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Hawaii Lava Stream Update – Two Plumes at Ocean Entrance

A firehose of lava continues to pour into the sea at the Kamokuna ocean entry, sending a plume of steam, hydrochloric acid, and glass particles into the air and drifting downwind.

Click on photos to enlarge

Offshore, lava entering the sea also produces plumes of hot, discolored water.

A closer view of the ocean entry and plumes of hot, discolored water.

The circular area of dark water in front of the entry is a region of cooler water between the split plumes of hotter water.

A thermal image shows the two plumes of hot water extending out from the ocean entry point.

A circular area of cool water is directly in front of the entry point, between the two plumes. Several boats leave tracks of stirred-up cooler water cutting through the hot water on the surface.

A closer view of the lava firehose at the ocean entry.

The lava stream here is roughly 1-2 meters wide (3-6 ft), and plunges about 20 m (66 ft) into the water.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō started as a cinder and spatter cone in the 1980s, but over the past 30 years flank vents on the cone have produced stacks of lava flows, creating a broad shield around the cone.

This view looks north and shows the shield shape clearly. Mauna Kea Volcano can be seen in the distance.

A lava pond has been present in a small pit in the western portion of Puʻu ʻŌʻō Crater for nearly two years.

Unusually clear views today revealed several areas of spattering, and some crustal foundering.

Hawaii Chief Justice Appoints Costa, Lendio Heim, and Morikawa as Oahu District Court Judges

Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald has appointed Brian A. Costa, Darolyn H. Lendio Heim, and Trish K. Morikawa to the District Court of the First Circuit (Island of Oahu) to fill the vacancies created by the retirements of Judges Gerald H. Kibe, David W. Lo, and Barbara P. Richardson.

Brian A. Costa is currently the sole member/owner of the law firm Costa & DeLacy, LLLC, where he has extensive experience representing defendants in district court and in appellate matters involving criminal, civil, and family law.  He also serves as a per diem judge of the District Family Court of the First Circuit, presiding over matters involving divorce, annulment, paternity, and petitions for protective orders.  He previously worked as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu, and as an associate at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel.

Costa is a member of the Hawaiʻi Access to Justice Commission’s Administration Committee and Pro Bono Initiatives Task Force.

He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 2001.

Darolyn Lendio Heim is currently a partner at the law firm of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP.  She previously served as Vice President for Legal Affairs and University General Counsel for the University of Hawaiʻi System.  She also served as the University of Hawaii’s Interim Executive Administrator and Secretary of the Board of Regents.

Earlier in her career, Lendio Heim was the Director of the Department of the Corporation Counsel for the City & County of Honolulu, and was recognized as Outstanding City Administrator.

Throughout her career, Lendio Heim has served on numerous committees, boards, and commissions, and is currently a member of the Judicial Council, the Permanent Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure and Circuit Court Civil Rules, and the Court Annexed Arbitration Program, serving as both an arbitrator and an arbitrator mentor.  In addition, she is an active member of Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers, the Hawaiʻi Filipino Lawyers Association, and the American Inns of Court, James S. Burns Aloha Chapter.

She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1984.

Trish K. Morikawa is currently an associate with the firm of Gallagher, Kane & Amai, representing businesses and individual clients in commercial, automobile, and homeowner insurance litigation.  She also serves as a per diem judge of the District Family Court of the First Circuit presiding over temporary restraining order and protective order hearings and trials, petitions for guardianships and adoptions, and juvenile case proceedings.

She previously served as a County Housing Coordinator with the City and County of Honolulu Office of Housing, assisting with the Honolulu Affordable Housing Preservation Initiative as well as the Pathways Project, a housing program for the disabled and chronically homeless.

Morikawa also has extensive experience as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the City and County of Honolulu.  She also served as a Deputy Attorney General in the Criminal Justice Division.

In the community, Morikawa serves as a Steering Committee member in the Alignment Hawaii Initiative, a Board Member of the Partners in Development Foundation,  and a member of the Daughters of Hawaiʻi.

Morikawa is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1995.

The Chief Justice appoints District Court judges from a list of not less than six nominees submitted by the Judicial Selection Commission.  If confirmed by the State Senate, Costa, Lendio Heim, and Morikawa will each serve a term of six years.

Groundbreaking Celebrated by Hawaii Island Adult Care and Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation

A New Home In Hilo For Hawaii Island Adult Care

A groundbreaking and blessing for a new 9,000 square foot Adult Day Care Center in Hilo was celebrated on March 6, 2017.  This senior project is a joint venture between the Hawaii Island Adult Care, Inc. and the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation.

From left, Jeanne Beers, HIAC President; Maile Young, Health Services Director/GHW Program Director, Paula Uusitalo HIAC Executive Director, Betty Nagao, founder, former employee and now participant; and Lori Thal, Art Therapist.

“Our success to this point is in large part due to the significant support we have received from the Hawaii County Office of Housing and Community Development Block Grant program, appropriations from the State Legislature and a large grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc.” said Paula Uusitalo, executive director of Hawaii Island Adult Care (HIAC).  Additional grants from local foundations and corporations have made it possible for construction to begin on the new facility.  “We are extremely grateful for their support.”

The HIAC Hilo Adult Day Center is currently operating in the old Hilo Hospital on Rainbow Drive.  This present structure, built in 1923, is inadequate to serve the current or future needs for the growing Day Center over the next 60-70 years.

The new building will feature large open spaces for art/craft activities, physical fitness geared to elders and quiet indoor spaces for reading, socializing and relaxing. The project features a fully certified kitchen to provide hot meals, outdoor gardens and a wandering path. Construction of the new home for the program is expected to take 13 months to complete.

However, Hawaii Island Adult Care is asking for added community support to pay for the commercial kitchen equipment that will provide meals for the seniors, furnishings, and the completion of an outdoor walking and resting area for the seniors.  This and other related expenses amount to an additional $600,000 needed.

“This collaborative effort between Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation and Hawaii Island Adult Care, Inc. has been a wonderful opportunity for our two not for profit organizations to ensure that our seniors are well taken care of now and well into the future” remarked Keith Kato, executive director of the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation.  “The adult day center will complement the existing and planned senior housing in the Mohouli complex that will have 182 units at full build out.  The first phase with 60 units was completed in 2014, the second phase with 30 units is now under construction and funding for the last increment of 92 units has been secured from the State Housing Finance and Development Corporation.  This truly has been a joint venture between many public and private organizations all with the same aim of aiding our kupuna.”

For information on how to donate to the capital campaign contact the Hawaii Island Adult Care Executive Director Paula Uusitalo at (808) 961-3747, ext. 105 or Keith Kato, Executive Director of the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation at (808) 319-2422 or visit www.hawaiiislandadultcare.org.

ʻImiloa Astronomy Center Announces First-Ever Endowment Gift

The legacy of the late educator and government planner Ilima Piʻianaiʻa is being celebrated through the establishment of a new endowment at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo.

Gordon Piʻianaiʻa of Honolulu and Norman Piʻianaiʻa of Kamuela have made a gift through the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation to create a new permanently endowed fund to honor their sister and expand access to educational programming at ʻImiloa by K-12 students.

“Just as we are marking the 11th anniversary of our opening, ʻImiloa is thrilled to have our very first permanent endowment, a fund that will benefit the center in perpetuity and enable us to share our unique brand of programming with both current and future generations of young people,” said ʻImiloa Executive Director Kaʻiu Kimura. “We are humbled by the Piʻianaiʻa family’s vote of confidence in ʻImiloa and excited about what this will mean in our second decade and beyond!”

UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney added, “This wonderful gift will benefit the children of Hawaiʻi for years to come.”

About Ilima Piʻianaiʻa

Born and raised on Oʻahu, Ilima Piʻianaiʻa (1947–2006) pursued a noteworthy career in the public sector, starting with her service as a Hawaiʻi County planner helping to develop a general plan for the island. She later served with the Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority and worked on the Kakaʻako Improvement District, among other projects.

Ilima Piʻianaiʻa

She lectured in geography and planning at UH Mānoa from 1980 to 1984, administered the Task Force on the Hawaiian Homes Commission from 1982 to 1983, then held appointments as Hawaiʻi County deputy planning director, director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, director of the Office of International Relations and Affairs, and deputy director of the state Department of Agriculture.

Norman Piʻianaiʻa commented about his sister, “Even though Ilima was from Honolulu, she loved the Big Island and its people. She moved here around 1970 and mentored in the planning department under Director Raymond Suefuji during the days of Mayor Shunichi Kimura, a time when things were in a process of great change in Hawaiʻi. With ancestral roots firmly planted here, we are confident that Ilima would be pleased to know she has in this way returned and will continue to help nurture and contribute to the future education and development of Hawaiʻi Island youngsters.”

A longtime friend of Ilima, Deanne Lemle Bosnak, remembers her as “a perfect embodiment of ‘aloha.’ She personally represented Hawaiʻi’s beautiful blend of cultures, its warm hospitality and its welcoming aloha spirit. She was also a diplomat who worked hard to build bridges between disparate communities and cultures, demonstrating in everything she did a deep respect for the land and the values of its people.”

Annual distributions from the Ilima Piʻianaiʻa Endowment will support access to ʻImiloa by local elementary, middle and high school students, and may include subsidized admission and or transportation to the center, subsidized fees for ʻImiloa programs, and/or program outreach to rural parts of Hawaiʻi Island and the state.

To make a gift to the Ilima Piʻianaiʻa Endowment please visit the UH Foundations website.

Hawai’i Island Schools Receive Funding for Environmental Projects

Schools in Hilo and West Hawai‘i will be going green with the help of funding from Kupu and Kōkua Hawai‘i  Foundation’s inaugural Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge (HYSC) mini-grant program. The mini-grant funding will be supporting students at Hilo Union Elementary School, St. Joseph School, Kealakehe Intermediate School and Kohala High School to help them implement their innovative project proposals, which include a children’s book, a community garden and robot prototypes.

“We’re really excited to be able to support schools on Hawai‘i Island in developing unique ways to mālama ‘āina,” said John Leong, CEO of Kupu. “Our youth are the next generation of environmental stewards and community leaders in our state, and hopefully projects like these, inspire and empower them to continue to create sustainable solutions for a better, more resilient Hawai‘i.”

A total of 25 schools across the state will be receiving funding to implement new environmental projects that raise sustainability awareness and practices in schools and their communities. HYSC mini-grant funding will be provided to the following projects on Hawai‘i Island:

  • Hilo Union Elementary School will be launching their “Let Us Grow” program, in which their 5th graders will grow their own greens through hydroponic buckets, as well as educating other students on how to do the same and how hydroponics compares to growing vegetables in soil.
  • Through its proposed project, “Huli Ka Lima I Lalo,” St. Joseph School’s Hawaiian language class will be creating a Hawaiian garden or mala on campus, to grow native plants based on the Hawaiian moon calendar, to learn more about traditional Hawaiian knowledge and how to successfully grow and maintain a Hawaiian garden.
  • Kealakehe Intermediate School was awarded two mini-grants for its children’s book and “The Edible Vending Machine” projects. Students in 7th and 8th grade will be producing a book about harvesting pa‘akai (sea salt) to better educate about the connection between traditional Hawaiian knowledge and sustainable living. “The Edible Vending Machine” is a project proposed by 8th grader Riley Estrada, who will be designing a vending machine prototype and app to offer healthy, delicious and sustainable snacks to students.
  • Inspired by a recent beach cleanup, students from Kohala High School are hoping to educate their community about marine debris through recycling stations, presentations and building a prototype of a futuristic micro-plastic cleaning robot.

“The Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge has allowed us to further connect with and empower Hawai‘i’s students to carry out innovative and much-needed projects to address their vision for a healthy, sustainable future,” added Natalie McKinney, Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation executive director. “We are inspired by their creativity and look forward to seeing the outcomes of their projects. For over a decade, Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation’s Mini-Grant Program has funded these types of projects in and out of the classroom. We are honored and proud to work with our many partners on the HYSC to reach even more students across the state.”

The Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge (HYSC) was first announced by First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress and is dedicated to inspiring youth to be intentionally engaged with the environment through action, advocacy and education. The HYSC mini-grant program is a Legacy Initiative from the IUCN Congress, made possible through funding by Harold K. L. Castle Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and Public Schools of Hawai‘i Foundation, with the support of the Hawai‘i State Department of Education.

“I’m thrilled to see so many students throughout the state engage in the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge, and even more excited to support their creativity and environmental stewardship through this IUCN Legacy Initiative,” said First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige. “These students are agents of change in their own communities, helping us to promote the importance of our natural resources, while implementing innovative projects that will help preserve the beauty of our environment for generations to come. Congratulations to all the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge mini-grant recipients.”

For more information about the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge, please visit www. kokuahawaiifoundation.org/mini grants.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Commemorates 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the World War II Doolittle Raid with special presentations for youth and the general public by Jonna Doolittle Hoppes, author, educator and granddaughter of General Jimmy Doolittle, leader of the famed Doolittle (Tokyo) Raid that took place, April 18, 1942.

On 18 April 1942, airmen of the US Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. (Jimmy) Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe. This heroic attack against these major cities was the result of coordination between the Army Air Forces and the US Navy, which carried the sixteen North American B-25 medium bombers aboard the carrier USS Hornet to within take-off distance of the Japanese Islands.

On April 17, from 10 – 11 am, students and their teachers are invited to a free youth presentation by Hoppes entitled, “Calculated Risk: Jimmy Doolittle and the Tokyo Raid.” The presentation is named after Hoppes’ first book. Hoppes will discuss the Doolittle Raid and the brave men who, under her grandfather’s leadership, inspired a nation and changed the course of WWII.

This youth event is provided at no cost, and teachers who register their classes will receive a free copy of one of Hoppes’ books, Just Doing My Job or Calculated Risk, as well as corresponding curriculum to use before or after the event. Funding for bus transportation will be provided if requested on the registration form. Seating is limited and registration is recommended by emailing Education@PacificAviationMuseum.org or calling 808-445-9137.

On April 18, at 2:30 pm, Hoppes will conduct a Hangar Talk for the general public, followed by a book signing and meet and greet reception. Admission for the Hangar Talk is free with Museum admission, free to Museum members, and free to military and military families with valid ID.

On April 18, 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, eighty men from all walks of life volunteered to fly B-25 bombers (normally land-based aircraft) that took off from the deck of the USS Hornet. The dangerous and unorthodox mission, led by (then Lt. Colonel) Jimmy Doolittle, represented the first air strike by the United States on Japanese homelands. The raid provided a much-needed boost to American morale and changed the course of WWII. It bolstered American morale to such an extent that on April 28, 10 days after the attack, Lt. Colonel Doolittle was promoted to Brigadier General and was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Theodore Roosevelt upon his return to the United States in June.

New Study Supports the Rarity and Limited Range of a Kauai Endemic Bird

A new study provides the first rigorous population estimate of an enigmatic endangered bird species found only on Kauai, the Puaiohi or Small Kauai Thrush: 494 birds. Scientists have long believed that the species was very rare, but it had heretofore eluded a precise count due to its secretive demeanor and the rugged, inaccessible terrain it inhabits deep in Kauai’s Alakai Plateau.

The Puaiohi was listed as Endangered in 1967, when the Endangered Species Act became law, because of its rarity and single-island residency. One of the first goals mentioned in the plan for its recovery was to estimate the size of the population. Accomplishing this goal was hampered by a lack of resources, the species’ cryptic nature and its remote habitat.

“Population estimates are a cornerstone of species conservation efforts,” said Dr. Eben Paxton of the U.S. Geological Survey, a co-author of the study. “They are the benchmark against which managers monitor the success of their conservation efforts. If managers don’t know how many individuals exist to begin with, it is impossible to tell if a population is increasing or decreasing in response to conservation activities.”

Dr. Lisa Crampton, the lead author of the study, added: “We are thrilled that we finally have accomplished this objective.”

Once found island-wide, the Puaiohi’s range and population size has been reduced by a number of threats: habitat loss and degradation, non-native predators, and introduced mosquito-borne diseases, such as avian malaria. Previous research by Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project and its colleagues has suggested that Puaiohi are somewhat tolerant of avian malaria, and rat predation on nesting females is likely limiting the Puaiohi population’s ability to grow in size. The new study also suggests invasive weeds at lower elevation may restrict Puaiohi’s range.

Given these results, conservation efforts for this species will focus on controlling introduced predators and reversing habitat loss from degradation and invasive weeds.

“Three hundred self-resetting rodent traps have been deployed in the core of the Puaiohi’s range, thanks to funding from the successful crowdfunding campaign – #BirdsNotRats, American Bird Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and US Fish and Wildlife Federation,” stated Dr. Crampton. She continued, “This study allowed us to estimate Puaiohi distribution in remote parts of the species’ range that are difficult to survey, and identify new hotspots of Puaiohi where we should implement these management activities, which will accelerate the species’ rate of recovery.”

KFBRP, USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Diegmann Science Services, and University of Hawaii Hilo Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit worked together develop a special methodology to survey this cryptic bird species in this difficult environment and to use both field-collected and remoted-sensed data to generate a population estimate. KFBRP is a collaboration of the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaii Manoa that is responsible for conducting research that aids the conservation of Kauai’s endangered forest birds.

DBEDT Recruiting Hawaii Companies for 2017 Tokyo International Gift Show

For the sixth consecutive year, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) is promoting Hawaii-made products through a special Hawaii Pavilion at the autumn 2017 Tokyo International Gift Show (TIGS).

During Sept. 6-8, 2017, at the Tokyo Big Sight venue, the Hawaii Pavilion will be home base for up to 70 Hawaii companies seeking to export locally made gift products.  TIGS is the largest international trade show in Japan with more than 4,100 exhibitors showcasing personal gifts, consumer goods and decorative accessories.  Show organizers anticipate more than 200,000 buyers, wholesalers and distributers to attend the three-day trade show.

“The Tokyo International Gift Show provides the opportunity to showcase Hawaii’s unique products to an international audience,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “This helps us grow our trade sector and add value to the Hawaii brand, which is recognized around the world, especially in Japan.”

At last year’s Tokyo International Gift Show, 62 Hawaii companies reported projected sales of more than $15 million.

A sampling of Hawaii-made products showcased at last year’s gift show included:

  • Fashion: casual and resort wear and accessories
  • Specialty food and gift products: many of which are only found in Hawaii
  • Cosmetics and nutraceuticals: derived from our natural ocean and botanical resources
  • Agricultural products: such as candies and fruit jams, jellies and preserves; fresh Maui-grown pineapple and onion; Big Island macadamia nuts, papaya and coffee.
  • Locally designed jewelry
  • Wood products: utilizing koa and specialty woods.

Funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant, the Hawaii Pavilion at TIGS is part of a series of initiatives DBEDT has undertaken to increase the export of Hawaii’s products.

Export-ready Hawaii companies interested in participating in the 2017 Tokyo International Gift Show should email dbedt.tigs@hawaii.gov to receive an exhibitor’s packet or apply online at invest.hawaii.gov.

Deadline to submit application forms is Friday, April 7, 2017.

Benefits of Beekeeping Course to be Held at UH Hilo and Pahoa

The College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo offers a course on basic beekeeping. Sessions will be held April 4, 11, 18, 25 and May 2 and 4 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in UH Hilo’s College Hall Room 6, and April 22 and May 6 from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. at Paradise Nectar Apiaries in Pahoa. Tuition is $120 and includes the text book.

Benefits of Beekeeping is designed for anyone new to bees as well as those who have bees and are interested in new ways to relate to and care for them. Participants will learn about treatment‐free beekeeping practices based on bee biology and how to develop a relationship and understanding of bees, their castes, and the roles each caste contributes to the hive.

Instructor Jen Rasmussen has been caring for honey bees on Hawaiʻi Island since 2008. She has developed various methods of maintaining her hives without the use of chemicals or treatments, and organized the beekeeping program at the Island Princess Macadamia Nut Farm.

Private and non-government employers/businesses may qualify for a 50% tuition waiver through the State’s Employment & Training Fund (ETF). For details, visit
http://labor.hawaii.gov/wdd/home/employers/etf/micro/ and apply at least 10 business days before the start of class.

For more information or to register, contact CCECS at 932-7830 or email ccecs@hawaii.edu.

Oahu Casting Call for Channing Tatum and Tom Hardy Movie

A casting call for paid extras and actors in a movie starring Channing Tatum and Tom Hardy will be held on Saturday, March 25th from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM at the Olelo Television Studios in Mapunapuna over on Oahu.

Big Island Police Identify Victim in Mauna Kea Access Road Crash

Police have identified the female who died from injuries sustained in a one car crash Sunday (March 12) on Mauna Kea Access Road.

She was identified as 35-year-old Aurelie Vincent of Vienne, France.

Police are also asking anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Erhard Autrata at 961-8118 or email: erhard.autrata@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island wide Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

Federal and State Agencies Investigate Death of Hawaiian Monk Seal on Hawaii Island

Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources are working together to try and understand what led to the death of an endangered Hawaiian monk seal, tagged as RB18.

R4DP was found dead in February.

The 10-year-old male seal was found dead in a submerged fish pen maintained by Blue Ocean Mariculture in nearshore waters near Keahole Point on Hawai‘i Island on March 5, 2017.  Blue Ocean Mariculture reported to NMFS that the pen was emptied of most of the fish, and they’d removed a large side panel to allow a shark to escape.  The monk seal was reported to NMFS the next day as deceased in the pen.

A necropsy (animal autopsy) was performed on O‘ahu by NMFS veterinarians and biologists. They concluded the seal drowned, as it had no signs of serious injury or disease.

RB18 was often seen in the area feeding on fish outside the net pen.  Its stomach was full of large fish, suggesting that it had foraged very recently prior to its death. Ann Garrett, Assistant Regional Administrator in the NMFS Protected Resources Division said, “It is often difficult to determine a precise cause of death for marine mammals because of their complex diving ability, but necropsy observations led to the conclusion that RB18 drowned in the net. We’ve confirmed that this net is now out of service and Blue Ocean Mariculture has removed the top of the pen to further reduce the risk of further entrapments, while the company is in the process of removing the entire pen from the ocean. This is a rare situation and NMFS is investigating the death of the seal.”

In addition to federal permits, Blue Ocean Mariculture has a permit from the State of Hawai‘i.  DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We are greatly saddened by the death of RB18 but are working together to learn from this tragedy and to minimize any additional impacts to monk seals and other protected marine species that may be associated with offshore aquaculture and the Blue Ocean Mariculture operation.” The DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands is also conducting an investigation and review and will prepare a report with recommendations to avoid this from happening in the future.

Big Island Press Club Awards Lava Tube Award to Former Mayor Kenoi – Torch of Light Award to Nancy Cook Lauer

The Big Island Press Club awards its annual meritorious Torch of Light Award to West Hawaii Today reporter Nancy Cook Lauer and the Lava Tube dishonor award to former Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. The Torch of Light award is given to an individual who brightens the public’s right to know, while the Lava Tube dishonor is given for a lack of communication and keeping the public in the dark.

Lava Tube Dishonor

The Lava Tube is awarded to Kenoi for his failure to disclose a number of personal expenditures relating to his use of a county-issued purchasing card, as well as a failure to disclose as required by law other financial matters such as real estate sales.

Kenoi’s admitted misuse of his pCard involved large alcohol and food expenses, including visits to Honolulu hostess bars. A surfboard and other purchases considered personal were also uncovered, including “meals at the Volcano House Restaurant and the Hilo Yacht Club,” for which Kenoi was accused of falsifying records. The mayor repaid taxpayers for the purchases, though some payments took years, and not until they were uncovered by journalists.

Kenoi was eventually indicted on theft and record-tampering felony charges, but was acquitted after state prosecutors were unable to convince a jury that he had intentionally planned to “permanently deprive” funds from the taxpayers of Hawaii County. Despite his acquittal, Kenoi admitted at the start that “Certainly, I could have used better judgment … I’ve used my pCard when I shouldn’t have.” He admitted to violating the county ethics code.

Further indiscretion uncovered during the mayor’s final year in office included Kenoi’s failure to disclose the sale of lands belonging to him, as required by county law. Between 2012 and 2014, Kenoi and his wife sold over two dozen acres of agricultural-zoned land worth nearly $400,000 and did not list these transactions on annual forms requiring the mayor to report “real property with a fair-market value of $5,000 or more sold during the disclosure period.”

Since its founding, the Big Island Press Club has protested any absence of transparency or accountability within the halls of state and county government in Hawaii. The BIPC’s officers believe that Kenoi’s lack of transparency regarding his personal assets and taxpayer-funded expenditures was a disservice to the citizens he was elected to represent. Big Island residents should be able to trust their chief executive to be forthcoming in his or her dealings as a public official and, with these acts, Kenoi failed to honor that trust.

Torch of Light

BIPC has selected Nancy Cook Lauer, a reporter for West Hawaii Today, for its Torch of Light award. Cook Lauer is honored for her work on breaking the story surrounding Kenoi’s use of a county-issued pCard.

As a column in Honolulu Civil Beat explains, “Lauer is the dogged reporter who uncovered Kenoi’s questionable use of a county credit card, including charging taxpayers for the $900 he spent in one day at a Honolulu ‘hostess’ bar.”

When covering the mayor, Cook Lauer had requested access to a number of financial disclosure reports concerning Mayor Kenoi’s travel expenses, only to be sidelined by the county. Cook Lauer was able to report on Kenoi’s alleged misdeeds with the help of an anonymous source, who provided Cook Lauer with the necessary documents implicating Kenoi in the ensuing scandal.

The allegations against Kenoi were serious enough for Cook Lauer and other journalists to further investigate the mayor’s pCard use. The ensuing due process of law would not have been possible without Cook Lauer’s initial reporting on the mayor.

The BIPC has always maintained that it is the role of the media to bear witness and be the eyes and ears of the public. Independent reporting is critical to providing the public necessary information so that they may infer informed conclusions about their government, especially concerning the people elected to represent them.

The Big Island Press Club, the state’s oldest press club, founded in 1967– has awarded the Lava Tube and the Torch of Light annually since 1997 on Freedom of Information Day, March 16. This day also marks the birthday of our nation’s fourth president, James Madison. Born in 1751, Madison was the principal architect of the U.S. Constitution, and one of the three authors of the Federalist Papers; he is recognized by historians as one of America’s earliest and foremost advocates for open, accountable governance.

Previous Lava Tube Dishonorees

  • 2015 State Land Board Chairwoman Suzanne Case
  • 2014 Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago
  • 2013 Democratic Party House District 5 Council
  • 2012 State Sen. Clayton Hee
  • 2011 Governor Neil Abercrombie
  • 2010 Hawaii County Council
  • 2009 Noelani Whittington, County Department of Public Works
  • 2008 Mayor Harry Kim and Hawaii County Council
  • 2007 State Board of Education
  • 2006 Honolulu, Kauai, and Hawaii County Councils
  • 2005 District Judge Matthew S.K. Pyun
  • 2004 State Land Board Chairman Peter Young
  • 2003 State Sen. Cal Kawamoto
  • 2002 University of Hawaii Board of Regents
  • 2001 University of Hawaii Board of Regents
  • 2000 State Rep. Eric Hamakawa and Hawaii County Councilman James Arakaki
  • 1999 Hawaii County Council
  • 1998 Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano
  • 1997 Hawaii County Councilman Elroy Osorio

Previous Torch of Light Honorees

  • 2015 State Sen. Lorraine Inouye
  • 2014 USGS HVO Scientists
  • 2013 Mayor Billy Kenoi
  • 2012 County Councilwoman and state Rep. Helene Hale (posthumously)
  • 2011 State Judicial Selection Commission
  • 2010 Hawaii County Civil Defense and other departments
  • 2009 Legislature, Gov. Linda Lingle
  • 2008 Les Kondo, Office of Information Practices
  • 2007 West Hawaii Today
  • 2006 Lillian Koller, State Department of Human Services
  • 2005 Retired Circuit Judge Paul de Silva
  • 2004 UH Manoa Journalism Professor Beverly Keever
  • 2003 U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink (posthumously)
  • 2002 Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim
  • 2001 Hawaii County Clerk Al Konishi
  • 2000 Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano
  • 1999 Jerry Rothstein and Judith Graham
  • 1998 Environment Hawaii and Common Cause
  • 1997 Society of Professional Journalists, Hawaii Chapter