Governor Abercrombie Releases $19.1 Million for State Hospital Facilities

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $19.1 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) that will upgrade and improve eight Hawaii Health Systems Corporation facilities.

“These projects will go toward replacements, renovations and upgrades to our aging infrastructure at several state hospital facilities across the state,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “In addition to increasing safety and functionality, these projects, part of more than $2.1 billion in capital improvement projects released since I took office, will further stimulate our economy and generate more local jobs.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

$4,000,000 – Kona Community Hospital Renovations and Upgrades, Hawaii Island – Address increased activity in the pharmacy, bring obstetric area to current standards, fix leaking showers, upgrade security doors, and continuation of the ER model

$2,200,000 – West Kauai Medical Center Air Conditioning System Replacement, Kauai – Repair and expand existing air conditioning system, which has become prone to mechanical breakdowns

Hilo Medical Center Angiography Suite

Hilo Medical Center Angiography Suite

$2,100,000 – Hilo Medical Center Angiography Suite Renovation/Upgrade, Hawaii Island – Existing equipment will be brought to current standards and enable patients to receive greater level of service, while reducing the need for patients to seek services on neighbor islands

$1,590,000 – Hilo Medical Center Laundry Washers and Dryers Replacement, Hawaii Island – Design and equipment for the siting and installation of laundry washers and dryers; majority of the washers are more than 22 years old and requires costly repairs; washers and dryers service Hilo Medical Center, Kau Hospital, and Hale Hoola Hamakua

$1,219,000 – Maluhia Hospital Air Conditioning System Upgrade, Oahu – Replace old equipment on the first, second, and third floors; existing air conditioning system is old and the replacement of the air handler units and other related equipment are necessary to improve air temperature and humidity for patients

$1,100,000 – Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Exterior Doors Replacement, Kauai – Replace exterior doors that are beyond repair; portion is nailed shut; doors need to be functional in case of emergencies

$850,000 – Hilo Medical Center Fire Alarm and Fire Suppression Systems Upgrade/Replacement, Hawaii Island – Upgrade and replace fire alarm and fire suppression systems to protect the health and safety of patients, visitors, and employees; existing system will be redesigned to meet current national fire protection requirements

$820,000 – Maluhia Hospital Dietary Electrical System and Emergency Generator Upgrade, Oahu – Existing electrical system in the Dietary Department is not connected to back-up power, and refrigerated foods would not be kept cool in the event of a power outage; when improvements are implemented, the hospital will have back-up power to keep Dietary in operation at all times

$800,000 – Maui Memorial Medical Center Air Conditioning System Replacement, Maui – Project will focus on patient care rooms in the East, South and West Wings, electrical rooms, pharmacy and laundry areas; existing air conditioning system has become prone to mechanical breakdowns and needs to be replaced

$750,000 – Hilo Medical Center Long-Term Care Facility, Hawaii Island – Planning of a new long-term care facility to replace the existing long-term care facility that no longer meets Medicare and Medicaid survey requirements

$600,000 – Leahi Hospital Reroofing, Oahu – The facility is more than 30 years old, and replacement of the roof is needed due to leaks

$500,000 – Leahi Hospital Walk-In Freezer and Refrigerators Replacement, Oahu – Current walk-in freezer and refrigerators are old and deteriorating with ice accumulating in the walls around the structure; project will also cool the food assembly area in the Dietary Department, which does not meet temperature requirements established by the Federal Survey Standards

$500,000 – West Kauai Medical Center Nurse Call and Baby Abduction System Replacement, Kauai – The existing system is more than 38 years old and parts are no longer available; with the new call system, communications between the nurse stations and patient rooms and for the baby abduction system will become more reliable

$500,000 – Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Patient Dining Room Renovation, Kauai – The existing patient dining room is closed due to termite infestation, which has made the area a hazardous place for both patients and staff; patients are currently using a temporary dining room

$500,000 – Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Nurse Call and Patient Wandering System Replacement, Kauai – The current system is more than 30 years old and replacement parts are no longer available

$384,000 – Leahi Hospital Trotter Building for Memory and Behavior Unit Renovation – Renovate Trotter Building to construct a Memory and Behavior Unit; there is a need for a Memory and Behavior Unit to accept more patients

$250,000 – Hilo Medical Center Patient Security System and Security Access System, Hawaii Island – Equipment for a patient security system and security access system to guard against infant abductions, dementia/Alzheimer patient elopements, and unauthorized access to sensitive areas; the system will also provide for the safety and security of patients, employees, and visitors, and meet the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Joint Commission regulations

$201,000 – Kau Hospital Renovations, Hawaii Island – Repairs to address items discovered during renovations of the roof, doors, windows, and air filtration and cooling systems, and hazardous material abatement; addresses repairs before additional renovations begin at the location

$199,000 – Kau Hospital Pluming Upgrades, Hawaii Island – Most of the pipes are more than 40 years old and require frequent repairs; in June, the hospital septic tanks were found to be corroding and posing a potential hazard to the integrity of the wastewater system; funds are needed to finance the engineering assessment and repair the system; the remainder of the funds will be used to design the plumbing upgrade within the facility

$75,000 – Kau Hospital Energy Audit, Hawaii Island – Determine cost-efficient ways to reduce energy usage and install energy-saving equipment such as variable frequency drives, controlling devices or programs, or modifying existing systems

$50,000 – Lanai Community Hospital Emergency Generator Replacement, Lanai – Transfer of Maui Memorial Medical Center’s generator that is no longer needed at the facility

Rescue Crews Find Missing Fisherman Safe Off Kauai

A fisherman who spent the night off the coast of Kauai is safe after Coast Guard rescue crews located him five miles off of Kapa’a, Kauai, Thursday.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received a call at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, from a man reporting that his friend was overdue on his 14-foot Boston Whaler. The 61-year-old fisherman departed from the Waikaea Canal in Kapa’a, Kauai earlier in the day to fish a few miles off of Kapa’a with group of other fishing boats.

Waikaea Canal

Waikaea Canal

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu launched a 47-Motor Life Boat crew from Station Kauai, the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake, a C-130 Hercules airplane crew and two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point to search for the man.

An urgent marine information broadcast was also issued to all mariners in the area, asking for their assistance in locating the missing mariner.

The Kauai Fire Department and Kauai Police Department also joined the search.

At 8:09 a.m., one of the Dolphin helicopter crews located the fisherman and directed the MLB crew to the fisherman’s position. He was safely escorted back to Kapa’a Harbor.

The search covered nearly 2,000 square miles.

“If the mariner had a VHF radio on board, he likely would have overheard the Coast Guard’s Urgent Marine Information Broadcast being transmitted on Ch. 16 looking for him.” said Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Peterson, an operational watchstander at the Sector Honolulu command center. “He then could have contacted the Coast Guard or other mariners for assistance.”

The mariner reported hearing a helicopter but the light he was flashing was not seen by rescue crews due to the weather conditions. He was not equipped with a VHF marine radio, GPS, compass or signal flares.

The Coast Guard advises all mariners to ensure they are property equipped before heading out. This includes having life jackets, a VHF marine radio, flares and a compass or GPS.

For more information on boating safety, mariners can visit www.uscgboating.org

Governor Abercrombie Releases $475,000 in CIP Funds for Ka’u Hospital

Senator Russell Ruderman just announced on Facebook the following release of funds for the Ka’u Hospital on the Big Island:

Kau Hospital

I am very happy to announce that today I received notification from Governor Abercrombie that he has released $475,000 in CIP funds for the Ka’u Hospital Renovations, Repairs, and Maintenance.

“It gives me great satisfaction to share with you that my Administration is releasing the following Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds for work in your District:

Ka’u Hospital, Hospital Renovations – $201,000

HHSC, Repair and Maintenance Projects, Statewide (Ka’u Hospital, Energy Audit) – $75,000

HHSC, Repair and Maintenance Projects, Statewide (Ka’u Hospital, Plumbing Upgrade) – $199,000

I understand how important these projects are to the people you serve in your District. Thank you for your work in securing these projects and I look forward to working together to see its completion.”

I appreciate the Governor’s New Day Work Projects initiative and thank him for his personal attention to this matter. The release of CIP funds for renovations to Ka’u Hospital is a welcome influx of needed funding to improve the infrastructure and safety for our community and projects like this will help improve the safety and health of our community in addition to help reduce unemployment in our district.

School Athletics Funding Bill Scheduled For Hearing

Athletics has become a key factor in helping students stay motivated and succeed in the classroom. However, after the downturn in the economy, many athletic programs and positions have been cut. State Senator David Ige introduced this session a measure that would restore some of these positions and programs.

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

He urges public school, teachers and coaches to submit testimony on Senate Bill 3083, and become an active participant in the legislative process. During the hearing, scheduled for Monday, Feb. 10 at 1:15 p.m., schools across the state will be able to provide live testimony via the Hawaii State Senate’s Statewide Videoconferencing Pilot Program, which launched this year. Lawmakers initiated the program last year allowing neighbor island residents the opportunity to provide testimony using technology. Many people, especially students, are unable to travel to the State Capitol to provide testimony in person. The Senate’s technology initiative will allow them to testify on SB3083

“The advent of videoconferencing technologies within the Senate gives students easier access to the legislative process,” said Ige, “allowing them to be stewards of their own education and to voice opinions on how school sports has personally affected their lives.”

Ige, who is chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, spoke with many coaches, parents and teachers about the important role athletics play in overall student development. “For many students in our public schools, the opportunity to play sports motivates and positively impacts their success in the classroom. “

SB3083 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Monday, February 10 at 1:15 p.m. in Room 414 of the State Capitol. Those wishing to submit testimony or to sign up to provide testimony via teleconferencing can do so by visiting www.capitol.hawaii.gov.   

Students Across State Testify Via Videoconferencing – Bringing the Legislature to Neighbor Islands Through Technology

Students from across the state participated in the legislative process by testifying via videoconferencing during a Senate hearing on two education bills.

Click to view the hearing

Click to view the hearing

Senate Bill 2441 establishes the R.E.A.C.H. program within the Office of Youth Services to provide a standardized framework and funding for after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools.

sb2441The bill establishes a revolving fund to receive fees and other moneys to supplement the costs of administering and operating the program; appropriates funds for establishing the R.E.A.C.H. program to provide funding for after-school programs in middle and intermediate public schools; and establishes one full-time equivalent (1.0 FTE) position to support the program and appropriates funds for that position. Students from Hana High and Elementary School, Waiakea Intermediate School, Mililani Middle School and Molokai Intermediate School testified before the committee on this measure via video conferencing.

SB2446 requires the Department of Education to name the new public high school in Kihei, Maui the “Patsy Takemoto Mink High School,” in honor of the late United States Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink. Students from Kihei Public Charter School, Maui Waena Intermediate School and Maui High School testified on this measure via video conferencing.

SB2446

“Increasing access and transparency has always been a top priority for the Senate, and utilizing technology is an effective way of achieving this goal,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. “The measures before us impact our students and our schools, and the policies we draft are strengthened by their input and ideas. I look forward to seeing more individuals use this tool to provide testimony.”

Beginning this legislative session, all Hawaii residents will now have the chance to testify at hearings before the Senate Committees on Education (EDU) and Technology and the Arts (TEC) without physically being there. In January 2013, the Senate began a pilot project to allow neighbor island residents the opportunity to participate in the legislative process without traveling to Oahu. Understanding that access is also a barrier for Oahu residents, the committees now pilot the videoconferencing technology statewide.

In its inaugural year, the Neighbor Island Videoconferencing Program was piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts.  In its second year, the two committees will continue to pilot this project, increasing the amount of constituents that can be reached and who can testify by expanding statewide. Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate.  Because this is a pilot project, there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate.  Following the completion of the legislative session, the project will be evaluated.

Big Island Police Arrest 54-Year-Old Hilo Man Following Robbery in Downtown Hilo

Hawaiʻi Island police have a 54-year-old Hilo man in custody for an alleged robbery in Downtown Hilo Wednesday (February 5).
HPDBadgeAt about 12:03 p.m., police responded to the Moʻoheau bus terminal after receiving a report of a fight. Upon arrival, they contacted a 32-year-old Hakalau man who reported that an acquaintance took an undisclosed amount of money from him while at Moʻoheau Bandstand. When the victim attempted to retrieve the money, the suspect reportedly punched him several times and fled the area.

The victim sustained facial injuries. Fire Department medics took him to Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated and later released.

The suspect was identified as a man who frequents the Downtown Hilo area.

At 8:40 a.m. Thursday (February 6), police arrested 54-year-old John Michael Kapahu, who has no permanent address, on suspicion of second-degree robbery. He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

Police ask anyone with information on this incident or anyone who may have witnessed it to contact Detective Clarence Davies at 961-2384 or cdavies@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers 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.

Man Identified From Yesterday’s Two-Vehicle Car Crash

A 52-year-old Kona man died Wednesday (February 5) from injuries he sustained in a two-vehicle crash on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway.

HPDBadge

He was identified as Matthew B. Lee of Kailua-Kona.

Responding to an 11:30 a.m. call, South Kohala patrol officers determined that Lee, who was operating a 1997 Ford F-250 pickup truck loaded with several empty propane gas tanks, was traveling south on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway between the 71- and 72-mile markers when he veered across the centerline into the north-bound traffic lane and sideswiped a 2013 Dodge Dart 4-door sedan being operated by a 62-year-old man from Alberta, Canada.  Also in the Dodge Dart were three other adults. No one in the Dodge Dart was injured. After colliding with the car, Matthew’s truck struck an embankment on the north-bound shoulder and came to a stop.

Lee was pronounced dead upon arrival at North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital.

Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway was closed to traffic at about 11:35 a.m. and reopened around 4:15 p.m.

Police do not believe that alcohol or speed contributed to this collision.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation and has ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Christopher Kapua-Allison at 326-4646, ext. 229.

This is the fourth fatality this year compared with seven at this time last year.

Big Island Police Searching for Koa Thieves

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying two men wanted for a theft in Puna last week.

On January 29 at about 11:40 p.m., police received a call from a 60-year-old homeowner reporting two suspicious vehicles and at least four male suspects who were on his property in Mountain View and allegedly stealing cut pieces of koʻa wood.

Composite drawing of driver

Composite drawing of driver

The victim initially thought a relative was on the property and approached the vehicles and the subjects, discovering that the suspects had loaded their trucks with the wood. After confronting two of the men, the victim managed to recover several pieces of his wood. While he was calling police, both trucks fled the area. The victim reported that he heard gunshots coming from the direction of the vehicles at a distance away. He discovered that a chain preventing access to his property had been cut. The victim was not injured in the encounter.

Composite drawing of passenger

Composite drawing of passenger

One truck was described as a yellow full-size truck and the other as a red-and-white full-size truck. Neither vehicle displayed any license plates.

One suspect—the passenger in the red-and-white truck—was described as a local male in his 30’s, about 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall, about 200 pounds with a muscular build, short black hair, and possible tattoos on his neck. He was wearing a light-colored short-sleeved T-shirt.

Another suspect—the driver of the red-and-white truck—was described as in his 30’s, local, about 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 with a lighter complexion (compared with the muscular man) with short black hair. He was not wearing a shirt.

Although the victim did not get a good look at the two remaining suspects, he could recall that one of them was taller than the others and the other was about the same height as the first two.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section are continuing the investigation, which is classified as a second-degree theft, first-degree reckless endangering, fourth-degree criminal property damage and first-degree criminal trespass.

Police ask anyone with information on this incident or may know the identities of the suspects to contact Detective Clarence Davies of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at 961-2384 or cdavies@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers 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 Searching for 41-Year-Old Man Wanted for Abuse of Family/Household Member

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 41-year-old man wanted for abuse of a family/household member.

Hacha Carva

Justin S. Hollenbaugh aka Hacha Carva

Justin S. Hollenbaugh also goes by the name Hacha Carva. He has no permanent address but was last seen in Captain Cook. He is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-10, 160 pounds with green eyes and brown shoulder-length hair that may be worn in dreadlocks.

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 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.

Roseanne Barr Stars in Vagina Monologues – Extra Show Added

Vagina Monologues at the Kahilu Theatre this Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm shows are completely sold out.  The cast and Theatre are delighted to offer a third show at 6pm on Sunday.  The Women’s Health Fair will continue in the foyer through the last show.

Vagina

The Theatre is also arranging for free tickets for groups of high school students to come to the last Sunday show, from Kanu o ka Aina, Honokaa High School, HPA High School, Parker School and Kohala High School.  Tim Bostock, Artistic and Managing Director of Kahilu Theatre, explained; “We had offered to several schools to arrange for groups to come to the show free of charge, but by the beginning of this week both of the shows were sold out, just as Makana last Friday sold out.  We want to make good on our offer, as we sincerely believe that Vagina Monologues is a truly educational and inspiring show to see, especially for teenagers.”

The Kahilu cast for Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues includes Roseanne Barr, actress, comedian, writer, television producer, director, and 2012 presidential nominee of the California-based Peace and Freedom Party.

This riveting, socially illuminating production is as flat out hilarious as it is spectacularly emotional. Vagina Monologues is a piece of theatrical history not to be missed.  100% of proceeds go to services helping women and children in crisis, with the huge majority staying here on the Big Island. The Light On Foundation, Child & Family Services and Hamakua Youth Center will all benefit from tickets sold. The performance is suitable for ages 13 and over.

Tickets are priced $25, $20, $15 and $10, and are available from the Kahilu Theatre website www.kahilutheatre.org and the box office, which is open 9am to 12noon Monday to Friday, walk in or call (808) 885-6868.

39-Year-Old Dies in Construction Site Accident

On Wednesday (February 5) at about 1:11 p.m., Kona patrol officers responded to a reported construction site accident with injuries in Hōlualoa.

Donny Loando

Donny Loando

It was determined that 38-year-old Donny Loando of Hōlualoa had been operating a single drum roller while constructing a private driveway when the vehicle rolled backwards down a steep slope and crashed into a carport at a neighboring residence.

Loando was thrown from the roller and sustained injuries. He was transported to Kona Community Hospital in critical condition. He was pronounced dead at 4:15 p.m.

No one in the residence was injured.

The Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation and ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask that anyone with additional information on this incident call Officer Christopher Kapua-Allison at 326-4646 extension 229

Public Comments Sought on Park’s Administrative Aviation Plan and Environmental Assessment

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has released its Mission Critical Administrative Aviation Plan and Environmental Assessment (plan/EA) for managing the use of administrative aviation over the park. The public is invited to comment online or via mail by March 7, 2014.

Air Tour

The park and cooperating agencies use helicopters over the 333,086-acre park to respond to eruption activity, monitor and study Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, control invasive species, recover rare species, restore degraded ecosystems, protect cultural resources, and conduct wildland fire, search and rescue, and law enforcement operations.

The plan/EA outlines project alternatives, including a no-action alternative and a preferred alternative. Under the no-action alternative, park staff and cooperating agencies would continue to use aviation as needed. Under the preferred alternative, aviation would be used for the health and safety of visitors, employees, and island residents, and for park resource protection and restoration activities. Under this plan, formal best-management practices (BMPs), area closures, and flight restrictions would be instituted to minimize impacts to park resources, soundscapes, wilderness, visitors, and adjoining landowners.

To review the plan/EA, and provide comments online, go to http://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo. Select the Mission Critical Administrative Aviation Plan link, and click “Open for Comment” on the left, then open the document name. Download the document, or comment directly on the page. Comments can also be mailed to Superintendent, re: Admin Aviation Mgmt Plan/EA, PO Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI  96718-0052. Comments are due March 7, 2014.

Commercial air tours over the park are being addressed through a separate planning process to develop an Air Tour Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (ATMP/EIS). The lead agency for the ATMP/EIS is the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Park Service is a cooperator.

Senator Solomon to Hold Series of Legislative Community Meetings on the Big Island

Senator Malama Solomon will hold a series of legislative community meetings on Hawaii Island for residents of the 4th Senatorial District, which includes N. Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, and N. Kona.

Sen. Malama Solomon

Sen. Malama Solomon

The meetings are held for community members to attend and to voice their concerns on issues affecting the district and state and to share their priorities for the legislative session.

Solomon will be holding the series of meeting during the legislative session’s mandatory recess. “The original legislative intent of the annual mandatory recess was primarily to enable neighbor island legislators to meet on island with constituents to discuss priorities and concerns,” said Solomon.

SCHEDULE:

  • Thursday, February 20, 2014, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Elementary & Intermediate School Cafeteria, 27-330 Old Mamalahoa Hwy., Papaikou, HI
  • Friday, February 21, 2014, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Laupahoehoe Public Charter School Cafeteria, 35-2065 Old Mamalahoa Hwy, Waimea
  • Monday, February 24, 2014, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Kohala Senior Center, 65-1291A Kawaihae Rd., Kamuela
  • Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., North Hawaii Education and Research Center, 45-539 Plumeria St., Honokaa
  • Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Waikoloa Elementary School Cafeteria, 68-1730 Hooko St., Waikoloa Village, HI 96738

For more information, please call toll free 974-4000, Ext. 67335 or email sensolomon@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Senate Recognizes “Publisher of the Year” Dennis Francis of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser

The Hawaii State Senate today recognized Dennis Francis, president and publisher of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, who was recently named “Publisher of the Year” by Editor & Publisher Magazine, the leading journal of the newspaper industry.

Publisher of the Year

Publisher of the Year Dennis Francis

Francis merged Hawaii’s two daily papers, the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2010 and turned two struggling newspapers into one prosperous one. Over the past three years, the Star-Advertiser has successfully introduced a breaking news app for smart devices, created an innovative digital pricing structure, and promoted open and transparent government by filing lawsuits requiring public agencies to release information on their proceedings. Additionally, Frances is actively involved in the community and serves on a number of organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, American Red Cross, Aloha United Way and Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.

Francis

“Francis is well-deserving of Publisher of the Year,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “His successes in professional achievements are more than matched by his charitable work. On behalf of the entire Senate body, I commend Dennis for his many contributions to our community, and wish him many more years of success and fulfillment in his professional and personal endeavors.”

Medical Examiner Defers Cause of Death Following Autopsy of Man that Died After Being Arrested

An autopsy was conducted Wednesday (February 5) on the body of 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona, who died Tuesday in the course of an arrest.

Randall Hatori

Randall Hatori

The medical examiner deferred the cause of death pending toxicology and histology results.

At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday (February 4), a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.

Hatori, who was a passenger and was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders, fled on foot.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. Initially unable to restrain Hatori, the officer deployed his conducted electric weapon (commonly known as a “Taser”) in an attempt to subdue him. Hatori continued to actively resist arrest and the struggle continued. Other officers responded to the scene and assisted in restraining Hatori. After Hatori was placed in handcuffs, he became unresponsive.

Fire Department EMTs on scene attempted resuscitation and then transported him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 a.m.

Detectives recovered 7.3 grams of methamphetamine at the scene of the struggle.

The Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section is continuing to investigate this incident as a coroner’s inquest and an assault on a police officer.

In addition, the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation, as is standard practice in any police involved death.

Alvarez remains at the Kona police cellblock while police investigate possible drug charges.

Maps of Old Puna Surface Courtesy of Ho’okuleana

The following maps were posted on my Facebook site by Peter Young of  Ho’okuleana LLC after I raised a question about the Old Government Rd. that follows the coastline from Puna into Hilo.

This is a map of 1902 Puna:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

This is a map of the Puna District of Hawaii from 1875:

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Kona Crime Prevention Committee Recognized Officer Marlin Hopson as “Officer of the Month” for February

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Marlin Hopson as “Officer of the Month” for February in a luncheon ceremony Wednesday (February 5) at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona.

Officer Marlin Hopson

Officer Marlin Hopson

Hopson was honored for arresting two brothers who were riding in a car shortly after it was reported stolen.

On November 27, the car was reported as having been taken from the area of the Kona pool. The victim was able to obtain information about the location of a cellular phone, which was believed to be inside the car.

While responding to that location, Officer Hopson passed a car matching the description of the stolen car, which was traveling in the opposite direction. After the officer turned around to check the license plate number, the car fled. Hopson saw it turn into a local subdivision, where it crashed.

He was able to apprehend both occupants, including one who had exited the car and was hiding in the bushes.

The victim’s credit card was found in possession of the driver, as was marijuana. A search of the vehicle revealed a meth pipe with residue.

The two men were charged with an assortment of felonies.

As “Officer of the Month,” Hopson is eligible to become “Officer of the Year.”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawaiʻi.

Big Island Police Searching for 50-Year-Old Man Who Frequents Hilo

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 50-year-old man who is wanted on a $500 bench warrant. Cedric Pulgados is also wanted for questioning in connection with an unrelated case.

Cedric Pulgados

Cedric Pulgados

He is described as 5-foot-7, 240 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He has no permanent address but frequents the Hilo area.

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 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.

Man Dies in Traffic Collision on Kona Highway

Hawaiʻi Island police closed a portion of Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway Wednesday (February 5) between Puakō Beach Drive and the entrance to the Mauna Lani Resort while officers investigated a fatal traffic collision near the 71-mile marker just South of Puakō Beach Drive.

HPDBadge

At approximately 11:25 a.m., officers responded to the collision and learned that a 52-year-old man was traveling south in a 1997 Ford F-250 pickup truck when he reportedly crossed the centerline and struck a 2013 Dodge Dart traveling in the opposite direction being driven by a 62-year-old man visiting from Canada.

The driver, who was the sole occupant of the truck, was taken to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Neither the driver of the other vehicle nor his three passengers were injured.

At approximately 1:15 p.m., one lane of traffic was reopened on the highway. The other lane remained close.

Police have initiated a standard negligent homicide investigation, which is being continued by the Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit.

House Health Committee Passes Measures to Convert Health Connector From Private to State Agency

Moves to improve transparency, accountability and sustainability include changes to board membership of the Connector and creation of a state innovation waiver task force under the Affordable Care Act

The House Committee on Health today passed a number of measures addressing transparency, accountability and sustainability issues nagging the Hawaii Health Connector since its start up.The Health Connector is the state’s enrollment portal for coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Connector was created to match low income residents and small businesses with subsidized or affordable health plans under the ACA.

“I want to be clear that these measures are a work in progress and allows us to continue to establish a better framework and foundation so that the Health Connector can successfully move forward in fulfilling the goals of the Affordable Care Act,” said Representative Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa), who chairs the House Committee on Health.

“Even as the healthcare landscape changes around us,we need to be able to respond to the developing rules and regulations to allow the Health Connector to move forward in achieving its mission.”

HB2529

The centerpiece for the package of amended and approved bills is H.B. 2529, H.D. 1, which converts the Health Connector from a private non-profit entity to a State agency and initially places it under the Office of the Governor.

“It says something about the importance we place on this agency and the work it does on behalf of the people of Hawaii when we place it under the direct auspices of the Governor,” Belatti says.

The bill also creates a task force whose primary goal will be to develop a health reform plan to obtain a state innovation waiver from certain requirements of the ACA. This will allow the State

to be more innovative in its approach to fulfilling the goals and objectives of the Affordable Care Act while taking into consideration Hawaii’s unique health care environment and Hawaii’s Pre-paid Health Care Act.

“Given the low uninsured rate that Hawaii has enjoyed because of Hawaii’s groundbreaking Pre-paid Health Care Act, we believe that we have a good case to put before health officials in Washington D.C.,” Belatti said.

One of the more serious concerns of the committee was the current board’s inability to come up with a workable sustainability strategy for the long term. The creation of a sustainability fee would address some of those concerns over the next two years after federal funding ends in December 2014 and as the task force works on a more long-term solution.

The bill also creates greater accountability and transparency by requiring the Connector to comply with chapter 103F of the state procurement code, imposing public hearing and notice requirements pursuant to state statutes, changes the makeup of the Health Connector’s board of directors, broadens the appointing authority of Board members from the Governor to include the Speaker of the House and the Senate President, and creates greater opportunities for public participation in the Health Connector through a consumer, patient, business and health care advisory group.

H.B 2529, H.D. 1, along with other companion bills, move on to hearings in the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.