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Hilo Attorneys Recognized for Volunteer Service to the East Hawaii Community

Forty-three attorneys were recognized during the Self-Help Center Recognition Awards on December 2nd for providing free legal information to more than 700 Hawaii Island residents who sought assistance at the Hilo Courthouse Self-Help Center in 2016.  Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald attended the recognition ceremony at the Hilo Yacht Club.

judiciaryThe Hilo Self-Help Center was established in July 2012 as part of the Hawaii State Judiciary’s commitment to increasing access to justice in the courts. Since opening, the Hilo Self-Help Center has assisted more than 3,700 people, with volunteer attorneys providing over 900 hours of legal information on civil matters, such as temporary restraining orders and divorce.  For over four years, these services have been provided at almost no cost to the state.

“I am grateful to the attorneys who volunteer their time at our Self-Help Centers, assisting individuals representing themselves in civil legal cases.  The generosity of these attorneys has been essential to increasing access to justice in our civil courts,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.

The volunteers were recognized by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Third Circuit Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra, Chief Court Administrator of the Third Circuit Lester Oshiro, and Third Circuit Deputy Chief Court Administrators Dawn West and Cheryl Salmo.

The individual attorneys who were honored are as follows:  Al Konishi, Robert Crudele, Paul Hamano, Melody Parker, William Heflin, Jeff Ng, Chris Schlueter, Damir Kouliev, Francis Alcain, Jennifer Ng, Laureen Martin, Chris Rothfus, J. Yoshimoto, Raymond Hasegawa, Joy San Buenaventura, Al Thompson, Austin Hsu, Doug Halsted, Dwayne Lerma, Joanne Goya, Kenneth Goodenow, Michelle Oishi, Nelson Kinoshita, Amy Self, Charlene Iboshi, Dakota Frenz, Darien Nagata, Edith Kawai, Harry Eliason, Jennifer Wharton, Jo Kim, Kanani Laubach, Lincoln Ashida, Lionel Riley, Lynne Kushi, Michael Kagami, Peter Kubota, Ryan Caday, Steven Strauss, Sylvia Wan, Ted Hong, Zachary Wingert, and Mitch Roth.

Chief Justice Recktenwald acknowledged the strong support of the late State Representative Clift Tsuji, who had attended the ceremony in previous years to recognize the volunteer attorneys.  “Representative Tsuji’s commitment to access to justice for all was truly inspiring, and is part of the legacy that he leaves for this community.”

Also acknowledged were AmeriCorps Advocates Samantha Puluole-Mitchell and Alexandria Agdeppa, as well as Legal Aid of Hawaii Staff Attorney Mark Haines, who, through the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, organize the Self-Help Center at the Hilo Courthouse each week.

Valerie Grab, Managing Attorney of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii’s Hilo Office said, “I am so pleased by the support the Hawaii County Bar Association and our local attorneys have given to this effort.  Every week, Hawaii Island residents use the Hilo Self-Help Center to gain information that helps them meet their legal needs.  The Hilo Self-Help Center is the product of a statewide collaboration of the Hawaii State Judiciary, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission, and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.  With the donation of their time and talents, today’s honorees are helping to make access to justice a reality for the Big Island community.”

The Chief Justice also thanked the Hawaii County Bar Association, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and the Access to Justice Commission for their support of the Self-Help Center.

Attorneys who would like to become involved with the Hilo Self-Help Center are invited to attend the next volunteer attorney training on Friday, January 20, 2017.  To register, please visit: http://www.legalaidhawaii.org/pro-bono-attorney.html.

For more information on the Hilo Self-Help Center as well as the Self-Help Desk at the Kona Courthouse, visit the Hawaii State Judiciary website, click on the “Self-Help” tab at the top of the page, and look for “Self-Help Centers” (see: http://bit.ly/23bEaXX).

Hu Honua Bioenergy Files Federal Complaint

Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC, a baseload 24/7 biomass electric plant on the Hamakua Coast on Hawaii Island, filed a civil antitrust complaint in federal court against Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawaii Electric Light Co., NextEra Energy Resources, and Hamakua Energy Partners, Wednesday (Nov. 30, 2016).

hu-honua

Hu Honua had a Public Utilities Commission-approved power purchase agreement with Hawaii Electric Light, which was unlawfully terminated as a result of actions by the defendants.

“Hu Honua regrets that the matter has come to this,” said Harold Robinson IV, president of Island BioEnergy, a majority owner of Hu Honua, “we’d rather have a power plant than a lawsuit. For almost two years we have unsuccessfully attempted to obtain Hawaiian Electric Light’s agreement to our reasonable requests to extend two milestone dates. Hawaiian Electric Light’s refusal to provide these extensions has left us with no recourse but to file suit to recover our substantial damages of $120 million that was invested in our 50 percent complete biomass power plant and our lost profits of $435 million.”

The complaint was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court, Hawaii District, by the legal teams of Bronster Fujichaku Robbins of Honolulu and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP of San Francisco.

The detailed allegations and the project’s complex history are outlined in the complaint, which alleges violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act and Hawaii unfair competition laws, as well as breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, and seeks to recover actual and treble damages. Hu Honua asks for a jury trial.

Robinson noted that “the concerted effort to monopolize electricity generated on the Big Island has not only blocked the state’s progress toward the achievement of its energy self-sufficiency mandates set by Hawaii Law, but also stunted the creation of almost 200 local jobs at the facility, in agriculture and ancillary services.”

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Announces Closures – Thurston Lava Tube Floods

Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) and the Kahuku Unit are closed due to impacts from heavy rainfall and flash flooding. The summit of Mauna Loa remains closed to all day use and overnight camping. Closures remain in effect until it is safe to reopen.

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

On Friday, the floor of the lava tube was flooded with rain, and water covered the electrical conduit system. The power was shut off, but visitor access is prohibited until further notice.

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The Kahuku Unit, which is usually open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, was closed for the day on Friday morning due to flooding and a road closure on Highway 11. Staff will reassess conditions Saturday morning, and determine if Kahuku will open for the weekend.

The National Weather Service extended the flash flood warning for Hawai‘i Island Friday afternoon through 5:15 p.m. HST.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa that remains in effect. Heavy rain and high winds pummeled the 13,677-foot summit, and abundant snow was visible on webcams and at sunset Thursday.

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised during the permit process to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

“Park rangers will constantly monitor the roads and destinations within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park during this storm, and additional closures may be warranted,” said Chief Ranger John Broward.

Representative Joy A. San Buenaventura Chosen for 2016 Western Legislative Academy

The Council of State Governments West (CSG West), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving Western state legislators of both parties in 13 Western states, has selected Hawaii Representative Joy A. San Buenaventura as a participant in its prestigious training institute for lawmakers in their first four years of service.  The purpose of the Western Legislative Academy is to build excellence and effectiveness in state legislators in the Western region.

rep-joy-fb-pictureAdmission to the Western Legislative Academy is very competitive and is based on commitment to public service, desire to improve personal legislative effectiveness and interest in improving the legislative process.  Out of 88 applicants from throughout the Western United States, 44 state legislators were selected as members of the Western Legislative Academy Class of 2016.

The Western Legislative Academy convenes from November 30 – December 3, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado for three and a half days of intensive training in subjects such as legislative institutions, ethics, communications, negotiations, time management and leadership.  Faculty is drawn from academia, former military and the private sector.  A highlight of the training is an afternoon at the US Air Force Academy working on personal assessments and team building.

San Buenaventura is a 2nd term Hawaii State Representative for the District of Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii. She is vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee and is a member of Transportation and Housing committees.  She is one of only two state representatives in the medical marijuana working group.

Prior to being a legislator, she has been a country attorney for more than 30 years specializing in appeals, litigation and family law.  She has volunteered as a mediator with Kuikahi mediation, as an arbitrator with the Judiciary and as a lawyer with Volunteer Legal Services and with the Judiciary’s self-help clinic.  Joy has had several jury trials and multiple bench trials, and 25 years ago, she was the first attorney in the state to pursue breast implant litigation. She has won all of her appeals to the Hawaii Supreme Court; is a former per diem District Court Judge from 1991-1995, the youngest judge then; and a former University of Hawaii lecturer.

The Council of State Governments West is the Western region of the national Council of State Governments, which is based in Lexington, Kentucky.  Regional offices of CSG are located in Sacramento, Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

Funding for the Academy comes from the Colorado Springs-based El Pomar Foundation, which is dedicated to excellence in nonprofit organizations, and from Western state legislatures and corporate sponsors. The El Pomar Foundation also donates the campus for the Western Legislative Academy.

Victims Identified in Kona Crash

A woman and a man died in a two-vehicle traffic crash Thursday afternoon (December 1) in Kona near the 31.5-mile marker of Highway 190.hpd-badge
They have been identified as 45-year-old Jeongah Hyun of Kailua-Kona and 46-year-old Iljung Nam of South Korea.

Responding to a 12:35 p.m. call Thursday, police determined that Hyun had been operating a silver 2006 Mazda multi-purpose vehicle on Highway 190 just north of the 31.5-mile marker, when she crossed left of center and was broadsided by a white 2013 Peterbilt dump truck that was heading south on Highway 190. The operator of the dump truck, a 46-year-old Honokaʻa man, was taken to Kona Community Hospital with minor injuries. Hyun and Nam, her passenger, were pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:10 p.m. and 6:11 p.m., respectively.

Autopsies have been ordered to determine the exact causes of their deaths.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation. Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Christopher Kapua-Allison at 326-4646, extension 229. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

This is the 30th traffic fatality this year compared with 17 at this time last year.

Hilo Passport Acceptance Fairs

Thinking about applying for a U.S. Passport? Don’t put it off any longer!
hilo-passport-fairApply for your U.S. Passport at a special Saturday Passport Acceptance Fair at Hawai’i Community College on December 3, 2016; April 1, 2017; and May 20, 2017.

To request an appointment, email your name, phone number, and preferred appointment date and time to PassportFair@state.gov. Walk-in customers will be accommodated as time permits.

Improvements to Mauna Kea Recreation Area Unveiled

Located near the 34-mile marker of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway at the center of Hawaiʻi Island, Mauna Kea Recreation Area is the only rest stop for many miles in either direction. On July 1, 2014, County assumed management of the former Mauna Kea State Recreation Area from the State of Hawai‘i and immediately commenced with extensive renovations.

mauna-kea-park-entranceUse of the park has continued to increase since the Kenoi administration began improving the facilities. Since assuming management of Mauna Kea Recreation Area, the County has invested over $11 million in improvements.

“When you ask for something, local style, there’s kuleana that comes with that,” Mayor Kenoi said in reference to the expectation that the County would greatly improve the area once management was transferred from the State. “How dare us let our kupuna travel 60, 70 miles with no place to wash hands or use bathroom? No place for our children to stop, laugh and play?”

mauna-kea-park-bathroomsSpeakers at today’s ceremony included Mayor Billy Kenoi and State Senator Kaialiʻi Kahele, the son and successor of the late Senator Gil Kahele, who along with Senator Mālama Solomon led the charge at the State Capitol to turn the park over to the County. Governor Neil Abercrombie signed an executive order to do so in 2014.

The first wave of work included lighting enhancements, removal of dead trees that posed a fire hazard, fumigation, and installation of new picnic areas. Those improvements were completed in-house by County plumbers, electricians, tree trimmers, grounds crews, and equipment operators from the Departments of Public Works and Parks & Recreation.

In Summer 2015, a new playground was dedicated and a new comfort station was opened for the many cross-island travelers that use the park’s facilities.

mauna-kea-park-playgroundThis latest completed phase of work included repairs and improvements to the cabins, dining hall, and other facilities as well as new roadways, walkways, walking paths, fitness equipment, lighting, and other amenities. GW Construction and a number of sub-contractors completed the work.

The Department of Parks & Recreation expects to open Mauna Kea Recreation Area’s cabins for overnight stays in January 2017. For more information, call the department at 961-8311.

High Winds and Heavy Snow in Hawaii – Mauna Loa Summit Closed

Due to high winds and heavy snow, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park closed the summit of Mauna Loa on Thursday to all day use and overnight camping until it is safe to reopen.

NPS Photo

NPS Photo

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park early Thursday morning. Heavy rain, high winds, and a foot of snow were expected, and by afternoon, a thick blanket of snow was visible as low as 10,000 feet. Visitors at the park’s Jaggar Museum were treated periodically with views of snow-capped Mauna Loa, a novelty for many who don’t expect snow in Hawai‘i.

The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

In January 2014, park rangers and a helicopter pilot rescued a backcountry hiker stranded on Mauna Loa in an unexpected blizzard.

Pepper to Perform at Kona Brewing Company

In honor of Kona Brewing Company’s Makana Series, the company is celebrating two successful years of fundraising with a party at the original brewery in Kona on December 17, 2016.  Pepper, a three piece band originally from Hawaii, will be headlining this special concert event.

Pepper

Pepper

WHAT:  Celebration of Kona Brewing Company’s Makana Series, featuring Pepper.  Makana Series are four limited edition, island-brewed beers, inspired by Hawaii’s landscape and made with island ingredients that tell Kona Brewing Company’s story. In the spirit of makana, a portion of proceeds of all beers sold benefit local non-profit organizations.

The event will celebrate the two years Kona Brewing Company has run the program, which has raised more than $100,000 for four non-profit organizations on the island.

Pepper will headline the special event, with opening acts including Divercité and Kimié.

WHEN: Saturday, December 17, 2016, Gates open at 6.00pm, Pepper on stage at 8.40pm

LOCATION: Kona Brewing Brewpub and adjacent Brewery Block, 74-5612 Pawai Pl, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

COST: General Admission – $39

Tickets are on sale now from https://kiosk.eztix.co/kiosk-optimised/297242.

Kona Brewing Company has been on the island for 22 years, and created the Makana Series as a way to give back and say mahalo to the island. The series is inspired by Earth [Aina], Fire [Wela], Water [Kai] and Wind [Makani]. Proceeds from the sale of these brews benefit local nonprofits committed to the islands’ natural wonder: Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Malama Maunalua, Surfrider Foundation Hawaii and Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative.

Eric Chang, Hawaii Market Manager, Kona Brewing Company, said: “Kona Brewing Company has always made it a priority to help support those who help pave the way for a sustainable future for our planet. For the last two years, we have taken that further by supporting and highlighting four other local charities that share our passion for sustainability and the environment through the Makana Series.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating two years of giving with this special event, and are honored that the local friends from Pepper are able to join us.  “We hope to see many of our ohana here to celebrate with us.”

Hulihe’e Palace Remembers Kamehameha Schools Founder

Enjoy a free Afternoon at Hulihe’e Palace 4-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 to remember the late Princess Bernice Pauahi. Presenting hula and serenade by the Merrie Monarchs, the event is part of a year-long series that honors Hawai‘i’s past monarchs and historical figures; donations are appreciated. Kindly bring a beach mat or chair as seating won’t be provided.

huliheePrincess Bernice Pauahi is most well known as the benefactress of Kamehameha Schools. A great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, she came of age during the Victorian Era. She was well liked and very private. When her cousin, Kamehameha V, chose her as his successor in 1872, she declined. Her refusal ended the Kamehameha Dynasty.

During her lifetime, the princess witnessed the physical and social decline of Hawaiians. Some foreigners brought disease—the native population dwindled from 400,000 in 1778 to fewer than 45,000 a century later—and controlled most commerce. Missionaries introduced a new value system.

“Distressed by the plight of her people, Princess Pauahi created a will in 1883 as an instrument of change,” says Jolee Chip, Hulihe‘e Palace docent coordinator. “She believed education could be the answer to help her people.”

The document established a charitable land trust overseen by trustees to improve the well being of Hawaiians. It operates as Kamehameha Schools today, one of the largest, private trusts in the nation.

“The will was the princess’s way to malama ka ‘aina—practice the ethical, prudent and culturally appropriate stewardship of land and resources,” adds Chip.

Pauahi married Charles Reed Bishop in 1850. She and Bishop shared a love for traveling, teaching and entertaining and the couple became astute property managers. When her favorite cousin, Princess Ruth Ke‘elikolani died, Pauahi received her entire estate (including Hulihe‘e Palace) and this inheritance comprised the major portion of Pauahi’s landholdings. The princess died a year later in 1884. To honor his wife, Charles founded the Bishop Museum in 1889 to house the royal family heirlooms and her extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts.

Hulihe‘e Palace is open for docent-guided and self-guided tours. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday—with the exception of the palace open 1-4 p.m. the Monday following the monthly Kokua Kailua Village stroll.

Palace admission for a self-guided tour is $8 for adults, $6 for kama‘aina, military and seniors, and $1 for keiki 18 years and under. Docent-guided tours are available upon request. For details, contact the palace at 329-1877, the palace office at 329-9555 or visit www.daughtersofhawaii.org. The gift shop, open 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday- Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, can be reached by phoning 329-6558.

Caretakers of Hulihe‘e Palace are the Daughters of Hawai‘i and the Calabash Cousins. The Daughters was founded in 1903 and opens membership to any woman who is directly descended from a person who lived in Hawai‘i prior to 1880. Helping the Daughters in its efforts since 1986 are the Calabash Cousins; membership is available to all.

Kona International Airport to Resume International Flights

Gov. David Y. Ige and the United States Customs and Border Protection announced the re-establishment of a Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility at the Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA). The inaugural international flight from Kona to Tokyo, Japan is scheduled to depart on Dec. 20, 2016. The flight from Tokyo to Kona is scheduled to arrive at the Kona International Airport on Dec. 21, 2016.

ige-announcement“The resumption of international flights to Kona will have a wide-ranging positive impact on Hawai‘i Island and the state as a whole by boosting tourism spending, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars for our economy,” said Gov. David Y. Ige. “I especially thank our partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for working with us to achieve this goal. This was a top priority for my administration and I am pleased that we were able to make the Federal Inspection Service facility in Kona a reality.”

“In fulfilling our important role protecting the border and fostering lawful travel, CBP relies on strong partnerships with stakeholders. This is why we are especially grateful for the commitment of Governor Ige and the people of Hawai‘i to providing adequate airport inspection facilities,” said Brian Humphrey, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, director, field operations. “In equal good faith, CBP is committed to providing a welcoming experience to passengers in Kona while we simultaneously protect America.”

The new FIS will benefit Hawai‘i in several ways. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation estimates new international flights to Kona will result in more than $7 million in annual projected tax benefits. International visitors will also spend tens of millions of dollars at local businesses and attractions, further boosting the economy and generating jobs. Hawai‘i has seen the numbers of international travelers increase by more than one million passengers, or nearly 60 percent, since the economic downturn in 2009. The trend in international passenger arrivals in Hawai‘i is expected to continue to grow, enhancing the need for a second airport to accept flights from international destinations.

The secondary international point of entry in Kona will ease congestion at the Honolulu International Airport, especially during daily peak hours and busy travel seasons. The FIS will improve health and safety by increasing resiliency in an emergency. Should an unforeseen incident occur in Honolulu, international flights would still be able to land safely in Kona. Currently, Honolulu is the only landing option in the state for international flights.

The United States Department of Transportation approved Hawaiian Airlines’ request to fly non-stop international flights between Kona and Haneda International Airport in Tokyo beginning in December.

“We look forward to welcoming our Tokyo guests with our authentic Hawaiian hospitality as they enjoy the convenience of our direct flights to the spectacular Kona coast,” said Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are pleased to return international flights to the Big Island and thankful to all of our government, business and community partners for their support of our newest route.”

Several improvements are being made to the international arrivals section at KOA, including the installation of security cameras and motion sensors, an upgraded access control system, 10 Automated Passport Control kiosks to process incoming international passengers quickly and efficiently, and refurbished restrooms.

“After multiple meetings and on-site visits, we finally made it across the finish line,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “I thank CBP and the Obama Administration for recognizing the potential of our visitor industry and for working with the State of Hawaii, the people of Kona, and many others in state government and the hospitality industry to finally get this done.”

“After six years of working closely with federal and state officials, and community partners to reestablish direct international flights to Kona International Airport, today’s announcement is good news for Hawai‘i’s tourism industry and the Hawai‘i Island economy. In particular, I want to acknowledge the efforts of Customs and Border Protection to work with the state on the Federal Inspection Service facility that made this a reality,” said Sen. Mazie K. Hirono.

“Today’s announcement not only positively impacts our tourism-based economy, it addresses a critical safety and security need for our state by providing a secondary international port in case of emergency,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “This project has been a priority of mine, and became a reality through many years of hard work by community leaders, local businesses, and county, state, and Federal government.  I especially want to thank HDOT and CBP for their leadership and upholding their commitment to reopening international travel to Kona.”

Regularly scheduled international flights to Kona began in 1996 and were discontinued in October 2010.

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE FLAG ORDER: Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of State Representative Clifton Tsuji

As a mark of respect for the late Hawai’i State Representative Clifton Tsuji, Gov. David Ige has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawai‘i shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard, from sunrise to sunset on Friday, December 2, and from sunrise to sunset on Sunday, December 4. 

clift-tsuji“Representative Tsuji was a dedicated public servant who spent the last 12 years passionately and vigorously serving his beloved community of Hilo at the Hawai‘i State Legislature. He was a quiet man with a big heart who will be remembered fondly by his colleagues and Hawai‘i Island residents. I, personally, will miss him at the State Capitol. On behalf of the people of Hawai‘i, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Tsuji ‘‘ohana,” said Gov. David Ige.

Tsuji has served in the State House of Representatives since 2004. He was chairman of the House Committee on Economic Development and Business from 2013-14 and the House Committee on Agriculture from 2007-2012 and from 2015-2016.

He was a vocal supporter of biotechnology and genetically modified crops and a proponent of geothermal energy as an alternative to imported oil.

Tsuji is survived by two sons – Ashley Allen and Ryan Kalei Tsuji.

*Flag orders are issued for the date(s) of the memorial service(s).

Crazy for the 80’s Benefit Concert

A benefit concert for the Big Island Substance Abuse Council featuring 80’s pop stars “Lisa Lisa” and “Shannon” will be held on February 25th, 2017 at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium.

crazy-for-the-80s

Hawai‘i County’s Magic of the Season Open House

The public is invited to Hawai‘i County’s Magic of the Season Open House that will be held 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, December 12, through Friday, December 16, at the Hawai‘i County Building in Hilo.

christmas-at-the-county-2016County volunteers will provide refreshments and light pupu, offer holiday activities, and spread cheer so families may enjoy a safe, community-oriented event. Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning performers Mark Yamanaka and Darlene Ahuna will be joined by the Hawai‘i County Band, hula dancers and other exciting performers.

The Magic of the Season also features dozens of trees that County employees have decorated. Members of the public are encouraged to stop by the County Building, located at 25 Aupuni Street in Hilo, weekdays from at 8 a.m. to enjoy the festive trees.

All activities and entertainment are free.

The following is the schedule of nightly performers:

Monday, December 12

  • Christy Lassiter Trio
  • Lori Lei’s Hula Studio
  • Times Five

Tuesday, December 13

  • Komakakino
  • Kolea
  • Average Joe

Wednesday, December 14

  • Randy Lorenzo & Friends
  • Vaughn Valentino
  • Mark Yamanaka

Thursday, December 15

  • Darlene Ahuna
  • Sarah Bethany Band
  • Hawai‘i County Band

Friday, December 16

  • Kris Fuchigami
  • Hālau O Kou Lima Nani E
  • Delis Estabillio & Friends

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or Jason.Armstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.

New Administrator for Plant Industry Division of Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Hawaii entomologist, John McHugh, Ph.D., has been appointed as the administrator of the Plant Industry Division of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. His duties will include overseeing the Plant Quarantine, Plant Pest Control and Pesticides Branches. The appointment is effective December 1, 2016. He succeeds Dr. Neil Reimer, who retired in
April 2016.

John McHugh, Ph.D.

John McHugh, Ph.D.

“Dr. McHugh is known for his aptitude in solving a variety of agricultural problems that affect Hawaii farmers,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The department is truly fortunate to have his experience, expertise and dedication in helping to move agriculture forward in our state.”

Dr. McHugh received his bachelor’s degree in General Tropical Agriculture and a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He also received a Doctor of Philosophy in Entomology which focused on integrated pest management of the diamondback moth from Purdue University in May 1994.

He has 42 years of wide-ranging experience in agriculture as an entomologist, educator, manager and consultant and has taught at Leeward Community College and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.  He has also worked at DuPont Pioneer, Hana Hou Seed Harvest, LLC, Sumida Farm, Inc. and Crop Care Hawaii, LLC.

Dr. McHugh has been active in the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation since 1975 and served as the chair of the Environmental Stewardship Committee. He also served as a board member of the Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council, as well as director and board member of the West Oahu Soil Conservation District. In addition, he served three terms as a member of the State’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

Big Island Police Warning About Increase in Counterfeit Money in Circulation

Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about an increase in counterfeit money in circulation. Kona police officers have been responding to numerous calls about fake $100 bills. The phony money looks, feels and appears to be real even after using the test pen, so police advise businesses and individuals to look for security features on the bank note itself.

c-note

  • Locate and read the plastic embedded security thread. It should say “USA” and the bill’s denomination.
  • Use an ultra-violet light to detect the thread glow color. The $5 dollar bill should glow blue, the $10 bill should glow orange, the $20 bill should glow green and the $50 bill should glow yellow. In older versions, the $100 bill should glow pink, while the current $100 bill has a 3-D ribbon.
  • Hold the bill up to a light to check for a watermark.
  • Tilt the bill to examine the color-shifting ink.
  • With a magnifying glass, locate and examine the micro-printing.

More information on detecting counterfeit money and security features can be found at www.uscurrency.gov.

Citizens and businesses are reminded to treat the fake bill as evidence by placing it into an envelope and to call the police immediately.

New Map of Lava Flow Field Shows New Flow

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of November 3 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of November 29 is shown in red.

The new flow branch east of Puʻu ʻŌʻō started from a breakout at the episode 61g vent on November 21. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow lines (dashed where uncertain) show the mapped trace of lava tubes as determined from aerial thermal imaging and ground mapping.

hvo-112916-mapThe blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to Offer Free Admission on 10 Days in 2017

There are 10 more reasons to enjoy Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2017! The park will offer free admission to all on 10 days in 2017.

Visitors observe the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater from the Jaggar Museum observation deck at dawn.  NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Visitors observe the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater from the Jaggar Museum observation deck at dawn. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

The 2017 entrance fee-free days are:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents Day
  • April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

“We encourage everyone to take advantage of the free entry days, and come visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “The park is a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, and is easily explored on foot or by vehicle,” she said.

Usually, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle and the pass is good for seven days. (The entrance waiver does not include camping fees). Park visitors can also purchase the annual Tri-Park Pass for $25 and enjoy Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and Haleakalā National Park for less than seven cents a day. The annual Tri-Park Pass, which is good for one year from the date of purchase, is available at the entrance stations of all three parks.

An NPS report shows that 1,832, 660 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 spent $151,246,200 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,834 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $189,391,100.

Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit Brings Together Latest Science & Policy

Lead scientists in the fight against Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death on Hawaii’i Island joined Governor David Ige and other top policy makers for the first-ever Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit, today at the Hawaii’i State Capital Auditorium. Speakers provided situation reports on the disease and presented the recently completed, strategic response plan which will guide the statewide response to this dire threat to Hawaii’s most iconic tree species.

rapid-ohia-deathThe fungal disease has devastated more than 50,000 acres of native ʻōhiʻa, one of Hawaii’i’s most prized and culturally important forest trees. Understanding the disease and how to prevent or slow further spread is a top priority of the Executive Branch.  Gov. Ige, who provided the welcome and opening remarks said, “Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death” has prompted the mobilization of several state and federal agencies and is a top priority for leading researchers who are learning more about this disease as they work to stop it from spreading.”

The Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit, was open to the public, and included a presentation on the biocultural importance of ʻōhiʻa by Dr. Samuel M. ‘Ohukani‘ōhi‘a Gon III, of The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi. Dr. Gon explained that the primary cultural underpinnings of ʻōhiʻa support the notion that it is perhaps the most significantly cultural tree in Hawaii’i. He traced the cultural importance of the species as a physical manifestation of the Hawaiian deity Ku and as a tree used for weapons, tools, building, hula dancing sticks, lei, food for birds and medicines for people. It is considered the most important tree for the protection of Hawaii’i’s forest watersheds.

A panel of state and federal experts discussed and updated the latest research and management actions. Dr. Lisa Keith of the U.S. Department of Agricultural Research Service explained, “The identification of the ceratocystis fungus used to take two-four weeks to confirm in the lab.  We can now test very small samples of a tree’s DNA and determine within 24 hours if this fungus is killing it.” “Unfortunately” she continued, “there is no silver bullet (for a treatment) and the science is important for informing management decisions.”

Dr. Flint Hughes with the U.S. Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry painted a grim picture for the future of native ʻōhiʻa forests if the disease continues unchecked.  He said, “We currently have 52, one-quarter acre monitoring plots on Hawaii’i island. These are in places where the fungus has killed trees and our data shows that 11% of the ʻōhiʻa, on average, in these plots, will die each year.  If there are 100 ʻōhiʻa in each plot, this means in about a decade all of the trees there will be dead.” In some areas the mortality has been 100%.

Dr. Gordon Bennett of the UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is one of the researchers collaboratively investigating the linkage between non-native beetles and the spread of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death. He explained that these wood boring beetles are attracted to unhealthy trees and set up homes (galleries) in them.  Currently he and other researchers are looking at pest control and management strategies based on science.  Bennett said, “We’re just starting in this area.  It’s a new challenge.”

Dr. Greg Asner of Stanford University’s  Carnegie Airborne Observatory detailed the use of laser guided imaging spectroscopy to produce 3D imaging that shows the size and precise location of trees to within six inches. He explained, “We’re trying to use this technology to look ahead in time. This technology even allows us to measure 15 different chemicals in tree foliage, which is like going to a doctor for a blood test.” Data from the 3D aerial surveys conducted in January of this year is currently being analyzed and results are expected to be available around the first of the year.

Rob Hauff, a forester with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, wrapped up the morning session by revealing the newly developed Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Strategic Response Plan, which is guided by the bicultural significance of ʻōhiʻa. Hauff explained, “The goal of this plan is to provide a roadmap that conveys what the situation is and where we need to go to manage this.”  To implement the plan, it calls for funding of a little more than $10 million over the next three years for research, response, recommendations, outreach, and management strategies.

Today’s presenters were a few of the front-line researchers, forest managers and policy makers, who’ve been working since late 2014 to try and identify the cause of the disease and how it spreads.  Their findings prompted a strict state Dept. of Agriculture quarantine which restricts movement of all ʻōhiʻa wood, soil, and Metrosideros species plants and plant parts from Hawaii island to the other islands. The state also has publicized and distributed protocols to inform the general public and forest users about steps they can take to further prevent the spread of this disease (see www.rapidohiadeath.org).

Hauff and Christy Martin of the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS) organized the Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit.  Martin said, “This is the first time we’ve had all the principal players in the fight against this disease in one place, to provide background to decision-makers and the public.  People are eager to understand what’s happening to ʻōhiʻa, and what more they can do.”

Big Island Police Searching for 16-Year-Old Girl Missing Since October

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 16-year-old Kamuela girl who was reported missing.

Alexia Galeon

Alexia Galeon

Alexia Galeon was last seen in Honokaʻa on October 21.

She is described as 5-foot-2 to 5-foot-3, 150-160 pounds with brown eyes and long brown hair. She may be in Captain Cook.

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

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