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Kupu Unveils “The ʻŌhiʻa, the Story of Hawaiʻi’s Tree” on Hawaiian Airlines

Starting this month through July, Hawaiian Airlines will air a special short film, “The ʻŌhiʻa, the Story of Hawaiʻi’s Tree,” as part of its Hawaiian Skies domestic in-flight programming. In partnership with Kupu, Hawai‘i’s leading conservation and youth education organization, USDA Forest Service and Hālau ʻŌhiʻa – Hawaiʻi Stewardship Training program on Hawai‘i Island, the video highlights the cultural and ecological significance of ʻōhiʻa and the impact of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death (ROD).

ʻŌhiʻa are the most abundant native tree species throughout the state of Hawaiʻi and hold significant biological, cultural and economic value. (Photo by JB Friday)

“This video project presented an opportunity not only to address a major conservation issue, but also share the important work that is being done by our partners, program participants and the community on Hawai‘i Island,” said John Leong, Kupu CEO. “We need to continue to work together to increase awareness about these types of issues, while empowering the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders who will continue to protect our environment and develop more resilient and sustainable communities in Hawai‘i.”

The short film features scientists, conservationists, kumu hula, dancers and families of Hawai‘i Island’s community, who are bound by their aloha for and commitment to ʻōhiʻa. Each share personal stories about ʻōhiʻa and the vital role this tree plays in the environment, Hawaiian culture and community. Featured speakers include: USDA Forest Service Research Ecologists Christian Giardina and Flint Hughes, and Natural Resource Specialist Kainana Francisco; USDA Agricultural Research Service Plant Pathologist Lisa Keith; Hālau ‘Ōhiʻa – Hawaiʻi Stewardship Training Founder and Trainer Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani; Kupu Interns Ardena Saarinen and Kawehi Lopez, and Program Coordinator Malia Heimuli; and Lahela Camara and her daughter Hāwelelani.

“As a destination carrier, we strive to provide our guests with warm hospitality and unique in-flight offerings,” said Renee Awana, senior manager of product development at Hawaiian Airlines. “As part of that, we also understand the importance of educating visitors about our pristine and fragile island habitat. Together with Kupu, we believe this film will shine a light on an important issue that all travelers should be aware of.”

Five species of ʻōhiʻa are endemic to Hawai‘i, one of which, Metrosideros polymorpha, is the most abundant native species in Hawai‘i, making up 80 percent of native forests. As one of the first plants to colonize an area after a lava flow, ʻōhiʻa trees are instrumental in developing soil and forming new ecosystems. They dominate old soil and most everything in between, providing critical habitats for countless native species throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Not only is ʻōhiʻa considered one of the most ecologically significant plants in Hawai‘i, it is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture through moʻolelo (stories), mele (song), ʻoli (chant) and hula (dance).

“ʻŌhiʻa is as old as the volcanic islands,” said Kekuhi Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani of Hālau ʻŌhiʻa. “When we talk about their significance, we may talk about objects of the culture. But, what we need to begin talking about seriously, is if the ʻōhiʻa were not here, what about our lifeway might change.”

Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death (ROD) is a disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis Fimbriata. Since it was discovered in 2014, ROD has wiped out ʻōhiʻa trees across 50,000 acres on Hawai‘i Island, at an average loss of 10 percent per year.

“It’s impossible for me to imagine a Hawaiʻi without ʻōhiʻa,” said Kainana Francisco of the USDA Forest Service. “Losing ʻōhiʻa would have devastating ripple effects on our forest landscapes and watersheds, the health of our islands and our communities, and Hawaiʻi culture and lifeways. So it’s important for everyone, Hawai‘i stewardship agencies and organizations, our communities, and even our visitors to our islands, to continue to work together to prevent the disease from spreading, and protect Hawai‘i’s precious natural resources and unique ecosystems.”

While the disease is currently isolated to Hawai‘i Island, it has the potential to spread to other islands and affect ʻōhiʻa and the health of ecosystems statewide. Simple ways that anyone can prevent the spread of ROD include:

  • Not moving any parts of the ʻōhiʻa plant;
  • Not transporting ʻōhiʻa interisland per the State Department of Agriculture’s quarantine rule preventing ROD from reaching other islands;
  • Avoid wounding or pruning ʻōhiʻa plants, which make them vulnerable to the fungus;
  • Decontaminate gear and tools (including shoes and clothes) before and after entering forests; and
  • Wash tires and undercarriages of vehicles when traveling off-road and to any areas affected by ROD.

For more information about ʻōhiʻa, ROD,and other updates on the work that needs to be done about ROD, visit www.rapidohiadeath.org.

“I prefer not to say Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death,” added Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani. “That’s not what we want. What we want is Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Health. Without them, there is no life in the Hawaiʻi Islands.”

Chocolate Worth Gold at Big Island Chocolate Festival Gala

It’s a destination for delicious at the sixth annual Big Island Chocolate Festival gala 5-9 p.m. Sat., April 29 at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Indulge in both savory and sweet temptations prepared by top chefs and chocolatiers, plus unlimited wine and beer pours, in the spacious ballroom and twinkle-lit courtyard.

More chocolatey fun includes a tasty mole and salad bar, plus chocolate body painting and a chocolate sculpture display. Magic Strings, with versatile violinist Ursula Vietze, will serenade attendees and Kona Dance and Performing Arts stages classic tap dance, jazz and musical theatre during “Le Chocolat.” Dj EzE will spin tunes for your dancing pleasure while a silent auction will offer a variety of local activities and dining options.

This year’s event theme is “Worth Its Weight in Gold: The History of Chocolate” and culinary stations will be judged on their depiction of the theme, plus a host of “best” culinary categories: savory, plated dessert, bonbon, bean-to-bar, Hawaiian cacao and People’s Choice for Best Savory and Best Sweet.

In addition to the Hapuna Beach Hotel, culinary participants to date include Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Cafe Pesto, Fish Hopper, Madre Chocolate, The Fairmont Orchid, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Hilo Sharks Chocolate, Hilton Waikoloa Village, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Sweet Eats, Guittard Chocolate Company, Prova, Valhrona USA, Huggo’s and Huggo’s on the Rocks, Padovani’s Chocolates, West Hawai’i Community College-Palamanui, Big Isle culinary high school students and the Cocoa Outlet with its signature, four-foot-tall chocolate fountain.

Numerous, off-island culinary professionals will judge the gala’s delicious offerings. Celebrity chefs coming from the Mainland are Alicia Boada of Cacao Barry, one of few individuals accredited as an executive pastry chef, culinary administrator and culinary educator by the American Culinary Federation; Stéphane Tréand, MOF of The Pastry School; author Paul Picton, owner of Maverick Chocolate; and Donald Wressell, executive pastry chef of Guittard Chocolate Company. Judges from Maui include chefs Elizabeth McDonald of B3 A Beach Bunny Bakery; Ricky DeBoer of The Fairmont, Kea Lani; and Yoshikazu Kizu of Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, while Michael Moorhouse is coming from Waikiki’s Kahala Hotel & Resort. Prizes will be awarded at the gala, plus winners will be announced for the event’s Friday college culinary competition.

General admission tickets to the gala are $79 presale, $100 at the door. Also available is the Saturday I LOVE Chocolate! all-day pass for three daytime culinary demos and the evening gala priced at $135.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), event proceeds benefit the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn., Kona Dance & Performing Arts, Kona Pacific Public Charter School and Waimea Country School’s Na Keiki Aloha ‘Aina.

Find ticket info, plus details on the event’s April 28-29 agricultural activities and culinary demonstrations, at www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com. The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel offers festival room rates, phone 888-977-4623 and ask for BICF rate. Island Air offers festival attendees a 10 percent discount for travel April 24-May 3, 2017: Code BICF10 and travel must be booked by April 29. Terms and conditions may apply.

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. Mahalo to 2017 event sponsors Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Guittard Chocolate Company, Prova, Valrohna USA, Cacao Barry, Barry Callebaut, ChoiceMART, Kona Auto Center, Dolphin Journeys, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Amoretti, Cocoa Outlet, Kona Brewing Company, Young’s Market, Waialua Estate Coffee & Chocolate, XPress Reprographics, The Spoon Shop, Island Asphalt Maintenance, DHX, Island Air, Republica Del Cacao and The Wave@92FM.  www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com. @BIChocoFest

University of Hawaii Volleyball Coach Dave Shoji to be Honored at the Capitol

In recognition of his years of dedication and devotion to the State of Hawai‘i and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Wahine Volleyball program, the Senate and House will celebrate “Dave Shoji Day” at the State Capitol on Thursday, April 13.

@DaveShoji on Twitter

“It is an honor to recognize Coach Shoji in the Senate,” said Sen. Kaiali`i Kahele, Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education and a former UH men’s volleyball player.

“His legacy and remarkable career is undeniable. As a member of the UH Menʻs Volleyball team from 1994-1997, I will always remember how kind he treated me as well as the advice and mentorship he gave me as a student athlete. I am honored to know him and wish him the very best in retirement. My appreciation for Coach Shoji is also extended to his wife Mary and children Cobey, Kawika and Erik for sharing Coach Dave with all of Hawaiʻi.”

“Coach Dave Shoji not only made Hawai‘i proud of the outstanding accomplishments of the University of Hawai‘i Wahine Volleyball team, he taught his players valuable life lessons in leadership, camaraderie and honor,” said Rep. Angus McKelvey, Chair of the House Higher Education Committee. “He brought the UH into the national spotlight as a program to be reckoned with, and gave us all tremendous pride in the talent of the young athletes he mentored.”

The floor presentation recognitions will be held at the beginning of the Senate and House regular sessions.

  • WHO: Members of State Senate and House, Retired UH Wahine Volleyball Coach Dave Shoji
  • WHAT: Floor presentations for Dave Shoji
  • WHEN: Thursday, April 13, 2017, 11:30 a.m.  Senate Session, 12 noon House Session
  • WHERE: Senate and House chambers, Hawai‘i State Capitol

Hospice of Kona Seeks Community Volunteers

Families of a loved one with a long-term illness or who are grieving a loss appreciate the range of supportive services provided by the Hospice of Kona (HOK) volunteer team.  West Hawaii residents wanting to help their neighbors and give back to the community can become a Hospice of Kona “Stars of Service” volunteer by attending the mandatory trainings that will be held at the HOK offices (75-5925 Walua Road, Suite 102) from 8:30am to 4:30pm on April 11th and 12th.

To register, please contact Adriana DeGress, Director of Volunteer Services/Events, 808-443-2936 or adegress@hospiceofkona.org.  Attending both meetings is mandatory to become a Certified Hospice Volunteer. Please bring a brown bag lunch; beverages and dessert provided.

“We have volunteers of all age ranges, from teenagers to retirees,” said Adriana.  “They’re the heart of our organization, because they extend their hearts to families and friends of patients with life-limiting illnesses.”

Volunteer positions include massage therapists, hair stylists, patient companions, bereavement support, Reiki therapists, musicians, and many others. Volunteers may have specific roles within the home setting or assist Hospice of Kona in other areas.

Alchemy of Aloha: A New Play Showcase

Two original theater performances centered around Hawaii Island’s people and their stories are set to debut in Downtown Hilo during Aloha First Fridays, this Friday, April 7 at 7pm at East Hawaii Cultural Center. The event is open to all ages and admission is free.

Alchemy of Aloha is produced under the direction of Seattle-based The New Alchemists, in partnership with Waiakea High School and Full Life Hawaii. The goal of the community theater project is to uplift local voices and showcase the unique stories of the island’s diverse communities.

Performances are inspired by Full Life participant Jennifer Poblano’s published short story, ‘FUZZY LAND,’ and Waiakea High School’s recent production of an original script dealing with adolescent LGBTQ identity titled ‘FriENDship’ by Zoi Nakamura.

Alchemy of Aloha is directed by Lily Raabe, with original music by Ahmed Alabaca, and production support from Hilo native Brandon Estrella. Custom performance masks crafted by local artist Kathleen Kam.

YWCA Honors Dr. Lynda Dolan, Mitch Roth as Remarkable

The YWCA of Hawaii Island will honor local physician Dr. Lynda Dolan and Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth as its 2017 Remarkable People.

The pair will be honored at the ninth annual Remarkable Person Luncheon Thursday, April 13, at 11:30 a.m. at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Moku Ola Ballroom.

“The YWCA is proud to recognize Lynda and Mitch for their exceptional achievements in the workplace and throughout the community,” said Kathleen McGilvray, CEO of YWCA Hawaii Island. “Our honorees exemplify what it means to be remarkable, and have truly gone above and beyond in service to others.”

Dolan has provided comprehensive medical services in East Hawaii for 20 years, and serves as a mentor for the next generation of healthcare providers. Roth, a former deputy prosecutor on Oahu and Hawaii Island, is Prosecuting Attorney for Hawaii County, and works tirelessly to create safe and healthy communities.

There are a limited number of tickets and sponsorship opportunities available. For more information, or to purchase tickets, contact Naomi at the YWCA of Hawaii Island office at 930-5705 or via email tuyemura@ywcahawaiiisland.org

Dolan found her way to Hilo from Upstate New York in 1997 after she met island-boy Michael Costales, whom she later married. As a family practice physician, she is passionate about caring for the community and has her eye on continuously improving the overall healthcare experience. Dolan strategizes and works with stakeholders to ease the administrative burden on physicians while empowering patients to be more in tune with their own healthcare.

Dolan’s reach into the community extends beyond her practice, The Family Medicine Center. A strong believer in the continuum of care, she serves as medical director for Hospice of Hilo. She serves on the board of East Hawaii Independent Physician Association with the goal of keeping private practices alive and thriving. Dolan also lends a physician voice to various HMSA committees and initiatives.

For years, she has served on Hilo Medical Center’s Medical Executive Committee, holding several positions including Family Medicine Department Chair, Vice Chief of Staff, and was the first female Chief of Staff. Dolan currently serves on HMC’s Utilization Review committee, and is a former chair of the Focused Review, Quality, and Credentials committees. She sits on the Hilo Medical Foundation Board of Trustees and is an active volunteer at St. Joseph School. Dolan spends time precepting at the Hawaii Island Family Residency Clinic, and mentors students pursuing careers in healthcare. She lives in a multigenerational household with her husband, children, Dylan, Evan and Michaela, and her mother, Rita. Their oldest child, Mahina, son-in-law Bryce and granddaughter Khloe visit as much as possible.

Roth has been a prosecutor in Hawaii for more two decades. He’s served as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City & County of Honolulu and Hawaii County. In 1994, while at the City, he developed a community-oriented prosecution program and became the first Community-Oriented Prosecuting Attorney in the State.

Roth joined the Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office in 1998 where he supervised the Asset Forfeiture program, the Community-Oriented Prosecution project, and was designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. He helped start a Community Coalition for Neighborhood Safety Big Island chapter, was the Interagency Coordinator for the Domestic Violence Interagency Team, and helped bring the Shattered Dreams Youth Alcohol Prevention project to the island. He was elected Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney in 2012 and 2016.

Roth’s commitment to community is evident in his involvement in many organizations including the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii Island, Exchange Club of Hilo, Rotary Club of Hilo, and the Western Community Policing Institute, where he’s been a trainer since 1996. He’s served on numerous boards and steering committees across the state including the Community Empowerment Organization, Turning Point for Families, Hawaii Community Resource Center, and YMCA Hawaii Island.

Roth received his bachelors from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and earned his Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School. He is happily married to his wife, Noriko; together they have three children.

Costco Coming to East Hawaii

Costco has announced plans to open on the East side of the Big Island of Hawaii in 2018.  Their current plans are to renovate and expand at the former Safeway located at Prince Kuhio Plaza.Representative Ian Kirkland stated, East Hawaii residents have been longing for a Costco and are “tired of making the drive over from the Hilo side of the island for a simple hot dog or pizza combo special.”

Costco plans to open 32 warehouses in fiscal 2018 — a record expansion pace for the retailer. By comparison, it added 23 locations last year and its highest new warehouse count over the last decade was the 31 stores it opened in 2007.

Safeway had no comment on this story and has rebuilt another store within a mile of this location.

New warehouse launches provide a quick boost to membership levels and revenue growth. But the real impact isn’t felt until the stores mature into their tenth year and beyond. Costco’s newest locations that were opened in the last three years, for example, have averaged $104 million of sales during their freshman years. But that number steadily climbs toward $178 million per year for the Costco warehouses that have been around for over a decade.

Plans for a Maui and Kauai Costco are being discussed but nothing has been confirmed as of this post.  The grand opening date is scheduled for April 1st, 2018 according to developer Lirpa Sloof.

Kona Brewing Company and Lavaman Triathlon Celebrate 20 Years of Aloha – Traffic Advisory

Kona Brewing Co. will celebrate a twenty-year partnership with Lavaman Triathlon on Sunday, April 2, 2017.  Starting as a founding partner of the Lavaman Triathlon in 1997, Kona Brewing Company’s partnership with the local event has continued and evolved — the Lavaman Triathlon has grown more than 20-fold, from 83 participants to more than 1,800, and Kona Brewing Co. has become a fan favorite and the #11 craft beer sold in the U.S., growing 3x faster than other beers in the craft beer category. (source Nielsen, Total US xAOC FY 2016)

“Both brands started with big dreams and we’re now making big waves in our respective industries. We attribute this lasting partnership to our common goal of giving back to our community and are proud to have kept our joint slogan ‘Celebrate the Sprit’ alive for two decades,” said Gerry Rott, Lavaman Race Director.

The 51.5k mile race kicks off at the Waikoloa Beach Resort and ends with the annual Lavaman Awards Beach Party, where competitors and more than 600 volunteers celebrate the day by toasting with Kona Brewing Co.’s liquid aloha.

In addition to its support of the Lavaman Triathlon, Kona Brewing Co. is committed to social responsibility and donates more than $120,000 annually to a variety of local non-profit organizations which range from environmental protection, to cultural and community organizations.

“Giving back to our local community is in Kona Brewing Company’s DNA and we will continue to support the islands for years to come” said Eric Chang, Kona Brewing Co. Senior Market Manager. “Our roots and respect for the Islands run deep with two brew pubs and a 22 year history brewing beers in Hawai‘i.”

April 2, 2017 also marks the one-year anniversary of bottling Lavaman Red Ale, Kona Brewing Co.’s malty brew with caramel notes.

For more information, visit KonaBrewingCo.com and Lavamantriathlon.com.

Nainoa Thompson Receives Explorers Club Medal, the Most Prestigious Recognition in Exploration

Navigator and president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society Nainoa Thompson was honored this evening with the 2017 Explorers Club Medal, the most prestigious recognition in exploration. The award was presented to Thompson at the 113th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at Ellis Island in New York City.  The medal is awarded annually to select individuals for their extraordinary contributions directly in the field of exploration, scientific research, or to the welfare of humanity.

2017 Explorers Club Medal winner Nainoa Thompson with ocean explorer, Sylvia Earle.

Thompson was recognized for his historic work to revive and perpetuate Polynesian wayfinding and for leading the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage as captain and navigator of iconic sailing canoe Hokulea. Thompson has dedicated his life to teaching the art and values of wayfinding to generations of navigators throughout Polynesia and from across the globe. He was the first Native Hawaiian to practice long-distance wayfinding since the 14th century and consequently inspired a voyaging renaissance throughout the Pacific.

Today, Hokulea is completing the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, a journey to inspire communities to care for themselves, each other, and their natural and cultural environments for a more sustainable future. To date, Hokulea has sailed over 31,000 nautical miles around the world.

Hokulea is currently on her way to the Marquesas Islands. The canoe’s last stop will be in Tahiti where she will meet up with her sister canoe, Hikianalia and sail back to Hawaii together on the final leg of the Worldwide Voyage.

The Explorers Club also honored Hokulea at a special Presidential Dinner in June 2016 on World Oceans Day.

In addition to Thompson, Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, M.D. received the Explorers Club Medal for Solar Impulse, a solar powered airplane circumnavigation project that has raised public awareness and encouraged political actions in favor of clean technologies and energy efficiency around the world. The event was hosted by two-time Academy Award winning actor, Robert DeNiro, who introduced a congratulatory video from past Explorers Club Medal recipient, award-winning filmmaker, and fellow Ocean Elder, James Cameron. Cameron’s video discussed the importance of education, conservation, and oceans exploration, lauding the night’s awardees for their landmark endeavors and environmental stewardship.

Founded in 1904 in New York City, The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. The Club serves as a meeting point and unifying force for explorers and scientists worldwide, promoting the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences. An illustrious series of first explorations are credited to members of the Club, including the first visit to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean and first to the surface of the moon.

The Explorers Club Medal is the Club’s highest honor. Past recipients of the Explorers Club Medal include James Cameron, for his outstanding contributions to ocean science; Walter H. Munk, for his extraordinary oceanography achievements that span his 75-year career; and Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D., for his significant contributions to the welfare of humanity through science and education.

For information on the Explorers Club Awards and other 2017 recipients, please click here.

Second Annual Hawaii Island Festival of Birds Announced

Program dates for the Second Annual Hawaii Island Festival of Birds have been announced as September 15 – 17, 2017 and will once again be headquartered at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

The Festival program will feature expert guest speakers Jeff Gordon, President of the American Birding Association, and Kenn Kaufman, renowned author, artist and conservationist along with a trade show for outdoor and birding equipment, children’s corner, bird-themed arts and crafts fair, photography and painting workshops, a birding film festival, and time to interact with Hawaii Island naturalists and bird experts. Guided field trips on land and sea will be included in the program offering.

Birdwatching! Photo by Lance Tanino

Festival participants will be able to take part in guided birdwatching field trips along the newly created Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail, and in guided boat trips departing from Honokohau Harbor to observe seabirds.  The 90-mile Hawaii Island Coast to Coast 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 Hawaii Island Coast to Coast 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 Hawaii Island’s unique plants and trees, geology, history and scenic view points are also emphasized.

Palila photo by Jack Jeffrey

New this year will be a birding-focused film festival on Friday (September 15) with documentaries about Hawaiian birds showing on Friday afternoon plus a feature film playing outdoors on Friday night.  Saturday’s workshops will include an expert talk from Brian Sullivan, project leader for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for eBird.org, and a panel discussion by naturalists and biologists of their last sightings of now extinct Hawaiian birds.

Photo by Jack Jeffrey

Saturday’s program options include a hands-on Photography Workshop and an Art Workshop with materials provided.  Saturday night’s Gala Dinner will be headlined by Kenn Kaufman speaking on the significance of Hawaii’s unique bird life. Detailed schedule of events is available at birdfesthawaii.org

New American Birding Association Recognition

Following last year’s inaugural Hawaii Island Festival of Birds, members of the American Birding Association voted overwhelming to add Hawaii to the ABA Area. For birders, this is huge as it has the potential to add substantially to the official ABA Area Checklist. There are at least 320 bird species documented in the Hawaiian Islands, of which 30 endemics remain. “There’s so much to learn about Hawaii’s native birds,” said Rob Pacheco, founder of Hawaii Forest & Trail and a member of the Festival’s organizing committee. “And we’re thrilled that Hawaii is now recognized as part of the ABA Area by the American Birding Association. We look forward to welcoming ABA’s members, and birding fans in general, to Hawaii and the Hawaii Island Festival of Birds.”

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

Hawaii Island Rotarians and Weinberg Work Day at YWCA

The YWCA of Hawaii Island was again the recipient of the labor of the Rotary Club of Hilo Bay as part of its Weinberg Friends Project. The labor earned a $10,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to aid survivors of sex assault.

David Herd and Paula Uusitalo painting lot lines.

More than twenty-five Rotarians perked up the YWCA of Hawaii Island Ululani campus February 26, 2017.  They cleaned, gardened, painted inside and out, scrubbed toys, power-washed exterior areas, and removed debris at 145 Ululani Street, which houses the YWCA preschool. “They put in a hundred people hours of work and everything looks great,” said Kathleen McGilvray, CEO of YWCA Hawaii Island.

Rotary Day president Kevin Hopkins

The Weinberg grant was awarded to the Big Island Coalition Against Physical and Sexual Assault (BICAPSA). BICAPSA will use the money to provide nursing assessments to children reported to be victims of child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, regardless of their ability to pay. “We are so pleased to partner with BICAPSA as we serve survivors of sex assault.  We expect over 300 abused children could need these services this year,” McGilvray said.

Sandy and Selina Custodio

As the YWCA Hawaii Island has been a recipient of Rotary Club of Hilo Bay’s Weinberg projects before, it was quickly able to respond to the Club’s request for a proposal.  “The end result proved the value of a bunch of strong business and community leaders working together on a service project,” said Kevin Hopkins, president of the Rotary Club of Hilo Bay. He invited non-profit agencies to go to www.hilobayrotary.com and learn more about previous projects and how to apply.

Hawaii DLNR Accepting Proposals to Increase Water Security

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is accepting proposals for projects or programs submitted by public or private agencies or organizations to increase water security in the State of Hawaii.

Click to view

Act 172 Session Laws of Hawaii 2016 requires DLNR to establish a two-year pilot program for a Water Security Advisory Group (WSAG) to enable public-private partnerships that increase water security by providing one-for-one matching funds for projects or programs that:

  1. Increase the recharge of groundwater resources;
  2. Encourage the reuse of water and reduce the use of potable water for landscaping irrigation; and
  3. Improve the efficiency of potable and agricultural water use.

Public or private agencies or organizations are encouraged to submit proposals to the WSAG at the address provided in the Request for Proposals by Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) may be viewed or downloaded at:  http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/cwrm/planning/watersecurity/

The request for proposals may also be viewed or a hard copy picked up, at the Commission on Water Resource Management office located at 1151 Punchbowl Street, Kalanimoku Building Room 227 in Honolulu.

To request a copy of the RFP by mail, please send an email to admin@oneworldonewater.org

Ka‘u Coffee Festival Perking May 19th – May 28th

The ninth annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival celebrates its award-winning brew with a host of events starting May 19 and continuing through the weekend of May 27-28 with a java-jumpin’ ho‘olaulea‘a on Saturday and the Ka‘u Coffee College educational series on Sunday.

Supported by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and a bevy of sponsors and volunteers, the Ka‘u Coffee Festival is designed to celebrate Ka‘u as a premium coffee growing origin and a unique visitor destination. Many events are free, while others require a nominal fee and reservations. All activities feature the exceptional flavor and aroma of Ka‘u coffee and the remarkable people and special place that produces it. Kindly note the 2017 festival schedule is subject to change; check www.kaucoffeefest.com for the latest information.

On Saturday, May 13, the annual Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant showcases the crowning of 2017 Miss Ka‘u Coffee and her court. 6 p.m. at the Ka‘u Coffee Mill. $10 admission. Contact 808-928-0606 or trinimarques@yahoo.com.

Friday, May 19 – Pa‘ina & Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House featuring music, hula, food and house tours 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Corner of Maile and Pikake in Pahala. Hosted by Pahala Plantation Cottages, Ka‘u Chamber of Commerce and The Ka‘u Calendar newspaper. Free, donations accepted for Miss Ka‘u Coffee Scholarship Fund.  www.kaucoffeefest.com, www.pahalaplantationcottages.com. 808-928-9811.

Sunday May 21 – Ka‘u Coffee Recipe Contest offers a free, 2 p.m. cooking competition with cash prizes at Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Entries are accepted in pupu, entree and dessert categories and all recipes are made with Ka‘u coffee. Free coffee tasting and meet Miss Ka‘u Coffee. Find contest entry info at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call Lisa at 808-928-0550.

Monday, May 22 – Observe the heavens from the summit of Makanau at Ka‘u Star Gazing, 5:30-10 p.m. $35 with refreshments and shuttle transportation departing from Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Sign up at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call 808-928-0550.

During the week visit Ka‘u coffee farms. Enjoy the scenic and historic beauty of Ka‘u, Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach, Honu‘apo fishponds, the cliffs of Ka Lae—the southernmost place in the U.S.—and the nearby Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Stay in one of the many accommodations in Ka‘u. Visit www.kaucoffeefest.com for participating coffee farms and accommodations.

Wednesday, May 24 and Thursday, May 25 – Explore historic flume systems of the sugarcane era and development of hydroelectric power on a Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike in the Wood Valley rainforest 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Limited to 30, $40 includes lunch.  Visit www.kaucoffeemill.com or phone 808-928-0550.

Saturday, May 27 – Festival fun bubbles over with the free Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a—a full day of live music, hula, food booths, local crafts, keiki activities, educational displays, guided coffee tastings and farm/mill tours headquartered inside and out of the Pahala Community Center, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. It’s a great place to “talk story” with Ka‘u coffee growers.  The Ka‘u Coffee Experience offers Ka‘u coffees prepared using a variety of methods by professionals from 9:30 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Farm tours with shuttle transport are 9:30 and 11 a.m., plus 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m., $20. Call 808-929-9550 or visit www.kaucoffeefest.com.

On Sunday, May 28 learn about the specialty coffee industry with presentations given by notable coffee experts at the Ka‘u Coffee College at Pahala Community Center. The Ka‘u Coffee College has become known for hosting some of the most renowned industry professionals from around the globe. Free, donations appreciated. Call 808-929-9550 or www.KauCoffeeFest.com.

Founded in coffee traditions dating to the 1800s—Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous coffee quality awards. These accolades highlight the unique combination of people and place that makes Ka‘u coffee a favorite across the globe. The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘u as a world-class, coffee-growing origin.

Ka‘u Coffee Festival vendor and sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information and festival updates, visit www.kaucoffeefest.com, follow Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Facebook and @kaucoffeefest on Twitter, or call 808-929-9550.

Construction Begins on Terminal Modernization Project at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Airports Division marked the start of construction on the Terminal Modernization Project Phase 1 at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. The groundbreaking ceremony kicked off construction of an improved facility that will enhance the customer experience for those traveling to and from Kona.

From left to right: Ross Higashi, HDOT Deputy Director Airports Division; Chauncey Wong Yuen, Manager Kona Airport; Governor David Ige; Senator Lorraine Inouye; Frank Okimoto, Nan Inc.

The $75 million investment will focus on reorganizing the existing layout of the airport in an effort to streamline operations. Improvements will be made to the security screening area, holding rooms, concession area, and restrooms.

More than three million passengers use KOA annually. Currently, the North and South Terminals are operating as two independent terminals, requiring passengers to go through security again when exiting one terminal and entering the other. The renovation will allow passengers to freely move between terminals to promote shopping and dining in the additional retail space that will be created.

Governor David Ige speaks about the upgrades that will be made at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole.

Instead of two separate security screening stations, there will be one centralized security area. The new 6-lane passenger screening checkpoint building will expedite the processing of outbound passengers and reduce the time spent in line. Baggage screening will also undergo improvements as the new inline baggage handling system will employ an Explosive Detection System for baggage screening which will improve work efficiency for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and airport operations.

Additional features include new restrooms in both the public area before screening and in the terminal areas. The project also includes two covered bag drop areas for added convenience.

“The upgrades to the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport are a key component in the statewide Modernization Program,” said Gov. David Y. Ige. “Joining the two terminals will boost the airport’s operational efficiency and will offer permanent solutions that will have lasting benefits for the State of Hawaii for years to come.”

“In December 2016 we were thrilled to welcome international flights from Tokyo back to Kona and we expect passenger volumes to continue to soar,” said Ford Fuchigami, Hawaii Department of Transportation Director. “Our goal is to provide each and every passenger with an enjoyable experience which will leave a positive impression with our visitors and residents.”

From left to right: Kahu Brian Boshard, Frank Okimoto, Nan Inc., Chauncey Wong Yuen, Manager Kona Airport; Senator Lorraine Inouye; Governor David Ige; Representative Nicole Lowen; Representative Cindy Evans; Ross Higashi, HDOT Deputy Director Airports Division.

The project is scheduled to be completed within two years. The lead contractor is Nan, Inc. and the design team is led by KYA.

The Terminal Modernization Project at Kona International Airport at Keahole is part of the $2.7 billion statewide Modernization Program that is improving facilities at airports statewide.

March “Tiki” Madness Event to Help The Food Basket, Hawaii Islands Food Bank

Renowned local artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker along with Kona Oceanfront Gallery is holding a “March Tiki Madness” event this Friday March 24 from 6PM to 9 PM.

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker

Part of sales proceeds generated from this high profile event will be donated to The Food Basket, Hawai’i Island’s Food Bank, one of Parker’s favorite charities.  “The Food Basket is very excited to be working with Brad ‘Tiki Shark’ Parker for another gallery event,” said Jamilia Epping, Director of Public Relations and Events at The Food Basket. “We are appreciative of his efforts to aid in the elevation of hunger as an issue in our community. The Food Basket is unable to survive without the generous support of the community, including businesses and individuals such as Brad. Mahalo!”

Parker and Kona Oceanfront Gallery Owner Mark Hanna

“If you ever wanted to own a Brad Parker piece of art, this would be the time to get one” quoted the artist.  Mark Hanna the owner of Kona Oceanfront Gallery has agreed to consider “all and any offers on Brad artwork as long as a generous donation of canned food items are brought along that evening to be donated”.

All in the community are encouraged to come out and participate in a night filled with Art, Entertainment and Charity.  Brad will be in attendance to autograph, personalize and talk story with his patrons.  Kona Oceanfront Gallery is the premier gallery on the Big Island that carry’s all of Brad’s latest art.  The Gallery is centrally located on Ali’i Drive next to Bubba Gumps; free validated underground event parking will be available.  SEE YOU THERE!

Hikianalia Launches from Hawaii to Reunite with Hokulea

Polynesian sailing vessel Hikianalia launched from the Marine Education Training Center at Sand Island today to meet her sister canoe Hokulea in Tahiti. This will be the crew’s final stop to share the Malama Honua message before sailing back home to complete the Worldwide Voyage.

The journey to Tahiti marks the inaugural voyage as captain for apprentice navigator Kala Baybayan Tanaka. Tanaka is an educator and apprentice navigator with Maui’s voyaging society, Hui o Waa Kaulua, where she teaches about  Polynesian wayfinding techniques to children and other interested learners. Tanaka draws her inspiration and connection to voyaging from her father and pwo navigator, Kalepa Baybayan, who will also be aboard while Kala captains Hikianalia to Tahiti.

“As a captain for the first time I’m reminded of the amazing teachers like my dad who I’ve learned from over the years,” said Kala Babayan, captain of Hikianalia. “It’s truly an honor to lead this leg on an epic journey that aims to inspire the world and our home here in Hawaiʻi.”

Hikianalia is the Hawaiian name for the star also known as Spica, which rises together with Hokulea (Arcturus) in Hawaii. They are sister stars because they break the horizon together at the latitude of the Hawaiian Islands. The 72-foot canoe Hikianalia is a modern Polynesian voyaging canoe and sister canoe to the Hokulea, uses sustainable solar and wind energy to combine the latest ecological technology with the heritage of the voyaging tradition.

The crews anticipate arrival at Tahiti around mid-April. They will travel throughout Tahiti and Raiatea to engage with the local community in ceremony and education outreach as they celebrate the message of caring for Island Earth at the close of the nearly four-year long voyage. Together, Hokulea and Hikianalia will head home to a welcoming ceremony on Magic Island in June 2017.

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls for Federal Decriminalization of Marijuana

Continuing her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor today urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana.

If passed, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (H.R.1227) would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list—joining other industries such as alcohol and tobacco. Gabbard introduced the legislation with Rep. Tom Garrett (VA-05), an Army veteran and former prosecutor.

“Our outdated policies on marijuana are having devastating ripple effects on individuals and communities across the country. They have turned everyday Americans into criminals, torn apart families, and wasted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for non-violent marijuana charges,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Differences in state and federal law have also created confusion and uncertainty for our local businesses, who face contradictory regulations that affect their bottom line and ability to operate. I urge our colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation which would decriminalize marijuana, bringing about long overdue and common sense reform.”

“There is growing consensus acknowledging that the effects of marijuana are less harmful than its criminal prohibition, which has increased incarceration rates, divided families, and burdened state governments with the high cost of enforcement, prison and probation. It’s clear that there are more vital needs that we as a society need to allocate our precious resources towards, such as education, mental health, and homelessness. Decriminalization is a step forward in making needed criminal justice reforms, which should also include more diversion to substance abuse treatment,” said Karen Umemoto, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and juvenile justice researcher.

“As long as marijuana is federally illegal, FDIC regulations make it impossible for banks to provide any services to the eight Hawaiʻi Medical Marijuana Dispensary licensees. Federal decriminalization will enable professional dispensaries to provide much needed patient access and cost savings,” said Richard Ha, CEO of Lau Ola, a medical marijuana dispensary on Hawaiʻi Island.

“Descheduling cannabis will benefit Hawaiʻi patients by allowing for more rapid research to identify the best medical marijuana strains and dosages for individual medical conditions. Also, eliminating the barriers to banking will make it easier and safer for Hawaiʻi patients to purchase the medicine they need and eliminate unnecessary expense and complexity for dispensaries,” said Brian Goldstein, Founder and CEO of Mānoa Botanicals, a licensed medical marijuana dispensary on Oʻahu.

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard supports the full legalization of marijuana on the federal level as part of her overall effort toward criminal justice reform. Last month, she visited correctional facilities throughout the state, and met with inmates, criminal justice advocates and experts, health professionals, educators and others to discuss reducing recidivism and her continued efforts to pass federal criminal justice reform legislation like the SAFE Justice Act and the Sentencing Reform Act.

The congresswoman has also supported legislation like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaiʻi and nationwide.

 

Announcing East Hawai’i Officer of the Year and Firefighter of the Year

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized Puna Patrol Officer Joshua Baumgarner on Monday evening (March 20) as the East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Year” and Fire EMS Captain Chris Honda as “Firefighter of the Year.”

Hawaii County Council Member Susan Lee Loy, ‘Firefighter of the Year’ EMS Captain Chris Honda, ‘East Hawai’i Officer of the Year’ Puna Patrol Officer Joshua Baumgarner, Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth, and Senator Kaiali’i Kahele

Baumgarner, who began solo patrol duty in April 2016, was honored for saving the life of a woman who would have bled to death without his aid.

Honda, a member of the Fire Department since 2000, was honored for improving cardiac arrest survival rates on Hawai‘i Island.

On September 23, 2016, Officer Baumgarner was among the police officers who responded to a home in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision to find a 29-year-old woman bleeding profusely after punching a glass window during a domestic dispute. The woman’s husband and young children were frantic at the scene, where the husband was unsuccessfully attempting to stem the bleeding.

Baumgarner quickly took action. He applied direct pressure to the woman’s affected artery, elevated her feet to concentrate remaining blood in her vital organs, and reassured her to prevent shock. He was successful in stopping the bleeding, and he continued to maintain constant pressure on the artery until Fire Department rescue personnel arrived on the scene about 8-10 minutes later. The woman was taken to the hospital and survived her injuries.

Sergeant Chris Correia, who nominated Baumgarner for the award, noted that the officer had training as a combat medic in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

“Officer Baumgarner’s background in the medical field, as well as his calm demeanor in providing and maintaining first aid treatment saved the life of a gravely injured person,” Correia wrote in nomination papers. “His decisive action in the saving of a life truly embodies the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Core Values of Integrity, Professionalism, Compassion, Teamwork, and Community Satisfaction.”

Baumgarner was named “Officer of the Month” in November for the same incident.

The Fire Department’s honoree, Captain Honda, was promoted to his current position as a Fire Medical Specialist III, or EMS Captain, with the EMS Bureau in August 2012. He is the Fire Department’s lead in “High Performance” CPR training, the “Community Hands Only” CPR training in schools project, and the “Pilot HPD AED” response program.

Since inception, more than 9,000 persons have been trained in “Hands Only” CPR. In that time, cardiac arrest survivor rates improved from 4 percent in 2014 to more than 10 percent in 2016. In 2016, 19 out of 197 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims walked out of the hospital neurologically intact.

One such success story involved several students who participated in and helped instruct the “Hands Only” CPR training at Waiākea High School. They performed “Hands Only” CPR on a friend who collapsed in cardiac arrest off campus while playing basketball. Because of their training, the students were able to resuscitate their classmate, who later recovered in time to graduate with his class as the valedictorian.

During his time off, Honda can be found on the baseball field as a volunteer coach, mentoring youth on the values of hard work, commitment, sacrifice, integrity and teamwork.

The East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Year” and “Firefighter of the Year” awards are a project of the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi.

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.

Kona Family Fun Day

The Big Island Substance Abuse Council (BISAC) is hosting their 4th Celebrating Our Community event in Kona on March 25, 2017, 11:00am to 2:00pm.

BISAC has successfully provided family friendly events in the last three years which include our Summer Jam, Puna Fall Fest, and Splash Bash events.  In continuation of bringing these types of events into rural communities, BISAC’s Kona Family Fun Day is another free fun-filled event which will be held at the Kailua Kona Park Grounds.

This free Family Wellness event will bring resources to the community; promote anti-drug and health and wellness messages.   The event will feature a health and resource fair made up of community organizations, games, food, bouncers, and an arm wrestling tournament.   There will be many free giveaways: bikes, razors, iPods, cameras, beats, etc.    Come out and meet our MC, Kona’s very own and 808 Viral celebrity Kona Kaipo.