Big Island Police Seeking Information on Attempted Waiakea Villas Robbery

Hawaiʻi Island police are renewing their request for information about an attempted robbery that occurred in Hilo on October 31, 2013.

At about 8 p.m. on that date, police responded to the Waiākea Villas after receiving a report from a 49-year-old Hilo man that while walking in the complex toward his vehicle in the parking lot, he was accosted by a man who brandished a weapon and demanded money. After the victim refused the demand, the suspect fled the area. The victim was not injured in the robbery attempt.

Composite sketch

Composite sketch

The suspect is described as a local male in his late 20s, about 5-foot-10, about 200 pounds with a light mustache. He was wearing a black T-shirt, dark shorts and a cap embroidered with the words “BJ Penn.”

Police released a composite drawing of the suspect with hope that someone will recognize him. Anyone who may know the identity of the suspect or who has any information on this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or to contact Detective Dean Uyetake at 961-2379 or duyetake@co.hawaii.hi.us.

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.

Man Arrested After 75-Year-Old Woman Awakes to Man in Her Apartment

A 20-year-old man faces an assortment of criminal charges following a burglary early Tuesday (March 4) in Kealakekua.

HPDBadgeAt 4:36 a.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report of a burglary in progress at an apartment complex on Kiloa Road.

A 75-year-old woman reported that she awoke to find an unknown man in a green hooded sweatshirt rummaging though items in her apartment. After the suspect ran from the apartment, the victim discovered that her purse had been removed from her truck.

Responding officers saw a man wearing clothing matching the description of the suspect and detained him. Further investigation linked him to the burglary.

John Small of Captain Cook was arrested and taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation. Police recovered property belonging to the victim and other property that had been removed from another vehicle at the same apartment complex. They also recovered 4.9 grams of marijuana.

Wednesday afternoon (March 5), detectives charged Small with first-degree burglary, two counts of unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, two counts of theft, and one count each of theft of a credit card, unauthorized possession of personal information and promoting a detrimental drug. His bail was set at $68,000.

He remained at the cellblock pending his initial court appearance on Thursday (March 6).

UH Hilo Presents Miss Saigon

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Performing Arts Department presents Miss Saigon, the award-winning musical written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, opening April 10th at 7:30 p.m. for a two- weekend run at the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center (PAC).

Miss Saigon

A cast of 37 performers and conductor Armando Mendoza bring to life the story of an American G.I. who experiences war’s emotional choices when he falls in love with a Vietnamese girl just as Saigon is besieged by the North Vietnamese.

Advanced student choreographers and directors have joined faculty choreographer Celeste Staton and stage director Jackie Pualani Johnson to create several dances and scenes. They include Dance majors Kawehi Kanoho-Kalahiki and Kawai Soares, who devised original choreography for The Fall of Saigon and The Heat is on in Saigon, two iconic numbers that set the backdrop of the war.

The dances feature College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management faculty member Norman Arancon as The Engineer; Rachel Edwards, a Performing Arts Department Senior in her final semester as a music concentration major as Kim; community member Scott Wuscher as the American GI; and UH Hilo students Lilinoe Kauahikaua, Angeline Jara, Bailey Woolridge, and Kanoho-Kalahiki as the working girls of the Dreamland Bar: Gigi, Mimi, Yvette and Yvonne.

Miss Saigon also marks the full-scale musical debut of Performing Arts graduate Kimo Apaka and senior Denyse Woo-Ockerman, who completed the University’s stage directing course and will stage several songs in the production.

Tickets are available by calling 932-7490 or can be purchased online at artsctr@hawaii.edu.

For more information, contact Professor Johnson at 932-7491 or email jpjohnso@hawaii.edu.

Big Island Police Officer Named State of Hawaii D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year

Officer Denise Smith-Erickson has earned the statewide distinction of State of Hawaiʻi D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year for 2013.

Chief Harry Kubojiri presents a plaque to Officer Denise Smith-Erickson, State of Hawaiʻi D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year.

Chief Harry Kubojiri presents a plaque to Officer Denise Smith-Erickson, State of Hawaiʻi D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year.

Smith-Erickson, a 14-year veteran of the Hawaiʻi Police Department, is a Community Policing officer in the South Kohala District. Among her responsibilities is Drug Awareness Resistance Education for schoolchildren. Her D.A.R.E. presentations go beyond lecturing to include one-on-one interaction and individual counseling.

Lieutenant Juergen Canda, who nominated Smith-Erickson for the honor, said her performance as a D.A.R.E. officer has been “resoundingly successful.” He noted that Smith-Erickson expanded D.A.R.E. services in West Hawaiʻi by adding the program to Waikoloa Intermediate School and and by enhancing the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. by speaking to parents to provide support and student counseling.

Smith-Erickson’s past assignments included work on the Vice Section’s Airport Task Force. In nomination papers, Canda said her drug expertise and her “aggressive drug related interdiction” have contributed to the decline in crime in South Kohala.

“Officer Smith-Erickson’s performance has been exemplary, and her professionalism, dedication and genuine care in the service of these programs have increased the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. and relationships with the students and community immeasurably,” Canda wrote. “She is a model officer and her outstanding accomplishments reflect credit upon herself and the Hawaiʻi Police Department.”

The award was announced at the 2014 State of Hawaiʻi Biennial D.A.R.E. Conference at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu on February 27.

National Pharmacy Organization Awards UH Hilo Pharmacy Dean Top Research Honor

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy has selected John M. Pezzuto, dean of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, to receive their top research award.

Dr. John M. Pezzuto

Dr. John M. Pezzuto

Pezzuto receives the 2014 Volwiler Research Achievement Award for his outstanding research and contributions to the field of natural product drug discovery. The award will be announced in July at the 2014 Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas, and will be published in Academic Pharmacy Now and on the AACP website.

“It is a tremendous honor, and I am very grateful for being recognized by the AACP in this manner,” Pezzuto said. “Over the years I have had the privilege of working with many fine colleagues, students, postdocs and visiting scholars. We continue to hope our hard work will make a difference for future generations.”

As Founding Dean of the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy created in 2007, Pezzuto leads approximately 100 faculty and staff to educate and train students for careers in pharmacy.

After 35 years in academia, he has amassed more than 500 publications, is the co-inventor of several patents, the editor of four books, a member of more than 10 editorial boards of international journals, and the editor-in-chief of Pharmaceutical Biology. He is widely known for identifying the cancer-prevention aspects of resveratrol, a chemical found in grapes and grape products. Primarily noted for working in the area of natural products, he has been an administrator and researcher in pharmacy and drug discovery.

Pezzuto received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rutgers University and Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutgers University). He was the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Cancer Institute and performed two years of postdoctoral work in the Department of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I have been witness to John’s work for many years, and have been impressed with the intensity that he displays when pursuing his research,” said Lucinda Maine, AACP executive vice president and CEO. “His research is world renowned and has the potential to affect the health of millions not only now but in the future.”

The Volwiler Research Achievement Award was established as the research prize in academic pharmacy to honor the late Ernest H. Volwiler, former president and research director of Abbott Laboratories. According to AACP, “the intent of the Award is to recognize annually an individual within the ranks of pharmacy education recognized by his or her peers as one of the leading research workers in a given area of the pharmaceutical and clinical sciences, pharmacy practice and the social and administrative
sciences, and for outstanding contributions to the respective disciplines.”

Pezzuto joins a highly distinguished group of researchers who have received this award since it was introduced in 1977.

Hawaii State Department of Education Announces Historic Sustainable Energy Program

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is embarking on a multiyear effort to harness sustainable energy and modernize campuses while expanding real-world educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

DOE ReleaseYesterday, the DOE announced it has selected Chevron Energy Solutions to help lead implementation of the five-year sustainable energy program, to be called Ka Hei.

The name Ka Hei comes from a specific type of snare used by the Hawaiian god Maui to capture the sun, according to Hawaiian tradition. The DOE’s Hawaiian Language Immersion Program educational specialists provided the name for this ambitious program.

Ka Hei will include the installation of sustainable energy generation equipment in all public schools statewide, positioning the DOE among the state’s foremost environmental stewards.

Another meaning of Ka Hei is, “to absorb as knowledge or skill.” As an extension of facility upgrades, Ka Hei will feature educational opportunities to engage students and staff in energy awareness and STEM. Components of the program include living laboratories, energy conservation hands-on learning, green energy simulators, STEM career exposure and student school contests. Students will receive real-time data on clean energy systems, creating relevant lessons about real-world scenarios.

Educational, environmental and financial benefits of Ka Hei will extend well beyond the five-year plan. The initiative will help boost student achievement in STEM while enhancing the financial stability of the DOE through the implementation of energy efficiency, renewable energy and other sustainability projects.

“Ka Hei offers exciting opportunities on a number of levels, from educating our students about a multitude of energy components and workforce opportunities to strengthening communities and partnerships in the state’s energy sustainability goals,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Additionally, Ka Hei is a critical pillar of the DOE’s Strategic Plan to enhance learning opportunities in the growing fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We look forward to our partnership with Chevron Energy Solutions in shaping curricula for our schools and collaboration with our utility companies in exploring all that this program has to offer.”

Speaking at a press conference today at Kaimuki High, one of several DOE campuses currently powered partly by rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, Matayoshi reinforced the DOE’s commitment to Hawaii’s sustainable future. In 2011, the DOE began a pilot program to install PV systems at four Oahu high schools. The pilot expanded a year later to include 28 more schools on Oahu, and all 15 on Kauai. Building on the success of the pilot, which now includes a total of 47 schools on Oahu and Kauai, the DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services is rolling out the Ka Hei program.

Ka Hei Phase I will begin implementation of renewable energy integration at three schools – one each on Maui, Hawaii Island and Oahu. As schools become more self sufficient, they can add additional value to the integrated electric grid of the future. The DOE will be a pioneer among the nation’s school districts by demonstrating the commitment and capability to becoming self-reliant for energy needs.

Brian Kealoha, regional manager for Chevron Energy Solutions, said, “Ka Hei is a comprehensive program that goes well beyond a traditional facilities improvement project but rather, focuses on driving broad-based impacts and results for the Department of Education and the communities which it serves.”

The DOE and Chevron Energy Solutions are working with Hawaiian Electric Company to find solutions to anticipated limitations on distributed generation on some neighborhood circuits.

“Hawaiian Electric Company is at the cutting edge of integrating utility-scale and customer-sited renewable energy generation and our collaboration with the Department of Education and Chevron Energy Solutions is key to ensuring that our future generations understand and act upon the importance of energy sustainability in our island state,” said Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Dick Rosenblum.

The overarching goals for Ka Hei are:

· Reduce energy consumption and cost at all 255 DOE schools;
· Build a diverse portfolio of new, clean, and on-site energy generation;
· Implement aggressive energy efficiency and conservation measures including demand response;
· Support the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goals and the DOE’s goal of 90 percent clean energy by 2040; and
· Leverage this transformation to create educational opportunities and stimulate the economy through employment of local expertise and labor.

Kaimuki High administrators today demonstrated the school’s data dashboard showing real-time feeds of its energy system. Kaimuki High, in partnership with the Office of Naval Research, will integrate renewable energy efforts into its curriculum beginning fall 2014 with the debut of a STEM Academy. Kaimuki’s STEM Academy is part of the school’s Wall-to-Wall Academies, featuring college-style classes providing personalized education as well as college and career preparation for students. The STEM Academy will focus on the engineering design process.

“Kaimuki High is not only doing its share to heighten the awareness of energy efficiency and sustainability but we are also raising the bar of student learning in STEM subjects and career pathways,” said Wade Araki, principal. “We are very excited about expanding our pilot efforts and the department’s partnerships going forward to shape our curriculum into real-world application.”

DOE Digital Curriculum Expands Learning, Teaching Opportunities Access Learning – Now Deployed to All Eight Pilot Schools

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) updated House and Senate education committees on the progress of a digital curriculum pilot program launched in summer 2013 at eight public schools. The pilot provides the DOE necessary insight into the impact of technology on teaching and learning, while laying the groundwork for next steps toward technology integration into curriculum and schools.

Hawaii DOE educators used their computers to join the Access Learning legislative briefing via video conferencing. Clockwise, from top right: Moanalua Middle Principal Lisa Nagamine, Pahoa Elementary Principal Michelle Payne-Arakaki, and Keaau Elemenatry Principal Chad Keone Farias.

Hawaii DOE educators used their computers to join the Access Learning legislative briefing via video conferencing. Clockwise, from top right: Moanalua Middle Principal Lisa Nagamine, Pahoa Elementary Principal Michelle Payne-Arakaki, and Keaau Elemenatry Principal Chad Keone Farias.

Last legislative session, lawmakers approved $8.2 million for the DOE to implement a Hawaii Common Core digital curriculum pilot in the 2013-14 school year. This pilot became known simply as Access Learning.

The funds covered costs for computers for teachers and students, technical support, professional development, and also helped offset expenses associated with curriculum and implementation. Schools have partnered with county police departments to safeguard the computers, all of which are equipped with advanced security tracking software.

Access Learning has allowed educators and students to explore innovative digital lessons that go beyond textbooks and classroom walls.

For example, Keaau Elementary yesterday conducted a virtual field trip to Honolulu Zoo with University of Hawaii Laboratory School students. A UH Lab student wore a Google Glass to capture and stream video feeds of the zoo to the laptops of Keaau students. Children from both schools will now partner to produce videos and other projects about birds they saw at the zoo.

At Moanalua Middle, principal Lisa Nagamine says Access Learning has been instrumental to engage students more deeply in their education. Her school’s band students, for instance, have used technology to better visualize and create music, study composers and build connections with their music.

Moanalua Middle students using laptops during a musical lesson.

Moanalua Middle students using laptops during a musical lesson.

Mililani Waena Principal Dale Castro says his school is focusing on fostering engagement and inquiry by connecting instruction to real-life applications.

Access Learning has also been adopted at Mililani Mauka, Nanaikapono, Pahoa and Nanakuli elementary schools, and Nanakuli High and Intermediate.

Meanwhile, teachers piloting Access Learning widely agree the technology holds tremendous potential to help them save time, organize lessons, collaborate with peers and expand learning opportunities, according to preliminary data.

A baseline evaluation study of data collected in October 2013 shows that administrators, teachers and technology coordinators believe the program brings an exciting and important opportunity for students. Among the findings:

· Technology allows educators to more efficiently communicate with colleagues, develop and present lessons.
· Integrating technology in instruction can benefit all students – from high-needs to high-achieving children – by providing greater access to learning.
· Teachers say computers will help them tailor instruction to specific student needs, potentially boosting engagement and achievement.
The report also listed a number of implementation challenges such as the need to provide educators more time, individualized training and support – all areas the DOE continues to address.

“We are pleased and encouraged with the initial success of the program,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Access Learning has truly raised excitement among students and educators, opening doors to new, relevant and original learning opportunities.”

The Legislature is considering a $600,000 supplemental budget that would allow for professional development and technology support services that schools have identified as areas of need.

Learn more about Access Learning at http://bit.ly/AccessHILeg.

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. Visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org to learn more about the Department, its goals and vision for success.

Local Artist Files Amended Complaint Alleging Multiple New Charges and Cause in Copyright Infringement Case

Kailua Kona Hawaii based Tiki Shark Art Incorporated v/s California based Cafe Press – i.e. “David v/s Goliath”.

Brad holding his original art piece "Forbidden Island".

Brad holding his original art piece “Forbidden Island”.

Tiki Shark Art Incorporated has filed, in Honolulu Federal Court a “Amended Complaint” alleging multiple new charges and causes  in this high profile “seminal” copyright infringement case that is making history.

The company has also made a major change in its legal representation, the Florida based Law Firm of Schneider Rothman Intellectual Property Law Group has recently withdrawn from this case.

More details can be found in the new complaint and court records + Press Releases scheduled to come out week of March 10, 2014.

Kona Crime Prevention Committee Recognizes Officer Mario Ochoa as “Officer of the Month”

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

Officer Mario Ochoa

Officer Mario Ochoa

Ochoa was honored for his investigation of an automobile theft in January. On January 19, he responded to a report from a man whose car keys had been stolen from a locker while he was swimming at a public pool. The suspects drove away in the man’s car, taking his wallet and personal belongings.

A few hours later, Officer Ochoa spotted the stolen vehicle and its three occupants in the parking lot of a food mart, and he initiated a traffic stop. The suspects were in possession of crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Ochoa’s investigation revealed that the suspects had used the victim’s credit card and had stolen cash and other personal property.

The suspects were arrested and charged with two counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, two counts of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, two counts of promoting a dangerous drug, two counts of drug paraphernalia, two counts of unauthorized possession of confidential personal information, two counts of theft, theft/forgery of credit cards and promoting a detrimental drug.

Sergeant Akira Edmoundson, who nominated Ochoa for the honor, described him as someone who “has demonstrated a high level of investigative competence and initiative.” Edmoundson noted that, in addition to this incident, Ochoa investigated 30 incidents, nine traffic accidents and 31 miscellaneous public complaints in January. He also made 23 arrests and issued 73 traffic citations.

“Officer Ochoa is a new officer, recently assigned to Kona Patrol on July 16, 2013,” Edmoundson wrote in nomination papers. “He has proved to be an asset to the Hawaiʻi Police Department and the community that he serves.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Ochoa 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.

County of Hawai‘i Releases Stage 1 Request for Proposals for Waste Reduction Technology

Mayor Billy Kenoi officially launched the drive to develop a clean, modern and efficient waste reduction technology for the County of Hawai‘i with the release of Stage 1 of the county’s request for proposals (RFP) on March 3.

The RFP process will allow the county to select a proven, economically viable and environmentally friendly process for managing solid waste from East Hawai‘i for at least the next 20 to 30 years, Mayor Kenoi said.

Public Landfill

“For the past two decades this county engaged in study after study to determine the best way to cope with the required closure of the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill,” Mayor Kenoi said.  “It is now time to act. We are inviting the best and brightest in the industry to submit their proposals for a state-of-the-art facility that will benefit our community, and allow us to transform our solid waste from a liability into an asset.”

The county will continue its commitment to recycling, including a program to provide mulch made from green waste for agricultural and other uses. In 2013 the county recycled more than 217 tons of materials per day, including metals, glass, plastics and green waste. The waste reduction project will not affect those efforts, Mayor Kenoi said.

The design-build-operate RFP calls for a facility that can accommodate about 300 tons of solid waste per day. The facility will be built near the existing county Sort Station, and will be privately financed. Stage 1 of the RFP will identify the most qualified teams and technologies for the project.

Mayor Kenoi briefed the Hawaii County Council Committee on Environmental Management on the county plan on Feb. 4, and briefed the county Environmental Management Commission on the project and process on Feb. 26.

Communications from potential vendors regarding the project must be directed to county Purchasing Agent Jeffrey Dansdill at jdansdill@hawaiicounty.gov.  Responses to Stage 1 of the RFP are due on April 15.

Hawaii Residents Being Targeted for Scams

Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about several scams that have been reported by island residents.

HPDBadgeTelephone Scams:

A Keaʻau couple reported being the target of three telephone scams within two weeks. The first was a telephone call to their cell phone claiming they had won the Publisher’s Clearing House prize of several million dollars and that someone would arrive in a couple of hours to deliver it. The area code showed the call originated from Jamaica.

The second apparent scam was a call to the couple’s home phone from a blocked number by a woman with a foreign accent who began to ask questions about the recipient’s computer.

Credit Card Blocked Scam:

The third scam was a late-night phone call from an Arkansas area code with a “mechanical female voice” claiming the couple’s Master Card had been blocked. The recipient hung up the phone and then researched the scam and learned that the next step is for the caller to ask for the recipient’s credit card number.

Police urge the public to be suspicious of requests for personal information over the telephone or by internet and not to provide such information without independently verifying that the request is legitimate.

Real Estate Email Scam:

Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about an email scam from someone posing as a real estate agent.

A Puna man received an email claiming that his home would be seized by police because of suspected illegal activities. It states that the recipient has 30 days to vacate the premises or he will face fines or jail time. It instructs the recipient to contact the sender to make arrangements for moving out of the home. An attachment—which the letter claims has a “legal statement” and contact information for the real estate company—actually contains a computer virus.

The Police Department does not seize residential property without a court order, and citizens are not subject to criminal fines or jail sentences without going through the judicial process.

Police alert the public not to open email attachments from senders they do not know, as they often contain viruses that can infect computers and might ask for personal information that could allow the sender to steal the recipient’s identity. Police recommend deleting unsolicited emails with attachments.

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United Response to John Doe vs. County of Hawaii GMO Lawsuit

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United is aware of the legal action  “John Doe vs. County of Hawaii” filed in State Superior Court against the County of Hawaii…

Farmers and Ranchers UnitedWe “STRONGLY SUPPORT and Stand United with our fellow Farmers in this suit. Brought by Farmers who are frightened by the potential implications of complying with these unjustified and intrusive requirements – specifically, harassment of their family and employees and vandalism of their operations by anti-technology activists.

In John Doe vs. County of Hawaii, the complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief from implementing the registration and disclosure provisions of “Hawaii Bill 113.”

Due to the immediacy of the registration deadline, this complaint seeks relief only in connection with the registration and disclosure requirements of Bill 113, even though the entirety of Bill 113 is legally invalid because it stands in direct conflict with numerous federal and state laws.

Signed into law on December 5, 2013, the County enacted Bill 113, which imposes a county-wide ban on the development, propagation, cultivation, and open-air testing of most GE crops.

The registration and disclosure requirements of Bill 113 unfairly target growers of genetically engineered crops, primarily papaya growers, by forcing them to disclose personal and commercially confidential information about themselves and their operations without any scientific or factual justification:

Without any assurances that the County can or will protect the registration information from public disclosure as allowed under Bill 113, these farmers and growers have good reason to believe that providing this information could result in real harm – including the vandalizing of their crops or intimidation or harassment of their family and/or employees.  Unfortunately, in recent years, anti-genetically engineered or anti-GMO agriculture political activism in Hawaiʻi (and throughout the United States) has crossed the line from a spirited debate to extremism, vandalism, and violence.

The lawsuit alleges that the disclosure provision of Bill 113 is in direct conflict with two State laws – the Uniform Information Practices Act and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act – and violates Plaintiff’s rights to privacy and due process under the Constitution of Hawaii.

Accordingly, it asks the court to enjoin or suspend the registration process until the court ultimately determines the lawfulness of the disclosure provision and how this information will be treated under state law.

Hilo Zontians Help Women Build Self-Esteem, Present $10k to HOPE Services

The Zonta Club of Hilo recently helped women at the HOPE Services Resource Center feel magnificent for the day. “The Magnificent Me!” project helped women returning from incarceration as well as living in HOPE’s homeless shelter build self-esteem.

“The Magnificent Me!” event.  Photo credit to Sally Lundberg.

“The Magnificent Me!” event. Photo credit to Sally Lundberg.

“The Magnificent Me!” was done as part of the Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Foundation’s Weinberg Friends Program, which gave the Zonta Club’s chosen non-profit $10,000 upon completion of a sweat equity project. “The Magnificent Me!” was the Zonta Club of Hilo’s 2013 project.

Hilo Zontians kicked off the event with a motivational speaker who coached the women on making the most of themselves. Following the inspirational talk, women learned how to make healthy, energy boosting beverages, apply skin-care and make-up, reduce stress through dance, care for hands and feet, and how to dress for success.  Zontians prepared hygiene kits as takeaways and donated preloved clothing.

“It was the Zonta Club of Hilo’s absolute pleasure to pamper these women in transition and make them feel magnificent,” said Julie Tulang, organizer for the event. “The club’s mission is to make the world a better place for women and girls. “The Magnificent Me!” project did that for some very deserving women in our community.”

Not only were the women pampered, but they also received some quality “me” time as a handful of Zontians took care of the women’s children. The children participated in a number of activities including playing with “snow,” arts and crafts, acting out stories, singing songs and learning the importance of being clean and eating healthy.

After the morning’s pampering and activity session, the children rejoined the group and watched their mothers, sisters and aunties show off their new look and fashion pieces. The event concluded with a presentation of $10,000 to HOPE Services to aid the organization in their work to find permanent housing and provide dental help for women rejoining the work force.

For the last 15 years, the Zonta Club of Hilo has taken part in the Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Foundation’s Weinberg Friends Program.

About the Zonta Club of Hilo
The Zonta Club of Hilo was founded in 1950 and is part of Zonta International, a global organization of executives and professionals working to advance the status of women and girls around the world through service and advocacy. To learn more about the club’s service projects, special events, advocacy efforts and scholarship opportunities, visit www.zontahilo.org.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Creates $113,376,400 in Local Economic Benefit

A new National Park Service (NPS) report for 2012 shows that the 1,483,928 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park spent $113,376,400 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,353 jobs in the local area.

Halema‘uma‘u Crater in Kīlauea Volcano, framed by ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree. NPS photo/Jay Robinson

Halema‘uma‘u Crater in Kīlauea Volcano, framed by ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree. NPS photo/Jay Robinson

“It’s always exciting to share how much of a positive impact our national and international visitors have on the economic viability of our island community,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “On the same note, it’s also worth contemplating what the park means to our Hawai‘i Island residents. That’s difficult to define with a dollar amount,” she said.

Ross Birch, Executive Director for the Big Island Visitors Bureau, acknowledged the park’s impact on the island economy.

“Hawai‘i Island has been on an upward trend in arrivals and spending over the past few years, and a major contributor driving this demand is Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. As the number one attraction for the island, and sometimes the state, it is not a surprise to see the economic impact the park has on our community,” said Birch. “Big Island Visitors Bureau is very grateful to have such an asset and we appreciate the excellent working relationship with Cindy Orlando and her team to perpetuate these great results,” he said.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Christopher Huber, and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service. The report shows $14.7 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 243,000 jobs nationally, with 201,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.75 billion.

According to the report, most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores (39 percent), hotels, motels and B&Bs (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).

To download the report, visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about nation parks in Hawai‘i and how the National Park Service works with Hawai‘i communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/hawaii.

Friday – Rally for Clean Elections

This Friday, March 7 from 5-6pm in front of Hopaco (280 Makaala St.) in Hilo everybody is invited to Sign Wave for Clean Elections. In 2008, Hawaii became the 9th state in the country to implement a comprehensive public funding (Clean Elections) program.

hb2533

A program was created for the Hawaii Island County Council elections beginning with the 2010 elections. That program was successful with the majority of winning county council members financed by the program. House Bill 2533 is currently making its way through the Hawaii State Legislature. It would create a Clean Election program for state representatives. Carmille Lim, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, said, “This bill is one of the most significant democracy reform measures currently before the Hawaii Legislature.

House Bill 2533 has the potential to change Hawaii’s political landscape by requiring the candidates who opt-in to this program to focus on the concerns of the average constituent, instead of large donations from the wealthy donors and special interests who currently have a stronghold on Hawaii’s politics.” The Clean Elections bill from last legislative session, HB 1481 was killed in conference committee by Oahu legislator, Clayton Hee. Supporters of the bill are determined to pass Clean Election legislation this session. Supporters include: The League of Women Voters, The Sierra Club, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Jimmy Carter, Nancy Pelosi, the Star Advertiser and the Honolulu Weekly.

2014 Paradise Roller Girls Season Opener This Weekend

It’s time to get fired up and excited about Hilo’s first roller derby bout of the 2014 season.

Paradise Roller Girls Season Opener

The Paradise Roller Girls home teams, Mauna Killahz and Volcano Vixens, will be clashing in fierce competition and vying for the top spot.  It all goes down Saturday, March 8 at the Afook­Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.  Come out and support your favorite of the rival teams by wearing red and black or orange and yellow.  Doors open at 6pm, game starts at 7pm.  It will be action-­packed, hard-hitting fun for the whole family.

Tickets are $5, keiki 5 years old and under are free. Tickets available at Lucy’s Taqueria, Mt. View Village Video, Hilo Town Tavern, CD Wizard (add $1 surcharge), Jungle Love, online at www.paradiserollergirls.com, from your favorite derby girl, or at the door the day of the event.  Concessions will be available inside, please no strollers, coolers, or beverage containers.  Don’t forget to stop by our merchandise booths for your favorite Paradise Roller Girls gear while you visit the other vendors in the lobby.
Paradise Roller Girls is a women’s flat track roller derby league based out of Hilo.  PRG is an association of diverse skaters of all ages and backgrounds whose mission is to promote a healthy and athletic lifestyle who serves in our community through the alternative sport of roller derby.
PRG has successfully completed the apprenticeship program and is now a Full Member League of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA,) an international governing body for the sport whose mission is to promote and foster the sport by facilitating the development of athletic ability, sportswomanship, and good will among member leagues; PRG fully adheres to the association’s rules and guidelines.
For more information on referees/officiating, recruitment, volunteer opportunities, junior roller derby, bout vendor booths and more, go to www.paradiserollergirls.com.  Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook to keep up with the latest roller derby happenings in our community.

“Laugh For Relief” Shows To Benefit Philippines Typhoon Victims – Featuring @AugieT

Two comedy shows featuring Filipino comics Augie T and Rex Navarrete will be presented on Hawai’i Island to benefit the hundreds of thousands affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November 2013.

Laugh for Relief

The “Laugh for Relief” tour will stop in Kona on Saturday, March 8 at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, and on Saturday, March 15 at the Edith Kanaka’ole Stadium in Hilo.

Tickets for the Kona show are $20 presale, $25 at the door. Tickets for the Hilo show are $15 presale, $20 at the door. Presale tickets are available at KTA Super Stores and Waikoloa Village Market, and online at AugieT.com.

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines, causing widespread destruction and killing thousands. The storm—one of the most powerful ever recorded—slammed into the island of Leyte on Nov. 8, 2013 with sustained winds reported as high as 195 mph and gusts up to 230 mph, flooding coastal communities. It triggered landslides, uprooted trees, and destroyed homes and entire communities as it quickly moved across the archipelago. Officials fear that up to 10,000 people could be dead in the city of Tacloban alone. Reports indicate that almost 650,000 people have been displaced.

Proceeds will be used for a reconstruction project in Ormoc City, a sister city of the County of Hawai’i. In 2012, a delegation from Hawai’i Island led by Mayor Billy Kenoi visited Ormoc and neighboring towns in the region, all devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

Augie T was voted Comedian of the Year as the funniest comic in Hawai’i by the Star Bulletin and Midweek newspapers and has been the core artist in the revival of the Hawai’i comedy scene. Augie T is the only local comedian to sell out the Blaisdell Arena, have 5 number one selling comedy DVD’s, and voted best comedy show by Honolulu Magazine. He also has his own show “AugieTV” on K5.

Rex Navarrete is one of the most popular Filipino comedians today and tours all over the United States. He is currently working on his own television series, “Rex In The City” for MTV Philippines.

Laugh for Relief is presented on Hawai‘i Island by the Hawai’i Construction Alliance with the support of the County of Hawai’i, KTA Super Stores, Heineken, T&T Electric, Kaiser Permanente, HGEA, Hawaiian Airlines, Extreme Sound & Lighting Hawai’i, GW Construction, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 50, and the COVO Foundation.

President Obama Reappoints Gov. Abercrombie to Council of Governors

President Barack Obama has reappointed Gov. Neil Abercrombie to the Council of Governors, the White House announced this week. The council consists of 10 governors appointed by the President to focus on matters of national security, homeland defense, synchronization and integration of state and military activities in the United States and matters of mutual interest pertaining to the National Guard.

Abercrombie Council of Governors“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue serving on the Council of Governors, which gives Hawaii a strong voice, together with our congressional delegation, in future decisions regarding the protection of our state and nation,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “During a productive and successful trip this month to the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., I attended a Council of Governors meeting that addressed the Pentagon’s recently proposed cuts to the Army and Air National Guard. During the meeting, I was able to help formulate and sign a bipartisan letter from 50 governors, urging further discussion on budget and policy issues involving the National Guard.”

While in Washington, the Governor also participated in NGA sessions focusing on education, job training, homeland security and public safety, as well as attended four meetings/events at the White House.

The Council of Governors was established by Section 1822 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 and implemented by Presidential Executive Order 13528. In addition to the 10 council members (five from each political party), charter federal participants include the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, presidential homeland security and counterterrorism advisors, the commander of U.S. Northern Command, the commandant of the Coast Guard and the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

House Bill Directs the PUC to Accomodate Modernization of Hawaii’s Electric Grid System

The House passed a measure that will help resolve the inability for thousands of Hawaii families to install photovoltaic solar panels while being left in limbo by electric utilities. The measure directs the Public Utilities Commission to establish new guidelines and rules that will support the upgrade and modernization of Hawaii’s electric grid and accommodate growing energy generation from residential and business customers.

capital

Representative Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimanalo) who introduced the bill said, “We cannot let families make an investment to save on their electric bills but then be left waiting months or years for utilities to finally connect them to the grid. They should be able to connect to the grid in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost, and know what to expect before they put their money down.”

HB 1943, HD 2 asks the commission to address technical, policy and economic issues associated with modernizing the state’s electric grid and include policies that would support a diverse portfolio of renewable energy resources and expand options for customers to manage their own energy use. The measure also directs the PUC to begin proceedings to discuss upgrades to the grid no later than July 14, 2014. The bill was drafted in response to the inability of the current grid system to accommodate all of the individuals and businesses interested in purchasing their own photovoltaic system and hooking it up to the grid.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its review.

Mayor Kenoi Delivers Fiscal Year 2014-15 Budget Proposal

As required by the Hawai‘i County Charter, submitted with this message is the proposed operating budget for the County of Hawai‘i for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. This balanced budget includes estimated revenues and appropriations of $412,608,475, and includes the operations of eleven of the county’s special funds as well as the general fund.

This FY 2014-2015 budget is $9,403,477 or 2.3 percent larger than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. During the past five years of budget challenges caused by the national and international recession, we have continued to invest in county infrastructure while restricting spending and coping with increased health care and other costs. This budget reflects those efforts to control the cost of government while always maintaining essential police, fire and other core county government services.

After five years of declining revenues, we are finally witnessing a modest, measured recovery in property values.  This will gradually translate into a stronger economy and a brighter budget picture. However, we also face a new challenge in the form of $18.4 million in additional employee expenses in the year ahead. Most of these costs were the result of public worker arbitration decisions and negotiated agreements that significantly increase salaries, wages, social security contributions and retirement obligations.  These new employee and retiree costs reflect the difference between last year’s budget and this year’s budget.

Despite those additional costs, this proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.

Population vs. Budget


Investing In Our Communities

From the beginning of this administration, we have crafted budgets that limit spending, but also allow for targeted investment in our communities and our future. Through carefully selected initiatives we created or improved parks and playgrounds, built or rebuilt roads and other public infrastructure, and improved public services. Our primary objective has always been to make the County of Hawai‘i a better place for our families to live and work.

We have used the county’s borrowing power and excellent credit rating to help stimulate the economy and create jobs during a period of low interest rates and favorable bid prices. In Kona, we answered residents’ calls for relief from traffic congestion by advancing projects such as the La‘aloa Avenue Extension, the Ka‘iminani Drive Reconstruction and the Ane Keohokālole Highway, and we will soon begin work on the Māmalahoa Bypass.  In Hilo, we are repairing downtown streets starting with the Kīlauea Avenue Reconstruction, followed by the Kamehameha Avenue Reconstruction project. We will continue in the months ahead with repairs and improvements to Ponahawai and Komohana Streets.
We have partnered with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, which has emerged as a critical component of our economy. Our university allows our young people to achieve better lives for themselves while providing a skilled workforce to help our island economy to grow and innovate. To help the university expand, we are advancing the Kapi‘olani Street Extension to open up lands for new student housing, additional classroom space, and to alleviate traffic congestion.

We are investing in parks, gyms, and playgrounds across the island where our families can engage in positive activities, and where our coaches can teach our youth respect, discipline, and teamwork. We opened covered play courts at Pana‘ewa Park in Hilo, and built the Kamakoa Nui Park in Waikoloa. We have added seven playgrounds islandwide, and will soon be opening the new Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter. We renovated popular recreational facilities such as the Waiākea Recreation Center, Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium, Laupāhoehoe Pool, Kēōkea Beach Park, and Pāhoa Pool. We will soon make the largest investment in recreation in the history of the county by constructing district parks in Pāhoa, Waimea and Kona.

Despite the budget challenges of recent years, we continue to invest in alternative energy and agriculture because we understand those sectors are essential for a sustainable economy. We installed solar arrays on county buildings to reduce oil consumption and utility costs, and will use wind power at Lālāmilo to provide clean energy to supply water to our communities. We are encouraging growth in agriculture by investing in training and support for farmers, and provided 1,739 acres of county-owned lands for ranching and community-based agriculture at the Kapulena Agricultural Park. We joined in a public-private partnership to upgrade the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse and provide a new rendering facility to support our grass-fed beef industry.
At the same time, we have preserved funding for public safety and essential core services. We funded additional police officers for the Puna and Ka‘ū communities, and opened the new Makalei Fire Station. We protected funding for nutrition, recreation and other services for seniors, and preserved and expanded programs for our children and youth. We maintained county funding to non-profit organizations serving the people most in need in our communities.

Employee Count

Fewer Employees, Growing Costs

We want to thank our county workers for their efforts during the Great Recession, which was a time when people across our island made sacrifices. Many of our employees accepted furloughs even as overtime was cut and staffing levels in county agencies were reduced because of hiring restrictions. County employees’ workloads increased, but their hard work and dedication allowed us to continue to deliver essential county services and protect public safety.

During these many challenging budget years, the size of the county workforce declined from 2,787 in November 2008, to a total of 2,628 five years later.
Even with that smaller workforce, the new negotiated collective bargaining agreements will significantly increase our employee costs in the year ahead. Wages, salaries and fringe benefits including health care and retirement for all of our employees will increase in all departments by a total of $18.4 million in Fiscal Year 2014-2015, with almost all of that increase attributable to these new agreements.

County of Hawai‘i tax collections in the year ahead will be $6.5 million or 2.9 percent more than the amount of property taxes collected when this administration began in 2008. However, the combined cost of employee wages, fringe benefits and health care expenses has grown by $30.44 million or 16.95 percent during the same period.

OPERATING BUDGET BY FUND

The following table describes the budgeted expenditures for FY 2013-14 and the proposed budget for FY 2014-15 for each fund:

OPERATING BUDGET BY FUND
(Amounts in thousands)
FY13-14 FY14-15 Increase Percent
        FUND Budget Proposed (Decrease) Change
General Fund $300,565 $314,514 $13,949 4.6%
Highway Fund 34,524 35,597 1,073 3.1%
Sewer Fund 9,757 10,743 986 10.1%
Cemetery Fund 10 10 0 0.0%
Bikeway Fund 171 171 0 0.0%
Beautification Fund 183 452 269 147.0%
Vehicle Disposal Fund 2,475 3,655 1,180 47.7%
Solid Waste Fund 25,368 26,515 1,147 4.5%
Golf Course Fund 1,206 1,232 26 2.2%
Geothermal Royalty Fund 1,700 1,700 0 0.0%
Housing Fund 18,060 17,969 (91) -0.5%
Geothermal Asset Fund 300 50 (250) -83.3%
$394,319 $412,608 $18,289 4.6%

REVENUES BY SOURCE

The following table presents a summary of projected FY 2014-15 revenues from various sources and the changes from the current budget:

REVENUES BY SOURCE
(Amounts in thousands)
Increase
(Decrease)
Percent From Percent
FY14-15 of FY13-14 Increase
        Source Amount Total Amount (Decrease)
Real Property Tax $232,400 56.3% $13,000 5.9%
Public Service Company Tax 10,340 2.5% 195 1.9%
Fuel Tax 7,330 1.8% 80 1.1%
Public Utilities Franchise Tax 11,047 2.7% (520) -4.5%
Licenses and Permits 21,968 5.3% 2,227 11.3%
Revenue from Use of Money & Property 1,121 0.3% 215 23.7%
Intergovernmental Revenue 60,082 14.5% (1,067) -1.7%
Charges for Service 22,789 5.5% 34 0.1%
Other Revenues 8,491 2.1% 771 10.4%
Fund Balance Carryover 37,040 9.0% 3,354 9.9%
$412,608 100.0% $18,289 4.6%

REVENUE CHANGES

The major changes in projected revenues are as follows:

Real Property Tax. Real property tax revenues are expected to increase by 5.9%, or $13 million, due to new construction and an increase in taxable values.

Public Utilities Franchise Tax. Decreased public utility revenues are expected to result in a decrease of $520,000, a reduction of 4.5% in franchise tax revenue.

Licenses and Permits. Increases in vehicle registration revenue and vehicle weight tax revenue have contributed to an increase of $2.2 million, or 11.3% in this revenue source.

Intergovernmental Revenue.  Reductions in grant revenues of about $1 million reflect those grants we are aware of at this time.

Fund Balance Carryover. This budget reflects a higher projection of carryover savings ($3.3 million) from the current year operations.

EXPENDITURES BY FUNCTION

The following table presents a summary of projected FY 2014-15 expenditures from various sources and the changes from the current budget:

EXPENDITURES BY FUNCTION
(Amounts in thousands)
Increase
(Decrease)
Percent From Percent
FY14-15 Of FY13-14 Increase
        Function Amount Total Amount (Decrease)
General Government $49,149 11.9% $1,082 2.3%
Public Safety 120,382 29.2% 3,631 3.1%
Highways & Streets 25,550 6.2% 2,088 8.9%
Health, Education & Welfare 25,592 6.2% 88 0.3%
Culture & Recreation 20,756 5.0% 1,144 5.8%
Sanitation & Waste Removal 37,330 9.0% 3,741 11.1%
Debt Service 38,338 9.3% (1,561) -3.9%
Pension & Retirement 39,381 9.5% 4,287 12.2%
Health Fund 35,305 8.6% 1,939 5.8%
Miscellaneous 20,825 5.1% 1,850 9.8%
$412,608 100.0% $18,289 4.6%

EXPENDITURE CHANGES

Increases in salary and wages are reflected in all functional areas of county government.  After several years of furloughs or no wage increases, new wages were negotiated for all bargaining units represented in the county. All salary and wages are reported in each department with the exception of the Unit 11 Fire agreement, which has not yet been approved by the legislature and is estimated in the provision for compensation adjustment account.
Major changes in projected expenditures are as follows:

General Government

  • Planning. Appropriations are increased by $495,000 for work on the General Plan update.

Public Safety

  • Prosecuting Attorney.  Three temporary, grant funded positions have been added for victim services.
  • The majority of other changes in public safety are attributable to salary and wage increases explained above.

Highways & Streets

  • Public Works Road Maintenance.  Approximately $350,000 is appropriated for additional maintenance equipment.
  • Mass Transit Agency. Increased appropriations of approximately $1.3 million are attributable to an increase in the cost of insurance and bus driver contracts.

Culture & Recreation

  • Parks and Recreation Department.  Eight positions to provide maintenance and recreation are being added for new locations that will be serving the public, including Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter and ‘O‘oma shoreline.
  • The majority of other changes in culture and recreation are attributable to salary and wage increases explained above.

Sanitation & Waste Removal

  • Vehicle Disposal Fund. An increased appropriation of approximately $1 million will provide additional funding for environmental cleanup.
  • Solid Waste Fund. The appropriation for landfill tonnage costs has increased by about $1.7 million because of increased operations costs.

Debt Service

  • Transfer to Debt Service. As the result of refinancing old bond issues, there is a reduction of debt service cost of $1.5 million for the upcoming year.

Pension & Retirement

  • Retirement Benefits. Contributions to the employee retirement system will increase by approximately $4.3 million, or 12.2%, as the result of new salary and wage costs and rate increases established by the state legislature.

Health Fund

  • Health Benefits. Contributions to the state employee health system will increase by
    $1.9 million, which includes an increase of $1 million for future post-employment health benefits.

Miscellaneous

  • Provision for Compensation Adjustment. This provision contains the estimated cost of salary and wages pursuant to contract negotiations that have not been fully approved, and increased by about $2 million.  The $5.8 million appropriation is related to pending increases for Unit 11 Fire employees.

Conclusion

This proposed budget represents a collaborative effort by our departments to address the growing needs of our growing population in a way that is both responsive and fiscally responsible. Our years of careful planning and conservative budgeting have positioned us to invest in our communities while maintaining core services and meeting our obligations to our employees.

The recent, modest gains in property values point to a gradual economic recovery, and we remain cautiously optimistic that the economic and budget outlook will continue to improve. We believe our efforts to promote renewable energy, agriculture and higher education are an investment in the future of our island. We will continue to invest in recreational projects to support our youth and families and to protect public safety, and we ask for your support in these efforts.

We look forward to working closely with the County Council in the months ahead to address our community’s new and continuing demands for public services while also maintaining a balanced and responsible budget.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi