Man Charged in Connection with Theft of County Mass Transit Bus

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged 21-year-old Kawelo Nakamura in connection with the theft of a county mass transit bus.

Kawelo Nakamura

On (August 6), at 3:43 p.m., police located the bus on Route 130 and was able to stop it near the intersection at Kaohuwalu Street in Pāhoa, at which time officers arrested Nakamura who was its operator.

Photo by Daichi Marquis

On (August 7), police charged Nakamura with first degree theft, accident involving vehicle/property damage, first degree criminal property damage, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and driving without a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Photo from Kawika Tokita on Facebook.

Nakamura is being held at the Hilo cellblock in lieu of $13,000 bail pending his initial appearance in South Hilo district court (August 8).

Kiki Lane stated the following on Facebook which lead to the arrest: “”The bus” just over took us on railroad and side swiped my mirror and kept driving, my kids are freaking out and this piece of shit didn’t even stop! police were called! Keep on the look out bus number 342 and license plate Ch3439″….
“Update: just spoke to the police “the bus” that hit me was a stolen bus!
bus number 342 and license plate Ch3439
Please be on the look out and stay out of his way!”

Police initially responded to a 1:47 p.m., report (August 5), of a hit-and-run traffic accident on Railroad Avenue in Hilo involving a Hawaiʻi County mass transit bus that fled the scene. No one was injured in that incident. At 2:36 p.m., police were informed that the bus was stolen from the County’s Hilo base-yard sometime early Saturday morning.

Witnesses saw him earlier down at 4-mile Beach in Keaukaha earlier in the morning. Photo from Kawika Tokita Facebook Account.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or have any other information about it is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Tuckloy Aurello of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2385 or Tuckloy.Aurello@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

New Online Service to Request Building Related Inspections

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works Building Division is pleased to announce a new online service to better serve the community. You can now request your inspections online.

Just use the new Online Inspection Request Form located on the Building Division’s website at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/pw-inspections. The form will assist in gathering all the information needed for your inspection request. Once completed and submitted it will send an email to the inspector that your request will be assigned to. Your inspector will then be able to schedule your request.

You can also bookmark the online inspection request form for direct access from your computer or mobile device.

For more information or assistance please contact the County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works Building Division:

East Hawai‘i – (808) 961-8331
West Hawai‘i – (808) 323-4720
Email – cohbuild@hawaiicounty.gov

Traffic Signal Upgrade on La’aloa Ave. and Kuakini Hwy. Intersection Wednesday

The Department of Public Works Traffic Division will be working on the traffic signals at the La’aloa Ave. and Kuakini Hwy. (Hwy. 11) intersection, on Wednesday, August 9, 2017, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., weather conditions permitting.

The upgrade involves installing wireless vehicle detection sensors in the roadway on all three approaches and programing the traffic signals to optimize traffic flow. The intersection will remain open and the Traffic Division will work on one approach at a time with Special off-duty police officers supporting them in directing motorists around the lane they are working in. Motorists are advised to expect delays and are encouraged to use alternate routes.

Hawai‘i County 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.

Hawaii Island Festival of Birds Adds to Event Schedule

The second annual Hawai’i Island Festival of Birds has enhanced its event and speaker lineup. The Festival, scheduled for the weekend of September 15-16, includes an all-day Bird Fair on Saturday at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, and field trips on Friday and Sunday.

Saturday’s Bird Fair, including special programs for children, will be highlighted by talks from expert guest speakers Jeff Gordon, President of the American Birding Association, Dr. Eric Vanderwerf, President of Pacific Rim Conservation, and a panel discussion on the last sightings of now-extinct endemic Hawai’i birds.

Noah Gomes, a recent graduate of the University of Hawai’i with a M.A. in Hawaiian Language and Literature will share his research on the ancient bird hunters of the Hawaiian archipelago. Attendees can also learn and shop at 20+ vendor booths from 9am to 3pm. In addition, now joining Saturday’s Bird Fair booths will be famed Japanese bird carver and inlay artist, Haruo Uchiyama, who will be displaying his bird carvings of Hawaiian honeycreepers as well as selling his bird wood inlay artwork and pins that he is bringing with him from Japan.

Mayor Harry Kim, a bird enthusiast, will welcome Bird Fair attendees at noon, and Suzanne Case, Chair of the Department of Land & Natural Resources will officially launch the Hawai’i Island Birding Trail’s new website.

Photo by Jack Jeffrey

Saturday’s Bird Fair options include Birding 101 class by renowned mainland author, artist and conservationists, Kenn and Kim Kaufman; a workshop on eBird by Brian Sullivan, project leader for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; a hands-on Photography Workshop with professional photographer Jack Jeffrey; and an art workshop with California artist Catherine Hamilton. Materials will be provided.

“We are very pleased with the excellent reception we’ve had so far,” said Rob Pacheco, Hawaii Forest & Trail President and Festival volunteer. “Not only are we enrolling participants from Hawai’i, but birders from across the U.S. Mainland and Internationally have already registered via our website. The Festival is a boon to Hawai’i tourism, and it also will give our keiki (children) a chance to learn more about the nature of Hawai’i, with the help of experts who will be joining us to teach at the Festival.”

On Friday and Sunday, Festival participants will be able to take part in guided birdwatching field trips along the newly created Hawai’i Island Birding Trail, and in guided boat trips departing from Honokohau Harbor to observe seabirds. The 90-mile Hawai’i Island Birding Trail is a cross-island link from Kona (on the west coast) to Hilo (on the east coast) that connects diverse habitats from ocean to mountain top, rainforest to lava plains.

The self-guided Hawai’i Island Birding Trail, modeled after similar North American trails, follows a network of sites so users can take in all or any part of the route along the way. Locating and observing birds is, of course, the main event on the Trail, but discovering Hawai’i Island’s unique plants and trees, geology, history and scenic viewpoints are also emphasized.

Friday afternoon’s program at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay includes a film festival and panel discussion focusing on the conservation of Hawai’i’s birds, and the topics portrayed by the films shown. The series of short films include Endangered Hawaii from the American Bird Conservancy, The Endangered Forest Birds of Hawaii from DLNR, Struggle for Existence by Laurie Sumiye and Archives of Extinction by Alyse Takayesu.

A detailed schedule of events is available at birdfesthawaii.org.

Sponsors of the Hawai’i Island Festival of Birds include Hawai’i Tourism Authority, County of Hawai’i, Hawaii Forest & Trail, Destination Marketing, Hawai’i Wildlife Center and Alaska Airlines.

Hawaii Forest Institute Receives Grant from OHA – Funding Benefits Native Dryland Lama Forest of Kaʻūpūlehu

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) awarded Hawai‘i Forest Institute $172,262 over two years to tend, honor and grow a place of peace and safety for the native dryland lama forest of Kaʻūpūlehu. The land grant funding will assist Hawai‘i Forest Institute with its “Aloha ‘Āina. Aloha Kaʻūpūlehu. Aloha Wao Lama.” program to foster restorative kinship relationships between community and ʻāina, utilizing educational stewardship, traditional ecological knowledge, and contemporary and institutional scientific methods.

Wayne Tanaka (Environmental Law Clinic group from Honolulu) and Lehua Alapai choosing the next lā‘au to kanu at Ho‘ola Ka Makana‘ā o Ka‘ūpūlehu. They are under the shade of the ‘Ēlama (Lama) tree. February 19, 2017. Photo by YYC.

OHA recently approved $6 million in grants over the next two fiscal years to programs benefitting the Native Hawaiian community. Hawai‘i Forest Institute was one of 23 organizations receiving grant funding to help meet its Strategic Plan priorities relating to housing, income, health, education and culture. The funds will be disbursed for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

“We are extremely grateful to OHA for supporting ecology forest restoration and educational programming including our ‘Aloha ‘Āina. Aloha Kaʻūpūlehu. Aloha Wao Lama.’,” said Hawai‘i Forest Institute Executive Director Heather Simmons. “These valuable funds help continue the stewardship work at Kaʻūpūlehu and foster active, accountable and sustainable relationships for all community stakeholders.”

The long-term mission of the Kaʻūpūlehu project is for people to feel connected and committed to perpetuating a functioning native landscape, its genealogical stories and multiple truths, and treating each other with kindness and respect. The vision for Kaʻūpūlehu is to become a healthy landscape of plenty, alive with native plants, bird song and history that will be tended and cherished by many.

Kaʻūpūlehu is one of 23 traditional ahupua‘a (or land divisions) in the kekaha region of North Kona. To learn more about the unique ecology, history and culture of Hawaii’s dryland forests, visit http://www.drylandforest.org/.

Other funders of the restoration and education program at Kaʻūpūlehu Dryland Forest include landowner Kamehameha Schools, Dorrance Family Foundation, Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC) Climate Fund, Hawai‘i Community Foundation FLEX-Arthur Lawrence Mullaly Fund, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Kūkulu Ola Program, and American Forests.

Hawaii State Moves Forest Carbon Project Forward

4,700 Acres Made Available for Reforestation to Generate Carbon Credits

A first-of-its-kind initiative in Hawai‘i to use carbon offset credits for reforestation and recovery of Hawai‘i Island pasture land is moving forward with the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP).  The program involves planting of native tree species such as koa and mamane, restoration of the watershed on the north slopes of Mauna Kea, and habitat restoration for the endangered native bird, the palila. The initiative will generate revenues for all the activities through the sale of carbon offset credits.

One “carbon offset credit” certifies the storage of one metric ton of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in plants and other organic material. Carbon offset credits are used to offset carbon emissions, often referred to as greenhouse gas emissions, from transportation, commercial activities, and other carbon emitting activities. Offsetting carbon emissions is recognized as an important way to reduce the impact of climate change. The market for voluntary carbon offset credits has been growing worldwide for many years spurred by individuals and corporations that wish to reduce their carbon footprint. By making the Pu’u Mali Restoration Area available for a forest carbon project, DLNR is creating opportunities to generate carbon credits locally.

Philipp LaHaela Walter, State Resource and Survey Forester in the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) explained, “Our goal is to give companies and individuals a transparent and measurable way to contribute to the protection of Hawai’i’s watersheds and forests for future generations. We are noticing that the local business community is increasingly making the conservation of our natural resources such as beautiful, healthy reefs, stunning mountain forests, and clean freshwater a part of their kuleana. We are excited to provide opportunities to contribute and to help continue the State’s national leadership in building sustainable communities through this innovative approach.” Proposals in response to the RFP will be due on August 31, 2017. A site visit at the Pu’u Mali Restoration Area was held for entities interested in submitting a proposal on August 1.

If you drive a car, fly in a plane, use air-conditioning to cool your home, or engage in any activity that creates greenhouse gas emissions, you’ll soon have a way to offset your emissions locally.  The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved this first State carbon offset project in early July.

Forest Carbon Project Video News Release, 8-7-17 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.