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Commentary – Saddle Road Improvements Will Pay Dividends for Years to Come

The Hawaii Department of Transportation and the Central Federal Lands
Highway Division recently dedicated the east side Saddle Road phase.

Former Kona Blog Owner Aaron Stene has followed this project through numerous administrations and probably knows more about this project than most of the folks that actually constructed the road.

This new highway is a huge improvement over the old roadway that meandered through upper Kaumana. The latter had a lot of safety deficiencies and didn’t meet modern highway standards.

The new highway between m.m 5.67 and m.m 11.71 meets all modern highway standards, and completes a critical thoroughfare linking West and East Hawaii.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation, Central Federal Lands Highway
Division, and their contractor, Road and Highway Builders LLC have a lot of to be proud of. They were able to deliver a modern highway on time, under budget, and were able to fulfill late Senator Dan Inouye’s’ vision. In addition, the CFLHD did a great job informing the public of project updates on a monthly basis during the construction phase.

The CFLHD project engineer, who oversaw this final phase, was always available if I had any specific project related questions. Other ongoing highway projects on this island should take a cue from the CFLHD’s efforts to keep the public informed about this particular project.

The core Saddle Road improvement project is now finished with the completion of this final phase. However, I hope the HDOT and CFLHD proceed with the Saddle Road extension, which will extend Saddle Road to Queen Kaahumanu Highway in West Hawaii.

It took roughly 13 years, and over 300 million dollars, to reconstruct, and realign, about 45 miles of Saddle Road, but it was totally worth all the effort and time. This improved highway will be paying dividends for this island for years to come.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Ali’i Drive in Kona Shuts Down for the Weekend – Ironman is Here

HPD Police Traffic Advisory:
Ali’i Drive by Likana Lane to King Kamehameha Hotel, Kailua, Kona, from 8:00am today until Sunday 10-15-17 at 2:00 pm.

Swimmer Rescued From Hilo Bay

Location:  Hilo Bay

Situation Found at Scene: Search commenced for swimmer in Hilo bay. Located via aircraft and extricated using Billy Pugh

Remarks:  At 2:49 this afternoon, Hawaii Fire Department units were dispatched to a possible swimmer in distress. Per the caller, a female swimmer in her late 20s was seen leaving the Wailoa river mouth heading out toward a green channel marker which is located about 1 mile off shore. When the caller lost sight of her, the caller became concerned and called 911. After a 35 min. search, Chopper 1 located the swimmer and deployed a rescue swimmer. The patient was taken to shore via Billy Pugh net. The exhausted swimmer refused medical attention.

Traffic Alert – Avoid Bayfront Highway Due to High Waves Washing Debris on Road

AVOID the Bayfront Highway between Pauahi Street and Waianuenue Avenue due to high waves washing debris on highway.

An assessment will be made in the morning by Civil Defense on the status of the closure.

Use Kamehameha Avenue as an alternate route.

Former Mayor Kenoi Represents “Peaman” – Fine Dismissed

The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) at its regularly scheduled meeting today reviewed a proposed administrative enforcement action against Kona resident Sean Pagett for organizing unpermitted fitness swimming events in Kailua Bay.

The Board voted to dismiss the fine upon receiving assurances from Pagett’s counsel, former Hawaii mayor William Kenoi, that Pagett will apply for a DOBOR permit, including obtaining required insurance coverage, for all future marine events he plans. The Board also voted to confirm that DOBOR rules do authorize the boating division, acting in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard, to require and issue permits for marine events, including swim races.

DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood said, “Our shared goal is safety for all. Kona is known for its land and ocean fitness events which draw hundreds of participants of all ages. We know they are popular and we support this activity. However, any event which places people onto land or in ocean areas where there is potential conflict with vehicles or vessels needs to be responsibly coordinated with appropriate agencies to be sure no one gets hurt or worse.”

The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) brought the proposed enforcement action which recommended the issuance of fines totaling $10,000 to Pagett for two violations of the permit requirement rule.

According to Underwood, “Mr. Pagett was aware that a permit was needed to hold these events but continued to hold them without a permit. Both DOBOR staff and our Deputy Attorneys General reached out to him, through his attorney, and offered that there would not be any enforcement action, as long as he agreed to obtain permits for future events. He declined our previous offer. We tried to work with him but had no choice but to bring an enforcement action to ensure he follows the law same as everyone and same as for all other marine events. We look forward to working with him on the permitting process.”

“Permits help DOBOR, the U.S. Coast Guard and ocean safety agencies to keep track of people and boats in the water, prevent potential conflicts and hazards to life and indemnify the state if there should be an accident. Unless there are consequences for violating state statutes and administrative rules, people do not have an incentive to abide by our rules and directions which are necessary for public safety,” Underwood added.

DOBOR officials said that Sean Pagett (also known as “Peaman”) formerly obtained permits but stopped when the insurance requirement changed. He has staged 350 events over the years that have included running, bicycling, swimming, or a combination of each in which there are 70-120 participants per event. Events involving swimming have typically been staged from, or around the Kailua-Kona pier, and swim portions of events take place within the adjacent designated Ocean Recreation Management Area (ORMA). The swim zone is marked by lines and buoys, to keep swimmers out of restricted areas around the pier used by boats.

In late 2016, DOBOR staff and DLNR Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) officers advised Pagett that a Nov. 27, 2016 swim-run race event was held without a marine event permit, using the swim zone at Kailua Pier, an administrative rule violation. The same morning a cruise ship moored offshore was ferrying 2000 passengers into the pier by tender, posing a potential safety hazard.

On December 12, 2016, officials met with Pagett and his attorney to discuss his events and ways to comply with permitting requirements. Pagett claimed the rule did not apply to his events since no fee was charged, participants did not have to register, and no prizes were awarded. He claimed participants were “a group of friends who gather to do timed events.” He was warned that continuing to hold events without a permit would be a violation of state rules and subject to citation and fines.

Then on December 25, 2016, Pagett held the “Peaman Birthday Bonanza” which involved a ½ mile swim and 3.9 mile run/walk race. He did not apply for a marine event permit from DOBOR, and no permit was issued to him. He was cited by DOCARE officers.

Internet Service Down at Big Island Public Libraries

The Hawaii State Public Library System reports that the internet is down at all public libraries on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Library locations on the Big Island.

Equipment and technical staff are being flown in for repairs.  It is not known at this time when the internet will be back up and running.

UPDATE: “Earlier today, the high speed fiber network that provides internet connectivity to all Hawaii State Public Library System staff and public computers on Hawaii Island went down. Limited internet connectivity has been temporarily restored to some Hawaii Island branch staff. Internet connectivity for all public access computers remains down island-wide until further notice.  Equipment and technical staff are being flown to Hawaii Island for repairs.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our Hawaii Island library patrons and thank them for their patience.”

Civil Defense Weather and Surf Information Update

This is a Civil Defense message. This is a weather and surf information update for Friday October 13 at 3 PM.

The National Weather Service reports unstable weather conditions to continue through today and into tonight for Hawaii Island.

KITV Radar image at 3:30 Hawaii Time.

Police report all roads are open at this time, but advise that driving conditions are poor because of occasional heavy downpours.

If lightning threatens your area, the safest place to be is indoors.

Should power outages occur, be on the alert for non-operable traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

In addition, the National Weather Service expects high surf to approach advisory levels along the shores of North Kohala, Hamakua, North and South Hilo and Puna from tonight through the weekend.

Oceanfront residents and beachgoers along the affected shores are advised to be on the alert for possible high and dangerous surf as well as exercise caution due to the unpredictability of huge swells.

As a precaution, boat owners and oceanfront residents should take action to secure their property.

Pacific Aviation Museum Providing Free STEM Program to Hawaii Island Schools

The FREE STEM outreach education program, allowing students to explore science through flight, will be presented to 6th graders in Hilo, Pahoa and Pahala.

More than 500 sixth graders on Hawaii Island will learn about the science behind aviation when members of Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s Barnstorming Program travel to Hawaii Island for the first time, October 16-27, 2017. The term “barnstorming” refers to a style of stunt piloting that was performed in the 1920’s to showcase pilots’ skills and the sturdiness of the planes they flew.

Barnstorming photos of a previous session at Benjamin Parker Elementary School on Oahu. Photo credit: Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

Pacific Aviation Museum’s Barnstorming Program was developed in 2008 by staff at the Museum in collaboration with educators and science advisors from University of Hawaii at Manoa, and since its inception, has reached over 26,000 sixth graders in their classrooms on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. The 90-minute curriculum is aligned to the Hawaii State Content Standards for Grade 6, and uses:

  • Table-top experiments where students are introduced to the two most important concepts in the science of aviation – Newton’s Third Law of Motion and Bernoulli’s Principle;
  • A portable wind tunnel that allows students to manipulate an airfoil inside a working wind tunnel via remote control. Students see the effects that airflow have on a wing, and how different velocities of the airstream can change a wing’s reaction to their controller inputs. Students discover how scientists and engineers use wind tunnels to design and test objects people use daily, from aircraft and cars, to homes; and
  • A P-40 flight simulator that serves as the culmination of the Barnstorming experience, where after learning the basic concepts through table-top experiments and the wind tunnel, students take the controls of a flying machine. The flight simulator allows students to operate the control surfaces (rudder, elevators and ailerons) that they learned about in the initial presentation, and decide what stick or pedal inputs they will need to obtain their desired movements. Student aviators fly the P-40 through several scenarios, including takeoff, landing, basic control familiarization, as well as pursuit and dogfight maneuvers.

Costs incurred to bring the program and equipment to Hawaii Island is being underwritten by a $5,000 grant from Boeing.

“Aviation plays such an important role in our everyday lives, from an economic and social point of view, to protecting our nation from harm,” said Shauna Tonkin, Director of Education, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. “Our Barnstorming Program is designed to incorporate all elements of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through interesting and hands-on activities that not only help students understand the scientific principles of flight, but also introduces aviation and aeronautical engineering as a viable career. We hope to continue taking this program on the road to students throughout Hawaii. Our ability to do this is based on the generous support we receive from businesses and foundations, such as Boeing.”

Beginning October 16, Pacific Aviation Museum will bring its Barnstorming program to the following schools:

October 16: Ernest Bowen DeSilva Elementary, Hilo
October 17-19: Waiakea Intermediate, Hilo
October 20: Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science, Pahoa
October 23: Ka’u High & Pahala Elementary, Pahala
October 24: Pahoa Intermediate, Pahoa
October 25-27: Waiakea Intermediate, Hilo

On the evening of October 23, Pacific Aviation Museum will also host a free community outreach event at Ka’u High & Pahala Elementary School called Discover Your Future in Aviation (DYFA). Mirrored after the Museum’s annual DYFA on Oahu, the event is designed as an interactive fair that provides youth with information and resources related to the aviation and aerospace industries.

With a special emphasis on young women and underserved populations, DYFA’s goal is to generate interest and present STEM career opportunities by having exhibitors in the field of aerospace and aviation at the event, coupled with interactive STEM-related activities. The event will also feature keynote speaker Z. Nagin Cox, a NASA Mars Rover engineer who has held leadership and system engineering positions on interplanetary robotic missions including the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Kepler exoplanet hunter, InSight, and the Mars Curiosity Rover. In 2015, Asteroid 14061 was named after her by its discoverers.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognized aviation museum on Historic Ford Island that educates young and old alike, honors aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in The Pacific Region, and to preserve Pacific aviation history.

Hawaii Electric Light’s Energy Fair on Oct. 21

Hawaii Electric Light invites the community to its energy fair on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Keauhou Shopping Center.

The free, family-friendly event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and feature educational displays, demonstrations, and interactive activities on electrical safety, energy conservation, electric vehicles and fast charger stations, renewable energy, and our plan to reach a 100% renewable energy future.

Fun activities will include games as well as building and racing a model solar boat made with recycled products. Enjoy live, local entertainment by Kahakai Elementary School, The Humble Project, Kealakehe High School Dance Team, Mauka Soul, and Solid Roots Band.

For more information on the energy fair, visit www.hawaiielectriclight.com/energyfair or call 327-0543.

2017 Hilo World Peace Festival Set for October 21

The 8th Annual Hilo World Peace Festival will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.

Festivities are free and open to the public.  This is a partnership event coordinated by Soka Gakkai International USA, the International Committee of Artists for Peace, Destination Hilo and the County of Hawaii. The Festival celebrates cultural diversity and promotes the creation of a peaceful world. The festival features performances, food and beverages, as well as opportunities to experience cultural expressions of dance, music and art.

The Hilo World Peace Festival was created to promote the spirit of Aloha; the universal language of love; which encourages acts “to honor and revere our elders; to love, nurture, and protect our children; and to respect the harmony of our families; thus creating a healthy community and island lifestyle.”

The entertainment line-up includes Lopaka, Hula by the Hilo SGI Group, Randy Skaggs, Lori Lei Shirakawa, contemporary music by Vaughn Valentino and To’a Here Tahitian Revue. The 2017 Hilo World Peace Festival is a true partnership event where community organizations, private enterprise, and government work together toward a common goal.

More information can be obtained by calling the County of Hawaii, Culture & Education Office at 961-8706.

Big Island Police Asking Public’s Assistance Identifying Theft Suspect

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s assistance in providing information regarding the identification of a suspect involved in a theft of a lawnmower that occurred from a retail establishment in Keaʻau.

Police ask anyone with information on this individual to call Officer Bryson Pilor at the Pahoa Police Station number (808) 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Flood Advisory Issued for Parts of the Big Island

This is a flood advisory information update for Friday October 13 at 9 AM.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for Hawaii Island, including the areas of Waikoloa, Puako, Kawaihae, Kohala, Waimea, and Waipi’o Valley.

Police report all roads are open at this time, but advise that driving conditions are poor because of occasionally heavy downpours.

Remember, if lightning does threaten your area, the safest place to be is indoors.

Should power outages occur, be on the alert for non-operable traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

Again, the National Weather Service reports unstable weather conditions for all of Hawaii Island to continue through today and into tonight.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Severe Weather Information Alert

This is a Civil Defense message. This is a severe weather information message for Thursday October 12 at 8 PM.

The National Weather Service reports heavy rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning to continue through the night for East Hawaii Island.

Doppler image at 8:26 PM.

Police report all roads are open at this time, but advise that driving conditions are poor because of occasionally heavy downpours. This is a good night to stay off the highways and be safe.

Remember, if lightning does threaten your area, the safest place to be is indoors.

Also be advised that due to the thunderstorm, your utilities of power and phones may be interrupted.

Should power outages occur, be on the alert for non-operable traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

Again, the national Weather Service reports heavy rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning to continue through the night.

Puna Kai Shopping Center Breaks Ground

Today, ground was broken for the new Puna Kai Shopping Center that will be located in Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii.

About 100 community members along with dignitaries from the county and the mayor’s office were in attendance.
Pi’ilani Ka’awaloa gave the opening pule (prayer) and blessing of the land while elected officials and company representatives did the actual groundbreaking.

Situated on 9.93 acres, and featuring more than 83,110 SF of retail, office, dining, and entertainment space, Puna Kai will become the community’s premiere shopping center.

Conveniently located at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road & Kahakai Boulevard in the town of Pahoa, on the Big Island of Hawaii.Puna Kai will be grocery anchored by 35,000 SF Malama Market (Malama Market name will be changed). Leasing opportunities are now  being offered from 1,000 SF to 5,540 SF.

Puna Kai, will provide a distinctive blend of daily services, specialty shops, entertainment, and eateries.
The building architecture will reflect the old Hawaii ambiance and charm, inspiring Puna Kai to be the gathering place in Pahoa that has something for everyone.

Hospice of Hilo to Offer Presentation for Professionals

Hospice of Hilo will be offering a free presentation for community professionals serving those whose lives are affected by loss  “Grief Touches Everyone.” Participants will meet at Hospice of Hilo’s Community Room located at 1011 Waiānuenue Ave in Hilo, on Wednesday, October 25, from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm.

Facilitated by Hospice of Hilo bereavement counselors, participants will learn about common responses to loss, and how grief can affect adults and children emotionally, cognitively, physically, socially and spiritually. An overview of the organization’s free community Bereavement Services will also be provided.

The workshop is highly recommended for teachers, counselors, case managers, social workers, and caregivers.“ This well organized and informative workshop is a good introduction to grief and the resources that can help,” said a past participant.

To register or for further information contact: Anjali Kala at 961-7306 or email anjalik@hospiceofhilo.org. Please RSVP no later than October 24th.

Two-Month Repair Work on Akaka Falls State Park Trail Gets Underway

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has begun repair work to the 0.4-mile loop trail at Akaka Falls State Park, necessitated due to accidental damage caused by earlier removal of invasive albizia trees in February this year.  Site Engineering was selected as contractor and cost estimate is $297,400. Work is expected to be completed in December.

Akaka Falls (DLNR Photo)

Initial repair work began last week on the longer trail section that is to the right of the loop trail starting point that was closed after the damage. Workers are removing and repairing damaged concrete walkways and steps, and replacing railings

From October 16 – 20 the park will be completely closed for work on the shorter, left side of the trail to the Akaka Falls lookout.  Hopefully this will be the only time the park will need to be closed. If additional closure is needed, an announcement will be posted on the Division of State Parks website and in local news media.

Aside from the closure dates of October 16-20, access to the Akaka Falls lookout area may be interrupted along the shorter, open walkway path, due to equipment and/or material transport to the damaged areas.

The park offers a pleasant family walk through lush tropical vegetation to scenic vista points overlooking the cascading Kahuna Falls and the free-falling ‘Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. It requires some physical exertion and will take about 1/2 hour for the full loop.

The paved route, which includes multiple steps in places (not wheelchair accessible), makes an easy to follow loop offering stunning viewpoints of the two waterfalls. To view ‘Akaka Falls only, take the path to the left (south) from the first junction. The waterfall view is just a short walk down the path. For more information see http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/hawaii/akaka-falls-loop-trail/

1% Transient Accommodations Tax Increase Takes Effect January 1, 2018

Please be advised that, effective January 1, 2018, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) applied to lodging accommodations in the State of Hawaii will be increased by 1%, raising the TAT from its current rate of 9.25% to 10.25%. This increase is scheduled to stay in effect until December 31, 2030.

The TAT increase is being put into effect to help pay for Honolulu’s rapid transit system that is currently under construction. The light metro rail system will extend 20 miles from Kapolei in Leeward Oahu to Ala Moana Center in Honolulu with 21 stations along the way, including the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the State of Hawaii’s main port of entry for air transportation.

Following is a summary of State taxes that will be applied by lodging properties statewide when the 1% TAT increase takes effect on January 1, 2018:

Oahu
4.712%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.962%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Maui County / Island of Hawaii / Kauai
4.166%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.416%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Click here to see the notice issued by the Hawaii State Department of Taxation providing detailed information about the changes in State law that applies to the 1% TAT increase.

Any questions regarding the implementation of the 1% TAT increase should be directed to the Hawaii State Department of Taxation via email at Tax.Rules.Office@hawaii.gov or by calling 808-587-1530.

Senator Hirono Attends Dedication of Daniel K. Inouye Highway New Phase Completion

Senator Mazie K. Hirono yesterday dedicated a new phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, formerly known as Saddle Road.

Mayor Harry Kim and Senator Mazie Hirono at the Saddle Road dedication.

Yesterday’s ceremony marked the completion of the Saddle Road Improvement Project. Construction on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway began in 2004, and the project’s completion creates the shortest route between East and West Hawaii Island.  (*Editors Note… the project will be extended all the way down to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway)

“This project has been in the making for decades, and it’s only through coordination between federal, state, and local governments, and the Hawaii Island community that we were able to complete the Daniel K. Inouye Highway,” said Senator Hirono. “Saddle Road was one of the most dangerous roads in the state, but now we have a roadway that will reduce accidents, save lives, and fulfill Senator Inouye’s vision to connect East and West Hawaii.”

Police Seek the Public’s Assistance with Fatal Industrial Accident

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a fatal industrial accident involving a 45-year-old man falling through the roof of a warehouse in the Panaʻewa area yesterday, (October 10).

At 1:42 p.m., officers responded to a business on Kealakai Street to a report of a man who fell approximately 40 feet through a fiberglass portion of a roof to a warehouse he was painting, landing on the concrete floor. The victim, 45-year-old Peter Tosie of Hilo, was an employee of a painting company contracted by the business.

The victim was transported by medics to the Hilo Medical Center in critical condition where he succumbed to his injuries at 2:19 p.m.

Detectives assigned to the Criminal Investigation Section are continuing this investigation. An autopsy has been scheduled for Friday, (October 13), to determine the exact cause of his death.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or have any other information about it is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Todd Pataray of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2382 or Todd.Pataray@hawaiicounty.gov.

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

Big Island Mayor Requests Release of Money for Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim sent a letter to Governor David Ige on October 4th  requesting the release of money appropriated for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to fund the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit in 2018:

Dear Governor Ige,

This letter is a formal request for the release of $150,000 appropriated for the County of Hawai’i for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to use to fund the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit in the fiscal year 2018. This was authorized in the Hawaii State Budget, SB26, SD1, HD1, CD1, ACT 204 enacted on July 11, 2017.

The County of Hawaii is committed to the implementation of ACT 204 and looks forward to collaborating with other County and State criminal justice agencies in fulfilling the goal prosecuting and bringing justice to cases that involve career criminals. As provided for in the Career Criminal Prosecuting plan, we intend to fund eleven (11) positions described on the attached “Budget Detail” The Hawai’i County Council has approved the funding provided to the County in ACT 204 as an Intergovernmental Agreement between the State of Hawai’i and the County of Hawaii.

Please contact Lee Lord, Business Manager, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, County of Hawaii, at (808) 934-3315, if you require any additional information.

Sincerely,
Mayor Harry Kim