Pictures From the Pahoa Spirit Parade

Today was the first ever Pahoa Spirit Parade.  While the turn out wasn’t that great… the spirit was there.

Here are some pictures from today’s parade… Click to enlarge:

Wiliwili Tree From the Big Island Crowned Largest In The Country For Its Species

For over 70 years the National Big Tree Program has invited arboreal enthusiasts to locate the largest trees of their species for the title of Big Tree Champion. By calling attention to these iconic trees, the program raises awareness of the numerous ecosystem benefits they provide.

Photo by Nikiforos Delatolas, Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative

Photo by Nikiforos Delatolas, Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative

The pre-eminent catalogue of champions is the National Register of Big Trees, a biannual publication released by American Forests. The most recent edition included a wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) from Waikoloa Dry Forest. Specific measurements and photos are available on pages 14 and 40 of the register, listed under the common name “Coral bean.”

The Hawaii Big Tree Competition locates the largest native and culturally significant tree species in Hawaii. To be considered for nomination, the species must be included on the national list of eligible species. Hawaii currently has 21 eligible species, but efforts are underway to increase that number. The largest trees of each species are referred to as “National Champions,” an award which is based purely on the tree’s measurements.

Everyone is welcome to nominate a big tree. The champions are decided by a point system, determined by the following equation: circumference (inches) + height (feet) + 1/4th of the average crown spread (feet) = total points. For a species to be included in the register, nominations must be given to state coordinators prior to Sept. 15.

To learn more about our current champions or view a complete list of Hawaii’s eligible species,
visit http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/info/big-tree/
To view the complete Spring 2014 National Register of Big Trees,
visit http://www.americanforests.org/our-programs/bigtree/ To nominate a potential champion tree, send the measurements along with GPS coordinates to the Hawaii Big Tree Coordinator at 586-0915.

 

Video: 2014 World Fireknife Championship Final Highlights

From the Polynesian Culture Center in Laie, Hawaii… The 2014 World Fireknife Championship Final Highlights:
[youtube=http://youtu.be/4B3Hfnab1Yg]

Champion Viavia “VJ” Tiumalu (Orland, Florida)
1st Runner Up Falaniko Penesa (Samoa)
2nd Runner Up Malo “MJ” Mata’u (Laie, Hawaii)

‘Twilight’ and ‘Carrie’ Stars Come Out to Shine at Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i

Portia Doubleday, “Carrie’s” nemesis in the current re-telling of Steven King’s wildly popular story, and Jackson Rathbone, star of the epic “Twilight” film series, will attend Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i next week as celebrity honorees. Seeming to specialize in the darkly complex characters that today’s movie-lovers crave, Doubleday and Rathbone are young actors on the rise.

Portia Doubleday

Portia Doubleday

Portia Doubleday most recently co-starred as bad girl Chris Hargensen in “Carrie,” and played a cameo role as the sex surrogate in Spike Jonze’ critically acclaimed film “Her.” She also co-starred in 20th Century Fox’s “Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son,” and had a recurring role on the ABC comedy series “Mr. Sunshine.” Her first leading role was with Michael Cera in “Youth in Revolt,” named one of the ten best films of the year by the National Board of Review.

Jackosn Rathbone

Jackson Rathbone

Best known for his role as Jasper Hale in the hugely successful “Twilight” franchise, Jackson Rathbone has been an international presence in film since 2007. Originally from Texas, Jackson quickly found roles in both movies and television, earning recognition for his turn as a serial killer in “Criminal Minds.” Starring in major international box office hits such as the blockbuster “Twilight” series and “The Last Airbender,” Rathbone will also appear in the upcoming super-natural independent suspense thriller “The Dead Men.”

BIFF invites the public to exclusive soirees in honor of Doubleday and Rathbone on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 5-7 p.m. at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i. Events begin in the Lehua Theatre with a video retrospective of the actor’s career, in-depth interview and Q&A, then stroll into Wailana Gardens for elegant pupu reception, with wines from Kenwood Vineyard, Kona Brewing Company beers, and an opportunity for informal networking in a luxury resort setting. Advance tickets are required ($35).

Doubleday and Rathbone will also attend the exciting Golden Honu Awards Brunch on Monday, May 26, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. The champagne brunch buffet in the Kilohana Room is open to the public with advance reservations required ($50). Winning films and Audience Choice Feature and Short will be announced during brunch. Audience Choice films will be presented Monday evening, following a stellar concert by award-winning Hawaiian musician WILLIE K.

Willie K

More highlights of BIFF include free family films at The Shops at Mauna Lani, two sets of daytime movies in the Lehua Theatre and nightly double features at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i Plantation Estate, screenwriting workshops and numerous opportunities to meet and interact with filmmakers and film-lovers from near and far.

Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i is a celebration of independent narrative films and filmmaking, taking place May 22-26, 2014. Major sponsors include The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, The Shops at Mauna Lani and Hawaii Tourism Authority/Hawai‘i County CPEP. For complete schedule information and tickets, stop by the information desk at The Shops at Mauna Lani starting May 21, visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com or call (808) 883-0394.

 

Lyman Museum Receives Grant Towards New Island Heritage Gallery

In the recent session, the Hawai`i State Legislature approved $500,000 in State Grant-in-Aid funding toward the Lyman Museum’s planned new Island Heritage Gallery exhibit.

The Lyman Museum

The Lyman Museum

“My fellow legislators recognized that this gallery space and exhibit will provide a continuing resource to showcase our vibrant history, for visitors, but especially for Hawaii’s keiki,” said Senator Gil Kahele, who was instrumental in securing the funds.  “This was truly a collective effort on behalf of the entire Hawaii Island delegation.”

Located on the second floor of the Museum in a 3,600 sq. ft. area, the new $2 million exhibit will explore a historical timeline of the many people, cultures, events, and ideas that left their mark on Hawaii Island and contributed to the rich, diverse mosaic of modern Hawaii.  The Island Heritage Gallery will make history come alive for visitors by exhibiting artifacts and telling stories in themed settings that recreate the look and feel of different eras.

“Our heartfelt thanks go to our East Hawai`i legislators, Senator Kahele and Representatives Mark Nakashima, Clift Tsuji, and Richard Onishi, for this generous appropriation that enables us to move closer toward establishing the Island Heritage Gallery exhibit.  People call the Museum ‘a true gem of Hilo,’ and the new gallery will be a jewel in the crown for everyone to enjoy,” emphasized Lyman Museum President and Executive Director Barbara Moir.

The new Island Heritage Gallery is the final phase of a 15-year journey to enhance the Museum’s position as a world-class learning facility and treasured resource for future generations.  For more than 80 years, the Lyman Museum has fulfilled its mission to “tell the story of Hawai`i, its islands and its people,” and continuously strives to make the visitor experience exciting and educational.

A repository of local history, the Lyman Museum currently houses a superb collection of cultural artifacts, fine art, and natural history exhibits, as well as special exhibitions and an archives, which includes historical documents, books, and more than 30,000 photographs.  Visitors can tour the beautifully restored old Mission House and learn about Hilo life as it was 150 years ago.  The Earth Heritage Gallery showcases the Museum’s world-class shell and mineral collections as well as geology and habitat exhibits in stunning settings.  The new Island Heritage Gallery exhibit will complete the visitor’s experience by providing a rare and well-rounded view of the real Hawai`i, as it was, as it is today, and where it may be in years to come.

Big Island Police Looking for Man Wanted Caught on Surveilance Tape

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man wanted for questioning in connection with a misdemeanor sexual assault investigation.

Have you seen this guy?

Have you seen this guy?

The man’s image was captured on a surveillance camera at a store in Hilo on April 13.

He is described as being between 50 and 60 with a medium build and a long beard that extends to the middle of his stomach. He was wearing khaki pants, a camouflage jacket and a cowboy hat.

Police ask anyone with information on his identity or his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Jesse Kerr at 961-8843 or jkerr@co.hawaii.hi.us.

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

Big Island Police Identify Man Who Died in Wednesday’s Car Crash

HPDBadgeHawaiʻi Island police have identified the man who died Wednesday (May 14) from injuries he sustained in a two-vehicle crash on Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Route 11) in the area of the 13-mile-marker in Mountain View.

He was identified as 69-year-old Hubert F. Silva of Pearl City, Oahu.

UH Hilo Students Want Answers on UHHSA Senate Meeting

Aloha UH Hilo ​A​dministrators,

​We have ​attended​ and/or watched the Youtube video on​  the so called ‘UHHSA Senate meeting’ in Campus Center ​last Friday May 9th ​where Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano announced the unofficial election results.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/6fEe_IWnLK4]

We have many questions we would like to address to UH Hilo:

1) Ellen Kusano sent out an email saying:

Please come to an UHHSA Senate meeting tonight, in Campus Center, 2nd floor lobby at 5:30pm.

1a) how could there be an “UHHSA Senate Meeting” when the new UHHSA was supposed to take office on May 1, 2014?

1b) was this an official UHHSA Senate meeting?

2) We were told by Dr. Oaks in an email  (see #2 below) that: Only myself, Mr. Walker, and possibly Interim VC Makuakane-Lundin will have access to the votes. The access we have in VCSA does not allow us to change anything only to view. I will be responsible for communicating the results.

2a) Why were the ​ ‘new election’​ unofficial election results communicated by Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano?

2b) Wasn’t the director of student affairs responsible for the UHHSA ‘new election’ process?

2​c​) We communicated to UH Hilo our concerns of having Ellen Kusano, after the numerous complaints of her mishandling of the first 2014 UHHSA election, involved in the ‘new election.’ Why was she involved in the process?

​2d) Why wasn’t Kelly Oaks or Gail Makuakane-Lundin present when the ‘new election’ unofficial election results were read​?

3) on the UH Hilo website “www.hilo.hawaii.edu/vote as of 7:17pm Friday, May 10th that ‘results will be announced by the Dean of Students’

3a) again, why were the results announced by Campus Center Ellen Kusan​o?​

4) UH Hilo students have yet to receive any information about the 1st UHHSA election​ vote counting process​. Many of us have sent in complaints and questions as to the handling of the 1st election by Ellen Kusano and the UHHSA Election Committee. There has been no response other than the election was ‘nullified.’ Mrs. Kusano said prior to releasing the results said that:

​There were 417 ballots cast in the first election, ​141 invalid ballots (1:45 on youtube video)

She also referenced “We don’t have the number of Senator at Large votes but it was more that it was in the first election.” (video 5:05) ​

Will there be an investigation into the botched election handling? ​

UH Hilo students have yet to receive any information about the 1st UHHSA election. Many of us have sent in complaints and questions as to the handling of the 1st election by Ellen Kusano and the UHHSA Election Committee. There has been no response other than the election was ‘nullified.’

4b​)​Since it is evident that Ellen Kusano and likely that other former election officials have handled the original ballots, we demand that the original ballot results be released to the public; and our previous list of questions regarding the handling of the original ballots be answered.​

5) Ellen Kusano referenced that she will be suggesting that an interim senate come together while the election complaint hearings are being conducted over the next 2 weeks.

5a) Will Mrs. Kusano be acting as faculty adviser once again for UHHSA?​

​6​) We would like to request all available information as to how the 2nd electronic UHHSA election was conducted.

​6a) ​What program was used?

​6b) Is there a paper trail?

​6c) ​What security measures were utilized?

​6d) How can we be assured no questionable activity on behalf of UH Hilo administrators was taking place similar to the first UHHSA election?

We feel like we have been discriminated against and treated unfairly by Ellen Kusano, the UHHSA Election Committee, and UH Hilo. ​We, again, request an investigation into the handling of the first botched election process and for the results of that election. We respectfully request that Campus Center Ellen Kusano not be involved in the organization or structure of UHHSA due to her mishandling of the last election.

Mahalo for addressing our concerns,

These students have filed an ethics complaint against the UH Hilo Election Committee.

These students have filed an ethics complaint against the UH Hilo Election Committee.

Glenn Aanstoos          Ryu Kakazu
Josh Boranian             Chantelle Mashreghy
Jarod Campbell           Ardena Saarinen

 

UH Hilo Implementing Interim Policy on Speech and Assembly After Students File Lawsuit

The University of Hawai’i at Hilo is implementing an interim policy on speech and assembly while the university explores permanent changes to the policy.

UH Hilo Moniker

“UH Hilo is committed to the free and open exchange of ideas. The interim policy will ensure our students have that right while we continue our review of campus policies,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney.

The review of policies follows a lawsuit filed in federal court by two students, against the University of Hawai’i and four individuals. The students allege various federal claims, mostly relating to First Amendment issues.

Since the filing of the lawsuit, the university and the students, through their respective attorneys, have engaged in productive discussions to resolve the lawsuit, including exploring possible permanent changes to university policy and practices regarding speech and assembly on campus. The university hopes to resolve the lawsuit with the students.

UH Hilo affirms the rights of its students to engage in free speech and other expressive activity guaranteed by the First Amendment. In this spirit, UH Hilo has adopted the interim policy, effective May 15, 2014:

1) UH-Hilo will implement Section 20-13-6 of the Administrative Rules for the University of Hawai‘i and Sections 10 and 11 of the Facilities Use Practice and Procedures, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (July 1995) in a manner to permit student speech and assembly without first having to apply for or obtain permission from the University in all areas generally available to students and the community, defined as open areas, sidewalks, streets, or other similar common areas.

2) UH-Hilo will implement the solicitation policy as set forth in Section 20-13-7 of the Administrative Rules for the University of Hawai‘i and in Section 13 of the Facilities Use Practice and Procedures, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (July 1995) in a manner to permit students to approach others on campus and to distribute non-commercial literature at UH-Hilo in all areas generally available to students and the community.

3) Notwithstanding the above, persons speaking, assembling, and/or distributing material shall not impede the progress of passersby.

4) Notwithstanding the above, no event, speech, demonstration, or other expressive activity on campus shall interfere with or disrupt the educational process or other scheduled activities of the campus or its facilities. This includes the use of any means of amplification that creates a noise or diversion that substantially disrupts the orderly conduct of the campus or classes taking place at that time.

69-Year-Old Man Dies in Two-Vehicle Crash on Hawaii Belt Road

A 69-year-old man died Wednesday (May 14) from injuries he sustained in a two-vehicle crash on Hawaii Belt Road (Route 11) in the area of the 13-mile-marker in Mountain View.

HPDBadgeResponding to a 1:45 p.m. call, Puna patrol officers determined that a 23-year-old Keaʻau man was operating a 1995 Ford pickup truck and traveling south on the highway when he crossed the centerline and collided with a 2002 Ford four-door sedan traveling north being operated by the 69-year-old man.

A 64-year-old Mountain View woman who was a passenger in the Ford sedan was also transported to the Hilo Medical Center and confined in stable condition.

The driver of the Ford truck was also admitted in stable condition.

Passengers in the Ford truck, all males, ages 19, 20, 21 and 22, were all treated and released with minor injuries.

It is unknown at this time if speed, alcohol or drugs were involved.

The 69-year-old man was pronounced dead at 3:01 p.m. at Hilo Medical Center.

His name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of the next of kin.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide, two negligent injuries, no operator’s license and no motor vehicle insurance against the Ford truck driver.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call Officer Keith Nacis at 961-8119.

This is the 6th traffic fatality on Hawaiʻi Island this year compared with 13 at this time last year.

Governor Launches Domestic Worker Public Education Campaign

The Abercrombie Administration yesterday launched a multilingual public education campaign about a new law that establishes long-overdue equity for Hawaii’s domestic workers.

Domestic Workers

Signed by Gov. Abercrombie last year, Act 248, Session Laws of Hawaii 2013, provides for minimum wage, overtime, discrimination, and harassment protections for domestic workers. Prior to Act 248, domestic workers were excluded from these basic protections of state wage, hour, and fair employment laws afforded to others.

“Hawaii is the second state to pass laws that protect domestic workers from discrimination at work and provide overtime and minimum wage protections that all workers deserve,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “The goal of the ‘Domestic Workers Have Rights’ public education campaign is to raise awareness because these new protections are meaningless if workers and their employers do not know about them.”

“This education campaign is about peace and justice in the home,” said Dr. Nancie Caraway, First Lady of the State of Hawaii and chair of the Domestic Workers Have Rights Working Group. “It’s about showing the humanity of a long devalued kind of work.”

Mila Kaahanui, executive director of the Office of Community Services (OCS), added: “Workers protected under this law include housekeepers, childcare workers, caretakers, maids, and gardeners among others that work in the home of their employers. These workers are often hidden from view and many may have limited English proficiency.”

The Domestic Workers Have Rights campaign has created informational material in 10 different languages and English. The campaign will reach out into the community through OCS’s Immigrant Resource Centers on Kauai, Oahu and Hawaii. Educational material will also be posted on TheBus, available on the DLIR website, and disseminated through community organizations. In addition, complementary radio spots will begin running on select radio stations later this month.

For more information about the new laws and the Domestic Workers Have Right campaign, visit: http://labor.hawaii.gov/domestic-workers-rights/

“Battle of Midway” at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

Marking the 72nd Anniversary of the turning point of WWII, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor will present a special program featuring Curator and Author Burl Burlingame and Museum’s Restoration Manager Jim Martinelli on June 7, 2014, 2 to 4pm.

The "Swamp Ghost"

The “Swamp Ghost”

Presentation will begin at 2pm in the Museum Theater, followed by an audience question and answer session. Mr. Burlingame will present a talk entitled “Flying Fortresses Over Midway.” The Boeing B-17 played an important roll in The Battle of Midway. Following the Q & A session, the audience will be invited out to Hangar 79 for a special presentation and behind-the scenes look at the restoration progress of the Museum’s Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress—the famous “Swamp Ghost,” by Mr. Martinelli.

The event is free with regular Museum admission and free to Museum Members. Call (808) 441-1000 or visit www.PacificAviationMuseum.org for more information.

Hawaii Quest Renewal Process Changed

The Department of Human Services Med-QUEST Division (MQD) is mailing eligibility renewal (ER) forms to approximately 102,000 QUEST households between April and September 2014.  During this period only, all QUEST households, including those with children, must return their completed ER form to the MQD, or they will lose QUEST coverage.

Quest CardThese households had QUEST coverage prior to October 2013, when changes under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented. To comply with requirements regarding conversion to the new income methodology under ACA, households with eligibility renewal originally scheduled to occur between October 2013 and March 2014 had their renewals delayed six-months, with federal approval.

Households with eligibility renewal originally scheduled to occur between April and September 2014 will not have any change to their renewal date.

Between April and September 2014 only, all QUEST households mailed an ER form, including households with children, must return their completed form, even if there are no changes.  These households will be mailed a letter informing them to look for, and to complete and return, the eligibility renewal form that will be mailed approximately two weeks later.  If households do not return a completed form, their eligibility will end.  These households will receive a notice that their coverage has ended.

Households with children haven’t been required to return an ER form to renew QUEST eligibility since 2004, a process called passive renewal.  DHS has tried to stop this practice, but the federal government did not approve the request.

The MQD will return to its passive renewal process beginning October 2014. However, through its new eligibility system and the federal data hub, the DHS will improve both customer experience and program integrity. For more information about the DHS Med-QUEST program, visit www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/mqd.

HAAS Principal Busted for International Drug Running in the ’70s

According to an April 16, 1972 article in the Pacific Stars & Stripes, “Thai Police Nab 2 on Drug Rap (Bottom Left)” Steve Hirakami, the current principal at Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences (HAAS), was a former international drug runner who got busted in Bangkok back in 1972.

Click to view paper.  Warning you can only click a few times w/out buying a subscription to the paper.

Click to view paper. Warning you can only click a few times w/out buying a subscription to the paper.

“Two Japanese-American men have been arrested on charges of possessing 62 pounds of hashish worth 2 million baht ($100,000.00) police disclosed Friday.

Gary Masashi Ohashi 25, and Steven Anthony Hirakami, 26, both from Honolulu were arrested Thursday morning while they were in their hotel rooms in downtown Bangkok.  Police found two suitcases full of hashish in each room.

According to police, Ohashi and Hirakami came to Bangkok on April 8 for  a tour.  They went up to Ubon Ratchathani, a north eastern province about 300 miles from where a U.S. air base is located to see an American Air Force man named Sgt. Jack Williams.  Williams hired them to deliver the two suitcases to an address in Honolulu.  Williams then left for Manila.

Williams paid them $100 each, police said.  The two young men claimed that they did not know what was in the suitcases.”

According to the Hawaii State Judiciary site.. Hirakami found himself in trouble and remanded for something in 1991 as well:
Hirakami Case

I have to wonder if this principal told the hiring board of the school of his past troubles?  Would you want your child attending a school that is supervised by a former international drug runner?

HAAS School Board Hides Executive Session Meeting – Cops Called to Protect Board – More Abuse Commentary

Last night there was supposed to be a resolution to an executive session that was going on with Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science (HAAS) school alleging teacher abuse made by a few parents of students that attended classes instructed by a teacher there named in the newspaper as Shannon Smith.

Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith

The meeting was originally scheduled for today at 5:00 at HAAS School in Pahoa.  When parents and community members arrived they were met with a sign that basically told them the meeting was an executive session and that it had been moved to an undisclosed location per HSTA.

HAAS Meeting 363

We then thought of places where this meeting might have been moved to and we drove to HAAS’s Virtual Campus located behind Black Rock Cafe and we saw cars that we recognized as board member cars and decided we would wait outside the meeting there to get the results that we were told we would have last night.

HAAS Parent David Marquis outside the Virtual Campus.  HSTA Rep Tanya Yamanaka on the left by the building.

HAAS Parent David Marquis outside the Virtual Campus. HSTA Rep Rae Yamanaka on the left by the building.

When we arrived HSTA Member Rae Yamanaka was waiting outside along with a few other HAAS teachers.   I talked with the HSTA member (Ms. Yamanaka if I remember correctly) she told me she wasn’t aware of why she was called to the meeting.

About 20 of us were outside and then a bunch of Hawaii County Police Officers showed up.

HAAS Meeting 374

I listened to what the Police officers were saying and one of them was talking to a supervisor and he said to his supervisor that nothing was going on just a bunch of folks standing outside waiting around.

One of the Police Officers asked me I if was “Damon Tucker”.  I told him yes I was.  He asked me what I was doing there… I told him that I wanted to hear the results of the executive session.  He asked me why I was so interested in it.  I told him I had a nephew that was allegedly abused by the teacher.  The officer then asked me who my nephew was… I told the officer it was none of his business who my nephew was and quit talking to him.

HAAS Meeting 376

Around 6:00 HSTA member Yamanaka drove by the group and informed us that the meeting was cancelled and she didn’t give us a reason.

The board members continued to stay inside the building and we were intent on waiting outside until we got answers from them.  When they did finally leave the building the following unfolded including one of the Board Members telling us that we were stalkers:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/J3TE3FqIUKE]

So now we are still left looking for answers.

HAAS parent David Marquis sent me the following commentary on what he feels is going on:

My name is Dave Marquis and my wife and I have a child in the Mana’olana program. We have known this teacher since the beginning of this school year, August 2013, and more than once or twice, we thought she was a great teacher. She is confident, energetic, knowledgeable, very firm on students. She was working on teaching the students “respect” all the time. We wish we could listen to her side of the story from her mouth, in person. I really wish we could. It would’ve been so easy to hate her not knowing her in person. We drop off and pick up our child every day at Mana’olana, and get to see other students playing after school while they wait for their parents to pick them up and to see this teacher every day also.

For those who consider HAAS as a great school with many wonderful teachers, it must be hard to believe this numerous amount of abuse incidents as well as the principal Mr. Steve Hirakami and the Ohana director Ms. Debra Derbyshire covering up this whole thing. They did nothing about it this past 3+ months (since the end of January) and not only that, they wanted to pretend like nothing happened. We wanted to believe that this was a good school. However, they handled this matter very poorly. They didn’t do what they were supposed to do and trying to even cover up these incidents. They did nothing for these children after the incidents were reported. They did one thing though; they were trying to suppress the facts and to protect their reputations.

The kids this age exaggerate, we know it as parents. However, if you have a good relationship with your child, you probably can tell if your child is telling the truth or not, making it up or not, exaggerating just a bit or a lot. We feel so guilty about not paying more attention to what my child has said about his teacher in the past. There were many signs of the abuse from the beginning. Whoever is in doubt should’ve seen when she was yelling at the kids. When she yells, she does so like an old sister yelling at their younger siblings, far from how teacher should handle children. She stabbed the student’s hearts with all these mean words if not physically. Do not get fooled by her previously perceived good reputation. We are sure some people only know her wonderful side. In fact, we were the ones. We believed that she was a great teacher because we thought my child was exaggerating. How can you believe what he said, “This boy got duct taped on today!” You would be thinking “You gotta be kidding me! A teacher should be smart enough not to do that nowadays.” Sadly we learned that she has another side as well. Believe it or not, we wanted to believe so bad that she was a decent teacher after we learned that she got in trouble. We did not know what kind of trouble”s” she was in, but we thought there was some misunderstanding or something. We had high hopes for her as my child’s teacher until recently, but sadly it is shuttered completely after all of these things that have happened to our son and his classmates.

There are always 2 sides to the story; however, we strongly believe the student’s side of the story this time. They are 4th graders, smart enough not to mess around with this kind of stuff. They do not make this up. They have scars from their teacher who should be caring and loving. They can imagine what the consequences Ms. Smith will face after everything comes out in public. That is why it took so long for them to speak up. They were not telling parents everything they have experienced. They must have been in fear. I heard some students having nightmares because of what their teacher had done and without the help of the two assistant teachers who knew all about it but didn’t do anything.

My son was very afraid of her, he still is, from the very beginning. My husband and I used to think she was like a fire cracker, in a good way. We thought the students in this class will have lots of fun! She did not seem like a typical gentle kind type of teacher. She sounded like a very energetic, confident, fun, outgoing teacher who is never boring to be around. We moved from mainland just 2-3 weeks before this school year started. Everything was new to us. My son was probably somewhat nervous as he is the new student of the class where most students knew each other already.

We can personally attest to the effects that have changed my son forever. His innocence has changed in ways that shouldn’t have been for his age. He has trust issues that were never there before Shannon Smith crashed into our lives like a wrecking ball. He has had a hard time trusting us as parents for fear that we would get his hands or feet chopped off, screamed at, hit with books or have his ears flicked and it has taken quite a while to open up about what transgressed at the H.A.A.S Manao’lana. My son has also been dealing with unexplained anger issues that cropped up after he started the 4th grade class under Shannon Smith. He would be so full of uncontrolled rage that we would have to practically restrain him at times to explain how this or that behavior was unacceptable. He becomes very scared at the slightest correction from his parents. Sometimes even terrified we would say. He started to say “What the heck!” and “I don’t know” as an answer for question. He was afraid of expressing what he was feeling because he was afraid of Ms. Shannon Smith in class. He has to say “I don’t know” first and see the reaction, then only after he knows that he was safe enough to say what he was thinking, he could say, I think ____ or ____. He had to say something Miss Shannon Smith wanted to hear or he could possibly meet with her anger.

Shannon Smith came to H.A.A.S highly praised for her work in a tough Los Angeles, CA school, but I guess warning bells should have been tripped. I heard all these things in a matter of 1-2 weeks after school started. We thought my son was exaggerating. We didn’t believe what he said 100%. We thought whoever got duct-tape on was not listening or misbehaving or something, and thought she would not put a full force in that kind of discipline. She says “What the heck!”all the time and “What the hell!” occasionally. She yells at students or says “Shut Up!”, this is like everyday thing. She was even yelling at some 1st students that are the next door.

It seems to us that she decided that the Mana’olana students in 4th grade were out of control and need some “inner city” type discipline because that is what they received, maybe even third world discipline from what our son is telling us. Shannon Smith also has two teaching assistants that saw a lot of what transpired but failed to stop the abuse or report it. The HAAS counselor, Uncle Matt, who is very close friends with Ms. Shannon Smith apparently witnessed and or knew about abuse and did nothing to stop it.

These two Teaching Assistants and the school Counselor are still working at H.A.A.S and one aide is even still in the classroom at Manao’lana, who were present but didn’t lift a hand to stop Shannon Smith nor did they report the abuse as required by law.

She was so annoyed too frequently by these students for just giggling and laughing or even just a noise of somebody making constantly, like pushing the mechanical pencil or making noise on the desk with fingers or making noise on the floor with the shoes, etc. Our son always said “You are going to get flicked the ear by Miss Smith if you keep it up!” when his younger sister was making noise in the car one day. He did say the same thing every time his younger sisters did make some constant noises.

Shannon Smith threatened our son and the other classmates to chop off their hands and feet if they couldn’t hold them still. Shannon also threatened to break the hands of children if they couldn’t keep them to themselves or hold still. A few months ago our son had two day break down when he had been acting out and we were upset at his behavior. He sobbed and cried for many, many hours in belief that we would be chopping off his feet because of what he had done. We didn’t know about his mental torment that he endured at the hands of Shannon Smith and her teaching assistants. At first we found it a bit funny, but he didn’t. He was terrified to his core! Shannon Smith had engrained it into my son that bad kids get their hands and feet chopped off and he thought that was going to happen to him. How evil! It was a rough and shaky couple of days to calm him down.

She would scream threats at children. My son has also told me that Shannon Smith would often tell him and the other classroom students that they were idiots or stupid. Shannon Smith also would scream and yell at the 1st grade kids that are right next door on a often basis. She also used rough language with the students and used curse words on the children. We have had an ongoing issue keeping our son from telling other kids to “shut up” and he has learned to say “What the hell” quite often from Ms. Smith.

We were told one day that the desk and chairs had been removed from the classroom when our son returned home from school, which was our second clue that there was something wrong in the Manao’Lana classroom. This was done apparently because of one student’s actions from what we understand. We wonder if this student has moved to the mainland to get away?

I received this email that same day that was posted on Shannon’s Shutterfly web site from another parent:

“Is it true that our children have had their desks and chairs taken away and made to sit on the floor these past few days?  If so, I am interested to hear the reason why.”

I posed an inquiry on Shannon Smith’s web forum about the removal of the desks, chairs, books and other classroom materials and why I was learning this from my son and not some form of official classroom change and this seemed to be weird to me. She exploded and sounded like she did the right thing and there was nothing for the parents to do other than trust her actions and skills. I was greeted with this response from Shannon Smith:

“Quite frankly, I did not have the time to call 17 families on Monday. It’s almost 4:00 PM, and I am nowhere near being able to leave here today as I prepare for tomorrow and next week.” I wonder how my child’s back felt like hunched over while trying to write? I know I wouldn’t be happy with this situation and I wanted to know more.

I responded to Shannon Smith with:

“I feel the same way and I need to know if my son is causing the trouble at school. I am not sure the removal of the desks is the right answer.”

This is the reply I received from her:

…. “appreciate your concerns as parents, but please trust my judgements and actions as a teacher. I do, in fact, have a master’s degree in Education, and am well versed in both working in a childs’ Zone of Proximal Development, and developmentally appropriate learning activities. I am happy to discuss these more in-depth with you, and even provide literature if you would like. Heck, read my thesis if you want. Moreover, if you have a concern, feel free to contact me personally via email and not on this message board.”

It was big news that Ms. Shannon Smith was removed from the class room and came as a surprise. It was the end of January when we learned from my son that Ms. Shannon Smith didn’t come to school and was not coming back for a while because of the “police” investigation.

Our conversation in the car on our way back home was something like
– How was your day?

– Fine.

– How was Miss Smith?

— Oh she wasn’t there. She is not going to be at school for a while.

– Why? What’s going on? (We had no clue!)

– I don’t know………… She got in trouble.
– Why?

-Because (boy’s name) got duck taped on. I told you a long time ago.
-Yes I remember you said that. You weren’t joking??

-No I wasn’t.

-Did they do anything to you guys?

-I got interviewed today.

-By who?

-Uncle Matt. (school counselor)

– What did he ask?

– I am not supposed to tell you. I was told not to say anything to anybody.
– WHAT! You can always tell us anything. They just didn’t want you to tell anybody you know. But you can always tell us about everything, the stuff that is happening at school.

After that day, we were forced to remain silent until the parent meeting in April. We hadn’t been told a word about what happened at the school, or what happen to the students. Shockingly, only about 10 parents (the parents of 9 kids at Mana’olana) came to the meeting to find out what the meeting was all about. The first hour of the meeting was about how incredible this new teacher was. Mr. Steve Hirakami kept saying “We need to Imua.” (meaning to move forward) Then one parent started speaking out. We cannot move on unless something has to be done about this particular incident. Then we started learning other things as well. The school counselor lost one paper that the parents reported to him, it was the list of things Ms.Smith did to them and the other students and of things they saw in the class.

I guess this is where we should have really kept an eye on the actions and judgments the teachers at Manao’lana. I feel that Shannon Smith was way out of line and there is no excuse for these torments my son and other classmates endured.

Three months after Shannon Smith was removed from the classroom Ms. Smith shows up at the May 2nd H.A.A.S. Hoolaulea hugging, sitting and chatting with Ms. Derbyshire as if she didn’t have a care in the world. How callous of Mr. Hirakami and Ms. Derbyshire, who knew that there was a temporary restraining order against Ms. Shannon Smith, to let her show up and re-intimidate the students of Manao’lana. Have they no common sense as educators and so called “protectors” of our children?

Where was the Administration in all of this?

Why has it taken 100+ days to get a smidgen of information?

Did they not monitor Shannon Smith, a first year teacher at Manao’lana?

Did Mr. Hirakami or Ms. Derbyshire call the police to stop the classroom abuse or to perform an investigation?

Did Mr. Hirakami or Ms. Derbyshire report these incidents to the Hawaii Department of Education?

Why are the teacher’s aides still teaching at H.A.A.S let alone still present in the classroom?

In my opinion this has been a cover up from the beginning. Not only does Shannon Smith need to be formally fired and her record reflection these events, the teacher’s aides and the school counselor are also complicit in the abuse and failed our children as well and they too need to me formally fired and their employment records marked with these events. Mr. Steve Hirakami and Ms. Deb Derbyshire need to resign and apologize to my son, my family and the other children in the 4th Grade Manao’lana class as they have fail them and the H.A.A.S Public charter school as a whole.

We believe Ms. Shannon Smith, Mr. Steve Hirakami and Ms. Derbyshire should never be allowed into positions of power again as they have shown a lack of human decency and moral fiber. They have truly failed our children and community.

 

Kealakehe Greenwaste Site Repairs Underway

A contractor is making repairs to the County of Hawai‘i Kealakehe (Kailua-Kona) greenwaste recycling collection area, and that work may cause some delays in service, according to the county Department of Environmental Management.
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The site will remain open for drop-off of greenwaste, and the work is scheduled to be completed by Friday, May 16, 2014. Hours of operation for the Kealakehe Greenwaste Recycling are daily from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

An alternate location for depositing geenwaste is the county’s West Hawai‘i Organics Facility (WHOF), adjacent to the West Hawai‘i Sanitary Landfill in Pu‘uanahulu.  Hours of operation for the organics facility are Monday throughSaturday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.  Free mulch with assisted mechanical loading is also available at this location.

For additional information about the County’s greenwaste recycling programs, please visit www.hawaiizerowaste.org.

Mahalo for your kōkua!

Big Island Police Charge Kaʻū Man With Attempted Murder and Other Offenses

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a Kaʻū man with attempted murder and other offenses in connection with a stabbing Saturday afternoon near a beach park in Hilo.

Paul Gibson via Facebook

Paul Gibson via Facebook

At 2:10 p.m. Monday (May 12), after conferring with prosecutors, detectives charged 46-year-old Paul Gibson of Ocean View with attempted second-degree murder, third-degree assault, two counts of terroristic threatening, five firearms offenses, resisting an order to stop and failure to provide a DNA sample.

His bail was set at $374,000. He remains at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Tuesday (May 13).

At 2:15 p.m. Saturday (May 10), South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report of a stabbing off Keaukaha Road near 4-Mile Beach Park in the Keaukaha area.

When officers arrived, they learned that a 41-year-old Hilo man had sustained multiple stab wounds to the back during an altercation with another man. The victim was en route to the hospital in a private vehicle when the vehicle came upon responding Fire Department rescue personnel, who transported him to Hilo Medical Hospital in critical but stable condition.

Gibson was located six minutes later on Laukapu Street in Hilo. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

Big Island Police Investigating Suspicious Fire in Puna

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a suspicious fire Monday morning in Puna.

HPDBadgeAt 9:15 a.m. Monday (May 12) officers responded to a structure fire on the 12-7000 block of Akanikolea Street in the Kalapana Seaview Estates subdivision.

12-7037 Akanikolea according to Google Street View

12-7037 Akanikolea according to Google Street View

By the time police officers and firefighters arrived on the scene, the three-story house had already burned to the ground.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ColQ12EIRRg]

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section are investigating the fire and have not ruled out arson.

Police ask anyone with information about this case to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

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

21-gun salute, “Taps”, Candle-Lighting Ceremony Part of Tribute to HPD Officers Killed in Line of Duty

Members of the Hawaiʻi Police Department and the public celebrated Police Week on Monday (May 12) at the Hilo police station. A 21-gun salute, “Taps” and a candle-lighting ceremony were part of the tribute to the four Hawaiʻi Police Department officers killed in the line of duty since 1918: Manuel Cadinha (1918), William “Red” Oili (1936), Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku (1990), and Kenneth Keliipio (1997).

Candles burn during a Police Week ceremony in honor of Officers Manuel Cadinha, William “Red” Oili, Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku and Kenneth Keliipio.

Candles burn during a Police Week ceremony in honor of Officers Manuel Cadinha, William “Red” Oili, Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku and Kenneth Keliipio.

During the ceremony, Chief Harry Kubojiri said that Momi Cazimero, the sister of Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku, has been working to erect a memorial for the Police Department’s fallen officers and that she is optimistic construction will commence soon.

Chief Kubojiri said Cadinha, Oili, Jitchaku and Keliipio are among 20,000 law enforcement officers nationwide who have been killed in the line of duty. “The sacrifice of our four brother officers will never be forgotten,” he said.

The chief also acknowledged Officer Joshua Gouveia and Officer Garrett Hatada, who were shot and injured last year while responding to a report of gunshots in Hilo. Both officers have since returned to work.

Hawaiʻi County Managing Director Wally Lau, who was representing Mayor Billy Kenoi, said in his opinion every day should be Police Week. “We should remember and we should say thank you,” he said.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as Police Week.

Another Police Week ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday (May 14) at the Kona police station. The public is invited to attend.

Pahoa Spirit Parade is This Saturday

The Pahoa Booster Club  is pleased to showcase all Pahoa schools including Pahoa High and Intermediate, Kua O Ka La and HAAS, all wearing their school colors.  Please join us in celebrating the students, athletics and clubs.  The Pahoa Spirit Parade will begin at 9:30 with Village Road being closed from 9:00 a.m. thru 10:30.

The Hawaii County Band at the 2013 Holiday Parade

The Hawaii County Band at the 2013 Holiday Parade

The parade will be led by Governor Abercrombie and featuring the Hawai’i County Band  and most all students from Pahoa, Kua O Ka La and HAAS.  This year’s Grand Marshall is Diane Hultman, a lifelong volunteer in Pahoa and Puna.  The Parade will wind thru the historic Pahoa Village ending up at Sacred Heart Church where a Steak BBQ fundraiser will be hosted by the Pahoa Booster Club and Lion’s Club in support of all schools in 96778.

There will be a 5 k run beginning at First Hawaiian Bank at 7:30 a.m.   All proceeds from the 5k run will go to the Pahoa High Cross Country Team.  Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to be at First Hawaiian Bank in Pahoa no later than 7 a.m.  Grand Prize for the 5k run is a GoPro3 Camera, valued at over $450.

Pahoa Community Center SignParking will be available at the Community Center.  If you wish to be in the parade, line-up begins at 9:00 a.m., at Apa’a (Rubbish dump) Road and Village Road.  All proceeds will benefit the Pahoa Schools athletic programs. We hope to see you there!!!