Hawaii to Receive $168,560 for Fish Habitat Conservation Projects

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Partners to Provide $12 Million to Undertake Fish Habitat Conservation Projects in 27 States

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are providing $12 million during the next three years to support 75 fish habitat conservation projects in 27 states, ranging from restoring submerged aquatic vegetation and oyster beds in Florida and New York to restoring degraded stream and estuary habitat for native fish in Hawaii.

Click to view entire list

Click to view entire list

“Together with our partners, we identified the 75 projects through the National Fish Habitat Partnership, a diverse coalition of public and private organizations that works to reverse declines in fish habitat through voluntary, non-regulatory actions,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “The projects will benefit aquatic species by protecting, restoring and enhancing stream, lake and coastal habitat as well as anglers by improving recreational fisheries. In doing so, they will also give a boost to local communities that benefit from the outdoor recreation economy.”

The National Fish Habitat Partnership helps Service biologists prioritize conservation work to get the greatest benefit for fish and other aquatic resources and ultimately for the American people. The partnership recently completed the first nationwide scientific assessment of the status of fish habitats and identified conservation priorities across the country.

To fund the projects, the Service is providing $3.17 million this year, with nongovernmental organizations, state resource agencies and other partners contributing an additional $9.45 million during the next three years.

Through the funded projects, partners will work in priority areas to restore stream banks, remove man-made barriers to fish passage, reduce erosion from farm and ranchlands, and conduct studies to identify conservation needs for fish and their habitats.  Expected results of the projects include more robust fish populations, better fishing and healthier waterways.  Many of the projects also are designed to help fish populations adapt to the effects of climate change and other environmental disruptions.

“Better fishing is a big benefit of these projects,” said Kelly Hepler, Assistant Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board.  “With better fishing come more tourism, tackle sales and other economic activity, as well as a better quality of life in local communities.”

Projects sponsored by the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership will restore submerged aquatic vegetation and oyster beds in Florida and New York.  The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture will remove barriers in Maine and Pennsylvania and remediate acid mine drainage in Virginia.  The Western Native Trout Initiative will restore habitat that is crucial to cutthroat trout, Gila trout and bull trout, all of which are imperiled.  Projects sponsored by the Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership will restore degraded stream and estuary habitat for native fish.

The list of projects can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/fisheries/whatwedo/NFHAP/documents/2013_FWS_funded_NFHP_projects_listed_by_State.pdf

Kona Crime Prevention Committee Recognizes Officer Justin Gaspar as “Officer of the Month”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Justin Gaspar as “Officer of the Month” for July in a luncheon ceremony Wednesday (June 3) at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona. Gaspar was honored for a traffic stop that led to arrests for multiple felony offenses.

Officer Justin Gaspar

Officer Justin Gaspar

On May 4, Gaspar was assisting another officer with a traffic stop near Honokōhau Road when he observed drug paraphernalia associated with crystal methamphetamine inside the vehicle.

After the two women occupants were arrested, a man in another car approached the scene and stopped. Officer Gaspar recognized him as someone with three outstanding bench warrants for his arrest and ordered him to stop and get out of the vehicle. The man reversed the car and sped away and then placed the car into drive and began speeding toward the officers, causing them to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. Other officers then stopped the car and arrested the driver.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for the man’s car and found a glass smoking pipe and plastic packets containing crystal methamphetamine, along with a pair of brass knuckles. The man was arrested on the bench warrants as well as for two counts of reckless endangering, two counts of terroristic threatening, resisting an order to stop, driving with an expired drivers license, promoting a dangerous drug, possessing drug paraphernalia and possessing a prohibited deadly weapon.

In addition to this incident, Officer Gaspar investigated 32 incidents, one traffic accident and 29 miscellaneous public complaints during May. During the same time, he made 19 adult arrests and issued 33 traffic citations.

As “Officer of the Month,” Gaspar is eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

9th Annual Health and Wellness Recovery Day

A small army of athletes from the Waiākea High School Football team spent their weekend going door to door collecting pledges to support the Big Island Substance Abuse Council’s (BISAC) upcoming Strong Man Contest, which will be hosted as part of the organization’s 9th Annual Health and Wellness Recovery Day on August 3, 2013. The all day event will be held on the Kamehameha Schools Kea‘au Campus from 9:00 am.


Besides the Strong Man Contest, which will feature events like tire flipping and car towing, there will be a Move and Groove-a-Thon, a Health Fair with cooking demonstrations, giveaways, martial arts demonstrations and health and wellness promotions. The event will also have a Recovery Day Walk that is dedicated to honor and celebrate all those in recovery.

The football players’ efforts collected over $450.00 in pledges to support BISAC’s much-needed programs. “I’m truly grateful for all the players that came out to help me collect pledges for my participation in the Strong Man Contest,” said BISAC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita. “It really inspires me to see young people coming out to make their community a better place to live,” said Preston-Pita.

Since 1964, BISAC has been inspiring individuals and families to reclaim and enrich their lives through substance abuse counseling in a non-threatening environment. For more information about how to support BISAC’s programs or about the 9th Annual Health and Wellness Fair call 854-2827.

Hawaii Makes Significant Gains to Rebuild Financial Reserves

With the signing of three bills, the State of Hawaii committed to making good on its past and future obligations. Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed several measures related to fiscal management that appropriate a combined $100 million to increase fiscal reserves and create a new statutory requirement to address long-term unfunded liabilities.

“Today, we are officially no longer a ‘pay as you go’ state,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “The Legislature has joined this administration with the goal of moving our state on a path to deal with long-term unfunded liabilities that have gone unaddressed for decades.

Proposed as part of the Governor’s legislative package, SB1092 (Making an Appropriation to Recapitalize the Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund) and SB1094 (Making an Appropriation to the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund) direct a total of $100 million in general funds for fiscal year 2013-2014 toward paying back borrowed money from the state’s Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund and “Rainy Day Fund.” Each fund is appropriated $50 million.

HB546 (Relating to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund) requires the state’s annual employer contribution to equal the amount determined by an actuary beginning in fiscal year 2018-2019. The bill also holds the state and county governments accountable for said contribution by supplementing deficient payments with the General Excise Tax or Transient Accommodations Tax. It further establishes a phase-in schedule (beginning fiscal year 2014-2015) and a task force to examine the unfunded liability.

“This is a game changer; Hawaii will be the only state in the country where governmental employers have a statutorily required mandated funding course toward 100 percent pre-funding for post employment benefit liabilities,” said Finance Director Kalbert Young. “This is a clear message to financial institutions that the State of Hawaii takes very seriously building its financial capabilities to meet all of its financial obligations.”


Governor Abercrombie Signs Bills Related to Energy and Technology

Focusing on two of his administration’s priority issues, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed several bills that advance Hawaii’s energy and technology goals.

Senator Glenn Wakai shared the following picture on his Facebook account

Senator Glenn Wakai shared the following picture on his Facebook account

Upon enacting four measures related to energy, Gov. Abercrombie stated: “We are removing unnecessary barriers to allow a greater segment of our community to invest in and benefit from renewable energy. These bills also improve the efficiency of the industry’s registration and reporting process, while encouraging greater openness and expanding protections for our local communities.”

HB811 (Relating to Energy Information Reporting) simplifies the registration and reporting process for fuel distributors. Part of the Governor’s legislative package, the bill also amends Public Utilities Commission (PUC) responsibilities and powers in relation to energy industry information reporting and allows the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to receive energy industry information.

HB1405 (Relating to the Public Utilities Commission) requires the PUC to include a summary of the power purchase agreements in effect during the fiscal year in its annual report to the Governor. It also expands the use of the public benefits fee to support clean energy technology, demand response technology, energy use reduction, and demand-side management infrastructure.

SB19 (Relating to Renewable Energy) removes barriers for landlords to invest in renewable energy and allows renters/tenants to benefit from lower energy costs. The bill exempts landlords and lessors who install renewable energy systems on their property and provide, sell or transmit electricity generated from those systems to tenants or lessees.

HB1149 (Relating to Wind Energy Facilities) requires a wind energy facility owner to be responsible for facility decommissioning and provide evidence of financial security unless the owner has an existing lease or other agreement that provides for decommissioning. The bill establishes standards and assurances of adequate financial resources to avoid abandoned or neglected wind energy facilities.

Regarding three of the bills related to technology, the Governor said: “Technology is ever-changing, and state government needs to change with it. An open government helps citizens be engaged in their government and further promotes government accountability and transparency.”

HB632 (Relating to Open Data) requires state departments to make electronic data sets available to the public. The bill also requires the chief information officer (CIO) to develop policies and procedures to implement the Open Data Initiative, and appropriates $100,000 each fiscal year of the biennium to Office of Information Practices (OIP).

HB635 (Relating to Broadband) requires the state and counties to take action in advancing the Hawaii Broadband Initiative within 60 days (for conservation districts, the state must take action within 145 days). The initiative’s goal is to provide ultra high-speed Internet access by 2018, and this clear and decisive timeline will reduce uncertainty for broadband companies and serve as an incentive to invest in increased bandwidth.

SB1003 (Relating to Information Technology), another of the administration’s bills, authorizes the CIO to conduct security audits and direct remedial actions, as necessary, in the management of the state’s cyber security.

“As these resources come online, cyber security will become even more critical, and these measures include steps to further secure the people’s data,” the Governor added.


Snake Found by Vacationers in Kona Condo

A family staying at a Kona vacation condo unit found a 16-inch-long snake on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 and turned it over to security on the property. The black, orange and yellow-colored snake was identified as a garter snake.  It is possible that the snake hitchhiked on the luggage of the family, which had just arrived that evening at the condo.

Kona Snake

The snake was safeguarded at the Hilo Plant Quarantine Office and transported to Honolulu yesterday. It will be kept for educational purposes.

Kona Snake3

Garter snakes are native to North America and Central America. Their diet consists of small prey, such as lizards, worms, insects and amphibians.  Their bite may release a mild neurotoxin, which is not lethal to humans.

Kona Snake2

Snakes are illegal in Hawaii. Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the State’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.  Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

Hawai’i Fire Department’s 13th Annual EMS Run To Be Held In Hilo

In celebration of Emergency Medical Services Week, the Hawai’i Fire Department is sponsoring their 13th annual EMS Family Fun Run/Walk, Keiki Fun Run, and Health Fair on Saturday, August 3, 2013. The event will take place at Lili’uokalani Park in Hilo, and the public is invited to participate.
The 5K Family Fun Run and 2-Mile Walk begins and ends at Lili’uokalani Park. Both events will begin at 8:30 a.m. A Keiki Fun Run, a non-competitive event for children ages 3 to 10, will be held within Liliuokalani Park following the 5K run.
Applications may be downloaded, obtained at the Spencer Health and Fitness Center, the Fire Administration office located at the County Building, 25 Aupuni Street, Suite 2501, in Hilo, at any district fire station, or by calling 932-2900 during normal business hours. The entrance fee is $20 for adults, and $10 for youth, students & seniors (60+).
Awards will be presented following the completion of the event. All participants will also become eligible to receive random drawing prizes which have been provided by our generous sponsors.
The family fun run/walk will also kick off various events and displays that will continue throughout the day. The American Heart Association (blood pressure screening), Ululani Pharmacy (blood sugar/cholesterol screening), Big Island Asthma Coalition-East Hawai’i (asthma awareness and education), Hospice of Hilo, Tri Fit (personal fitness assessment administered by Kea’au High School students), and the County of Hawai’i Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (Keiki ID) are among the agencies that will provide their services to the public.
The Hawai’i Island branch office of the American Cancer Society will have volunteers and staff on hand to assist with the event as well as to provide information about their services.
One of the beneficiaries of the EMS Run will be the Greg Cameron Fireman’s Fund, a non-profit fund that will be used to help firefighter’s families that need help while fighting hardship and disease.
EMS Week, which is celebrated nationwide, will bring together local communities and medical personnel to publicize safety, and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of the medical “front line.” The celebration of EMS Week underscores the commitment and dedication of the 750,000 EMS personnel who provide an essential community service every day. The Emergency Medical Services Week coordinators are Battalion Chief Lance Uchida (Emergency Medical Services Bureau, telephone 961-8319) and Battalion Chief Jerry Lum (telephone 961-8348). The fun run/walk race director is EMS Captain Jesse Ebersole.
The County of Hawai’i’s Emergency Medical Services Division provides 24-hour quality pre-hospital emergency medical care and services to the residents and visitors on Hawai’i. Last year, EMS responded to 15,310 calls for assistance island wide. To learn more about your local EMS Bureau, please call 961-8319.


Park Rangers Rescue Endangered Plants

It’s not always lost or injured hikers who get rescued by park rangers.

Image shows the pit cater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where the endangered plant search and rescue mission occurred June 26, 2013. NPS Photo/Mark Wasser

Image shows the pit cater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where the endangered plant search and rescue mission occurred June 26, 2013. NPS Photo/Mark Wasser

Rangers from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park rappelled nearly 200 feet into a remote pit crater last week to “rescue” seeds and cuttings from four extremely rare Hawaiian plants in the national park. The park will use the seeds and cuttings to help reestablish these species.

During the mission, seeds and cuttings from hāhā (Cyanea stictophylla), a federally endangered shrub found only on Hawai‘i Island, were carefully collected. This stunning plant is extremely rare, and in 1996, only 20 plants were estimated to survive in the wild.

NPS Photo/Jon Maka'ike

NPS Photo/Jon Maka’ike

Seeds and cuttings from other rare species collected included a species related to hāhā, Cyanea pilosa, an odorless Hawaiian mint (Phyllostegia sp.), and a native shrub in the African violet family, ha‘iwale (Cyrtandra lysiosepala).

Although a 4,000-foot elevation and the steep, sheer walls of the forested pit crater aid in protecting its ecology, those conditions make it challenging to retrieve cuttings and seeds. Two specialized teams from the national park, the Natural Resources Management rappel team and the Search and Rescue team, descended into the crater, retrieved the seeds and cuttings, and returned safely to the surface – a 12-hour mission.

Plants shown is closeup of Cyanea stictophylla flowering. This individual was collected from the Pit Crater a few years ago, and has been growing in a park greenhouse since. It flowered and fruited this year. NPS Photo/Mark Wasser

Plants shown is closeup of Cyanea stictophylla flowering. This individual was collected from the Pit Crater a few years ago, and has been growing in a park greenhouse since. It flowered and fruited this year. NPS Photo/Mark Wasser

Joining rangers were members of Hawai‘i County Fire Department and Pōhakuloa Training Area’s fire management team. This enabled the project ample contingency resources in the event of an incident, and fosters interagency cooperation that will be seeds in themselves for future mutual assistance.

“Hoakua: Elevated Perceptions” Unites Traditional Japanese and Hawaiian Music and Dance

“Hoakua: Elevated Perceptions” will be presented by the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation on Saturday, July 20, 2013, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Performing Arts Center.

Hoakua is an evening of dance, music, and spirituality bringing together traditional Japanese and Hawaiian dance in celebration of a common respect for the environment. Tickets are $10.00 each and available for purchase at http://hoakua.eventbrite.com or by calling Leina‘ala Thornton at the Foundation at 808-961-5242. Event seating is general admission and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the performance begins at 6:00 p.m.

Mr. Yoshida, the high priest of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan

Mr. Yoshida, the high priest of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan

The Foundation has invited Mr. Yoshida, the high priest of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan, to Hawai‘i to share environmental kinship through the Shintō religion and Hula. The invitation to Hawai‘i was prompted by Hālau O Kekuhi’s dedication dance in 2008 at the Hachiman Shrine, when the hālau visited Japan for a series of performances.

Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan

Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan

While foreigners are typically discouraged from dancing at the shrine’s sacred pavilion, Hālau O Kekuhi was allowed to dedicate their dance. After the dedication, the hālau was invited to lunch to discuss their practices. Both the hālau and the Hachiman people recognized the commonalities at the core of their practices, and decided that it would be “beautiful”—spiritually, educationally, socially, and ecologically—if they introduced the Japanese and the Hawaiian fire deities to one another.

At the hālau’s invitation, Mr. Yoshida and the Gagaku-dan—the ancient court music orchestra and their Miko (maiden) dancers—are visiting Hilo and Hawai‘i Island in July. Their visit will culminate in the presentation of Hoakua in partnership with Hālau O Kekuhi. The Foundation hopes to bring Mr. Yoshida’s retinue of approximately 30 priests and maidens to Kīlauea for further collaboration in 2015.

Halau Kekuhi

Halau Kekuhi

Hoakua is sponsored in part by The Kohala Center, Dr. Tom Blackburn and Dr. Kate Bell of the Deviants from the Norm, The Kahiau Foundation, and Larry Isemoto of Isemoto Contracting Company, Ltd. Sponsorship opportunities are still available by contacting Reiko Yoshida Hamano via e-mail at reikoyoshidahamano@gmail.com.

Mangos and Mantas at Fifth Annual Mango Festival

Free juicy fun is on tap at the fifth annual Mango Festival Saturday, July 20 on the Hawaii Lawn of the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. This year’s festival theme of Mangos & Mantas features displays on agricultural sustainability and marine conservation from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


Mangos—the richly hued summer orbs that seduce island residents each year with their juicy flavor and fragrance— will be showcased in a variety of horticultural and culinary activities. In addition, festival goers can enjoy mangolicious treats and smoothies offered by vendors.

Foodie fun includes an amateur recipe contest. See how local residents are using mangos in salads, entrees and desserts and cheer on your favorite entrants. Spearheading the contest is foodie blogger and cookbook author Sonia Martinez; find recipe entry details at www.mangofest.org.

The Sheraton’s Rays on the Bay will offer samplings of tasty mango-inspired pupus at the festival. These tasty morsels will be featured on the restaurant’s menu after the festival, along with refreshing, mango-inspired beverages.

For green-thumb wannabes, enjoy a presentation by Harold Moodie on grafting mangos and the trees will also be for sale. The West Hawaii Master Gardeners will provide free advice for home gardeners at their friendly question-and-answer booth. The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association is offering info and samples for the many varieties of mangos grown statewide.

The annual agricultural-themed panel discussion expands to encompass this year’s festival theme, “Keep the Culture in Agriculture While Protecting Our Marine Environment.” Panelists include Dr. Hector Valenzuela, vegetable crop extension specialist with University of Hawaii at Manoa; soil authority Graeme Sait of Nutri Tech Solutions Australia and James Wing, a local manta ray expert and representative for the Manta Network, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection and conservation of mantas worldwide.

Browse among arts and crafts booths and enjoy non-stop entertainment featuring Kumu Keala Ching, Bolo, Maka, Poncho Man, Auntie Irma’s Kahikina Nahenehe Ohana and Incense & Nouveau Gypsy with Stephanie Bolton.

Also on display will be original festival art by Bruce Sherman and event t-shirts. For information, visit www.mangofest.org.

Mango Festival: The 2013 Mango Festival is sponsored by Sanctuary of Mana Kea Gardens, Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers-West Hawaii and Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.


Boaz Johnson Now Considered the Suspect in Murder Investigation of Brittany-Jane Royal

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in locating the 22-year-old former boyfriend of a 25-year-old woman whose body was found in waters off the Kalapana coast on May 28. After the completion of additional follows-ups conducted in this investigation, Boaz David Johnson is now considered the suspect in the murder investigation. He may still be on the island.

New picture released

New picture released

Johnson is described as Caucasian, about 5-foot-7, about 150 pounds with a slim build and a fair complexion. He was last seen unshaven and with medium-length brown hair. He also has a tattoo of a upper body of a horse near the right side of his abdomen. He is considered dangerous.

On May 28 at about 6:28 a.m., police received a report that a body was caught in a fishing line from a nearby boat. With the assistance of a Hawaiʻi Fire Department helicopter, the body was retrieved from the ocean and taken to a nearby landing zone, where detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section responded and continued the investigation.

The body was identified through fingerprints as Brittany Jane Royal. The medical examiner ruled that she died as the result of strangulation.

Detectives continue to actively pursue leads in this investigation. Police ask that anyone with information on Johnson’s whereabouts contact Detective Robert Almeida at 808-961-2386 or ralmeida@co.hawaii.hi.us, Detective Fetuutuunai Amuimuia at 808-961-2278 or famuimuia@co.hawaii.hi.us, or Lieutenant Gregory Esteban at 808-961-2252 or gesteban@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona 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. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.


Public Comment Period Reopened on Proposal to Designate Critical Habitat for Three Plant Species on Hawai‘i Island

U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold an additional public informational meeting on a proposal to designate almost 19,000 acres of land on the Big Island as critical habitat. USFWS will also reopen the public comment period until September 3, 2013.

Mezoneuron Kavaiense. Photo credit: C. Harrington/USFWS

Mezoneuron Kavaiense. Photo credit: C. Harrington/USFWS

“I am pleased USFWS will continue to seek community input about this proposal and help address some of the public’s unanswered questions,” said Hanabusa. “I had a very productive meeting with Director Dan Ashe last month about this issue, and I appreciate his support in establishing a positive relationship between USFWS and affected stakeholders. We are committed to finding a compromise that provides for our communities and protects our native species.”

On the Big Island, USFWS has proposed designating approximately 18,766 acres of land as critical habitat for three endangered plant species. More than 1/3 of the proposed lands are in private ownership and about 12,000 acres are owned by the State of Hawaii.

A public meeting was held on May 15, 2013, but interested parties were left with unanswered questions and concerns. The newly announced second meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at the West Hawaii Civic Center from 3-5 p.m.

For more information about the critical habitat proposal and the draft economic analysis, click here: http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/.



Governor Abercrombie Enacts Legislation Relating to Transportation of School Children

Announces Appointment of New BOE Members

Gov. Neil Abercrombie attended the Board of Education (BOE) meeting today, publicly signing two bills relating to the state Department of Education (DOE) and transportation for Hawaii’s public school students.

“These measures will help to control the escalating cost of student transportation,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.  “These laws were established with the cooperation of the BOE and DOE, which will provide more control for fiscal responsibility.”

SB1082 (Relating to Transportation of School Children) simplifies Section 302A-406, Hawaii Revised Statutes.  The bill allows for more flexibility by the BOE and DOE regarding contract requirements.  This measure will provide the DOE with a tool to control costs of school bus transportation by removing statutory requirements related to school bus procurement.

SB1083 (Relating to Transportation of School Children) exempts contracts for transportation for school services from Section 103-55, Hawaii Revised Statutes.  Under the provisions of this bill, the DOE will not need to require school bus contractors to certify that they pay same wages as public officers and employees. The bill removes the statutory requirements related to school bus procurement.

“The board is most appreciative of the support of the Governor and Legislature,” said BOE Chair Don Horner. “These bills will provide the Department with tools to more efficiently and effectively manage our rising transportation costs in order to sustain this vital service to our students.”

“These bills help the department in its move to improve the efficiency and control the cost of student bus transportation system,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.  “The support of the legislature is much appreciated.”

At today’s signing ceremony, the Governor thanked outgoing BOE members Kimberly Gennaula and Charlene Cuaresma (terms ended July 14), and announced his appointments of Patricia Halagao and Amy Asselbaye to the BOE (effective July 15).

Patricia Halagao (At Large) is an Associate Professor in Curriculum Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education. She also serves as the lead in developing educational initiatives for the proposed Obama Presidential Center.  She was recently awarded the UH Board of Regents Medal for Excellence in Teaching in 2012. Halagao is helping to coordinate education programming for the Hokulea’s worldwide voyage.  She was previously a teacher in the Oakland Public Schools system.

Amy Asselbaye (Oahu) is the Director of Strategic and Community Development at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and a small business owner. She served as a congressional staffer, including Chief of Staff, to Governor and Congressman Neil Abercrombie and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Asselbaye served as school community council chair at Wailupe Elementary School and is currently a parent representative on the school community council for Aina Haina Elementary School where her three children attended school.

Bills Relating to Taxation and Firearms Also Signed

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed one bill relating to tax deductions resulting from donations to charitable organizations and two bills related to law enforcement.

HB430 (Relating to Taxation) exempts charitable deductions from the itemized state income tax deduction caps.

“With the state economy and revenue picture greatly improved since I took office, we now have an opportunity to further support nonprofit and charitable organizations in their efforts for the greater good,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “The measure is a result of a partnership between charitable organizations, the Legislature, and the Administration.”

SB69 (Relating to Firearms) closes a loophole regarding fingerprint, photograph and background checks for those bringing firearms into Hawaii, providing consistency with firearms obtained locally.

SB2 (Relating to Simulated Firearms) amends the offenses of terroristic threatening in the first degree and robbery in the first degree to include the use of simulated firearms.

“These bills assist law enforcement in their duty to serve the public and keep people safe,” explained Gov. Abercrombie.


Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to Host 33rd Annual Cultural Festival

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will host the 33rd Annual Cultural Festival on Sat., July 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The festival is free, and park entrance fees are waived all day.

Artwork by Dietrich Varez

Artwork by Dietrich Varez

This year’s festival will be presented at the park’s Kahua Hula (traditional hula platform) at Ka‘auea, south of Kīlauea Visitor Center.  This annual, one-day gala event is extremely popular with the Hawai‘i Island community and visitors alike. As many as 5,000 people are expected to attend.

Festival entertainment is an extravaganza of traditional Hawaiian culture, and includes performances by such notable hula groups and entertainers as Keiki o Hālau o Kekuhi, Hālau Ulumamo o Hilo Palikū, Hula Hālau Ke ‘Ōlu Makani o Mauna Loa, Leabert Lindsey, Ben Ka‘ili, and Diana Aki.

Festival participants can learn to strum the ‘ukulele, play Hawaiian games, weave a coconut basket and lauhala bracelet, make feather kahili, and traditional lei. They can savor the flavors of Hawaii by sampling taro, sweet potato, sugar cane, and breadfruit. Skillful cultural practitioners will demonstrate how to beat kapa, weave a lauhala hat, sew a feather lei, plant a native garden, use plants as medicine, and more.

This event honors, preserves and perpetuates Hawaiian culture and supports Hawaiian programs, practitioners, hālau and musicians. Wear sunscreen and a hat. Bring water, rain jacket, and ground mat or chair.  No pets. Hawaiian crafts, plate lunches, non-alcoholic beverages, and festival T-shirts will be offered for sale.

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/havo or call (808) 985-6011.

DLNR Announces Resignation of State Historic Preservation Division Administrator

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) today announced the resignation of State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) administrator Pua Aiu. The announcement follows the release last Thursday of a report by the National Parks Service (NPS) that was critical of the division’s efforts under a two-year corrective action plan to address operational problems that jeopardize continued federal funding from NPS. Aiu has been the SHPD administrator for five years.

Pua Aiu

Pua Aiu

“We believe that SHPD has made progress in a number of areas, including hiring of qualified staff and addressing a backlog of review and compliance tasks,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “However, we take this report seriously, and given the importance of SHPD to the state, we need to change the leadership in order to move forward to implement the recommendations. So we’ve accepted Pua’s resignation, and are working on a process to select a new administrator in the next three months.”

“The State Historic Preservation Division is important to the preservation and protection of historic and cultural sites of Hawaii. It also plays a significant role in the state’s economy. Addressing and balancing these complex issues is the job of the SHPD administrator and staff,” said Aila. “We plan to bring in an interim administrator by the end of July, and at the same time set up a selection committee to review applications and interview candidates. We invite qualified applicants to submit their resumes to the Chairperson at William.J.Aila@hawaii.gov”


18th Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) Conference and 5th Cupping Competition

The 18th Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) Conference and 5th Cupping Competition is July 18-20 at the Kauai Beach Resort. Offering a full lineup of informative activities, the annual event attracts statewide coffee industry growers, processors, roasters, wholesalers and retailers.

2010 Cupping Winner

2010 Cupping Winner

The gathering is also open to the public and the 2013-2014 season marks the 200th anniversary of coffee cultivation in Hawaii.

The conference includes workshops covering green grading, label compliance, quality control of roasting and packaging, cupping and eradication of the coffee berry borer beetle. Also on tap are legislative updates and reports from UH’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) and the Synergistic Hawaii Agriculture Council (SHAC).

Other activities include an expo, silent auction, election of HCA officers, tour of Kauai Coffee Company and networking reception at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Winners of the cupping competition are announced Saturday at a dinner headlined by TV business reporter Howard Dicus.

The prestigious, annual cupping competition is an evaluation of coffee based on flavor, aroma, “mouth-feel,” acidity, sweetness and aftertaste. Last year, a panel of three lead judges, using standardized blind procedures, cupped a field of 117 Hawaiian coffees hailing from eight districts. Top honors were given to Heavenly Hawaiian Farms in Kona and the Big Isle’s Wood Valley Coffee Co. in K’au.

For more information and to register, visit www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org/Events.

The Hawaii Coffee Association’s mission is to represent all sectors of the Hawaii coffee industry, including growers, millers, wholesalers, roasters and retailers.  The HCA’s primary objective is to increase awareness and consumption of Hawaiian coffees.  A major component of HCA’s work is the continuing education of members and consumers. The annual conference has continued to grow each year and has gained increased international attention. For information, visit www.hawaiicoffeeassociation.com.



Hulihe’e Event Remembers Palace Builder John Adams Kuakini

The Daughters of Hawai‘i and Calabash Cousins present Afternoon at Hulihe‘e 4 p.m. Sunday, July 21 at Hulihe‘e Palace to remember the late John Adams Kuakini. Enjoy the voices of the Merrie Monarchs and Hawaiian performing arts by Kumu Hula Etua Lopes and his Halau Na Pua Ui O Hawai‘i.

 Kuakini, 1791-1844. Governor of Hawaii Island. Original sketch by Rev. William Ellis (Hawaii State Archives)

John Adams Kuakini, 1791-1844,  Governor of Hawaii Island.
Original sketch by Rev. William Ellis (Hawaii State Archives)

Afternoon at Hulihe‘e is part of the palace’s series of free monthly events that honor Hawai‘i’s past monarchs and historical figures; donations are appreciated. Kindly bring a beach mat or chair as seating won’t be provided.

Kuakini was a cousin to Kamehameha I and governor of Hawai’i Island. A Russian explorer, Captain Otto von Kotzebue, described Kuakini in 1816 as a “herculean figure.”

“Kuakini first built Moku‘aikaua Church, finishing in 1837,” details Casey Ballao, Hulihe‘e docent coordinator. “That same year, he started construction on Hulihe‘e, with the excavation of the cellar. Kuakini employed craftsman and laborers that had jumped sailing ships to build his grand home and it was completed in 1838. It was a great source of pride.”

Kuakini didn’t enjoy his mansion for long; he died at the age of 54 in 1844. His obituary stated he was “the sole survivor of the iron-hearted chiefs that constituted the household of Kamehameha I.”

Hulihe‘e Palace is open for docent-guided and self-guided tours. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; with the exception of the palace open 1-4 p.m. the Monday following the monthly Kokua Kailua Village stroll.  Palace admission for a self-guided tour is $8 for adults, $6 for kama‘aina, military and seniors, and $1 for keiki 18 years and under. Docent-guided tours are available upon request. For details, contact the palace at 329-1877, the palace office at 329-9555 or visit www.daughtersofhawaii.org. The gift shop, open 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, can be reached by phoning 329-6558.

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

Annual HPD Backpack Drive

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is proud to participate again in a backpack drive for children who cannot afford to buy them. As in previous years, all police stations around the island will double as drop-off points for persons interested in helping children in need. Backpacks may be dropped off between July 8 and August 30.

Backpacks donated in 2012

Backpacks donated in 2012

Backpacks have been identified as the most requested non-food item for charities in Hawaiʻi. The donated backpacks will be distributed to children at women’s shelters, homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities around the Big Island.

This is the fifth consecutive year the Police Department has worked in partnership with HOPE Services Hawaiʻi (formerly known as the Office of Social Ministry) and From Kids For Kids in the collection and distribution of these items.

Hope Services Hawaiʻi provides a continuum of homeless and transitional programs from outreach to emergency shelters, including permanent supportive housing placements.

From Kids For Kids was founded in 2006 by Big Island resident Nani Welch-Keliihoomalu, then 10, who was responsible for distributing backpacks containing books, clothing, art and school supplies.

Police Chief Harry S. Kubojiri offers police stations as drop-off points to make it convenient for anyone who wishes to donate backpacks for the project. “I again ask anyone who has backpacks their child is no longer using to donate them to this worthy cause,” Kubojiri said. “In past years your generosity has proven that the aloha spirit is alive and well when it comes to opening our hearts to children in need.”

Two Big Island Men Charged in Slaughter of Calf

Police have charged two Paʻauilo men in connection with the theft of a calf over the weekend in the Hāmākua District.

On Sunday (June 30) at about 11:30 a.m., police were contacted by a 54- year-old Honokaʻa resident, who reported that while checking his pasture land on private property, he discovered two individuals on the property and in possession of a firearm, along with a portion of a calf carcass that had recently been slaughtered.

The remaining carcass was recovered by police and was identified by its owner.

Lonnie James

Lonnie James Knutson

Later that afternoon, police arrested 22-year-old Lonnie James Knutson and 25-year-old Jason James Williams. They were taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

Jason James Williams

Jason James Williams

At 5 p.m. Monday (July 1), after conferring with prosecutors, detectives charged Knutson and Williams with one count each of livestock theft, a class C felony. Their bail was set at $2,000 each. Both men are scheduled to make their initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon (July 2).

Volta Expanding Free Electric Vehicle Charging Station Network

Ulupono Initiative today announced it has invested $175,000 in Volta Industries to help expand its Hawai‘i network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. This investment will help Volta more than double its current network in Hawai‘i with 15 new free-to-use charging stations planned for 2013 statewide.  To date, Volta and its sponsors have given away more than 120,000 miles of free charging to Hawai‘i EV drivers.


“Mass adoption of electric vehicles has the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of fossil fuels imported to Hawai‘i for passenger cars and trucks,” said Murray Clay, managing partner of Ulupono Initiative. “One of the most important reasons consumers say they don’t choose EVs is concern about their limited range. Increasing the number of stations statewide means more consumers will be able to easily charge their vehicles and avoid range anxiety. This investment will increase the total number of EV charging stations in the state by 6 percent and help support an estimated 2,500 electric vehicles projected on Hawai‘i’s roads by the end of this year. By increasing adoption of EVs, we’re helping achieve our goal of reducing our dependence on imported oil with more efficient technology.”

Volta designs, installs and maintains public EV charging networks, and provides the energy to the EV driver, all free-of-cost to both the driver and the community.


Companies sponsor each Volta station – providing free EV charging as a service to the community. The stations are designed and built by Volta and provide approximately 15 to 20 miles worth of range per hour of charging.

“Currently we have 14 active charging stations with another 15 in the pipeline on Oahu and Maui, all of which help facilitate the adoption of this clean technology,” said Scott Mercer, Volta CEO and Co-Founder.  “With the investment funds, we can speed up our plans to expand our network to reach more EV owners statewide.”

“We want this to create a greater impact than just providing a service to EV drivers,” said Steve Markowitz, Volta Vice Chairman. “Our goal is to excite people about electric vehicles and clean-tech in general.”


Electric vehicle sales have been strong in Hawai‘i; the state saw the highest per-capita sales of electric vehicles in the nation in 2011. There are 1,437 electric cars registered on O‘ahu, according to state figures as of May 2013. To compare the efficiency of electric vehicles to conventional vehicles, the state Department of Business, Economic  Development and Tourism has tracked mileage for  the last two decades in Hawai‘i and estimated an average of 19 miles per gallon in 2011. The average mile per gallon equivalent for electric vehicles now on the road ranges from 90 to 115.