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Hilo: Home of a World-Class Pineapple Collection

Hilo is home to one of the world’s largest and most genetically diverse pineapple collections.

A field of pineapples in Maui, Hawaii. Photo credit: USDA-ARS photo by Tracie Matsumoto.

According to the USDA:

“The collection is managed by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) on 33 acres of land in Hilo as part of the agency’s National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Tropical Fruit and Nut Crops.

The ARS collection represents a treasure of genetic resources for identifying and improving important traits in commercial pineapples as well as for research to understand the basic biology and evolution of different plant processes.

Big-name as well as little-known pineapple accessions alike are kept there. Some, like Smooth Cayenne, are industry leaders, prized for their fresh fruit or canning quality. Others, like Saigon Red, are more obscure though no less worth preserving.

A miniature pineapple brought to Hawaii from Vietnam in 1938, Saigon Red is too tart to eat. However, its compact size, red-skinned fruit and long, shapely leaves could prove ideal for landscape plantings or indoor use as a decorative plant.

Ensuring the good health and availability of the Hilo collection—which numbers 186 different kinds of wild and cultivated pineapple—can be labor-intensive; so, too, can cataloguing the plants and their traits. Now, new tools called “molecular markers” are helping to speed up the process—from 18 months to 2 years down to just a few days. The markers detect the gene or genes for specific traits in the pineapple’s DNA. This can be done with seedlings rather than full-grown plants, saving time, money and resources.

Just as canning refinements made Hawaii an early world leader in exports, so too is the state on the cusp of technology today to mine the fruit crop’s untapped genetic potential, with benefits to growers and consumers across the globe.”

Mauna Kea Recreation Area Bunkhouses Available from January 3, 2018

The Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce that the Mauna Kea Recreation Area’s Bunkhouses will be available for public use commencing January 3, 2018.

Effective immediately, applications for Bunkhouse lodging permits may be obtained via the Department’s online camping reservation system at http://hawaiicounty.ehawaii.gov or in person at the Department’s administration office located at Aupuni Center, 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 6.

The Bunkhouse accommodations are intended for use by groups and organizations (seven persons minimum), have a maximum capacity of 48 persons, and may be reserved for up to six consecutive nights.  There are two Bunkhouses, each containing four individual rooms capable of accommodating up to six persons each.  Each room is furnished with a folding table and chairs, and has a shower, toilet and lavatory.  Permittees must furnish their own bedding, food and personal supplies.

Groups that utilize the Bunkhouses will be provided access to the dining hall, a separate structure that consists of a kitchen and dining area for preparing and eating meals and group activities.  Groups must provide their own meal preparation equipment and supplies, foodstuffs, serving/dining supplies, and cleaning supplies.  The kitchen is equipped with an electric range/oven and refrigerator/freezer.  The dining hall is equipped with folding tables and chairs.

The cost for overnight use of each of the two Bunkhouses (maximum 24 occupants each) is $240 for Hawai‘i residents, and $480 for non-Hawai‘i residents.  There is a one-time refundable security deposit of $250 per Bunkhouse that also covers use of the dining hall.  The security deposit will be refunded in full provided the permittee complies with all conditions of the lodging permit.

Persons interested in utilizing these facilities shall review the Department’s Administrative Rule 16, “Rules Relating to Mauna Kea Recreation Area,” for details on the costs, expectations and proper use of the Bunkhouses, as well as the Park in general.

Mauna Kea Recreation Area users are reminded that the following are prohibited within the Park: alcohol, smoking, tobacco products, firearms and explosives, open fires or burning of any kind, dogs and pets (excluding service animals), and fireworks.  See Rule 16 for a full list of prohibited items and activities.

Public use of the Park’s seven individual Cabins will be phased in over the upcoming months as the Department works to certify that operational procedures are perfected, to ensure reliable, safe and positive experiences at the Park.  Additional information will be provided as the Cabins become available.

For more information please contact the Department of Parks and Recreation at (808) 961-8311.

BISAC Receives $10,000 from Weinberg Foundation

The Big Island Substance Abuse Council (BISAC) received a $10,000.00 check from the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Sharon Vause, Weinberg Foundation, Anashe Brooks, BISAC Case Manager, and Kim Krell, BISAC’s Director of East Hawaii Services.

BISAC was selected by the Weinberg Foundation employees because of the many good works that they do in the community. BISAC provides services such as their Po`okela vocational Training programs to help individuals gain marketable skills following treatment.

“We are definitely blessed with this generous gift” said BISAC’s CEO, Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita. “We are grateful for the donation and it will be used to help us continue to inspire positive change and help individuals and their families in our communities.”

Since 1964, BISAC has been inspiring individuals and families to reclaim and enrich their lives in the wake of the ravages of substance abuse and mental health. They offer a continuum of services that are culturally appropriate and aligned with the ever-changing behavioral health field.

For more information about BISAC and all of its programs call 969-9994 or visit www.bisac.org.

Man Shot in Leilani Estates – Ongoing Hostage Situation

2:43 p.m. UPDATE:  The hostage situation has ended in the Puna District. A 33-year-old suspect has been arrested. Leilani Blvd.between Highway 130 and Hapuu Street remains closed.

Hawaiʻi Police are investigating an ongoing hostage incident in the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna.

This morning at about 5:40 a.m., Puna District Patrol Officers responded to a call of a shooting on Nohea Street. A 25-year-old male victim was located shot several times about his body. That male victim was then transported to Hilo Medical Center where he remains in stable condition.

The suspect in this shooting was then located at a residence on Leilani Boulevard where he barricaded himself inside. This incident is currently being investigated as a hostage situation, and the Hawaiʻi Police Department Special Response Team and Crisis Negotiators are on the scene.

The suspect, in this case, is believed to be armed with a firearm.

Leilani Boulevard between Highway 130 and Hapuu Street remains closed and neighboring residents have been asked to evacuate. Police ask that members of the public avoid the area for their safety as well as that of the first responders in the area.

Alaska Woman Charged for Attempted Murder

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged an Alaska woman in connection with an Attempt Murder 2 investigation.

Crystal Young

On (December 15), officers were responding to a reported traffic casualty with injuries that occurred on the Old Airport Runway involving a vehicle and pedestrian. Information was received that the traffic casualty had started as a domestic dispute between an unidentified male and female. The male was struck by the female who was operating a black sedan.

After striking the male with the vehicle, the female drove to the dead end side of the park and fled on foot into the brush area where she was later located by police.

Police arrested the driver of the vehicle, 30-year-old female, Crystal Young of Anchorage Alaska, who was taken to the Kona cellblock while detectives with the Juvenile Aid Section continued the investigation.

The male, later identified as Emil Dushkin, is the boyfriend of Young, and was taken to Kona Community Hospital and then medevaced Queens Medical Center for treatment of his injuries where he remains in critical condition.

At 6:15 p.m., Saturday, (December 16), police charged Young with Attempted Murder II, Accident Involving Death or Serious Bodily Injury, Abuse of a Family/Household Member and Failure to Give Information or Render Aid. Her bail was set at $281,000. Young remains in the Kona cellblock pending her initial appearance scheduled for this afternoon, (December 18), in Kona District Court.

Anyone who may have information or witnessed this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Brandon Mansur of the Area II Juvenile Aid Section at (808) 326-4646 or Brandon.Mansur@hawaiicounty.gov or call Lieutenant Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Juvenile Aid Section at (808) 326-4646 or Rio.Amon-Wilkins@hawaiicounty.gov.

STUDY: 94% of the Rats in Hilo Are Infected With Rat Lungworm Disease

A University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo research group supported by Hawai‘i Island legislators is urging more control measures be taken to lower the risks of the spread of rat lungworm (RLW) disease.

UH Hilo Rat Lungworm Lab

Findings of a study headed by the Rat Lungworm Working Group at the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP) are described in a paper entitled “High prevalence of Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworm) on eastern Hawai‘i Island: a closer look at life cycle traits and patterns of infection in wild rats” published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Our study showed almost 94 percent of the rats in the Hilo area are infected with RLW,” said Susan Jarvi, director of the working group who has been researching the progress of the disease for more than six years.

More than 30 other countries report data on RLW, including Australia, Brazil, Thailand and China. Jarvi suggests that due to the lack of diagnostic tools and difficulty in diagnosis, the disease may be underreported. Her group has been adding to the scientific evidence that gives legislators in Hawai‘i the proof they need to become more involved.

“Hawai‘i is able to take the lead globally on assessing the effects of this debilitating disease thanks to this scientific evidence from UH Hilo,” said Senator Kai Kahele, who represents Hawai‘i Senate District 1, which includes Hilo. “The first step in conquering a threat is in knowing the enemy. We can get ahead of the terrifying risks, but these results certainly show the urgency for more research.”

RLW disease is a parasitic infection that reproduces in rats and is transferred to slugs and snails, which can, if ingested intentionally or not, infect people. While symptoms can be mild and flu-like, there have been cases that have resulted in long-term disability and even death.

“UH Hilo continues to support Dr. Jarvi’s efforts to safeguard public health through her research on the system of this disease,” noted UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai. “We are exploring alternatives with state agencies that will continue to fund this important research, which reflects our commitment to help maintain the health of the community.”

Researchers in this study examined a total of 545 wild rats from multiple sites in the South Hilo District of east Hawai‘i Island. Through evaluation of multiple stages and locations of development of the infection with A. cantonensis, they were able to determine prevalence, and examine patterns of infection. The purpose was to determine how these data can be used to improve risk assessment and guide research development to better prevent and control human infection.

“Defeating this threat to our islands is essential to perpetuating our way of life,” said Representative Chris Todd, who represents Hilo in the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives. “I believe in the research being done at UH Hilo; their work will help us ensure a healthy future for our keiki – we, as a legislature, need to do more to support their mission.”

DKICP and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation – Medical Research supported research in this study. Authors were from DKICP: Jarvi, Stefano Quarta, Steven Jacquier, Kathleen Howe, Deniz Bicakci, Crystal Dasalla, Noelle Lovesy, Kirsten Snook and Robert McHugh; and Chris N. Niebuhr from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service’s National Wildlife Research Center, Hawai‘i Field Station in Hilo.

“The clear and present danger of this difficult-to-eradicate disease warrants increased measures to control its spread in both snails, slugs and rodents,” Jarvi said. “Only by deliberate management can we hope to protect human and animal populations.”

DOH Launches First Statewide Media Campaign on Rat Lungworm Disease Prevention

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) recently launched a statewide broadcast media campaign to educate residents and visitors about rat lungworm disease, a potentially devastating illness that can have debilitating effects on an infected person’s brain and spinal cord. Through a partnership with the Hawaii Association of Broadcasters, the campaign aims to increase awareness and prevention of rat lungworm disease through a series of television and radio public education announcements, which are now on air.

Earlier this year, the 2017 Hawaii State Legislature appropriated one million dollars to DOH over the next two years to deliver enhanced response and outreach activities to control the spread of rat lungworm disease. As part of this effort, public education announcements are now running on 40 radio stations and seven television stations to build awareness and inform the public-atlarge about rat lungworm disease and how to prevent it.

“The risk of rat lungworm disease is present on all islands and there are basic steps we can take each day to reduce this risk and help prevent infection,” said Keith Kawaoka, deputy director of environmental health. “Knowledge is the best defense we can provide people with to collectively protect our communities from rat lungworm disease in Hawaii.”

Additionally, visitors to local movie theatres on Hawaii Island, Maui and Oahu can expect to see rat lungworm disease prevention announcements prior to movie showings in December and January. Shopping centers and malls across the state have also posted large-scale announcements reminding patrons to always wash produce before eating and to control rat, slug, and snail populations around their homes and gardens.

Community education was highlighted as a high priority by the Governor’s Rat Lungworm Disease Task Force, a group of local experts from medical, scientific, environmental, and public health fields gathered to actively work on developing guidelines for schools, farms, food
establishments, physicians and other groups on best practices to prevent, control, and manage rat lungworm disease.

Public education has been a collaborative multi-agency effort, involving many partners such as the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and John A. Burns School of Medicine, for example. Several informative pieces were created and have been used during informational meetings hosted in all counties by the department throughout the year as well as shared with partners for further distribution into the community.

To date, in 2017, Hawaii has experienced 18 confirmed cases of rat lungworm disease. The most recent case was a Hawaii Island adult resident in Hilo. It is believed the individual accidently ingested an infected slug while drinking from a garden watering hose in late November. The public is urged to take the following precautions to prevent rat lungworm disease:

  • Wash all produce thoroughly under clean and potable running water before eating, especially when eating raw fruits and vegetables;
  • Cook food completely by boiling for 3-5 minutes or heating to 165°F for 15 seconds;
  • Store food and drinks in sealed containers, especially when outdoors;
  • Control and eliminate rats, slugs and snails around the home and garden;
  • Inspect water catchment tanks regularly and always keep them covered;
  • Watch children carefully while playing on the ground and keep them away from areas with slugs and snails;
  • Do not drink from the garden watering hose since slugs and snails that may be inside could be dislodged and swallowed.

DOH will continue its outreach and education efforts centered on rat lungworm disease prevention, especially with the rainy season well upon the state. For more information about rat lungworm disease and DOH’s education campaign, visit: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/rat-lungworm-angiostrongyliasis/.

Hawaii Current and Upcoming Highway Projects

Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Deputy Director for Highways, Ed Sniffen, provided an update today, Dec. 14, 2017, on high visibility current and upcoming highways projects statewide.

Hawaii County

  • Keaau-Pahoa Road – 4-lane restriping and Shower Drive Intersection Improvements
    • Work to add a traffic signal at the intersection of Keaau-Pahoa Road (Highway 130) and Shower Drive and the restriping project, which will remove a restricted shoulder lane and add an unrestricted travel lane through restriping from Keaau Town to Shower Drive, will be substantially completed by the beginning of 2018. An update will be sent out at the close of the project to remind Hawaii Island drivers of the changes to the area as well as the reduction of the speed limit to 45 mph (from 55 mph) on Highway 130 between MP 2.3 and 3.7 and between MP 7.4 to 9.9.
  • Queen Kaahumanu Widening, Phase 2
    • The Queen Kaahumanu Highway Widening Project, Phase 2 to widen the existing two-lane highway to a four-lane divided highway from Kealakehe Parkway to Keahole Airport Access Road is expected to be substantially complete by August 2018. Remaining work on the project includes milling and resurfacing of north bound lanes, pavement extension of the north bound lanes, paving of south bound lanes south of Kealakehe Parkway, construction of swales and median barrier in the south segment, side road transitions, and installation of signage, pavement markings, and landscaping.
  • Queen Kaahumanu Highway Intersection Improvements at Kawaihae Road
    • Bid in December 2017, work expected to begin April 2018
    • Project will widen the intersection to provide a right-turn lane for northbound Queen Kaahumanu Highway traffic, a right-turn lane for east bound Kawaihae Road traffic, an acceleration lane on Kawaihae Road and lengthening the left-turn lane for west bound Kawaihae Road traffic.
  • Hawaii Island rumble strip projects – HDOT to install rumble strips where possible to provide tactile and audible warning for motorists straying from their lane. Planned rumble strip projects for Hawaii Island are:
    • Kohala Mountain Road Safety Improvements, MP 7.2 to MP 9.2
      • Advertised November 2017
      • Est. Cost $1-5 Million
      • Project will add milled rumble strips to centerline and shoulders, high friction surface treatment, pavement markings, signage, and curve ahead signs and beacons
    • Mamalahoa Highway Safety Improvements, MP 3.9 to MP 6.9
      • Will advertise December 2017
      • Est. Cost $1-5 Million
      • Project will install milled rumble strips in the centerline and shoulders, pavement markings, and signage, and will upgrade guardrails
    • Queen Kaahumanu Highway Rumble Strip Improvements, Mahaiula to Kawaihae
      • Construction to begin January 2018, estimated completion May 2018
      • Work includes installation of centerline rumble strips, new pavement markings and striping to enhance lane visibility and will be conducted in five phases to minimize impact to motorists

Maui County

  • Lahaina Bypass Phase 1B-2
    • This bypass phase from the vicinity of Olowalu landfill to Hokiokio is expected to be opened to traffic in March 2018 at which time HDOT will redirect traffic from the existing Honoapiilani Highway. Those that would like to bypass Lahaina town will have a more efficient route that takes them away from slow moving beach and town traffic. Moving the main route to west Maui Mauka in this area also protects the corridor from coastal erosion and inundation and allows for future capacity if funding develops.
  • Honoapiilani Highway Improvements, Kapunakea to Keawe
    • At Keawe Street, to prioritize the bypass movements, the intersection will be adjusted to allow for a free right turn movement off of the bypass to continue north to Kaanapali. To accommodate this movement, the double through movements going northbound from Kapunakea through Keawe will be reduced to a single through movement. In addition, the Makai side of the road will be widened to allow for a double left for southbound traffic from Kaanapali to enter the bypass.
    • These adjustments were based on the traffic studies performed for the original and follow up environmental documents, and by the updated traffic studies. In general, we anticipate 70 percent of the traffic through the area will utilize the bypass from Olowalu to Keawe Street. Keawe Street is considered an interim connector as the bypass plans include an extension toward Kaanapali. At this time, the highways program does not include sufficient funding to program the next phase of the bypass.

City and County of Honolulu

  • Kalanianaole Highway Resurfacing – Interstate H-1 to West Hind Drive
    • Resurfacing of Kalanianaole Highway from where the route meets the H-1 Freeway to its intersection with West Hind Drive is expected to begin in April 2018. Joining of the bike lane in the vicinity of Kalani High School will take place as part of this project. Conceptual drawings including the proposed locations of staging areas for this project are available.
  • Likelike Highway Resurfacing
    • The Likelike Highway Resurfacing, School Street to Emmeline Place is expected to be substantially complete by March 2018. Remaining work includes guardrail installation, curb and gutter work, catch basin installation, traffic signal work, paving, and installation of striping, landscaping, and signage. Night work for this project will be complete prior to the beginning of night closures for the Pali Highway Street Lighting and Resurfacing – Kamehameha to Waokanaka.
  • Pali Highway Street Lighting and Resurfacing – Kamehameha to Waokanaka
    • This project, the first of the planned Pali Highway improvements, will repair or replace street lights from Vineyard Boulevard to Kamehameha Highway and will repave Pali Highway from Waokanaka Street to Kamehameha Highway—including the parallel Waokanaka Street and the Pali Highway/Waokanaka Street intersection—and is estimated to be completed in Winter 2019. More information, including the project schedule and a 24/7 hotline number, can be found at palihighway.org
  • H-1 Additional Eastbound Lane from Waiawa to Halawa
    • HDOT is undergoing the procurement process for this design-build project to rehabilitate the concrete pavement from the vicinity of the Waimalu Viaduct to Halawa and anticipates award of the project to Design-Build Team in January 2018 with notice to proceed following in April 2018. The rehabilitation of the asphalt concrete in this area will widen the current 10-foot shoulder with a 24-foot wide eastbound shoulder that could be used for unrestricted vehicular traffic.
  • H-201/H-1 Additional Westbound Lane: Halawa Interchange to Aiea Pedestrian Overpass
    • Work on the project to repave the H-201 west bound Halawa offramp to the H-1 west bound at the Aiea Pedestrian Overpass began in August following the completion of the Kahekili Highway resurfacing from Hui Iwa Street to Haiku Road and is expected to be completed at the end of the year. This project also creates a third west bound lane to the H-1 through grading, reconstruction of the shoulders, and relocation of guardrails.
  • Kipapa Stream Bridge (Roosevelt) Rehabilitation
    • The partnership project with the Federal Highway Administration – Central Federal Lands Highway Division to rehabilitate the Kipapa Stream Bridge, a 484-foot long bridge built in 1933, is estimated to be completed at the end of May 2018. To complete the bridge rehabilitation, which includes the widening of the bridge to provide a 7-foot mixed use shoulder, requires four more full weekend closures of Kamehameha Highway between Ka Uka Boulevard and Lanikuhana Avenue between January and April. Notification of the closures will go out as they are scheduled.
  • Farrington Highway Safety improvements/Nanakuli contraflow
    • Crews are working day and night to complete the Farrington Highway Intersection Improvements (turning lane) project by the end of the year. The Nanakuli Contraflow will run to the end of this project, which will improve traffic flow on Farrington Highway through the addition of a fifth turning lane at Nanakuli Avenue and Haleakala Avenue. If operational funds are available past the completion of the project, HDOT will consider extending the operation of the Nanakuli Contraflow with modifications to ensure the return of two eastbound lanes in the area.
    • HDOT has been working with the community on safety improvements to coincide with resurfacing projects on Farrington Highway. The ongoing and upcoming Farrington Highway resurfacing projects are:
    • FARRINGTON HIGHWAY RESURFACING, VICINITY OF KILI DRIVE TO SATELLITE TRACKING STATION ROAD
      • Estimated Completion Date: Spring 2017
    • FARRINGTON HIGHWAY RESURFACING, KAHE POWER PLANT TO HAKIMO ROAD, IB & OB
      • Scheduled Advertise Date: 12/2017
    • FARRINGTON HIGHWAY RESURFACING, HAKIMO ROAD TO KILI DRIVE, IB & OB
      • Scheduled Advertise Date: 04/2018

Kauai County

  • Kuhio Highway Resurfacing Kapule Highway to North Leho Drive, Phase 1
    • Project will reconstruct in areas, cold plane, and resurface pavement as well as install channelizing curb and delineators. Project was advertised earlier this month.
  • Kuhio Highway Short Term Improvements
    • This project, currently planned to advertise in June 2018, would widen the south bound 0.64 mile stretch of Kuhio Highway between the Temporary Kapaa Bypass Road and Kuamoo Road from three to four lanes and would extend the existing right-turn storage lane along Kuamoo Road Mauka from its intersection with Kuhio Highway. The widening of this stretch of highway is expected to improve access to Wailua and Kapaa.

Highways project status can be found at any time on the Highways Program Status Map, which was featured at the news conference. This ESRI-powered map highlights current and upcoming construction projects on state highways as well as data on traffic volumes, traffic fatalities, and road conditions.

Data on the state’s 782 bridges will be added to the Highways Program Status Map at the end of the year with construction lane closure information to follow shortly. HDOT also plans to introduce a crowd sourcing app in Spring 2018 that will allow community members to report road issues such as potholes and street lighting outages.

Community Forum on Crime & Drug Abuse in Puna

Concerned about all the crimes being reported on Facebook sites like Big Island Thieves, Big Island Po Po Alert and East Hawaii Watch these days???

A community forum hosted by Rep. Joy San Buenaventura on crime and drug abuse, will be held at the Pahoa Community Center on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, from 1 to 5 p.m.

Guest speakers scheduled to appear are:

  • Mitch Roth, Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney
  • Brandee Menino, HOPE Services
  • Officer Davy Kamalii and Officer Jeremy Kubojiri, Hawaii County Police Department, Puna District Patrol Division
  • Kat Brady, Community Alliance on Prisons
  • (Tentatively Scheduled) – B.I.S.A.C. (Big Island Substance Abuse Council)
  • Neighborhood Watch

County Park Closures 2018 Schedule for Select Hawaii County Parks

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation announces its 2018 closure schedule for ‘Āhalanui Park, Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park, Kahalu‘u Beach Park and Spencer Park at ‘Ōhai‘ula Beach.

Monthly closures are necessary to maintain and repair high-use parks without exposing park patrons to potential hazards associated with large-scale maintenance work.

Located in Puna, ‘Āhalanui Park will be closed between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month, with the exception of the October closure, which will occur on the first Wednesday of that month. The closure dates are:

  • January 10
  • February 14
  • March 14
  • April 11May 9
  • June 13
  • July 11
  • August 8
  • September 12
  • October 3 (first Wednesday due to schools’ Fall Break)
  • November 14
  • December 12

Located in Puna, Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park will be closed on the third Thursday of each month and reopened at 1 p.m. on the following day. Overnight camping permits will not be issued for the night before each closure date. The closure dates are:

  • January 18
  • February 15
  • March 15
  • April 19
  • May 17
  • June 21
  • July 19
  • August 16
  • September 20
  • October 18
  • November 15
  • December 20

Located in North Kona, Kahalu‘u Beach Park will be closed until 10 a.m. on the first or second Tuesday of each month. The closure dates are:

  • January 9
  • February 6
  • March 6
  • April 10
  • May 8
  • June 5
  • July 10
  • August 7
  • September 4
  • October 16
  • November 6
  • December 4

Located in South Kohala, Spencer Park at ‘Ōhai‘ula Beach will be closed all day on the following dates:

  • January 10-11
  • February 7-8
  • March 14-15
  • April 11-12
  • May 15-17
  • June – No scheduled closures
  • July – No scheduled closures
  • August – No scheduled closures
  • September 11-13
  • October 17-18
  • November 14-15
  • December 12-13

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks the public for its understanding and cooperation during these temporary closures.

For more information, contact Parks & Recreation Administration office at (808) 961-8311 or email parks_recreation@hawaiicounty.gov.

Photos: Haihai Fire Station Grand Opening and Blessing

The Haihai Fire Station Grand Opening and blessing was held this morning. The fire fighters and equipment had moved from the Kawailani Station in the previous few weeks and today they had grand opening, blessing and an open house.

The Master of Ceremony was Assistant Chief Glen Honda.

Welcoming statements were given by County of Hawaii Public Works Project Manager Nolan Eskaran, Kaeo Jones of BCP Construction, Retired Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, Hawaii Fire Fighters Association Rep from Local 1463 James Pacheco, Hawaii County Mayor Kim and the Fire Chief Darren Rosario.

The blessing was performed by Pastor Sheldon Lacsina of New Hope Hilo.

Attendees were able to tour the station afterwards.

Click on images to enlarge:

 

Hasinger Leaving UH Institute of Astronomy for the European Space Agency

University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) Director Günther Hasinger is leaving UH to be the next director of science at the European Space Agency (ESA), Europe’s equivalent to NASA. He will be responsible for the definition, planning and execution of ESA’s science program, which includes working with member countries and international partners like the United States. Hasinger has been with the university since 2011.

Günther Hasinger

“I am extremely honored to have been part of the IfA ʻohana and to have worked with such a talented and dedicated group of people,” said Hasinger, who will be based in Spain and will be closer to his family, including his first grandchild. “I look forward to future partnerships between ESA, NASA and the ground-based observatories, especially those here in Hawaiʻi.”

UH will name an interim director for IfA and begin the search for a new director.

During his tenure, Hasinger led the institute during the ongoing TMT process and regularly represented the university during the proceedings. He also oversaw many significant advances at IfA. The Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Haleakalā, Maui, came into full operation, eventually producing the world’s foremost sky survey, and becoming the world leader in the detection of asteroids, comets and near-Earth objects.

Hasinger also helped shepherd the transfer to UH of the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope and James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Maunakea. The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, also on Haleakalā, drew close to completion during his tenure.

Lasting changes to IfA’s education and outreach programs were also made under his leadership. The institute and the UH Mānoa College of Natural Sciences developed a new undergraduate degree program, offering a BA in astronomy and a BS in astrophysics. IfA also worked with the Maunakea observatory community to significantly expand public outreach, including development of the Maunakea Scholars program. IfA now organizes more than 200 events annually, reaching 25,000 people across the state.

For more information, visit: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/

101 Traffic Fatalities Statewide

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) is saddened to report 11 traffic fatalities since the release of November’s preliminary year-to-date traffic fatality data on Nov. 15, 2017.

“Tragically we are now at 101 traffic fatalities statewide,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen. “That’s 101 mothers, fathers, sisters, or brothers that are lost to their families and friends this holiday season—and beyond. At HDOT we are prioritizing safety in every project we do and we’re asking everyone to make safety on the streets and sidewalks a priority too. Working together, we can reduce Hawaii’s annual traffic fatalities from 101, to 80 or fewer by 2018, toward the ultimate goal of zero deaths.”

All road users—motorists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists—can help reduce preventable deaths on Hawaii roadways by avoiding the top contributing factors in traffic fatalities. These factors are speeding, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, and distracted driving.

In 2016, 46 of 109* fatal crashes involved speeding, contributing to roughly 45 percent of the year’s 120 fatalities. Drivers in 64 of the 109 fatal crashes tested positive for alcohol and/or drugs, accounting for 73 deaths. Finally, approximately 13.7 percent of the fatalities on Hawaii’s roads in 2016 were determined to have had distracted driving as a contributing factor.

Drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists are encouraged to visit the HDOT Safe Communities page at http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/safe-communites/ and the Hawaii Strategic Highway Safety Plan website at http://www.hawaiishsp.com/ to learn more about simple measures they can take to ensure their own safety and the safety of their families and friends.

 

Traffic Fatality Data from January 1, 2017 through December 11, 2017

Motor Vehicle Occupants Pedestrians Motorcycle, Moped, Scooter Operators Bicyclists ATV
Operators
TOTAL
C&C of Honolulu 19 9 7- m/c
4 – moped
1- scooter
Total – 12
3 1 44
Hawaii County 24 2 5 – m/c
1 – moped*
0 – scooter
Total – 6*
3 0 35
Maui County 10 1 4 – m/c
0 – moped
1 – scooter
Total – 4
0 0 16
Kauai County 6 0 0 – m/c
0 – moped 0 – scooter
Total – 0
0 0 6
TOTAL 59   12 23 * 6 1 101  

*indicates 1 motorized bicycle

Traffic Fatality Data from January 1, 2016 through December 11, 2016

Motor Vehicle Occupants Pedestrians Motorcycle, Moped, Scooter Operators Bicyclists ATVOperators TOTAL
C&C of Honolulu 22 20 7- m/c5 – moped

0- scooter

Total – 12

0 0 54
Hawaii County 22 5 2 – m/c1 – moped

0 – scooter

Total – 3

0 0 30
Maui County 13 5 3 – m/c0 – moped

0 – scooter

Total – 3

0 0 21
Kauai County 5 1 0 – m/c
0 – moped
1 – scooter
Total – 1
0 0 7
TOTAL 62 31 19 0 0 112

Body Found Along Puna Shoreline

Hawaiʻi Island police have opened a Coroner’s Inquest investigation in connection with a body that was found in Puna.

At 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, patrol officers responded to the Kalapana Gardens area after a hiker discovered a body clad in a gray T-shirt and green shorts in a remote location along the coastline.

Detectives with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section responded to the scene, but because of the body’s advanced state of decomposition, neither the age, gender or identity of the victim could be immediately determined.

Due to darkness and limited accessibility to the area, police secured the scene until the next morning.

The following morning, Wednesday, Dec. 6, detectives returned to the scene, which had been held by patrol officers. With the assistance of the Hawai‘i County Fire Department’s helicopter, the body was airlifted out of the area and taken to the Hilo Medical Center, where the official pronouncement of death was made at 12:30 p.m.

An autopsy has been requested to determine the exact cause of death. This is currently classified as an unattended death.

Anyone who may have saw someone with this clothing description in the area or have any other information about this incident is asked to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Wendall Carter of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2383 or Wendall.Carter@hawaiicounty.gov.

Hwy 130 Costs Exceeds $25 Million in 5 Years

Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road construction on Highway 130 in Puna over the last five years has cost Hawai‘i taxpayers more than $25 million.

Speed limits along the corridor have been reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph.

There is still much work to be done in the next few years and costs will be incurred as more studies and projects are funded.

The following contracts were awarded to various firms from Thursday, May 31, 2012, to Thursday, Oct. 16, 2016:

  • On Thursday, May 31, 2012, Jas. W. Glover received a contract for $492,620.00 for Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road intersection improvements at Ainaloa Boulevard. Federal-Aid Project No. HSIP-013030.
  • On Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2013, Nan Inc., received a contract for $14,988,673.00 for the Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road Shoulder Lane Conversion Phase one. Federal-Aid Project No. STP-013028.
  • On Wednesday, June 18, 2014, Isemoto Contracting received a contract for $4,819,350.00 for Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road intersection improvements at Old Government Road. Federal-Aid Project No. HSIP-0130 031.
  • On Thursday, June 20, 2016 SSFM International received a contract for $1,275,750.00 for Professional Services.
  • On Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, Jas W. Glover received another contract for $3,720,700 for Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road Shoulder Lane Conversion Phase 2 Shower Drive Intersection Improvements. Goods, Services & Construction.

Total: $25,297,093

These costs do not include previous contracts awarded for recommendations made by the Kea‘au-Pāhoa Advisory Group (KPAG).

‘Fashion for the Fight’ Show at Kings’ Shops

Waikoloa Beach Resort photo of the Kings’ Shops.

The Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa has partnered with North Hawai‘i Community Hospital for the second annual “Fashion for the Fight,” a fashion show featuring cancer survivors and caregivers from North Hawai‘i Community Hospital’s Cancer Center.

The event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, at 5 p.m. on the Kings’ Shops stage.

VIP tickets are on sale for $40 and will include special reserved seating, select offers from Kings’ Shops stores and restaurants, and special pūpū and beverages served during the show.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Julia Ramos of North Hawai‘i Community Hospital at (808) 881-4420.

All proceeds will benefit North Hawaii Community Hospital Cancer Center.

The event is also open to the public for viewing. Select stores will offer special holiday shopping incentives after the show.

For event information, visit www.KingsShops.com.

ABOUT KINGS’ SHOPS

Kings’ Shops is Hawai‘i Island’s premier shopping and dining destination. Located in
the heart of the Kohala Coast, the center offers a great collection of brand name
store , such as Michael Kors, Tiffany & Co. and Tori Richard, along with island
favorites, fine art galleries, casual eateries and fine dining. Kings’ Shops is located at
250 Waikoloa Beach Drive in the Waikoloa Beach Resort.

For more information, visit www.kingsshops.com or call (808) 886-8811.

Santa to Star in 2017 Pāhoa Holiday Parade

Santa Claus is coming to Pāhoa town on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. He will once again be the featured guest at the Mainstreet Pāhoa Association’s annual Holiday Parade.

Families, residents and visitors will begin to line Pāhoa Village Road an hour before the 9:30 a.m. start of the parade. The main street through Pāhoa town will be closed from Apaʻa Road to the high school beginning at 9 a.m.

Madie Greene and Bruddah Kuz

The grand marshall for this year’s parade is Auntie Madie Green. Affectionately known as the unofficial “mayor” of Pāhoa, Green has been an active proponent for Pāhoa and the Puna District for decades.

The theme for Saturday’s parade reflects the plantation town’s new attitude, “E ho ‘ala hou ‘a Pāhoa,”
Pāhoa Rising.

Marching units and floats will be judged on their interpretation of the theme, their spirit and showmanship by a panel of five judges consisting of three adults, and two students from area schools.

Winning organizations will receive albizia wood medallions created and donated by Hawaiʻi Bookmark.

The Hawai‘i County Band and the Heiau o Umi-a-Liloa, Helu Umi Royal Order of Kamehameha will begin the parade. The body of the parade will include lots of keiki from local schools, kūpuna, and clubs and organizations all out trying to impress the judges and entertain the crowd. Santa will arrive at the end of the parade to begin the holiday season in Pāhoa.

Following the parade, Santa will be at Savio Realty for pictures with the keiki. Savio is providing complimentary photos for the parents. All morning long, keiki can enter a drawing for Savio’s Keiki Play House, a whimsical structure that looks like it might have been built by Santa’s elves.

Entrants must be present at the 1 p.m. drawing to win. To enter, one must be 12 years old or younger. Savio will also collect cans of food for The Food Basket, Hawaiʻi Island’s Food Bank.

Mainstreet Pāhoa Association President Matt Purvis commented, “The parade is one of the association’s favorite events of the year. And, it’s a great start to the holiday season in Pāhoa.”

The annual holiday parade is a presentation of the Mainstreet Pāhoa Association, with the sponsorship of local businesses. Since 1993 the association’s mission has been to connect the people, non-profits, businesses and government representatives of the Puna District to advocate for the historic plantation town.

Keaʻau Christmas Lighted Parade, Dec. 9

The 14th annual Keaʻau Christmas Lighted Parade is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. This year’s theme is A Paniolo Christmas.

The night will commence with pre-parade Christmas caroling through the village beginning at approximately 5:30 p.m., followed by the parade at 5:45 p.m. Come and enjoy an evening of music, bright lights and fun for all.

Parade space is still available.

For more information, contact Monica at (808) 895-6288 or email monmac@hawaii.rr.com.

Waiānuenue Resurfacing Begins Nov. 13

Resurfacing work on Waiānuenue Avenue will start from Kamehameha Avenue intersection and proceed to Ka‘iulani Street beginning on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.

Motorists heading in the mauka direction from Kamehameha Avenue to Kino‘ole Street will be redirected to Wailuku Drive as a one-way travel pattern on Waiānuenue Avenue in the makai direction will be in effect.

Motorists are advised to drive with caution as emergency response vehicles will be allowed to travel in both directions through the work zone at all times.

Travel lanes from Keawe Street to Wailuku Drive will remain open.

The one-way travel restriction will be in effect from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and travel in both directions will be restored at the end of the workday. Normal traffic patterns in this area will be restored once the project has proceeded past the Kino‘ Street and Waiānuenue Avenue. intersection.

Special off-duty police officers will be in the area to facilitate traffic movement during the lane closures and lane shifts. Motorists are advised to expect delays and are encouraged to use alternate routes.

Questions or concerns, contact Information and Education Specialist Barett Otani at (808) 961-8787.

Aloha From Lavaland Documentary Debuts Online

Courtesy image

Hawaiian anthropological documentary Aloha From Lavaland is scheduled to be released on Amazon and iTunes on Nov. 15, 2017. The film follows the aftermath of the 2014 eruption of Hawai‘i’s Kilauea volcano, which sent a flow of lava directly toward the center of Pahoa, a small rural town on Hawai‘i Island.

Hard to predict and impossible to stop, the flow threatened to cut off the town’s only access road, leaving the residents of this remote community to rely heavily on one another as they prepare for possible isolation.

Produced in conjunction with Gift Culture Media, Larkin Pictures and Pure Mother Love, this 55 minute documentary explores an inner community perspective of the lava flow, following residents as they ask and answer important questions about community, sustainability, harmony, and what it really means to live in such an unpredictable paradise.

In addition to street interviews and news coverage, the documentary follows a local Hawaiian kumu (healer), a sustainability expert and the leader of a sovereign Hawaiian community over a period of seven months as they attempt to prepare for the unpreparable.

“Puna is unlike any place I’ve ever lived,” says co-director Suzenne Seradwyn, who has created films in Los Angeles, New Mexico and Hawai‘i. “The people here have different values because of the natural elements at play and the rich cultural history surrounding those elements. There is a very important message to share about what happens when you allow yourself to trust these elements.”

“This film is important for anyone living in a state of change, whether it be due to external elements or an internal shift,” says the film’s co-director, Phillips Payson. “Part of what this film explores is how one’s attitude toward change can make all the difference.” Before moving to the Big Island, Payson worked in the film industry in New York and Los Angeles. This is his fourth film.

Aloha from Lavaland premiered at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival and has won three awards including Best Hawai‘i Film at the Honolulu Film Awards.

To view the Aloha from Lavaland trailer, click here. You can also learn more about the film online.