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Big Island Company Recognized in OUTSIDE’s Best Places to Work 2015

Hawaii Forest & Trail is the only company from the state of Hawaii to have been selected as one of OUTSIDE’s Best Places to Work 2015. Each year, OUTSIDE recognizes the top 100 companies in the United States that help their employees strike the ideal balance between work and play. These companies encourage employees to lead an active lifestyle, are eco-conscious, and prioritize giving back to the community.

Hawaii Forest and Trail President Rob Pacheco interprets the geology of Hualalai.  Photo PF Bentley

Hawaii Forest and Trail President Rob Pacheco interprets the geology of Hualalai. Photo PF Bentley

This prestigious recognition by OUTSIDE magazine as one of the best places to work across the country is truly an honor. When we started Hawaii Forest & Trail in 1992, my wife Cindy and I made a commitment to build our business around the concept of ohana, or family, where we foster connections between our co-worker ohana and the natural world. It’s what we strive for,” said Hawaii Forest & Trail President Rob Pacheco.

“The companies recognized in this year’s Best Places to Work list are the gold standard for stellar work environments that seek to empower their employees both in and out of the office,” said OUTSIDE Online Editor Scott Rosenfield. “The new categories in this year’s list serve to highlight outstanding workplaces in distinctive fields-making it all the easier for our readers to find their dream jobs.”

What Makes Hawaii Forest & Trail A Great Place to Work?

When Rob and Cindy Pacheco founded Hawaii Forest & Trail in the garage of their house, they never dreamed their tour operation would grow to have more than 50 employees at 3 locations on Hawaii Island. The secret to their success has always been finding employees who share their passion for the outdoors, for each other and their island home.

As the company continues to grow, Hawaii Forest & Trail emphasizes the cultivation of close personal connections and provides employees with new opportunities. Just recently Hawaii Forest & Trail launched its “Ohana and Natural Resources Department” where the primary focus is to develop staff education opportunities, conservation partnerships, and community involvement. Initiatives developed by this department include staff BBQs, group volunteer programs, ongoing educational lectures from natural and cultural experts, and an invitation to participate in community hikes. These opportunities for personal growth coupled with the company’s unparalleled access to some of Hawaii Island’s most beautiful natural sites make working at Hawaii Forest & Trail a dream job for many of Hawaii’s outdoor enthusiasts.

Hawaii Forest & Trail also believes in kuleana and acts on that sense of responsibility by providing a strong package of staff benefits that includes healthcare, a 401K matching plan, paid vacation time, and comp tickets on any of their adventures.

“We strongly believe that to be the best at what we do, we have to compete for the best candidates every time we hire,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Jason Cohn. With all their employee perks it’s no wonder Hawaii Forest & Trail has managed to retain their first full-time guide and first full-time dispatcher who both still remember showing up to clock-in at Rob and Cindy’s house more than 17 years ago.

To find the best places to work in the United States in 2015, OUTSIDE started by creating five company categories that reflect the magazine’s values and focus: Adventure/Travel, Wellness, Culture, Gear, and Media. OUTSIDE then conducted a rigorous vetting process in partnership with the Best Companies Group to assess the policies, practices, and demographics of hundreds of companies. Outside’s Best Places to Work 2015 was driven by employee reviews of their workplaces, taking into account factors like corporate culture, role satisfaction, work environment and overall employee engagement. The Best Places to Work list represents the cream of the crop: companies that are empowering their employees to live bigger, better lives.

The complete list of Best Places to Work winners is featured online at www.outsideonline.com/dreamjobs

DCCA Consumer Alert: Starwood Data Breach – Hawaii Hotels Affected

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is encouraging consumers who may have dined or shopped at any of the 54 locations identified by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. to protect themselves from potential credit card fraud.

Starwood made a list of the affected hotels, along with other information, available at www.starwoodhotels.com/paymentcardsecuritynotice. Affected Hawaii locations include: Moana Surfrider; Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa; Sheraton Waikiki; The Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas; The Westin Maui Resort & Spa; and, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas.

Click to view letter from Starwood President

Click to view letter from Starwood President

“We strongly encourage anyone who has used a credit or debit card to purchase food, drinks, or souvenirs at a Starwood property to check the list of hotels and identified dates of the data breaches,” said DCCA Director Catherine Awakuni Colόn. “According to Starwood, the information compromised could be used to make fraudulent charges on credit and debit cards. Everyone should make it a habit to check your monthly statements and annual credit report.”

DCCA has information on how to protect yourself following a security breach at http://cca.hawaii.gov/identity-theft-information/. This website includes links to sample forms and letters for victims of identity theft to help with the recovery process.

DCCA also partnered with the Department of the Attorney General and the Department of Health to offer guidance on how to avoid fraud and common scams in the Hawaii’s Fraud Prevention & Resource Guide available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/sec/files/2015/10/Fraud-Guide-2.pdf. Tips from the guide on how to protect yourself from credit card fraud include:

  • Keep a record of your account numbers, expiration dates, and phone number and address of the card issuer in a secure place.
  • Save receipts to compare with billing statements. Destroy them when no longer needed.
  • Open bills promptly and reconcile accounts monthly. Report questionable charges immediately and preferably in writing to the card company.

If you think your credit or debit card information may have been compromised in the Starwood data breach call Starwood at 1-855-270-9179 Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST.

72 Confirmed Cases of Dengue Fever – Some Schools Will Be Treated this Weekend

The State Department of Health continues to work with other state and county agencies on the issue of the Dengue Fever outbreak.  As of 10:30 today the Department of Health has reported 72 confirmed cases originating on Hawaii Island.  These cases include 62 residents and 10 visitors.


Dengue fever is a virus that is transmitted or spread by infected mosquitoes and not directly from person to person.  Dengue Fever is not endemic or common to Hawaii. It was likely introduced by a person who contracted the virus in another area of the world and became infectious while in Hawaii.

Because dengue fever is only transmitted by mosquitoes, the Department of Health is spraying and treating areas with high mosquito presence and confirmed cases.  The Department of Health may be conducting spraying at various locations in the Kona, Hilo, and Puna areas today.  In addition, the Department of Health with support from the County of Hawaii and the Department of Education will be conducting preventive spraying or treating of areas around the following school campuses this weekend:

  • Konawaena High, Middle and Elementary Schools
  • Honaunau School
  • Hookena School
  • Hilo High School
  • Hilo Intermediate School
  • Waiakea Intermediate and Elementary Schools

Again, these school campuses are being treated as a preventative measure and based on proximity to confirmed cases in the area.  There are no cases directly related to any of the school facilities or campuses.

Although spraying and treatment of areas is ongoing, the most effective method to reduce the spread and possible elimination of Dengue is to minimize or prevent the possibility of being bitten by an infected mosquito by wearing clothing that minimizes exposed skin, using mosquito repellant and avoiding activities in areas of high mosquito concentration during the early morning and late afternoon periods when mosquito activity is greatest.

In addition, persons feeling ill and having a fever should remain indoors to prevent the possibility of being bitten and infecting mosquitoes.

For additional information on Dengue Fever and preventing the spread of Dengue Fever, go to health.hawaii.gov or call the Department of Health at 974-6001., Everyone’s help and assistance with this outbreak is much needed and appreciated.

Free Entry to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Veterans Day

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park joins national parks across the country in waiving entrance fees for Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11.

“The men and women who have served our nation have sacrificed much to protect our freedom,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We invite everyone to honor their service and experience the American heritage by visiting their national parks at no charge this Veterans Day,” she said.

Visitors enjoy scenic views of Kīlauea Caldera and the summit eruption in Halema‘uma‘u Crater from Crater Rim Trail near Steaming Bluff.   NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Visitors enjoy scenic views of Kīlauea Caldera and the summit eruption in Halema‘uma‘u Crater from Crater Rim Trail near Steaming Bluff. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has dozens of veterans among its employees and volunteers. Active duty U.S. military can obtain a free annual Military Pass at the park’s entrance station all year. For more information on the free Military Pass, visit the park website.

The park, which is open 24 hours a day, offers more than 150 miles of hiking trails and many opportunities to appreciate the volcanic landscape, native ecosystem and the Hawaiian culture that define this World Heritage Site. More than a dozen free interpretive programs are offered daily, and special events, including ‘Ike Hana No‘eau cultural workshops, After Dark in the Park presentations, and Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices” concerts, are ongoing. Check www.nps.gov/havo for information for all events.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is one of five national park units on the island of Hawai‘i.  Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is also free of charge Veterans Day weekend. There is no admission charged for Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, or the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

Information on special offerings at parks nationwide is available at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.

Hawaii Wins $53.1 Million Settlement Against Online Travel Companies

The State of Hawaii has recovered $53.1 million in general excise taxes, penalties and interest from online travel companies (the “companies”) including Travelocity.Com, LLP, Expedia, Inc., Orbitz, LLC, and Priceline.Com, LLP from tax litigation that began in 2011.

Attorney General Clip

Attorney General Doug Chin said “Online travel companies derive substantial profits from the sale of hotel rooms, rental cars a nd other services in Hawaii. The importance of the Hawaii Supreme Court ruling is the precedent it establishes. People or companies who provide goods and services through the Internet that are used or consumed in Hawaii are subject to Hawaii taxation, despite being domiciled in other states.”

The Tax Appeal Court previously ruled that the companies owed general excise taxes but not the State’s transient accommodations tax that is assessed on operators of transient accommodations, like hotels. The State and the companies appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court from these rulings.

On March 17, 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court upheld the Tax Appeal Court’s ruling that the companies are subject to Hawaii’s general excise tax, but concluded that they are taxable only on their net receipts from the sale of hotel rooms in Hawaii, not their gross receipts. The Court ruled that the companies receive the benefit of an income splitting provision that applies to travel agents in chapter 237, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

The Court rejected the companies’ argument that they were not doing business in Hawaii. The Court stated in its opinion, “the [companies] are not passive sellers of services to Hawai‘i consumers. The [companies] actively solicit customers for Hawai‘i hotel rooms and actively solicit hotels to contractually provide the right to sell on their website the right of occupancy of hotel rooms.”

The Court remanded the case to the Tax Appeal Courtto re-determine the amount of general excise taxes, penalties and interest the companies owe to the State of Hawaii. On September 22, 2015, the Tax Appeal Court entered final stipulated judgments setting forth the amounts owed by the companies and the amounts that the State needed to refund from the State’s litigated claims fund.

Litigation against the companies for their other State tax obligations for their other business activities in Hawaii during the period 2000 through 2013 is continuing.

Groundbreaking Held for Long Awaited Hilo Bayfront Trails Project

A public groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday, July 7, for Phase 1 of the Hilo Bayfront Trails Project. Hilo Bay Ground Breaking

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation has partnered with the nonprofit Hilo Bayfront Trails Inc. to deliver nearly a mile of paved, 12-foot-wide trails that will support walking, running, bicycling and other non-motorized transportation modes.

Two interconnected sections will extend from Mo‘oheau Park Bandstand to the canoe-storage area at Hilo Bayfront Beach Park. A third segment will start at the terminus of Kumu Street, run though the soccer fields mauka of Kamehameha Avenue, and end at Pauahi Street.

Hilo Bay Recreation Map

The Department of Parks and Recreation has obtained a $345,743 grant from the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund’s State and Local Assistance Program and has committed $25,000 from its own budget to subside the purchase of materials. Hilo Bayfront Trails’ members will build the trail utilizing volunteer labor.

Total estimated cost is $750,000, and construction is expected to be finished by December 2016.

Mayor Billy Kenoi, state Sens. Gilbert Kahele and Lorraine Inouye, as well as Hilo Councilmen Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and Danny Paleka Jr. were among the dignitaries who praised the project’s benefits during the groundbreaking ceremony. Pastor Evan Carmichael of the Church on a Sure Foundation delivered the prayer.

The ceremony culminated a 10-year County and community effort to develop a walking and bicycling path that showcases Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea, while also meeting the diverse recreational needs of a growing population. Trail development was listed as a top priority by 56 percent of the people who participated in a 2008 public recreation user survey.

Lava Lake in Halemaumau Crater Drops

The summit lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater has dropped significantly over the past two days, as Kīlauea’s summit has deflated.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The dropping lava level has allowed lava veneer on the walls of the Overlook crater to fall away, clearly exposing the contact between the original rim of the Overlook crater (which is the original, pre-overflow floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater) and the stack of recent lava overflows. These overflows are roughly 8 meters (26 feet) thick in total.

Lava Lake at Volcano Explodes Scaring the Crap Out of Tourists

A rockfall from the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater impacted the lava lake around 10:20 am, triggering an explosion of spatter and smaller particles.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

HVO geologists working on the far side of the crater captured the initial moments of the plume rising. The explosion deposited a large amount of spatter around the closed Halemaʻumaʻu visitor overlook.

Rocks falling into the summit lava lake generated an explosion that threw large fragments of molten lava onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, 85 m (280 ft) above the lake.

ExplosionThese fragments pose a significant hazard, and are one reason this area remains closed.

Spatter from the explosion also landed on the Halemaʻumaʻu webcam, melting some of the wire insulation but not enough to interrupt its operation.

tephra from 10:20 collapse and explosive eventGas in the lava lake was rapidly released during the 10:20 am explosive event, causing the lava lake surface to drop a few meters (yards).

This photo was taken moments after the explosive event, and shows the overhanging ledge of lava along the rim that was exposed as the lava level dropped.

This photo was taken moments after the explosive event, and shows the overhanging ledge of lava along the rim that was exposed as the lava level dropped.

Early this morning, prior to the explosive event at 10:20 am, the lake was close to the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, with spattering along the lake margin.

428 lava lake

Rise in Lava Lake Creates Surge in Visitation at Volcanoes National Park

Thousands of additional visitors are flocking to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to witness the large lava lake steadily rise at the summit of Kīlauea volcano. lava Lake 427

Over the last several days, visitors waited up to 30 minutes or longer to park. To ease traffic once the Jaggar Museum and Kīlauea Overlook parking lots fill up, rangers are currently redirecting vehicles during peak visitation hours to park at the Kīlauea Military Camp ball field. From there, visitors can hike one mile to the Jaggar Museum observation deck, the closest and best vantage point to view the spectacular lava lake.

“Visitors should come prepared to ensure a safe and enjoyable park experience,” said Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We encourage people to avoid peak hours, and arrive after 10 p.m. and before 4 a.m. if possible, or they will likely wait in line for parking. The park remains open 24 hours a day,” she said.

Tips for an optimal viewing experience:

  • Be prepared to hike one mile each way between Kīlauea Military Camp ball field and the Jaggar Museum observation deck on Crater Rim Trail. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes, bring rain gear, water, binoculars, a flashlight, and extra batteries.  ​
  • Carpool if possible to reduce the number of vehicles in the parking areas.
  • As a courtesy to other visitors, no “tailgating” in the Jaggar Museum or Kīlauea Overlook parking lots. Choose another picnic location so others have a chance to view the eruption.
  • To observe viewing and weather conditions, monitor the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcams. The KI camera provides a panoramic view of Halema‘uma‘u Crater from HVO.
  • High levels of dangerous sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and volcanic ash can be blown over Jaggar Museum by southerly winds. These gases are a danger to everyone, particularly to people with heart or respiratory problems, young children and pregnant women. Kīlauea Visitor Center offers updates on air quality 24 hours a day, and visitors can monitor the Hawaii SO2 network website.

In addition, the public is reminded that park entrance fees apply and that the use of unmanned aircraft (drones) is prohibited in all national parks.


Visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Creates $136,838,700 Economic Benefits

Report shows visitor spending supports 1,672 jobs in local economy

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,693,005 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2014 spent $136,838,700 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,672 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $170,878,000.

Park Ranger Dean Gallagher gives the "Life on the Edge" talk to visitors along the Jaggar Museum observation deck in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Janice Wei.

Park Ranger Dean Gallagher gives the “Life on the Edge” talk to visitors along the Jaggar Museum observation deck in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo/Janice Wei.

The park’s 2014 visitation is up 6.9 percent from 2013 (1,583,209 visitors), and reflects a steady and rising trend of visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park since 2009. The park, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016, shares two of earth’s most active volcanoes, the Hawaiian culture, and its native biodiversity with local residents and visitors.

“It’s heartening to again report an increase in both visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and the significant economic impact park visitors have by spending money and creating jobs in our local community,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s clearly a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities,” Orlando said.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz.  The report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $29.7 billion.

According to the 2014 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.6 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent).

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in Hawai‘i and how the National Park Service works with Hawai‘i communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/hawaii.

Economic Impact of National Parks of Hawaii Island

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 2,282,752 people in 2014 visited four national park units on Hawai‘i, the Big Island, and spent $175,579,100 in communities near the parks. That spending supported 2,162 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $248,036,200.

Royal Court at the annual Ho‘oku‘ikahi I Pu‘ukoholā Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival at Pu'ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site. ​ ​ NPS Photo

Royal Court at the annual Ho‘oku‘ikahi I Pu‘ukoholā Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival at Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site.
​ ​
NPS Photo

The national parks of Hawai‘i, the Big Island include:

Hawaiis Parks

A fifth area managed by the NPS, the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, does not track visitation. A section of the 175-mile trail runs through each of the island’s national park units.

“The popularity of the national parks of Hawai‘i Island is no surprise as Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is the most popular attraction on the island and sometimes the state.  Hawai‘i Island as a whole has seen increases in visitor arrivals, length of stay and total spending over the last few years and we can attribute this success to the popularity of these amazing attractions. We have a very strong relationship with the National Park Service and through this we can promote these assets and drive sustainable demand for Hawai‘i Island,” said Ross Birch, Executive Director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz.  The report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $29.7 billion.

According to the 2014 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.6 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent).

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm

New TripAdvisor Accolades for Waikoloa Beach Resort

TripAdvisor.com, the world’s largest travel site, has ranked Waikoloa Beach Resort as 7th on its list of “Top U.S. Destinations for Vacation Rental Stays.” Based on TripAdvisor reviews, the luxury Kohala Coast resort bested Las Vegas, Nevada and two other Hawaii destinations.  Hilton 1

Along with the Top 10 list, TripAdvisor also published results of its recent survey of 1,800 travelers. According to that study, 59 percent of participants plan to stay at a vacation rental this year. Vacationers value cost-savings, space and quality amenities, and place a high priority on having a kitchen.

Hilton 2“Vacation rentals are becoming increasingly popular as more travelers discover the outstanding amenities, comfort, and value a rental can offer,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor. “With summer the most popular time for vacation rental stays, savvy travelers should book early for the best options.”  Hilton Waikoloa Village Skyview

With a wide range of vacation rental units within its 1,350 acre boundaries, as well as 30+ dining options, two shopping centers, two golf courses, two resort hotels and a full schedule of entertainment and activities, Waikoloa Beach Resort has earned recognition as one of Hawaii’s top destinations. Last December, the property was ranked 8th on TripAdvisor’s list of “Destinations on the Rise” in the United States.

If you look closely you can see a hot tub in the cave pool

If you look closely you can see a hot tub in the cave pool

“To be named on two significant TripAdvisor lists in such a short time is very exciting for us,” said Scott Head, Vice President of Resort Operations. “We have worked hard to create a Waikoloa Beach Resort experience that works well for visitors, island residents, resort homeowners and vacation rental guests as well.  This kind of recognition shows that offering a variety of excellent choices in dining, shopping, golf, activities and accommodations are a formula that works, that people enjoy and are happy to visit again.”

Groundbreaking Ceremony Begins Construction For New Hilo International Airport Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting Station

The state Department of Transportation (HDOT), Airports Division, celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony today for the new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) station at the Hilo International Airport.

ito fire department 2

The new two-story, 21,000 square-foot facility will include four drive-through truck bays, a fueling area, new training facilities, along with improved work and living quarters for firefighters.

“Our crews here at the Hilo ARFF station provide very specialized Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting responses that are unique to the airport setting,” said Ross Higashi, Deputy Director of the Airports Division. “Each of these improvements will supply our firefighters with the facilities they need to train and carry out operations.”

ITO Fire department

Nearly 87-percent of the $18.8 million total was provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  State funds covered the remaining $3 million. The new station will be fully compliant with FAA requirements and is anticipated to be completed by June 2016.

“The safety of our air travelers is always one of our highest priorities,” said Governor David Ige. “Each of these improvements will help to keep our firefighters better trained, better equipped and ready to respond when the need arises. We look forward to the work being completed on time.”

Shark Attack at Hapuna Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii

A Kansas man suffered a shark attack Wednesday (March 18) at Hapuna Beach Park.

Hapuna Beach

Hapuna Beach

In response to an 11:46 a.m. call, South Kohala officers responded to Hapuna Beach and learned that a 58-year-old man from Overland Park, Kansas, had been snorkeling with family at the south point of the beach when a shark bit him on the arm.

He was assisted to shore and taken to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital, where he was treated for severe lacerations to his left forearm and injury to his left thigh.

Swimmers were evacuated from the waters.

Michigan Man Identified in Drowning Last Month

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a possible drowning in Kealakekua late last month.
HPDBadgeOn January 30, Kona Patrol officers responded to a 12:11 p.m. report of a drowning at Manini Beach, which is just south of Kealakekua Bay. When police and Fire Department personnel arrived, bystanders were attempting cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Fire Department personnel took over attempts to revive the victim but were unsuccessful.

He has been identified as 72-year-old Anthony Lafata of Warren, Michigan.

The cause of death is being deferred pending additional forensic testing. Police do not suspect foul play. The case has been classified as a coroner’s inquest.

Lunch With Mayor Kenoi and Select Cabinet Members

Mayor Billy Kenoi and select cabinet members discuss opportunities and challenges for West Hawaii’s economy at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce 2015 Focus Luncheon 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

The Manta Ray Super Pool & Slide is a centerpiece at Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa.

The Manta Ray Super Pool & Slide is a centerpiece at Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa.

Sponsored by the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, the annual luncheon offers a unique opportunity for the local community to meet with county department representatives in a casual setting.

Attendees have the chance to have lunch with members of a specific department as well as pose questions to the mayor and cabinet heads. Issues discussed may include update of the Keauhou Aquifer; the county’s solid waste management plan; and the quest to reopen the Kona International Airport international arrivals facility.

Cost for the luncheon is $46 for Chamber and Rotary members, $56 for non-members. No walk-ins allowed. For more information and/or to register, visit kona-kohala.com or call the Chamber office at 808-329-1758.

Japan Visitor Dies in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A 71-year-old male visitor from Japan died yesterday after suffering an apparent heart attack at Thurston Lava Tube in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
Thurston Lava Tube

Acting Chief Ranger John Broward reported that the man was hiking out of the lava tube with a tour group, at approximately 1 p.m. After walking up the steepest section of the trail, the visitor felt fatigued, was short of breath, and sat down to rest.

Shortly after sitting down, he collapsed, lost consciousness, and stopped breathing. Several visiting nurses and a tour operator performed CPR until park rangers arrived with an automated external defibrillator, or AED. Rangers went through three cycles of CPR and AED analysis but the man’s heart was not in a rhythm the machine could detect.

County of Hawai‘i Medic 19 arrived and assumed care. After county medics completed their protocols, a doctor from the Hilo Medical Center pronounced the visitor dead through online medical control.

The name of the victim is being withheld pending further notification of his family.

Department of Parks and Recreation Receives $50,000 State Grant to Control Little Fire Ants

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation has received a $50,000 grant from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority to control little fire ants at specific park sites.

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

The Department of Parks and Recreation is one of four Hawai‘i Island organizations selected by the HTA for a grant award under its 2015 Natural Resources Program. Funding will be used to pay the Department’s three-person team of little fire ant control technicians, purchase bait and subsidize other expenses related to the ongoing treatment program.

To meet the grant terms of improving both the visitor experience and resident enjoyment of Hawai‘i’s natural resources, treatment efforts will be conducted at Richardson Ocean Park, Lili‘uokalani Gardens and the Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens through December 2015. The free sites are popular with visitors and residents.

Little fire ants are considered to be one of the world’s worst invasive species. They inflict painful stings that can cause welts in humans and blind animals.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, which administers the grant program, for supporting its efforts to control little fire ants in the public’s parks. Treatment efforts are ongoing at 28 County recreational sites and facilities found to have the highest concentrations of little fire ants.

Hawaiian Host to Acquire Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut

Hawaiian Host, Inc. announced today that the company has entered into an agreement with The Hershey Company to acquire the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation.

Hawaiian HostHawaiian Host is one of Hawai‘i’s premier brands and the originator of chocolate covered macadamias with its history dating back to 1927. When the acquisition is completed, Mauna Loa will join Hawaiian Host as a subsidiary. Both companies will continue operating as two distinct, separate brands.

“This acquisition will create a great opportunity for both companies, our employees and the community. It brings Mauna Loa back under Hawai‘i ownership, joins together two strong, local brands, and lays the foundation for continued success,” said Keith Sakamoto, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Host. “We are excited to welcome Mauna Loa’s outstanding employees to the Hawaiian Host family. Both companies have a long history of operating in Hawai‘i and sharing our products with the world. And we remain committed to continuing to offer the same quality products our customers have grown to know and expect.”

In 1946, Mauna Loa planted its very first macadamia nut trees near Kea‘au, just south of Hilo, where its facilities and visitor center are currently located on 136 acres of land. Mauna Loa is one of the largest and most experienced macadamia nut processors in the world with the seasonal capacity to process approximately 40 million pounds of macadamias. They also produce chocolate covered macadamias and flavored macadamia nut products that are distributed locally, nationally and internationally. In 2004, The Hershey Company acquired Mauna Loa.

“Both Hawaiian Host and Mauna Loa have a long history of supporting our local growers and farmers as well as our community. And with our more than 300 employees in Hawai‘i we will continue that legacy together,” added Sakamoto.

The acquisition is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2015. There are no immediate staff changes planned and details of the acquisition will not be released.

Hawaiian Host was founded by Mamoru Takitani, a third-generation Japanese descendent who dreamed of becoming a candy maker. After moving to Honolulu from the island of Maui, Takitani purchased Ellen Dye Candies, a local confectioner since 1927, and renamed it Hawaiian Host. Since then, Hawaiian Host has grown to become “Hawai‘i’s Gift to the World” and remains the leader in chocolate-covered macadamia products. Today, Hawaiian Host has more than 250 products that are sold in more than 23 countries around the world.

Hawaiian Host supports the Mamoru & Aiko Takitani Foundation which provides grants to numerous community organizations and provides academic scholarships for higher education to benefit the young people of Hawai‘i. Since its inception, the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation has provided more than $2 million dollars in scholarships to students from every eligible high school in Hawai‘i.

For more information, visit www.hawaiianhost.com.


Unidentified Object Closes Kua Bay

Officers from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), along with staff from the DLNR Division of State Parks, closed the Kua Bay section of Kekaha Kai (Kona Coast) State Park today after an unidentified object was found in the water.

Kua Bay

State Parks Administrator Dan Quinn said, “High winter surf brings a lot of surfers to this park and we feel it is best to close the park and not allow surfers and others into the water, for their own safety, until we can identify this object.”

A U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) expert is planning to gather photographs of the object this afternoon in an effort to determine exactly what it is. A representative from the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) will accompany the EOD expert. The Navy is working closely with DLNR to assess the item and appropriate response actions.

The object is approximately two feet in diameter and is estimated to weigh 150 pounds. There has been a history of unexploded ordnance found in the waters of this region.

As soon as the object is positively identified and removed if necessary, staff from the DLNR Division of State Parks will determine when Kua Bay can be reopened.