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Tomorrow – Battle of the BBQ’s and Mai Tai Festival at the Royal Kona Resort

Tomorrow, August 19th 2017, the Royal Kona Resort celebrates the legendary Mai Tai cocktail at the ninth annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival.

Watch as over 20 of the world’s top bartenders converge on the Big Island of Hawaii to mix it up in a battle for the title of World’s Best Mai Tai and a $10,000 cash prize.

Festival Highlights include:

  • Mai Tai Marketplace: Shop for crafts and island treats from local artisans and merchants from 11am-4pm
  • Battle of the BBQ: Taste and vote for Hawaii’s best barbecue from 11am-2pm
  • Pool Party: Listen to live music from local Hawaiian artists by the pool from 2:30pm-4pm

Mai Tai Mix-off: From 4:30pm – 7:30pm watch bartenders from around the world vie for the title of World’s Best Mai Tai and cash prizes. First place winner receives $10,000, second place winner receives $5,000, and third place winner receives $2,500.

For the past eight years, the Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival has drawn bartenders from around the globe to compete for the title of World’s Best Mai Tai and cash prizes. This annual festival is a full-day, fun-filled event with live entertainment, a pool party, arts and crafts displays, a BBQ Cook-Off Contest, food booths, and lots more. The main event is the exciting action-packed Mai Tai Mix-Off contest. Watch and cheer for the competing bartenders as they create their own potent and signature spin on the historic Mai Tai, an island favorite.

Past participants

The 2016 Festival crowned Art Deakins of Bar Leather Apron in Honolulu, HI the winner of the $10,000 first prize and title of “World’s Best Mai Tai”. Second place was Tim Rita of the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, NV. The third best mai tai recipe was created by Kevin Beary of Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, IL.Also part of the Festival’s activities was the battle of the barbeques. The Judge’s Award for “Best BBQ” was taken by Cool Runnings Catering of Kailua-Kona, HI. The People’s Choice award winner was Umeke Restaurant also in Kailua-Kona, HI.

Search Enters Third Day for Missing Army Aviators off Oahu

Responders enter day three in the continuing search for five missing Army aviators from a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Friday.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point returns from a first-light flight to refuel and continue searching for five Army aviators Aug. 17, 2017. An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter went down approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, prompting the joint search effort. (U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

Searching are:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew from Honolulu
  • Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) and crew from Base Honolulu
  • Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point
  • Navy P-3 Orion aircrew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
  • Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
  • UH-60 Black Hawk from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • Shore patrols and a helicopter crew from Honolulu Fire Department
  • Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services
  • Crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources
  • Shore patrols from the Army

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point searched throughout the night and is scheduled to resume efforts Friday afternoon following sufficient crew rest.

The search area remains at as much as 50 miles offshore having expanded since the incident due to swift and dynamic currents in the area. Fixed-wing aviation assets are searching the leading edge while helicopters and vessels are concentrating efforts now 25 miles offshore.

None of the missing aviators have been located yet. Debris continues to be spotted and recovered in the area off Ka’ena Point by responders. Personnel at the joint forward operating base at Hale’iwa Boat Harbor continue to coordinate efforts.

A safety zone remains in effect extending out in a five nautical mile (5.75 statue mile) radius from the point 21-27.919N 158-21.547W, geographically located roughly two miles northwest of Ka’ena Point, established by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Wednesday. No vessels or persons are authorized to enter this zone without prior approval from the Captain of the Port. A broadcast notice to mariners has been issued. Ka’ena State Park trails remain closed at this time.

Debris from the crash should be considered hazardous material and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment. The debris poses potential risk and could cause serious bodily harm due to sharp edges. Those who see or encounter debris consistent with this type of aircraft along the north and west side of Oahu are asked to report it to responders by calling the 25th Combat Infantry Brigade Staff Duty Officer at 808-656-1080.

The search began late Tuesday following notification to the Coast Guard from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communication with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. The missing aircrew was reportedly engaged in night time training operations between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield.

Weather on scene is similar to the previous days, with 17 mph winds, seas to 4-feet and isolated showers. Visibility is good.

North Kona Water Restiction Update – Spare Motor Defective and Cannot Be Used

This is an Emergency Water Restriction update for North Kona. The Department of Water Supply’s (DWS) Honokohau Deepwell is out of service. Therefore, ALL residents and customers in North Kona must immediately restrict water use to health and safety needs (drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes) only. Cease all landscape irrigation activities.

During today’s work, it was discovered that the spare motor is defective and cannot be used. DWS is now working on several options to obtain another spare motor before resuming the installation work. The updated repair schedule is to be determined.

DWS appreciates the community’s efforts to restrict their water use during this time. Government agencies, businesses, and other customers that use recycled wastewater or reclaimed water, in lieu of potable water, for their daily operations are to be commended. Adjustments were made to the water distribution system and a minimum level of water service is being maintained.

However, without everyone’s continued cooperation, there will be areas that will experience periodic loss of water service or lower water pressures. We also recommend that residents store a sufficient amount of water for basic household needs, such as drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes, in the event of service disruptions.

For your use, potable water can be obtained from a water tanker located on Hina Lani Street between Anini Street and Manu Mele Street as well as water spigots on a fire hydrant along Ane Keohokalole Highway, between Kealakehe Parkway and Kealakehe High School. Please bring your own drinking water containers to fill.

For more information visit our website at www.hawaiidws.org. To report any observed wasteful use of water call 961-8060 during normal business hours or email dws@hawaiidws.org. For after hour emergencies call us at 961-8790.

Forever In Our HeARTS – In Honor of Stephanie Becher

Forever In Our HeARTS: A night of scenes, songs, memories, love and laughter in honor of Stephanie Becher.

The variety show will be at Hilo’s Historic Palace Theater, Thursday August 24, 2017 at 7:30pm. Stephanie Becher was a mother, friend, attorney, and beloved member of the Hilo theatre community. Sadly we lost her after complications of a necessary heart surgery in July 2017. This concert will be performed in her memory by her many friends in the theater community.

The show will feature scenes, songs, and dances from a variety of shows in which Stephanie has performed. This evening of laughter and loving memories will honor Stephanie and help to raise funds for her husband and two young sons.

Please join us in remembering Stephanie for all of the brightness she brought to our world through the arts. A $20 donation is suggested; all proceeds benefit the Becher ‘ohana. Tickets are available in advance from performers and at the Palace Theater box office in Hilo and remaining tickets will be available at the door. For ticket information, call the Palace Theater at (808) 934-7010.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Newly-Activated Hawaiʻi Army Reserve Detachment; Kicks off 2017 Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta

Today on Oʻahu, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) delivered remarks at the 25th Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment (MCP-OD) Activation Ceremony at Schofield Barracks and honored the unit’s new commander, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Gavin Tsuda, a native of Honolulu. The 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD is the only division level MCP-OD in the Army Reserve, and joins nine National Guard MCP-ODs across the country being assigned to active duty divisions in order to provide headquarters elements with the additional manpower for areas such as intelligence, operations and logistics.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard addresses the newly-activated 25th Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment (MCP-OD)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “I’m grateful to have served Hawaiʻi and our country alongside LTC Tsuda, who personifies what it means to be a citizen soldier. As a soldier, he is known for his attention to detail, taking care of soldiers, upholding the highest standards, and mentoring junior soldiers to help them grow and better fulfill their own duties and assignments. As a civilian, he is committed to his community, and has dedicated much of his career to developing affordable housing for underserved communities in Hawaiʻi—a tremendous need in our state. As LTC Tsuda blazes a new trail as the first commander of the 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD, he will continue to set the bar high for this unit and its soldiers.”

Later in the day, the congresswoman kicked off the annual Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta at its opening reception and honored the 2017 recipients of the Daniel K. Inouye Leadership and Community Service Award—Assistant Race Director Natasha Haine and the late U.S. Congressman Mark Takai. The award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond the call to serve, dedicating themselves to honoring and supporting our wounded warriors, their loved ones, and our Gold Star families. Past recipients of the award include Judge Edward Kubo, Marc Haine, Gervin Miyamoto, Darryl Wong, Penny Kalua, Liz Sabog, and Race Director Matthew McCarville.

“Each year, this event harnesses the healing power of the ocean and our supportive community as our veterans and their families continue to recover from the wounds of war both visible and invisible. As we gather here tonight, the search continues for five of our own who are still missing off our shores—a heart aching reminder of the risks our servicemembers take every single day, whether in training or in combat, as they put their lives on the line for the security of our nation. Our hearts are with them, their families, and our first responders,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The congresswoman will join wounded warriors, Gold Star families, and Hawaiʻi’s veteran community in paddling in the 2017 Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta off the shores of Fort DeRussy this Saturday.

Commentary – City Rail Audit Won’t Look for Fraud?

Dear Damon,

This week, the Honolulu City Council Budget Committee approved a widely supported resolution to conduct an “economy and efficiency” audit of the city’s over-budget and behind-schedule rail project, but it didn’t go far enough.

That’s because, if approved by the Council as a whole, it would not be looking for fraud — this despite the fact that City Auditor Edwin Young told the committee “the red flags were there” when he was conducting his own very critical performance audit of the project just last year.

As amended, Resolution 17-199 would direct Young’s office to investigate the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s capital finances, which amount to at least $8 billion. This would be a big improvement over Young’s earlier audit, which looked only at HART’s operational finances of about $18 million annually.

During the hearing, Joe Kent, Grassroot Institute vice president of research, congratulated the committee for considering Councilmember Trevor Ozawa’s resolution to investigate the rail project, but expressed concern about its amended version.

“The proposed new language seems to suggest there is no desire to look into whether there has been any illegal activity in the rail construction process,” he said.

After Kent’s comments, Budget Committee members asked Young if any fraud had been found while he was conducting last year’s performance audit.

He responded: “We found that the internal controls were so weak that if fraud, waste or abuse were to occur, HART and (others) would not have detected it, could not prevent it, and could not have taken corrective action, if it had occurred.”

Pressed further, the city auditor said he would be willing to recommend a forensic audit seeking fraud, waste and abuse if the former HART executive director, Dan Grabauskas, were still in charge. However, the current proposed audit, which does not seek out fraud or abuse, would be sufficient for the current leadership.

But this misses the point.

The public deserves to know about fraud, whether it happened now or in the past. The only way to know for sure if Hawaii taxpayers have been getting true and honest returns for their hard-earned tax dollars is to conduct a full forensic audit of the rail project.

All the better if an entity independent of the city were hired to provide the staff and expertise to conduct such an audit — in a reliable, trustworthy and timely manner.

Such an audit likely would require separate funding; perhaps the $250,000 allocated by HART for “special audit services” would be a good place to start.

In any case, Hawaii leaders should not shy away from seeking out illegal or abusive activities in the Honolulu rail project. And only a “deep dive” forensic audit can accomplish that goal. Anything less is playacting.

E hana kakou (Let’s work together!),

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.
President/CEO Grassroots Institute of Hawaii

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses 25th Infantry

Today on Oʻahu, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) delivered remarks at the 25th Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment (MCP-OD) Activation Ceremony at Schofield Barracks and honored the unit’s new commander, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Gavin Tsuda, a native of Honolulu. The 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD is the only division level MCP-OD in the Army Reserve, and joins nine National Guard MCP-ODs across the country being assigned to active duty divisions in order to provide headquarters elements with the additional manpower for areas such as intelligence, operations and logistics.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “I’m grateful to have served Hawaiʻi and our country alongside LTC Tsuda, who personifies what it means to be a citizen soldier. As a soldier, he is known for his attention to detail, taking care of soldiers, upholding the highest standards, and mentoring junior soldiers to help them grow and better fulfill their own duties and assignments. As a civilian, he is committed to his community, and has dedicated much of his career to developing affordable housing for underserved communities in Hawaiʻi—a tremendous need in our state. As LTC Tsuda blazes a new trail as the first commander of the 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD, he will continue to set the bar high for this unit and its soldiers.”

Later in the day, the congresswoman kicked off the annual Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta at its opening reception and honored the 2017 recipients of the Daniel K. Inouye Leadership and Community Service Award—Assistant Race Director Natasha Haine and the late U.S. Congressman Mark Takai. The award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond the call to serve, dedicating themselves to honoring and supporting our wounded warriors, their loved ones, and our Gold Star families. Past recipients of the award include Judge Edward Kubo, Marc Haine, Gervin Miyamoto, Darryl Wong, Penny Kalua, Liz Sabog, and Race Director Matthew McCarville.

“Each year, this event harnesses the healing power of the ocean and our supportive community as our veterans and their families continue to recover from the wounds of war both visible and invisible. As we gather here tonight, the search continues for five of our own who are still missing off our shores—a heart aching reminder of the risks our servicemembers take every single day, whether in training or in combat, as they put their lives on the line for the security of our nation. Our hearts are with them, their families, and our first responders,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The congresswoman will join wounded warriors, Gold Star families, and Hawaiʻi’s veteran community in paddling in the 2017 Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta off the shores of Fort DeRussy this Saturday.