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New Portable Testing Tool Speeds Detection of Suspected Rapid `Ōhi`a Death Pathogens

Researchers have developed a new, more efficient tool for detecting the pathogens believed to be the cause of Rapid `Ōhi`a Death (ROD), according to a recently published study by the Hawaiʻi Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, the USGS Pacific Islands Ecosystem Research Center (PIERC), and USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS).
The authors of the report have developed a portable lab for diagnostic field testing for the two species of fungal pathogens that infect `ōhi`a (Metrosideros polymorpha). The portable lab, which provides quick results and reduces instrumentation costs, is currently being used by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) to detect infected trees and identify the distribution of the pathogens.

“Having this portable lab gives us the capability to do our own diagnostics and get a quicker answer about whether or not a tree is positive for ROD. The result then allows us to take management actions right away or do more targeted testing,” said Bill Buckley, Forest Response coordinator for BIISC and leader of their ROD Early Detection and Rapid Response Team.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture is also planning to use the portable lab to help screen shipments of `ōhi`a logs for the pathogens.

ROD was first identified in the lower Puna District in 2014, and now infects more than 50,000 acres of private and state forest lands on Hawaiʻi Island. ROD is a serious threat and imperils long-term sustainability of watersheds managed by Department of Interior agencies, the State of Hawaiʻi, and State Watershed Partnerships.

For more information on the study and its findings, visit https://dspace.lib.hawaii.edu/handle/10790/3025.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 42-Year-Old Kona Woman

5/11/17 UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 42-year-old Holly Brough, who had been reported missing.

She was located in Kohala in good health on Wednesday evening (May 10).  

Big Island Police are searching for a 42-year-old Kailua-Kona woman who was reported missing.

Holly Brough

Holly Brough was last seen on Alii Drive in March 2017. She is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-1, 125 pounds, with blond hair and brown eyes.

Police ask that anyone with information on her whereabouts to contact the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confiden tial.

Grand Naniloa Hotel – a DoubleTree by Hilton to Unveil “Kahele Point” in Honor of Late Hawaii Senator Gilbert “Gil” Kahele

The ownership of the new Grand Naniloa Hotel – a DoubleTree by Hilton is honored to announce that it will rename the hotel’s oceanfront dock as “Kahele Point,” in honor of the late Hawai’i State Senator Gilbert “Gil” Kahele. A dedication ceremony and the unveiling of the late Senator’s monument will take place on Monday, May 15 at 10:30 a.m., at the hotel’s oceanfront dock.

The late Senator Gilbert Kahele

The new hotel ownership offered to dedicate the monument and dock area as a means to show its gratitude of all of the redevelopment and service work of Senator Kahele. In response, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, through Hawai’i State Senate Resolution No. 104, established the monument area that will honor the late Hilo Senator for his contribution to public service and his efforts to commence the revitalization of Banyan Drive with the first nationally branded hotel in Hilo the DoubleTree by Hilton.

“Kahele Point” will feature a narrative plaque of the late Senator as well as fishing pole stands and keiki fishing poles, representing the Senator’s love for the ocean and fishing. The plaque will face moku ‘ola (Coconut Island) and downtown Hilo as well as expansive views of Hilo Bay and the coastline.

“The community of Hilo, Banyan Drive redevelopment efforts and now our new DoubleTree by Hilton project have all been blessed by the assistance and service of the late Senator Kahele,” said Ed Bushor, the CEO of Tower Development, which redeveloped the hotel project. “We extend a huge mahalo nui loa to the Kahele family for allowing us to honor his legacy by establishing this memorial in an area that will be used for boating and fishing activities for generations to come.”

The idea for the monument was in collaboration with the Kahele Family, Tower Development and the ownership of the new Grand Naniloa Hotel – a DoubleTree by Hilton.

Governor Ige Announces 32 Percent Decrease in Hawai‘i County’s Homeless Count

Gov. David Ige announced today that the homeless population across the state decreased for the first time in eight years. The annual Point in Time count—a census of people experiencing homelessness—showed a nine percent overall decrease in the number of homeless individuals across the state.

Click to see brochure

This year’s count found 7,220 homeless individuals across Hawai‘i compared to 7,921 in 2016.

Hawai‘i County saw the largest decline in homeless individuals – a 32 percent decrease.

“We have partnered with every mayor in every county, along with the private sector and service providers. We’ve had housing summits to identify the benefits of renting to the homeless. We have service providers to provide supportive care so that we can place families in permanent housing. It’s terrific news that homelessness is down 32 percent on Hawai‘i Island,” Gov. Ige said.

Maui County saw a 22 percent decline in homeless individuals and Kaua‘i County experienced a seven percent drop compared to 2016. O‘ahu saw a half percent increase in homeless individuals.

“I commend the many partners who have gotten out of their silos, come to the table and rolled up their sleeves. Together, we are finding more efficient ways to move people off the streets and into homes. This report is proof that our collective efforts are working,” said Gov. Ige. “While today’s news indicates that the tide has turned, there is more to do. My administration remains focused on increasing affordable housing and reducing homelessness in the State of Hawai‘i.”

A link to the overview of Point in Time’s full report, compiled by Hawai‘i’s two Continuums of Care—Bridging the Gap and Partners in Care—can be found on the governor’s website at governor.hawaii.gov.

Senator Kahele Hosting Town Hall Meeting on Legislative Updates

On Monday, May 15, 2017, the community is invited to attend a town hall style meeting hosted by Hawai‘i State Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele who will present an update on the recent legislative session.

“The East Hawai‘i delegation worked together to pass vital legislation for higher education, health, and community development, while also securing over $80 million in funding to help with capital improvement projects in the district,” said Sen. Kahele. “I encourage the public to come listen and provide any questions they may have regarding this past session.”

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 PM at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in UCB Room 100. To RSVP, please contact (808) 586-6760 or toll-free 974-4000 ext. 66760.

  • Date: Monday, May 15, 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Location: University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, UCB Room 100, 200 W. Kāwili St. Hilo, HI 96720

Hu Honua Reaches Agreement with HELCO on Biomass Plant

Hu Honua announced today that it has reached an agreement with Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) on an amended power purchase agreement (PPA).

HELCO agreed to revised terms for electricity to be produced by the biomass project and is submitting the amended contract to the Public Utilities Commission for approval of Hu Honua’s proposed pricing.

Hu Honua can resume construction on its half-completed facility and begin delivering clean, firm renewable energy by the end of 2018, if the PUC approves the amended PPA. The project would deliver firm, renewable power around the clock, making it a natural complement to HELCO’s existing portfolio of solar and wind power, which are intermittent sources.

Harold “Rob” Robinson, president of Island BioEnergy, Hu Honua’s parent company noted, “It’s a big win for Hu Honua, Hawaii Electric Light and the people of Hawaii Island to have an amended agreement. We are hopeful the PUC will recognize the project’s value in terms of economic benefits and energy stability.”

The amended PPA submission to the PUC includes information on pricing, which is lower than the original PPA; how the project will be less expensive compared to existing fossil fuel plants; and how the project will provide firm renewable energy that can replace existing fossil fuel plants.

Approximately 200 construction jobs will be needed to complete plant reconstruction, which is expected to take 14-18 months. Nearly 30 permanent operations and maintenance jobs will be available, once the plant is operational.

Hu Honua will become the foundation for a sustainable agriculture industry, creating approximately 200 jobs in forestry, harvesting, hauling, and in the production of wood products.

The project is expected to put $20 million into the local economy each year that would otherwise leave the state to purchase foreign oil, while helping the state secure its energy future and meet its clean energy goal of 100 percent renewable by 2045.

About Hu Honua

Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC is located in Pepeekeo on the Hamakua Coast of the island of Hawaii. When completed, the Hu Honua facility will be able to produce up to 30-megawatts (MW) of clean renewable baseload power, which means the plant can deliver reliable power that can be dispatched 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When operating at capacity, Hu Honua will be able to produce approximately 14 percent of Hawaii Island’s electricity needs and displace approximately 250,000 barrels of oil per year.

For more information, www.huhonua.com