The Names That WERE Submitted to Governor Abercrombie to Replace Rep. Denny Coffman

The three nominees that were submitted to Governor Abercrombie to replace Rep. Denny Coffman were Richard Creagan, Steve Sakala, and Michael Matsukawa.

Richard P. Creagan

Richard P. Creagan

As we know now… Richard Creagan was selected by the Governor.

Big Island Police Searching for 28-Year-Old Hilo Man

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 28-year-old Hilo man wanted on two outstanding $50,000 bench warrants.

Bryce D. Feary

Bryce D. Feary

Bryce D. Feary is described as 5-foot-11, 170 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Police Searching for 22-Year-Old Woman… AGAIN

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 22-year-old woman wanted on five outstanding $50,000 bench warrants.

Shaylyn Araw

Shaylyn Araw

Shaylyn Momi Araw is described as 5-foot-3, 110 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.

She may be in Hilo or Pepeʻekeo.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Count Humpback Whales from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park encourages volunteers to register to help count humpback whales during the 2014 Sanctuary Ocean Count held the last Saturday of January, February and March (Jan. 25, Feb. 22, and Mar. 29), from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

umpback whale seen offshore near the end of Chain of Craters Road, January 2014. Image courtesy of Thomas C. Stein

Humpback whale seen offshore near the end of Chain of Craters Road, January 2014. Image courtesy of Thomas C. Stein

Ka‘ena Point, located at the end of Chain of Craters Road in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, is one of Hawai‘i Island’s 21 Sanctuary Ocean Count sites. Volunteers on shore monitor humpbacks in nearshore waters for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Residents and visitors look forward to this yearly event which provides important population and distribution information about humpback whales around the Hawaiian Islands.

The Sanctuary Ocean Count is an ideal opportunity for the community and the park to work together as stewards of the ocean. These splendid creatures swim more than 2,000 miles to Hawai‘i from Arctic waters every winter, and the annual count is one way to observe and record their behavior and ensure their future.

For more information, visit To register online, visit For any additional questions please call the Ocean Count Hotline 808-268-3087.

Registered volunteers meet Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park volunteer and Sanctuary Ocean Count site leader Jennifer Watson at the end of Chain of Craters Road on the scheduled count days.

Meet and Greet With KISS at the Fairmont Kea Lani

KISS and relax at the Farimont Kea Lani at Wailea, Maui, offers KISS fans a chance to grab a room and meet Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley at two VIP events in January with a room-and-party package starting at $349 a night.


Experience the ultimate Rock & Roll VIP weekend with KISS band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

Package Includes:

  • Accommodation in any luxurious one-bedroom suite or spacious villa (January 24 – 26, 2014, minimum of three nights) for the opening of Willow Stream Spa and Rock & Brews restaurant.
  • Two tickets to the Rock & Brews® restaurant VIP grand opening luncheon event in Paia, Maui on January 26, 2014 starting at 1:30pm:
    • Red carpet photo opportunities
    • Casual American comfort food and popular Hawaiian dishes
    • Tropical cocktails and Paia’s largest selection of craft beers
  • Admission for two to The Fairmont Kea Lani’s Willow Stream Spa VIP opening event on January 26, 2014 starting at 6:00pm:
    • Meet and take photos with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS
    • Experience the brand new, 9,000 square-foot Willow Stream Spa, complete with a KISS black & white manicure station, rock & roll red lipstick station and hot rock neck massages
    • Enjoy “Rock & ‘Roll” sushi rolls from the award-winning Kō restaurant
  •  Two Rock & Brews® Paia T-Shirt


Between Friday, January 24, 2014 and Sunday, January 26, 2014


The KISS Rock & Roll VIP Package rates start from $349 USD per night in a Fairmont Suite category, plus applicable taxes. This exclusive VIP package is valued at $609/night.

Please Note:

For new reservations made after January 1, 2014, The Fairmont Kea Lani has introduced a $30 resort charge per room, per night (plus applicable tax) that includes the following; access to self- parking, basic internet access, local and domestic long distance calls, 1-hour snorkel equipment rental and more.

Hawaii State Department of Education Presents Its Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Supplement Budget Request

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) this morning presented its Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Supplemental Budget Request before the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance Committees in the State Capitol Auditorium.


The budget focuses on the DOE’s strategic goals. The request totals $31.7 million in operating funds, which puts the DOE at its current funding levels, and $164 million in Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) funds.

“Our budget aligns with our Strategic Plan and targeted goals for the success of our students, staff and department,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We have identified the most critical components to execute our strategic initiatives. The progress that we’ve made over the past two years is extraordinary. This budget provides the necessary supports that educators deserve to stay on course and build on our progress.”

The Superintendent noted recent achievements by students and educators that have brought acclaim to Hawaii, including:

  • Hawaii students making the highest gains in the nation in reading and math performance across all tested grades in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
  • An increase of students enrolled in college and fewer students needing remediation.
  • National recognition of program efforts to ensure teacher preparation and development are aligned with college-and career-ready standards.

“The core budget is aligned to support ongoing reform efforts,” said Amy Kunz, assistant superintendent & chief financial officer, Office of Fiscal Services. “These are targeted requests based on measurable results.”

The DOE plans on tackling numerous projects under the CIP supplemental request, including:

  • Air condition/heat abatement acceleration program ($25 million)
  • Science classroom upgrades at 12 high schools ($10 million)

“The department’s supplemental CIP request reflects the minimum level of funding necessary to maintain recent improvements and to remain diligent on the upkeep of our schools,” noted Raymond L’Heureux, assistant superintendent, Office of School Facilities and Support Services.

View the full budget presentation at Read more about the 2013 DOE Accomplishments at

The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 288 schools and serves more than 185,000 students. Hawaii’s public school system was established in 1840 by King Kamehameha III. To learn more, visit

USDA Presents National Honor to DLNR Specialist for Forestry Conservation

The US Department of Agriculture’s prestigious Two Chiefs’ Award was presented today to M. Irene Sprecher of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Left to right is William Aila; Christine Clarke, Acting Director for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the Pacific Islands Area; M. Irene Sprecher, award recipient; Diane Ley, Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency; and Randy Moore, Pacific Southwest Regional Forester from the US Forest Service.  Photo by Jolene Lau, NRCS.

Left to right is William Aila; Christine Clarke, Acting Director for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the Pacific Islands Area; M. Irene Sprecher, award recipient; Diane Ley, Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency; and Randy Moore, Pacific Southwest Regional Forester from the US Forest Service. Photo by Jolene Lau, NRCS.

The Two Chiefs’ Award is a national award that is presented annually to recognize people and teams that work collaboratively to support conservation and forest stewardship.  Award winners are selected by the Chiefs of the USDA Forest Service (USFS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Ms. Sprecher played a lead role in the development of the “Collaboration on Forestry Related Program Delivery in Hawaii” Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the USDA NRCS, the US Forest Service, the Hawaii Association of Conservation Districts and the State’s Department of Land and Natural Resources – signed May 19, 2011.  This MOU was derived from the National MOU that is used for the same purpose and was signed September 29, 2008.

Since the implementation of the Hawaii MOU, the partners have significantly improved their communication and interaction with each other, and cooperated to coordinate the delivery of several Landowner Assistance Programs in Hawai’i (see  for more information).

Through this MOU, a landowner who obtains an approved Forest Stewardship Program management plan may access multiple programs for forestry conservation assistance – Forest Stewardship Program, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and/or the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).  This has significantly streamlined the process for landowners to access assistance funding, while simultaneously improved the collaboration among agencies and efficiency of their programs.

While this MOU is in place at the national level, not all states have implemented a state-level process, and most of those that have received some financial support to make it happen. Hawai’i has accomplished all of this with no extra funding provided by or given to any of its MOU partners.  The MOU partners are involving existing staff only and are motivated simply to improve all aspects of private landowner assistance in Hawaii through increased cooperation.

Also, through a grant written by Ms. Sprecher, the Hawaii MOU partners were awarded $250,000 in January 2013 from a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant.  These funds will provide needed resources for statewide planning and outreach to private forest landowners.  Two full time staff were hired in August, 2013, to increase the number of CREP projects, complete more NRCS Conservation Plans, strengthen interactions with partner agencies, and generally support sustainable management of Hawaii’s forest resources.

Finally, Ms. Sprecher was instrumental in the Fiscal Year 2007 and 2008 Kealakekua Heritage Ranch Forest Legacy applications for the acquisition of two conservation easements.   She was also the primary author for the Fiscal Year 2010 Kainalu Ranch and the Fiscal Year 2012 Kukaiau Koa Forest applications to the Forest Legacy Program. She was recently promoted, as well, and now runs the FSP and FLP programs in Hawaii.

Ms. Sprecher was a major contributor towards the establishment of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (see factsheet, attached) in Hawaii.  That process required extensive collaboration and negotiation with national and local partners in order to customize the program to best serve Hawaii, and to obtain all the required approvals. In addition, she has been very cooperative in modifying the Hawaii Forest Stewardship Program (supported via State and USFS funding) to come into alignment with the conservation practices, technical specifications and cost share rates associated with NRCS’s EQIP.  Similarly to the Forest Stewardship Program’s management plans, this has made various Federal and State forestry conservation assistance programs work in parallel, with a consistent look and process for our prospective cooperators.

“We are very pleased to jointly present this award,” said Randy Moore, U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Forester.  “This really illustrates our all-lands approach in working across boundaries to optimize our efforts.  This hard work which continues today is vital to the health of our island’s forests in Hawaii and beyond.”

“I am so happy to recognize her and this multi-agency public-private approach to solving a critical resource problem on our forest lands,” said NRCS Acting Director Christine Clarke. “This work exemplifies good stewardship.”

“Ms. Sprecher has proven to be an extremely valuable partner for the USDA as part of our Hawaii Joint Forestry MOU. She worked very closely with NRCS to get forestry conservation projects on the ground and information out to potential clients. She’s collaborated with Ms. Katie Friday, of USFS, to get funding out for Forest Stewardship Plans. She is very worthy of this award for her contributions to USFS and NRCS here in Hawaii,” Clarke said.

Director of Keck Observatory to Assume New Position at McDonald Observatory in West Texas

The University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory in West Texas is getting a new director, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday.

Taft Armandroff

Taft Armandroff

The paper says Taft Armandroff will be introduced Tuesday as the new director and professor of astronomy.

The appointment will be effective June 1.

Armandroff is currently director of the W.M. Keck Observatory, a nonprofit organization with two telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

He will succeed David Lambert, 74, who directed the observatory about 450 miles west of Austin for 10 years.

The observatory is gearing up for a study of the mysterious force known as dark energy that’s causing the cosmos to expand at an accelerating rate.

The $39 million dark energy project, which is in collaboration with other institutions, is expected to begin later this year.

Call for Comments for New Waikoloa Public Library

The Hawaii State Public Library System, along with the Department of Accounting and General Services and Mitsunaga & Associates, Inc., is currently developing the Project Development Report (PDR) for the future Waikoloa Public Library.

The Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee visited the Pahoa Community Library on August 21, 2013

The Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee visited the Pahoa Community Library on August 21, 2013

This draft PDR has been evaluating several possible sites throughout the Waikoloa Village for the construction of a new public library servicing this community on the island of Hawaii.

Comments, concerns, and other related information are still being gathered from the general public for this PDR. Please submit any additional comments at no later than Friday, January 24, 2014.

Upon completion of the PDR, a site will be selected by the State. The next phase will include an Environmental Assessment and the Programming and Concept design for the new Library.


Hawaii Court Interpreters Wanted: Once a Year Opportunity

The Hawaiʻi State Judiciary Office on Equality and Access to the Courts will hold an informational session on its Court Interpreter Certification program on the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo campus. The session will be held Thursday, January 16, at 6:00 p.m. in Campus Center Room 306. The event is free and open to the public.

Court Interpreters are independent contractors and earn $25 – $55 per hour for a minimum of two hours a day. The session provides a once-a-year opportunity for individuals who speak English and a second language to take the first step toward becoming an interpreter.

All individuals must meet mandatory minimum requirements to become qualified as a state court interpreter, which include: submission of a Court Interpreter Certification Program Application Form (available online at, attending a two-day Basic Orientation Workshop offered statewide in February – March 2014, passing Written English and Basic Ethics Exams, and clearing a criminal background check.

Click for more information

Click for more information

For more information, contact the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts at (808) 539-4860, email or visit

DLNR Firefighters Respond to Wildfire in Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve – Lightning Believed to Start Fire

Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) firefighters today continued their response to an estimated 150 acre brushfire which was first reported last night just after 6 p.m. An initial crew of five DLNR personnel and a bulldozer responded to the fire Sunday evening, along with Hawaii County Fire Department.

Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve

Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve

Today, there were 17 Division of Forestry and Wildlife personnel who returned to the scene at 5 a.m., near upper Mamalahoa Highway, along with one brush truck, three engines, two water tenders, and two bulldozers. Crews worked to build a fire line around the perimeter of the fire.

Winds were light, and there was no rain. The fire is located in a remote area of Puu Waawaa forest reserve and is thought to have been started by lightning from recent storm activity.

A total of 22 personnel will be working to continue mop-up activity tomorrow.  Fire is fully contained this evening

New ‘Hawaiian Fish N Chips’ at Queens’ MarketPlace

“Simplicity is the key,” said restaurant owner-operator Ted Debsky of his new Hawaiian Fish N Chips eatery in the Queens’ MarketPlace Food Court. A little venue with big variety, Hawaiian Fish N Chips features fresh local fish, grilled, smoked, or seared for salads, fried up for sandwiches or served with select noodle dishes.

Fresh local salad with grilled fish and salsa from the new Hawaiian Fish N Chips at Queens' MarketPlace

Fresh local salad with grilled fish and salsa from the new Hawaiian Fish N Chips at Queens’ MarketPlace

“We like to think of it as a “fresh seafood bistro,” said Debsky. Originally from Poland, Debsky has been an island restaurateur for years, formerly running the popular Kings’ Court Pizza & Grill and Senor Nachos Mexican Restaurant at the Kings’ Shops. With HFC, he hopes to share not only familiar fare like fish and chips, but unique local specialties, such as oxtail udon soup, made with fresh oxtail from Honokaa, and broiled eel with a Japanese eel sauce.

Debsky said that HFC smokes fresh local fish in-house and every day’s menu may feature different flavors. Homemade sauces, the chef’s specialty, will include chipotle aioli mayonnaise, featured on their calamari salad, a wasabi-garlic mayonnaise for the grilled fish sandwich and tartar sauce with fresh pickles, onion and capers. And, to enhance the ocean bounty, Big Island vegetables and fresh baked breads and buns from Mamane Bakery round out the flavorful menu.

HFC is open 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily in Queens’ MarketPlace food court. For more information, call (808) 886-1595.

New Home for College of Hawaiian Language Officially Opens – Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language

Cultural tradition and modern architectural design were on display today at the bilingual blessing and official grand opening of Hale`ōlelo, the new home of the University of Hawai` at Hilo’s Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

Hawaiian Language College

The ceremony featured a formal `Oki Piko ceremony, which symbolized the cutting of the umbilical cord to separate the new building from its birth mother to begin its life. Representatives of Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani’s consortium of `Aha Pūnana Leo, `Imiloa Astronomy Center, and Nāwahīokalani`ōpu`u School offered tributes in Hawaiian and presented their heahea, or calls of welcome.

The formal program also included remarks from dignitaries, including representatives from the University, UH System and elected officials, mixed in with hula and musical performances. Festivities concluded with gifts and congratulatory presentations and guided tours of the facility.

“The faculty and staff of Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani has worked long and hard to establish the College as a leader in indigenous language and cultural revitalization,” said Chancellor Don Straney. “At long last, they have a permanent home in a facility that is worthy of the quality programs that have earned them international recognition.”

The $21 million complex on Nowelo Street in the University Park of Science and Technology was designed by WCIT Architects of Honolulu, led by Rob Iopa, a graduate of Waiākea High School. The structure was built by Jacobson Construction of Salt Lake City, Utah. Key features include spectacular landscape, mountain and ocean views and designs that reflect native Hawaiian culture and Hawaiʻi Island’s natural resources that tie together the naming of the College and the building where it resides.

“The high roof design was inspired by the pili grass thatched home of Princess Ruth Ke`elikōlani, for whom the building of the College is named,” explained Dr. Larry Kimura, assistant professor, Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani. “Her home, on the grounds of Hulihe`e Palace in Kailua-Kona, was known as Hale`ōlelo, or House of Language, which now becomes the home for the College of Hawaiian Language.”

In addition to being a cultural and architectural landmark, the two-story complex is also a highly functional facility, spanning 36,760 square feet. Among its key features is a Performing Arts Auditorium that can be sub-divided. Special-use rooms include a library, curriculum and media resource room, tutorial, archive and telecom conference rooms, a computer lab, student and faculty meeting rooms, and 30 offices.

More importantly, Hale`ōlelo consolidates most of the College’s programs and operations formerly scattered throughout the campus while providing needed infrastructure to address the needs brought about by its growth and development. Since achieving collegiate status in 1997, it has experienced a surge in enrollment while introducing new degrees that produced UH Hilo’s first Master’s and Ph.D. recipients.

“It’s been a long time coming, but the wait has been worth it,” noted Keiki Kawai`ae`a, director, Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani “This facility addresses many of our growing pains, and will enable expansion of our graduate and undergraduate programs in increasingly impactful ways for our State. We want to thank everyone throughout the community who supported this initiative and made it a reality.”

The College will be looking to build on its existing body of work that has earned it critical acclaim from indigenous people who look to its programs as potential models for language revitalization in their communities. Just last November, it received the 2013 William Demmert Cultural Freedom Award from the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) for its work in P-20 Hawaiian language revitalization and its positive impact on native student academic achievement.

Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani and Hale`ōlelo will be front and center on the international stage only days after the grand opening when the College hosts the 2014 Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium (SILS) in mid-January. The agenda includes visits to language immersion programs from preschool to the doctorate level and post-visitation discussion groups, with special focus on issues such as government testing, developing curricula and parental involvement.

“Events like SILS provide the College a great opportunity to raise its international profile by bringing important players from around the world to UH Hilo to discuss both the challenges that exist and the successes we’ve had in revitalizing indigenous language,” said Hiapo Perreira, associate professor, Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani. “With Hale`ōlelo, we now have an ideal venue to showcase our programs and further advance the position of Hilo as ‘an international go-to destination’ for indigenous language revitalization.”

Hawaii Target Customers Urged to Get Free Credit Monitoring in Wake of Data Breach

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) today urged all Hawaii residents who shop at Target stores to take advantage of one year of free credit monitoring being offered by the retail company in the wake of the massive data breach announced last month.

“The Office of Consumer Protection strongly recommends that all Target customers, regardless of whether they’ve identified suspicious activity in their personal accounts, take advantage of this offer,” OCP Executive Director Bruce Kim said. “Additionally, consumers who have not done so already should take the proactive steps of changing their PIN numbers and passwords. The Office of Consumer Protection is continuing to monitor the situation to ensure that consumers receive all the protections they deserve in the wake of this serious nationwide data breach.”

Last month, Target first reported a data breach involving the payment card information of 40 million customers had been obtained by hackers during November and December 2013. The stolen information included credit and debit card data, customer names and PIN (personal identification data) numbers. Last week, Target revealed that hackers also stole a second batch of data that included names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses for up to 70 million people.

Target Fraud

Target is offering one year of free credit monitoring to all Target customers. Beginning today, consumers can register for free credit monitoring at Target’s website provides answers to frequently asked questions concerning the credit monitoring at:

The free credit monitoring will be offered through Experian’s ProtectMyID, and the service provides a copy of a credit report, daily credit monitoring, identity theft insurance (except where prohibited by law) and access to personalized assistance from a fraud resolution agent.

Target has provided the following information for consumers looking to take advantage of this program:

Justin Fujioka Joins Governor Abercrombie’s Communications Team – Other Staff Advance Into New Roles

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced several updates to his communications team, including the addition of Justin Fujioka as press secretary, effective Jan. 27, 2014.

Justin Fujioka

Justin Fujioka

Fujioka will work alongside other team members who are also stepping into new roles. Christine Hirasa will advance to director of communications to oversee to all aspects of communications for the executive branch, supported by Keith DeMello who has been promoted to deputy director of communications. Tyler Kruse will take on additional responsibilities as communications and digital media specialist.

“Each a product of our University of Hawaii System, the members of my communications team have strong ties in our community and offer a wide array of experience that includes news, public and private sector communications, and social media,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “As the newest member of my staff, Justin will further strengthen our communications efforts and transparency as we head into the new year and a new legislative session.”

Justin Fujioka has reported news and served as chief meteorologist for KITV since 2002, receiving an Emmy Award and a Mark Twain Award from the Associated Press Television-Radio Association for his work. Fujioka is a professional member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. Born and raised in Honolulu, he received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he also reported and edited for the school’s newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii, and worked as a public relations assistant at the UH Shidler College of Business serving as a media liaison and helping to coordinate news conferences and special events. He has a Certificate in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University.

Christine Hirasa has served as deputy director of communications since joining the Governor’s Office in November 2012. Prior to that, she served as a communications specialist for the Hawaii Department of Education and the executive assistant to the chancellor at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu. Hirasa worked as a public information officer at the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs from 2005 to 2010 and at the Hawaii State Judiciary from 2003 to 2005. She has also worked in the news industry as a producer at KHON from 2001 to 2003 and at KHNL/KFVE from 1997 to 2001. Born on Oahu and raised in East Honolulu, Hirasa earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Keith DeMello joined the Governor’s Office in December 2011 as communications manager. Previously, he worked in the private public relations sector, accumulating more than 15 years of experience across a wide spectrum of industries and earning various honors from the Hawaii chapters of the Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators, and American Marketing Association. Born in Honolulu and raised in Kailua, DeMello holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and also worked at Ka Leo O Hawaii as a copywriter and story contributor. He is a past president of the American Marketing Association Hawaii Chapter, and past president of the Hawaii Council on Portuguese Heritage.

Tyler Kruse has served as the Governor’s new media specialist since March 2013. As communications and digital media specialist, he will continue to manage social media operations while integrating them with traditional communications efforts and serving as the Governor’s chief photographer. Previously, Kruse worked in the private public relations sector. Born on Kauai and raised in Eleele, Tyler graduated from the UH Shidler College of Business with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in marketing. He also served as the communications chair of Ad 2 Honolulu and the collegiate and communications chair of the American Marketing Association Hawaii Chapter.

Big Island Man Wanted on Assault Located and Charged with 23 Additional Offenses

A 55-year-old Kawaihae man, who was being sought on a Grand Jury warrant for assault, has been located and charged with an additional 23 offenses.

Martin Frank Booth

Martin Frank Booth

Martin Frank Booth, 55, was arrested last Thursday (January 9) on the warrant and charged with the additional offenses on Friday (January 10).

On December 18, the Area II Vice Section executed a search warrant at a home on Honokoa Street in Kawaihae. During the search, officers recovered 8.1 grams of a crystalline substance, 128 grams of dried green plant material, a rifle and various items of drug paraphernalia.

Russell Kong, 66, of Kawaihae, 38-year-old Keoni Kong of Kamuela and 62-year-old Graly Vasconcellos of Hilo were arrested at the scene and later released pending further investigation. Booth, who lived at the house, was not present at the scene. Police continued to search for him.

On December 29, Kona Patrol officers responded to a Kinue Road home in Captain Cook after a woman reported being threatened with a firearm by an unknown man who had then fled in a sedan Officers later located the car on Highway 11 in Captain Cook. It was being operated by 39-year-old Regina Patrick of Kealakekua. A male occupant fled on foot.

Police arrested Patrick on an outstanding $250 bench warrant and charged her with contempt of court. She was also arrested on suspicion of promoting dangerous drugs but was released on that offense pending further investigation.

Vice officers executed a search warrant on the car and recovered a loaded pistol, an unloaded shotgun, numerous rounds of ammunition, 18.7 grams of a crystalline substance, 0.9 grams of dried green plant material, 40 prescription pills, brass knuckles, several large knives, and paraphernalia associated with the use and sale of crystal methamphetamine.

Police investigation determined that Booth had previously been in the car and that he was the person responsible for the threatening incident. Officers continued their search for him.

At 7:30 a.m. Thursday (January 9) police located Booth at a home on Luau Drive in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates. He was arrested and charged in connection with the $2,000 Grand Jury bench warrant for second-degree assault and taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Vice Section continued the investigation into the drug, weapons and threatening offenses.

At 5:15 p.m. Friday (January 10), detectives charged Booth with meth trafficking, eight counts of promoting dangerous drugs, promoting controlled substances near a school, three counts of promoting detrimental drugs, three counts of possessing drug paraphernalia, six firearm offenses and terroristic threatening. His bail was set at $266,000. He remained at the cellblock until his initial court appearance on Monday (January 13).

Big Island Police Looking for Man Who Robbed Hilo Bank on Friday

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect wanted for the attempted robbery of a bank in Hilo.

Just before 6 p.m. Friday (January 10), police responded to a reported robbery attempt at the Territorial Savings Bank branch on Makaʻala Street in Hilo. Responding officers learned that at about 5:53 p.m., a lone male had entered the bank and produced a note demanding money. He fled the bank without any money and was last seen running toward Pōhaku Street. No one was injured during the robbery attempt.

Bank Robber 1

The suspect was described as a Caucasian, in his mid-to-late 20s, about 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2, about 185 to 200 pounds with short wavy black hair and facial acne. He was last seen wearing a blue-and-black striped pullover, jeans, and black shoes with red laces.

Bank Robber 2
The suspect appears to be the same individual who entered the bank earlier in the day to inquire about banking there.

Police recovered bank surveillance video and still images.

Police ask anyone with information on this incident or who may know the identity of the suspect to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Dean Uyetake at 961-2379 or

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Idea Improv – Bring Your Own Questions

Got questions about running a business, recording an album or publishing a book? Then you won’t want to miss this one of a kind event. Think TEDx meets Improv. No scripted talks. No PowerPoints. Just you (the audience) asking questions (about anything) and receiving solutions and ideas (that will amaze you). Each of our speakers brings years of expertise to the stage and a willingness to share their knowledge with others. Join us for an evening that will be entertaining as well as educational.

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

If you live on the Big Island, you won’t want to miss this event.

Land Board Issues $2,500 Civil Fine for Commercial Activity Violations at Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) today authorized an civil penalty fine of $2,500 and associated administrative costs of $753 to be assessed against Alexander Aquino, of Captain Cook, for violation of State Parks Hawaii Administrative Rule chapter 13-146-68, which prohibits commercial activities in State Parks without a written permit from the board or the Division of State Parks.

Aquino was arrested on Nov. 21, 2013 within Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park during an undercover operation conducted by officers of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), and charged with soliciting for patrons to rent kayaks for use in Kealakekua Bay. Also arrested and charged for the same violation was Nathan Kolii, also of Captain Cook.

Criminal cases against both men are still pending.

Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

In January 2013, the Division of State Parks implemented a moratorium on the use of all vessels within Kealakekua Bay and all landings at Kaawaloa Flat. Vehicle parking and launching of kayaks at the historic Napoopoo wharf were no longer allowed without a permit. Only the 3 previously Board-authorized commercial companies holding state parks revocable permits were allowed to continue offering guided kayak tours to Kaawaloa Flat and to launch from Napoopoo. State Park’s objective was to stop the illegal vending and renting of equipment at Napoopoo, and stop the proliferation of kayak client landings at Kaawaloa, with the accompanying environmental damage to nearshore corals and from human waste upon archaeological sites.

State Parks then began to issue special use permits for vessels such as stand-up paddleboards, sailboats, kayaks, etc. to transit the water of the bay only, but not to launch from Napoopoo or land at Kaawaloa. No one is allowed to land a vessel, or to swim from a vessel and land at Kaawaloa. Permits are free and contain a set of conditions to protect the natural resources of the park. During 2013, a total of 447 special use permits were issued, 93 authorized vessel permits, and 354 for non-commercial users.

Although Aquino held a special use permit, it is not a commercial permit allowing for solicitation of patrons within the park, which constitutes a violation of park rules and is grounds for revocation of the permit.

“This case shows that DLNR is taking enforcement action to curb a prolific business in illicit sales and services that have had detrimental impacts on the community and the park environment,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We have provided opportunity for a limited number of responsible commercial vendors to service a manageable number of clients going to Kaawaloa, and share in stewardship responsibility. We have also provided a simple process for ocean recreational users to obtain permits to allow them to enjoy the bay’s waters,” Aila said.

2014 Closure Schedule for Select Hawai‘i County Parks

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to announce its 2014 general-maintenance schedule for ‘Āhalanui Park, Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park, Kahalu‘u Beach Park and Spencer Park at ‘Ōhai‘ula Beach. These parks will be closed from one to three days most months so larger-scale maintenance work may be undertaken without putting park patrons at unnecessary risk or inconvenience.

Located in Puna, ‘Āhalanui Park will be closed from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the following dates:

Puna ClosuresLocated in Puna, Isaac Kepo‘okalani Hale Beach Park will be closed on the following dates and reopened at 1 p.m. on the day after each closure:

Pohoiki closuresLocated in North Kona, Kahalu‘u Beach Park will be closed from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the following dates:

North Kona Closures

Located in South Kohala, Spencer Park at ‘Ōhai‘ula Beach will be closed all day on the following dates:

South Kohala Closures

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks park users and the general public for their understanding and cooperation while the temporary closures are occurring.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or