees look like that. Normally they don’t look like that, but that’s the only solution. We had to temporarily cut down on the poop.”

Temporary measures are the best anyone can take now, while various agencies search for permanent solutions, hoping for broad governmental support to reduce the population on Kaua‘i, and have control measures in place before the rose-ringed parakeets expand their territory. Council member Kawakami said, “I can only speak for myself and some of my colleagues that we have recognized this is a problem and we’re looking toward a collaborative effort between county, state, and federal governments. It is going to be an on-going issue. We don’t want to see this thing turn into another coqui frog, where we could have addressed it early, before it turns into some kind of catastrophic event.”

It could be catastrophic on numerous levels if the birds fly higher and higher into the mountains and begin impacting native plants and watersheds. Thomas Kaiakapu, the Kaua‘i Branch Wildlife Manager for the DLNR Division of Wildlife and Forestry is one of the biologists monitoring the bird’s potential movement mauka. “Right now they’re in the lowland areas of Kaua‘i.  But if they start to move into the upland mountains, that’s a concern for us, because that’s where most of our native species thrive. Left unchecked and uncontrolled the parakeet population here could explode to more than 10,000 birds in the next five years,” Kaiakapu explained.

Numerous other places, particularly northern European countries, are also dealing with out-of-control parakeet populations. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case concluded, “If there’s a silver lining to this story we hope it raises awareness about the impacts of invasive species on Hawaii’s environment and economy. In the case of the rose-ringed parakeet, we’re seeing the detrimental effects right now and this will only get worse the more their numbers increase and they invade additional territory. We’re committed to working with all of our partners and the state legislature to address this issue.”

People across the state are recognizing Hawai‘i Invasive Species Week this week, with outstanding volunteers in the fight against invasive species to be recognized at a State Capitol ceremony in early March.