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The National Weather Service Recognizes Ewa Beach as a StormReady/TsunamiReady Community

The National Weather Service will officially designate Ewa Beach as a community that’s prepared for storms and tsunamis.

National Weather Service

The west Oahu community will be recognized as StormReady and TsunamiReady during a ceremony today at the Pride for Ewa event. The weather service’s Honolulu office says a grassroots group spearheaded a campaign to prepare Ewa Beach to respond to these natural hazards.

Communities become StormReady with steps like developing hazardous weather operations plans and holding annual weather safety talks. They become TsunamiReady by promoting public readiness through community education and the distribution of information and developing a tsunami plan which includes holding emergency exercises. Ewa now joins Kailua and Hau’ula with this readiness designation.

Members of the Ewa Beach Emergency Preparedness Committee made up of volunteer Ewa residents will attend this weekend’s ceremony. Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong of the Hawaii National Guard will also be there along with State Civil Defense, Oahu Emergency Management and National Weather Service officials.

The ceremony will be held at 12:00 p.m. at the Pride for Ewa – Celebrating Ohana Together – Hoalauna Park, 91-1330 Keaunui Drive, Ewa Beach, HI 96706. The event is free and is open to the public.


Side Street Closures Along Ka’iminani Drive in North Kona for Resurfacing

Motorists are advised of street closures and detours along Ka’iminani Drive, in North Kona scheduled for Monday, April 29.  Closures and detours for the roadways listed are scheduled between the hours of 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Detour signs will be posted along the streets directing motorists.  Residents on the side streets affected by the closure will receive flyers from the contractor, Jas W. Glover, a few days prior with information about the detour route.

Kaimini Drive

The traffic change is to allow road resurfacing and expected to last no later than May 17, 2013.

Scheduled street closures:
April 29-30
Ahiahi Street will be closed at Ka’iminani Drive affecting only southbound travel.
Traffic will be rerouted to Awakea Street to Ka’iminani Drive.

May 2
Oneone Street closure at Ka’iminani Drive will affect southbound travel.
Traffic will be rerouted to Awakea Street to Holoholo Street to Ka’iminani Drive

May 2-10
Keokeo Street closure will affect north and southbound travel.
The detour route for northbound travel will be Keokeo Street to Holu Street to Ahikawa Street to Aka Ula Street to Iliili Street to Ka’iminani Drive

Southbound travel will be routed to Ihumoe Street to Iliili Street to Ka’iminani Drive.

May 8-17
The Iliili Street closure will affect north and southbound travel.
Northbound motorists will use Iliili Street to Aka Ula Street to Ahikawa Street to Holu Street to Keokeo to Ka’iminani Drive.

The detour route for southbound travel is Ihumoe Street to Keokeo Street to Ka’iminani Drive.

This federally funded project in North Kona starts 103′ from the intersection with Highway 190 and ends at Ahiahi Street.  Improvements will focus on roadway reconstruction, and drainage improvements that include six-foot shoulders, tie-ins to private driveways on Ka’iminani, retaining walls and restriping of the roadway.

The $10 million improvement cost is shared with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) paying 80% and the County 20%.  Construction began in 2012 and scheduled for completion this year.

Commentary – Dear Legislators “Video on Frankenstein Bill”

Dear Legislators:
I am seeing quite a few bills that don’t meet the standards of an open and accessible government.
HB 252 Frankenstein
Such as, SB252 which unrelated language was inserted without notice or discussion.
Here is my view on this practice.  Enjoy the video.

[vimeo 64870360 w=500 h=281]

Frankenstein Bill from Jonas William on Vimeo.

SB 252

Car Crashes Into Pizza Hut in Keaau Shopping Center – Pizza Craving?

A friend sent me this picture of an accident that happened today at the Keaau Shopping Center.

Folks that live here in Puna will recognize this place as the place to pick up Pizza Hut Pizza to Go!

Pizza Hut Crash

Man Dies From Electrocution in Industrial Accident in the Puna District

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a fatal industrial accident in the Puna District on Thursday morning (April 25).

At about 9:14 a.m., police and Hawaiʻi Fire Department medics received a report of an apparent industrial accident at a job site just off Route 11 near the North Kulani Road intersection in Mountain View.

Kulani and Highway 11

Kulani and Highway 11

Responding officers discovered that a 56-year-old man had been inspecting the electrical system for a newly installed water tank when he apparently was electrocuted from the energized system. A 51-year-old Honokaʻa man, who was working nearby, attempted to assist the victim. He was able to de-energize the electrical system but not before sustaining minor injuries from exposure to electrical current.

The victim was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:32 a.m.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section are conducting further investigation into this incident, which is classified as an industrial accident and a coroner’s inquest.

Police are awaiting positive identification and notification of the next of kin before releasing the name of the victim.

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday morning (April 26) to determine the exact cause of death.

All-Star Ensemble Cast for New Hawaii’i-Based Film: “The Fishing Club”

Zippo Film Productions announced that it will begin production of a new made-in-Hawai‘i narrative festival film, led by award-winning director David Rosen and starring an ensemble cast of Hawaii’s top talent including KITV4 Sports Director Robert Kekaula and musical artist and kumu hula Keali‘i Reichel.  Filming is scheduled to begin in May on Oahu, with a world premier planned for later this year, and film festival tour to follow.

Keali'i Reichel and Robert Kekaula

Keali’i Reichel and Robert Kekaula

In “The Fishing Club” a group of longtime fishing buddies hatch a plan to save their favorite fishing spot from development.  When outside forces come into play, events start to spin out of control and the Fishing Club’s members have to question not only their plans, but their own, and each other’s, personal motives and kuleana.

One of Hawaii’s premier directors, Rosen (Shooters Film Production) is known for his visual storytelling style which has helped create successful marketing campaigns and garnered numerous local and national awards, including Hawaii’s 2010 Advertising Man of the Year.  With him, Shooters Executive Producer Darrin Kaneshiro brings key organizational skills and 20 years of production storytelling to the quality film project.

In addition to Kekaula and Reichel, the cast includes veteran actor Allan Okubo, who began his career in “Magnum P.I.” and appeared recently in “You May Not Kiss the Bride.”  Fellow “Bride” actor Theo Coumbis has also played roles in iconic TV series from “Fantasy Island” to “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0.”  And, musical theatre actress-singer Mary Gutzi performed in “Les Miserables” and “CATS” in New York, and most recently, the television military drama “Last Resort.”

A serious story with a sense of humor, “The Fishing Club” is based on short fiction written by Hawai‘i Island author Catherine Tarleton in the 1990’s, though its themes, and its questions, are alive and well today.  Executive Producer Dana Hankins of Redhead Productions selected the story from entries written for the Honolulu Magazine Fiction Contest , as with previous short films, “The Lemon Tree Billiards House” with Ray Bumatai, “Dancing with the Long Bone” (Henry Kapono and Karen Keawehawaii), and “True Love and Mimosa Tea” (Tamlyn Tomita and Elizabeth Lindsey).  Hankins also produced the award-winning short film “Chief,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

For more information, follow The Fishing Club Movie on Facebook or visit www.thefishingclubmovie.com

The Fishing Club



Summertime Flight School Scheduled at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

Flight School for sixth to eighth grade students will be in session again this summer at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. The Museum’s innovative and popular aviation program introduces Middle School age students to the history and science of flight on three consecutive weekdays, 9am to 3:30pm.

Sixth through eighth grade female students have the opportunity to soar at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s new “Flight School” program this summer. Developed by Director of Education Dr. Shauna Tonkin, the Museum’s program introduces girls to the history and science of flight.

Sixth through eighth grade female students have the opportunity to soar at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s new “Flight School” program this summer. Developed by Director of Education Dr. Shauna Tonkin, the Museum’s program introduces girls to the history and science of flight.

Flight School for Girls will be held May 28~30, June 18~20, June 25~27, and July 24~26. Flight School for Boys will be held June 5~7 and July 16~18. Advanced Flight School for Girls will be held July 9~11.

Students learn the basics of flight through demonstrations and experiments, tour historic aircraft, fly remote control planes, and “take to the skies” in the Museum’s flight simulation lab. They meet historic pioneers of aviation through presentations made by costumed interpreters such as Amelia Earhart and Rosie the Riveter.

Flight School

“This is a hands-on program that introduces youth to the heroes and pioneers of aviation, and helps them consider future careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” explains Dr. Shauna Tonkin who, as Director of Education at the Museum, developed the curriculum.

Upon successful completion of Flight School, the students celebrate with a Winging Ceremony.

For more information on this event contact Dr. Shauna Tonkin at ShaunaT@PacificAviationMuseum.org or 808-441-1005. Information is available online also at http://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/education/flightschool

The Museum is located at 319 Lexington Boulevard on Ford Island, Pearl Harbor.

Pacific Aviation Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit 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.


Second Suspect Charged in Connection with Kailua-Kona Burglary

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a second suspect in connection with a burglary on Queen Kalama Avenue in Kailua-Kona on April 5.

Ammon K. Kamohai

Ammon K. Kamohai

Ammon K. Kamohai, 22, of Kailua-Kona was initially arrested Monday afternoon (April 22) on two warrants for revoking probation in a drug case and on suspicion of promoting a dangerous drug. He was also wanted for questioning in connection with additional felonies.

Kamohai’s bail for the probation revocation charges was set at $100,000 and he appeared in court on Tuesday (April 23).

After court, police returned Kamohai to the Kona police cellblock , where they arrested him on the additional felonies, including those connected with the April 5 burglary.

At 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, detectives charged him with first-degree burglary, second-degree theft, attempted second-degree theft and forgery for the April 5 burglary. The other suspect in the April 5 burglary, 23-year-old Tonino Benson of Kailua-Kona, was charged on April 12 with the same offenses.

Kamohai was also charged Wednesday with unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle for allegedly removing a vehicle from the parking lot of an apartment complex off Kuakini Highway in Kailua-Kona sometime between Sunday and Monday (April 21 and April 22). His bail on those charges was $65,000.

Kamohai was not charged in the promoting a dangerous drug case pending additional investigation.

He remained at the Kona cellblock pending another court appearance scheduled for Thursday (April 25).


Bomb Threat at Honolulu Circuit Court Shuts Down Traffic in Area of Courthouse

UPDATE: Device rendered safe at Circuit Court. The scene will be released as soon as Law enforcement finish with their investigation.

A suspicious package was found outside Circuit Court on the side by Punchbowl and Halekuwila Streets. Halekuwila is blocked at Punchbowl. Please avoid the area if possible and use alternate routes. All nearby schools and businesses are being notified. A Sheriff K9 team is heading to Circuit Court. Sheriffs and HPD are on the scene. We will keep you informed of the latest developments.

The downtown area is now open and safe for the public.


A suspicious package was found outside Circuit Court on the side by Punchbowl and Halekuwila Streets. Halekuwila is blocked at Punchbowl. Please avoid the area if possible and use alternate routes. All nearby schools and businesses are being notified. A Sheriff K9 team is heading to Circuit Court. Sheriffs and HPD are on the scene. We will keep you informed of the latest developments.


Avoid area. Take alternate routes.

3.2 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes the Big Island Early This Morning


Magnitude 3.0 3.2 (UPGRADED)
Location 19.602°N, 155.084°W
Depth 14.1 km (8.8 miles)
  • 2 km (1 miles) NW (313°) from Kurtistown, HI
  • 5 km (3 miles) WSW (245°) from Keaau, HI
  • 7 km (4 miles) NNW (334°) from Hawaiian Acres, HI
  • 11 km (7 miles) S (179°) from Hilo, HI
  • 343 km (213 miles) ESE (123°) from Honolulu, HI
Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 0.5 km (0.3 miles); depth +/- 0.4 km (0.2 miles)
Parameters Nph= 51, Dmin=11 km, Rmss=0.11 sec, Gp=133°,
M-type=local magnitude (ML), Version=1
Event ID hv60492776

Lauhala Symposium at Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center (NHERC) and Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy (HPA) invite the public to a “Symposium on Sustainability and Traditional Pacific Island Arts: The Art of Lauhala, Form and Function,” on May 3 & 4 at the HPA Gates Performing Arts Center. There is no charge for May 3, but there is a $55 fee for May 4.

From the Hawaii State Archives

Girls Weaving Lauhala. From the Hawaii State Archives

The purpose of the symposium is to celebrate and educate people on the important role lauhala fiber work traditions played in the settlement and development of the Pacific region. The two-day event includes lectures, talk story sessions, a fiber arts exhibition, and weaving workshops and demonstrations given by some of Hawaiʻi’s leading lauhala fiber artists.

Date: ca. 1910 Photographer: Gartley, Alonzo, 1869-1921

Date: ca. 1910
Photographer: Gartley, Alonzo, 1869-1921

Special focus will be given to the role native Hawaiian weavers from Hawaiʻi Island have played over the last century in the development and perpetuation of this fiber art form, especially in the making of lauhala hats. A highlight will be a talk story session with Kona resident and master weaver Aunty Elizabeth Lee, who is the founder and director of Ka Ulu Lauhala O Kona, an organization dedicated to perpetuating the art of lauhala weaving.

Call NHERC at 775-8890 for event details.


Fight Night at the Akebono Theater

The Hawaii International Boxing Club presents a night of amateur boxing at the legendary Akebono Theater in Pahoa this Saturday night.  Doors open at 5:30 and the first fight is at 6:00.


25th Annual North Hawaii Senior Health Fair

North Hawai‘i Community Hospital (NHCH) celebrates its 25th Annual North Hawai‘i Senior Health Fair on Sunday, May 19th, 2013 and invites North Hawaii seniors 55 years and older to attend.

Health Fair

“This health fair is often the only time seniors in our community have the opportunity to receive health screenings by physicians, registered nurses and other medical professionals,” says Lowell Johnson, NHCH Interim CEO. “This event provides complimentary health screenings and wellness education to nearly 300 seniors 55+ in North Hawai‘i,” says Johnson.

This event is one of two annual events hosted by North Hawaii Community Hospital to help fulfill its mission “to improve the health status of the people of North Hawaii by improving access to care and providing high quality services at a reasonable cost. The other event is Girls Night Out, held in October, to promote breast cancer awareness.

Complimentary health screenings offered at this event include: oral screenings, hearing tests, stroke risk assessments, skin checks, eye screenings, holistic care services, blood pressure, blood tests for cholesterol and glucose by Clinical Laboratories of Hawai‘i and more. Health education will also be available to North Hawai‘i seniors by the following vendors: Tutu’s House, County of Hawai‘i Fire Department, North Hawai‘i Hospice, NHCH’s Kohala Home Health Care, NHCH’s Rehabilitation Services, NHCH’s Waimea Women’s Center, Clinical Laboratories of Hawai‘i, Ho’onani Place and more.

NHCH’s 25th Annual Senior Health Fair, formerly held in November, has moved to Sunday, May 19th, 2013 to support National Senior Health and Fitness Day. This event is held at North Hawaii Community Hospital, and registration is open from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. followed by lunch, bingo and prizes. For more information, please contact Laurie Edmondson by calling 808-881-4425.


Clarence Waipa Memorial Scholarship Concert Set for May 5

A number of well-known island musical organizations will come together to perform at the Clarence Waipa Memorial Scholarship Concert on Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m. in the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Performing Arts Center (PAC). The concert will feature music Waipa arranged or performed with numerous choral organizations during his lifetime.

Clarence Waipa

Clarence Waipa

Herbert Mahelona, music director at Kamehameha High School, Kea’au, and Michael Springer, UH Hilo graduate and a protégé of Waipa, have prepared special musical arrangements of repertoire taken from classical music, Hawaiian standards, and tunes that were standard fare for Waipa’s singers.

An orchestra of local musicians has been formed for the concert, with vocalists from the University Chorus and the UH Hilo Kapili Choir, under the direction of Amy Horst, and the Kamehameha High School chorus, directed by Mahelona. The Kamehameha Alumni Choir, also under Mahelona’s leadership, opened its doors to singers from St. Joseph High, Sing Out Hilo, and the Seventh Day Adventist Choir to round out the ensemble numbers on the program.

Waipa, who passed away in 2011, hailed from Keaukaha, and graduated from California State University in Los Angeles. He returned to Hilo in 1967 to teach music, art, theatre and Hawaiian history at St. Joseph High for over 30 years. During his lifetime, he trained many of the musicians who are working in choral music on the island of Hawai’i. The concert was created to ensure other generations would be enriched by Waipa’s musical legacy.

All tickets are open seating, priced at $12 General, $10 Senior, and $7 UH Hilo/HawCC faculty, staff, alumni, students, and children 17 and under. Tickets are available at the PAC Box Office, Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or by calling 974-7310.

All proceeds from the concert will go toward Performing Arts scholarships at UH Hilo. Those wishing to make donations to the scholarship fund can do so by contributing to the UH Foundation, Performing Arts Center Scholarship Fund. For more information, contact Jackie Pualani Johnson at jpjohnso@hawaii.edu.


Commentary – Councilwoman Eoff on the Status of Kohanaiki Shoreline Park


I wanted to take this opportunity to provide some factual background information and to update you on the status of the Kohanaiki Shoreline Park, which will soon be dedicated to the County of Hawai‘i.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The park has been completed and the bathrooms and showers are now open to the public.  A new public access suitable for vehicular use has been completed from Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, and then continues laterally along the shoreline going south to and beyond all the popular surfing spots and camping beaches.

Road and Parking:  The roadway and the parking areas are constructed according to a “Good Faith Agreement” negotiated in 2003 and under the direction of DLNR, the Army Corps of Engineers and the SMA permit.  The jeep trail was specifically required by DLNR to be converted to pedestrian access once the park road was complete to protect the beach and oceanfront from the negative impact of vehicular use.  Public access continues along the entire shoreline, with vehicular access to the turn-around south of the main bay, and from there, pedestrian (and bicycle) access to the National Park border along the Ala Kahakai trail.

Park Amenities and Camping:  New bathroom and shower facilities are completed, and the 17 portable luas will remain in place.  There are 122 parking stalls, located in nodes along the access road, with some overflow parking areas to be determined.  Once the park is dedicated to the County, camping will be permitted 5 days a week for up to 80 people per night.  Park hours for day use will be from 5:30 am – 9:00 pm.  A traditional hale is being constructed in the park for cultural educational opportunities.  There is a partnership in place including the County, landowners and community for monitoring of the park, security, maintenance and trash removal.

Anchialine Ponds: The pond management plan, approved by various governmental agencies, is being implemented under the supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers with ongoing restoration and maintenance. Non-native species have been removed and the ponds have been restored to a vibrant habitat.

Water Quality Monitoring Program: A comprehensive water quality-monitoring program, with input from the National Park, is in place to monitor the water quality for any potential impacts ofactivities at Kohanaiki.  A drainage system has been installed to direct all drainage away from the ocean and ponds.

Golf Course Management Program:  The golf course and landscaping is managed and certified under the Audubon Silver certification program – the only golf course to receive such certification in Hawai’i.  Brackish water is used for irrigation of the golf course and landscaping.  Primarily native, salt-tolerant species are being used for all landscaping.

Archeology:  Lineal descendants have been consulted and involved in identifying cultural sites. Informational signage on selected archeological sites such as the Ala Kahakai trail, will be placed to help educate the public.  A traditional hale is being constructed with full participation by community members where workshops and cultural activities will be conducted in the future.

For more information, please feel free to give me a call at 323-4280.  


KAREN EOFF, Vice Chair, Hawai‘i County Council

District 8, North Kona



Letters 4-5-13

Kohanaiki access

The real story

Very soon, a public shoreline park will be dedicated to the people of Hawaii at Kohanaiki.

This park is the result of more than 25 years of legal battles addressing Native Hawaiian gathering and access rights, community stewardship efforts, and finally a negotiated settlement agreement. The Kohanaiki Ohana, led by Angel Pilago, won the fight to protect vehicular access along the shoreline after court victories all the way from the county level to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2003, an important agreement was reached between developer/landowner, the community and the County of Hawaii determining the future of Kohanaiki.

The precedent- setting 2003 “good faith agreement” was considered a template by then Mayor Harry Kim; an innovative and unprecedented plan, forged in the spirit of aloha by those who participated in the process.

Under the agreement, the developer is required to donate approximately 108 acres to the public (the county being the preferred entity) and to construct a coastal park, with camping areas, 121 parking spaces, public toilets and showers, a halau for cultural education and activities, as well as a mauka/makai access road and lateral vehicular access road along the shoreline.

The current jeep trail will close to vehicles to meet federal and state requirements to take cars off of the ancient Ala Kahakai trail to help connect 150 miles of pedestrian trails around the island.

In its place, a new vehicular access road for public use has been constructed just inland of the jeep road and will be open to the public from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. per the terms of the agreement.

All of the anchialine ponds, trails and historic sites will be restored. There will be an innovative approach to monitoring and maintenance of natural and cultural resources.

The agreement calls for a public/private partnership in the form of a committee made up of representatives of the community, the landowner and the county with equal one-third decision-making power and also shared responsibility of costs and labor for maintenance.

In return, the developer is allowed to construct 500 homes and a golf course, a portion of which is located on the 108 acres, with an exclusive easement granted back to the landowner. The golf course also provides a buffer between the public coastal park and the homes, which are to be built an average of 700 feet from the shoreline. The golf course will be open to the public one day a week. All of the provisions of the good faith agreement were incorporated into the Shoreline Management Area use permit that was granted to the developer in 2003. There were 88 conditions placed on the SMA permit.

To understand the significance and importance of the good faith agreement, we must remember what could have happened at Kohanaiki given the zoning entitlements on the property since 1980.

In 2003, an article in West Hawaii Today reported the agreed upon plans were “a far cry from the sprawling resort planned for the property in the 1980s by Kona Beach Development Venture and developer Nansay Hawaii.”

Original development plans called for more than 800 hotel rooms, six story-high buildings, specialty restaurants, more than 1,000 condos and homes and a golf course to be built around the anchialine ponds and on the coastline.

Public access would have been like other hotels — had it not been for the efforts and commitment of our community and our community leaders to minimize the impact of development at Kohanaiki.

The Kona community has long advocated for residents to have a role in land use planning. Development at Kohanaiki demanded citizens to fight for our coastline; to protect those activities and access rights that are enjoyed by our community, our quality of life, cultural practices and the environment.

Credit must also be given to all involved, including the late Rep. Patsy Mink, Uncle Leon Sterling, and Herb Kane; community groups, such as the Kohanaiki Ohana, Na Keiki Hee Nalu, Hui Hee Nalu, Public Access Shoreline Hawaii and Wave Riders Against Drugs; lineal and cultural descendants of the area; community leaders and elected representatives Virginia Isbell, Curtis Tyler, Pilago, Harry Kim and Billy Kenoi; Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Sierra Club Legal Defense, Surfrider Foundation; local residents, businesses, attorneys and advisors; and especially the keiki surfers who continue to make us realize the importance of places like Kohanaiki.

The Kohanaiki Shoreline Park is the result of years of legal battles, collaboration and negotiation, and represents a willingness on the part of all stakeholders to share in the stewardship of this very special place.

Today, this same community that fought and won landmark Supreme Court cases to protect public access and gathering rights, that shaped the path of development on this land, can be proud of the coastal park that will soon be dedicated to the County of Hawaii to be enjoyed in perpetuity by future generations.

Rebecca Villegas


Kohanaiki Ohana



Insurance Agent Pleads No Contest to 11 Counts of Theft for Defrauding Two Elderly Clients

A previously licensed Oahu insurance agent pled no contest on Thursday to 11 counts of Theft in the Second Degree for defrauding two elderly clients of more than $38,000.

Scott Akashi, 31, was accused of convincing an 88-year-old woman to withdraw $30,000 of her life insurance policy and place it into a separate bank account. From that account Akashi had the woman write checks to him for what he explained would be for a better investment.

Akashi is also accused of selling a $50,000 annuity to a 90-year-old man and convincing him to withdraw over $5,000 from the annuity to get a better return. Akashi later approached the elderly gentleman again to do the same.

Both elderly victims were prior clients of Akashi and contacted years later to do these transactions.

Insurance fraud affects everyone by inflating the cost of insurance. Reporting suspicious fraudulent activity may help in lowering premiums in Hawaii. For more information on insurance fraud call the Insurance Fraud Hotline at 587-7416.

The Hawaii Insurance Division oversees the state’s insurance industry; issues licenses; examines the fiscal condition of Hawaii-based companies; reviews rate and policy filings; and investigates insurance related complaints and fraud.

Got Drugs? Drug Take-Back Initiative

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is encouraging the public to participate in a nationwide prescription drug take-back initiative being sponsored in Hawaiʻi by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Department of the Attorney General and the Department of Public Safety.

Got Drugs
On Saturday, April 27, members of the public may turn in unused, unneeded or expired prescription medications between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the following collection sites for safe, anonymous disposal:

Army Aviation Support Facility
(adjacent to Civil Air Patrol)
1095 Kekūanāoʻa St.

Kona police station parking lot
74-611 Hale Makaʻi Place

Tablets, capsules and all other solid dosage forms will be accepted. Intravenous solutions, injectables and syringes will not be accepted.

Illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.

Having unused and expired medicine in your home increases the risk of prescription drug abuse and accidental poisoning. Proper disposal also helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs entering a human water supply or potentially harming aquatic life.

For more information about the drug take-back program, visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html.


Hawaii Bill Seeks to Address the Employer-Union Trust Fund Unfunded Liability by Creating a Captive Insurance Company

A conference committee comprised of House and Senate members will meet tomorrow, 4/24/13, at 10:30am in room 325 at the State Capitol, to attempt to address differences in SB946 SD1 HD1 relating to the unfunded liability of the Employee Union Trust Fund (EUTF). One of the differences between the House version and the Senate version involves the proposed Captive Insurance Company which was inserted by the House from HB 1459 introduced by Rep. Romy Cachola (Sand Island, Mokauea, Kapalama, Kalihi Kai).


Cachola who authored HB 1459 issued the following statement on the eve of the conference meeting.

The purpose of the Employer-Union Trust Fund (EUTF) is to fund the healthcare needs of the State’s active employees, retirees, and their dependents (members).  However, the ever increasing cost of health care and the resulting growth in health care premiums, coupled with decades of a ‘pay as you go’ approach has left the EUTF with an unfunded liability of about $18.2 billion.

Short of raising taxes, laying-off employees or reduce employee benefits; funding $520 million is nearly impossible due to competing needs to fund collective bargaining agreements, and new and existing programs.

The House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees agreed to fund $100 million in FY14 and $117 million in FY 15. We need to do more than just setting aside a token amount of contributions, we need to find innovative ways to slow down, reduce, stabilize and fully fund the unfunded liability.

The State House of Representatives voted to endorse a proposal to the Senate under SB 946 SD1 HD1, which would jointly address the unfunded liability and create a program with alternative means of saving the state money.  In addition to increasing the State’s contributions to pre-fund future retiree healthcare costs, the State is to create a captive insurance company within the EUTF that covers only government employees.

Here are the advantages of a State captive insurance company:

1.      According to a report by the State of Hawaii Insurance Division there is a potential for the State to find savings of 5%-25% by creating a captive insurance company. At the current costs of $800 million in healthcare premiums, this would amount to a $40 million savings at the most conservative estimate. Once the said savings are realized, there will be no increase in healthcare premiums for both employer and employees the following year. These savings will also be placed in a reserve account for future use.

2.      By insuring the public employee health benefit in a captive, the state and counties (employer) and EUTF members will not be susceptible to continuously increasing health insurance rates requested by health insurers.

3.       Ability to directly negotiate prices with physicians, surgeons, hospital, and other healthcare providers which results to better understanding of actual costs of health care benefits from the actual providers of services.

4.       Earning investment income on loss reserves for future claims payments that have not yet been paid.

5.       Additional savings due to direct access to the wholesale price of reinsurance. Reinsurance is needed to protect the captive from catastrophic events.

Additionally, this out-of-the-box approach in addressing our unfunded liability through direct contributions and innovative cost-saving measures, demonstrate our serious commitment to solving this critical and difficult issue. This could translate into improving bond ratings allowing the state and county to float bonds at a lower interest rate and less debt service to fund large-scale infrastructure improvement projects.

The EUTF’s unfunded liability is not a new problem and it will not go away.  A one year delay translates to over a billion dollars added to the current $18.2 billion liabilities. It will take new, innovative and bold action to resolve it.

Hawaii Remains State With Least Stress

Residents of least stressed states report highest levels of enjoyment

Stress Free

Hawaii residents remained the least likely in the U.S. to say they felt stressed on any given day in 2012, at 32.1%. West Virginia residents, on average, were the most likely to report feeling stress, at 47.1%.

Five Least Stressed States Five Most Stressed States

These state-level data are based on daily surveys conducted from January through December 2012 and encompass more than 350,000 interviews as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Nationwide, 40.6% of Americans reported feeling stressed “yesterday” in 2012, similar to past years.

Gallup has measured daily stress in its tracking survey since 2008. Hawaii has ranked as the state with the lowest percentage of residents reporting stress on the prior day all five years and is the only state to rank in the top five consistently since 2008. West Virginia, Kentucky, and Utah, have each ranked within the top five most stressed states for the past five years. West Virginia ranked as the most stressed state in 2012, Kentucky was the top state for stress in 2008 and 2011, and Utah was the top state for stress in 2009 and 2010.

For all of the states, stress levels were statistically unchanged in 2012 compared with 2011. Regionally, states with stress levels at or above 42% were clustered in the Northeast and Midwest, but also included Utah, Oregon, and Washington.

Lowest Stress States Report Most Enjoyment

Two of the five states with the lowest stress levels, Hawaii and Wyoming, also boasted the highest levels of enjoyment in 2012. In Hawaii, 89.7% of residents said they experienced enjoyment the day before the survey and 88.8% said so in Wyoming.

Five States with Most Enjoyment

Five States With Least Enjoyment

Rhode Island residents were the least likely to report feeling enjoyment the previous day, at 80.4%, although that is still high on an absolute basis. Residents in other high-stress states, Kentucky and West Virginia, were also among the least likely to experience enjoyment. Both of these states have appeared among the bottom five states for experiencing enjoyment at least three times since Gallup began reporting this measure, including 2012. Utah is unique in that it is routinely ranked among both the highest stress and highest enjoyment states, appearing among the top five in enjoyment in 2008, 2011, and 2012, suggesting a complex relationship between stress and other emotions.

Nationally, 84.9% of Americans reported feeling enjoyment “yesterday” in 2012. States with relatively lower enjoyment levels, below 84%, were primarily clustered in the Northeast and South, but also included Ohio. The states where enjoyment was higher than 86% were located mainly in the Midwest and West, including Hawaii and Alaska.

Bottom Line

For the past five years, Hawaii has consistently ranked as the least stressed state, while West Virginia, Kentucky, and Utah have been among the most stressed states. Despite this, Utah residents join Hawaii residents in reporting among the highest levels of enjoyment in the U.S., while West Virginia and Kentucky residents report some of the lowest levels of enjoyment.

While the relationship between stress and enjoyment is not clear, states with the highest stress levels tend to report less daily enjoyment. Further investigation into what drives stress, how it impacts people, and ways to mitigate its effects are important, as 40% of American adults consistently report experiencing it a lot of the day “yesterday.”

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks wellbeing in the U.S. and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2012, with a random sample of 353,564 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

The margin of sampling error for most states is ±1 to ±2 percentage points, but is as high as ±4 points for states with smaller population sizes such as Alaska, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, and Hawaii.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

Hawaii County Completes $1.7 Million Renovation of Hilo’s Waiākea Recreation Center

Mayor Billy Kenoi and the Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation are proud to welcome the public back to a thoroughly renovated and improved Waiākea Recreation Center.

Under renovations a few months ago.

Under renovations a few months ago.

A public blessing and re-dedication ceremony will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, April 26, at the Hilo facility. Refreshments will be served, and several martial arts and other groups that use the Waiākea Recreation Center will perform free athletic demonstrations.

Located at 1634 Kamehameha Avenue, the Waiākea Recreation Center has undergone a five month, $1.7 million makeover that has made it more comfortable, accessible and safer for the numerous groups and individuals who use it.

New roof insulation, ceiling fans and lighting have been installed in the main gym area. Extensive termite and water damage have been repaired, new roofing systems installed, hazardous building materials removed, existing bathrooms and showers renovated, the entire facility repainted, and various other improvements performed to meet federal accessibility standards.

General contractor Stan’s Contracting Inc. also installed an underground drainage system in the parking lot, graded and repaved the parking area and three driveway entrances, and connected the facility to the County’s wastewater treatment system.

Many others helped to make an improved Waiākea Recreation Center and save taxpayer money. Several martial arts organizations volunteered their time to complete various finishing touches in preparation for this weekend’s reopening, while personnel from the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Maintenance Division performed numerous repair tasks that complemented the contractor’s efforts.

The Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to thank the Shudokan Judo Club for improving the judo mat area, the Hilo Seishikan Aikido Club for repainting the kitchen, the Hilo Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Club for beautifying the planter boxes, and the Kongo Zen Shorinji Ryu Son Ryu Karate Club for repainting the wooden floor of the martial arts practice area.

The department also wishes to recognize the following organizations for their monetary contributions and/or volunteer efforts toward improving the facility: Hilo Reshinkan Kendo Club; Hilo Tae Kwon Do Association; Waiākea Judo Club; Hawai‘i International Karate League; Hilo Kobukan Kendo Club; Hayaite Shotokan Karate; Atkins Martial Arts; Mo Min Kuen; Danish Fitness; Morning Fitness; Evening Fitness; and Insane Workout.

A sincere mahalo is extended to all Waiākea Recreation Center users and the general public for their patience and understanding while this important recreational center was being enhanced, repaired, and made more accessible.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.