Keaau-Pahoa Highway 130 Road Shoulder Lane Conversion Project Starts Monday

The state Department of Transportation advises Hawaii motorists of upcoming lane shifts and temporary closures on Keaau-Pahoa Road (Route 130) between mile post 2.0 and 4.1 beginning on Monday, August 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., for the duration of the Keaau-Pahoa Road Shoulder Lane conversion project.

Beginning of the project

Beginning of the project

The project spans from Keaau Bypass Road to Shower Drive, a total length of 2.31 miles with a project cost of $15 million. Construction includes two 12ft lanes and an 8ft shoulder lane in the inbound direction and one 12ft lane and a 10ft shoulder lane in the outbound direction. These additions will improve traffic and help with congestion upon completion of this project.

During the construction period, the speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph. Motorists are advised to allow for extra travel time.

Your patience is appreciated as the temporary increased traffic and reduced speed limit will pay off with improved traffic flow on Highway 130. For updates on DOT roadwork, please visit http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/roadwork/hawaii/

Hold Your Nose, World’s Stinkiest Plant About to Bloom – Stinky 2

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce the rare flowering of a “corpse plant” at the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens.

Hold your breath... the Corpse Plant is about to bloom

Hold your nose… the Corpse Plant is about to bloom

Amorphophallus titanum, better known as a “corpse plant” for its distinctive aroma when in full bloom, is the world’s largest unbranched inflorescence (cluster of flowers), capable of growing more than 10 feet tall.

“Stinky 2” has a 3-foot-tall bud that’s expected to bloom within the next two to three weeks, said Pam Mizuno, manager of the Pana‘ewa Recreation Complex that includes an equestrian center. When that happens, the plant will release sulfur that smells like rotting corpses, hence its ominous nickname. This odor attracts beetles and flesh flies that pollinate the plant.

In their native habitat of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, corpse plants bloom only a few times in 100 years. This sporadic blooming produces a flower that lasts only a couple days and can weigh hundreds of pounds.

Artist Hiroshi Tagami donated two corpse plants to the zoo in 2002. The plants, estimated to be two years old at the time of the donation, have been thriving in the zoo’s tropical environment. The first one bloomed in 2011, attracting large crowds of curious onlookers and wide-spread media coverage. The corpse flower is growing in the exhibit located next to the zoo’s feral pig and across from the large mixed-parrot aviary.

Located off of Stainback Highway about five miles south of Hilo, the 12-acre Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens is the only natural tropical rainforest zoo in the United States. More than 100 palm varieties and 80 animal species, including Nēnē geese and Namasté, a white Bengal tiger, can be found at the zoo. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free.

For more information, call 959-7224 or email panaewazoo@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Man Charged With Nine Offenses in Connection to Puna Shooting

One of two Puna men arrested in connection with shots being fired in a residential neighborhood has been charged with nine offenses.

Peter Lopes Jr.

Peter Lopes Jr.

Peter Lopes Jr., 45, of Hawaiian Beaches was charged at 3:15 p.m. Friday with first-degree reckless endangering, abuse of a family/household member, three counts of ownership prohibited, three counts of place to keep and leaving the scene of an accident. His bail was set at $123,000. He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Monday.

Officers conducted a search warrant on his home Thursday and recovered two firearms with ammunition. Because Lopes is a convicted felon, it is illegal for him to possess weapons or ammunition.

Police determined that Lopes assaulted a 42-year-old woman on Wednesday (August 21) during a domestic argument in Hawaiian Paradise Park. After leaving the house, he collided with another vehicle, left the scene of the accident and then went to a home in Hawaiian Beaches, where he discharged a firearm.

The other man arrested after the shots were fired, 63-year-old Peter Lopes Sr., was released pending further investigation.

U.S. Marshals Service Arrests 37 Fugitives on the Big Island

The United States Marshals Hawaii Fugitive Task Force, a Hawaii HIDTA initiative, conducted a four-day fugitive sweep in Hilo, Hawaii, which began on Monday, August 19, 2013.

US Marshall Service
The mission, executed by Deputy U.S. Marshals, Hawaii State Sheriffs and Hawaii County Police, targeted fugitives with extensive criminal histories wanted for narcotics offenses, firearms violations, sex related offenses and other violent crimes.

After four days, 37 fugitives were arrested (1 federal fugitive and 36 state fugitives), clearing 46 outstanding arrest warrants and charging 21 additional drug cases.
Seizures during the mission included 27 marijuana plants ranging in height from 4’-5’ tall, 11.5 grams of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

The task force is made up of Deputy U.S. Marshals, the State of Hawaii Sheriff Division, Hawaii County Police Department, Maui Police Department, Kauai Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 58-Year-Old Puna Woman

8/28/13 UPDATE:
Hawaiʻi Island police have located 58-year-old Janshon Liao of Hawaiian Beaches, who was reported missing. She returned home in good health on Saturday (August 24).

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 58-year-old Puna woman reported as missing.

HPDBadgeJanshon Liao of Hawaiian Beaches was last seen in Pāhoa town shortly after 2 p.m. Friday (August 23).

Her family is concerned about her, as she has a medical condition that requires medication.

She is described as Asian, 5-feet tall, 140 pounds with brown eyes and short salt-and-pepper hair. She was last seen wearing a white shirt, red pants and pink shoes.

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

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

Big Island Police Arrest Man and Woman During Narcotics Search Warrant in Pepe’ekeo

A man and a woman were arrested Thursday (August 22) when Vice officers served a search warrant on their home in Pepeʻekeo.

During execution of a narcotics search warrant on Kaʻapepa Street on Thursday morning, officers recovered 35.5 grams of crystal methamphetamine along with paraphernalia associated with its distribution. Police also recovered a 2006 Dodge 2500 diesel truck, a 2001 Toyota Camry, a 1995 Honda two-door hatchback and its trailer, and $5,751 in cash for forfeiture.

Ryland Uchima

Ryland Uchima

Arrested at the scene were 31-year-old Ryland Uchima and 30-year-old Kaycie DeMotta.

At 12:30 p.m. Friday (August 23), police charged Uchima with attempted first-degree meth trafficking, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and two counts of drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $56,000. He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Monday.

DeMotta was released pending further investigation.

Lost Chinese Hiker in Volcanoes National Park Found This Morning

Park rangers and a helicopter pilot rescued a 76-year-old man early Friday morning who got lost near Pu‘u Huluhulu in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park the previous day.

Hiker

Pu’u Huluhulu

Zigui Yuan, 76, of China, spent an uncomfortable and chilly night on an old lava field after getting lost near Pu‘u Huluhulu cinder cone, where there is little or no cell phone reception.

His wife, Paulili Yuan, reported him missing yesterday at 8 p.m. She told rangers that the couple and a female friend had been hiking together Thursday morning, when Mr. Yuan separated from the group at the Pu‘u Huluhulu trailhead, and headed east towards Nāpau Crater. The two women returned to the trailhead junction at the Mauna Ulu parking lot at 11:30 a.m. and waited for the man.

At approximately 7 p.m., Mr. Yuan attempted to contact his wife by phone, but the call failed. The women then drove to Thurston Lava Tube and reported him missing to Park Ranger John Moraes.

Rangers Moraes and John Broward executed a search in the vicinity of Pu‘u Huluhulu in the dark, using powerful handheld spotlights to illuminate the rough lava landscape, while Ranger Andrew Sanford patrolled Chain of Craters Road for the missing man. At 1 a.m., the search was suspended until daybreak.

A ground and air search was launched at daybreak. Helicopter pilot David Okita spotted Yuan approximately 660 feet (200 meters) southwest of Pu‘u Huluhulu. Okita and Park Ranger Jon Maka‘ike landed, and retrieved Yuan. He was cold, dehydrated, and exhausted, but had no major injuries, and declined further medical treatment. Yuan was reunited with his wife at 6:30 a.m. today.

Pu'u Huluhulu vicinity

Pu’u Huluhulu vicinity

Yuan, who speaks very little English, told rangers through his wife that he kept hiking across the sharp, jagged lava until it became dark and he could no longer see the rock pile trail markers. He took shelter against the wind in a small depression in the old lava flows, and waited for daylight.

“Mr. Yuan made the right decision to hunker down for the night,” said Ranger John Broward, Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. “This area is riddled with unstable ground, hidden earth cracks, deep craters, and sharp and brittle lava. He could have been seriously injured if he continued trying to find his way out in the dark,” he said.

Park rangers remind visitors that the best way to avoid potentially serious incidents is to plan ahead and prepare. A full range of hiking tips and other safety-related information is available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/havo, and by asking park rangers.

This was the park’s 14th SAR incident this year. There were 26 SAR incidents in 2012.

 

Office of the Month Recovers New Bedroom Sets that Were Stolen

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized Officer Donovan Hegarty on Thursday (August 22) as the East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for August.

Aloha Exchange board member Joey Estrella presents an 'Officer of the Month' award to Officer Donovan Hegarty.

Aloha Exchange board member Joey Estrella presents an ‘Officer of the Month’ award to Officer Donovan Hegarty.

Hegarty was honored for his response to a burglary in progress.

Just after midnight on July 11, Hegarty was on patrol when a resident of Hawaiian Paradise Park reported that his neighbor’s house on 19th Avenue was being burglarized. While en route to the scene, Hegarty encountered a dark pickup truck speeding toward him and then turning abruptly onto an unpaved side street without signaling. He immediately attempted to initiate a traffic stop on the truck and observed two men in the back along with several bed sets.

The suspects began to throw the furniture onto the road to block the path of travel. When the truck stopped, Officer Hegarty immediately moved in to apprehend the driver as the two other suspects fled on foot into the darkness. The vehicle was then seized, as other suspected stolen property was observed inside. Officer Hegarty subsequently recovered several brand new bedroom sets that the suspects had dumped in their attempt to block the road.

The apprehension of the driver was the essential lead in the case, allowing detectives to later identify and arrest the other two suspects, one of whom had previously eluded police while being sought for numerous crimes in East Hawaiʻi.

As “Officer of the Month,” Hegarty is eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” award is a project of the Aloha Exchange Club of Hilo.

Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw Helicopter Arrives Today At Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor becomes home roost for the Sikorsky H-34 Helicopter (USN Bureau No. 148963) adding another aviation “hero” to its expanding collection of vintage and high performance aircraft. (Wednesday, August 21, 2013), the Choctaw arrived at the Museum on Historic Ford Island via Pasha Transport. It is one of the most recognizable military helicopters in history.

A Sikorsky on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum

A Sikorsky on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum

The Choctaw is a piston-engine helicopter, capable of carrying 16 combat-equipped troops. It was originally designed for naval service in the anti-submarine warfare role. In addition to serving in combat, the Choctaw has been used to rescue flood victims, recover astronauts, fight fires, and even carry U.S. presidents. Choctaw is the U.S. Army name for the versatile helicopter; it was also called Seabat and Seahorse by other services.

“The Sikorsky H-34 helicopter played a vital role in our military throughout our history, and we feel honored to showcase it to the public,” said Museum Executive Director, Kenneth DeHoff.

Big Island Newspapers Publishers Stephens Media Sued – End of a Two Newspaper Island?

Well I’m just going to copy and paste some of the pertinent information here and folks can read the rest at the link below.

To tie this in to the Big Island… Stephens Media own the Hawaii Tribune Herald, West Hawaii Today, Big Island Weekly and a few other publications on this island.

Sun Publisher and Editor Brian Greenspun today sued Stephens Media, owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in an effort to derail Stephens’ proposal to dissolve a long-standing business agreement in which it prints and distributes the Sun and shares advertising revenues with the Sun.

Brian Greenspun

Brian Greenspun

The agreement, known as a Joint Operating Agreement, was sanctioned by the Justice Department in 1989 to ensure that Las Vegas would have two independent newspapers with differing editorial points of view… In a deal reached in recent weeks between Stephens Media and three of the four Greenspun siblings, the family would agree to terminate the JOA agreement — unburdening Stephens from printing and distributing the Sun — in exchange for Stephens giving the family ownership of the URL lasvegas.com, according to court papers filed in support of Brian Greenspun’s lawsuit…

More Here: Sun Publisher Greenspun Sues to Block R-J From Gaining Newspaper Monopoly.

My guess… is that soon enough we will have only one newspaper here on the island… slowly phased out by an online edition of the paper that folks will still have to pay for.

For what it’s worth (FWIW) I cut back on my cable services recently as well… I mean why pay for things we don’t need?

Big Island Police Plan 20-30 DUI Checkpoints – County Offers Share-Ride Taxi Coupons for Bar Patrons

The Hawai‘i County Mass Transit Agency announces that shared-ride taxi coupons are available for purchase in bulk by bar owners for patrons who may be too impaired to safely drive home. To encourage utilization of the program and to help bar owners prepare for the Labor Day weekend, the County will be providing 10 free coupons to bar owners making their first purchase of at least 10 coupons now through August 30.

Choose Your Ride

File photo (prices have changed)

“We’ve gotten great feedback from bar owners during shared-ride taxi coupon promotions in the past,” said Tiffany Kai, Mass Transit Administrator. “While the Labor Day weekend is a great time to roll this program out, we’re glad that we can now make this resource available to interested bar owners year-round.”

For as little as $2, a shared-ride coupon will cover a taxi ride of up to 4 miles with a participating company. A change to the administrative rules that govern the shared-ride taxi program was made in June to allow agencies, organizations, and businesses with a compelling interest in the safe point-to-point transport of their clients or patrons – such agencies helping clients get to work, organizations serving people with mobility challenges, or establishments serving alcohol providing a responsible alternative to driving home under the influence – to purchase these coupons in bulk. Purchases by individuals for personal use are unaffected by this rule change.

Impaired driving presents a potential danger to every motorist, passenger and pedestrian the driver encounters. Already this year, the Hawaiʻi Police Department has made more than 700 DUI arrests, and 12 of the 21 traffic fatalities this year involved drugs and/or alcohol. HPD will increase enforcement of drunk driving as part of a national campaign called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” which runs August 16 through September 2. During the campaign, police will conduct 20-30 sobriety checkpoints island wide.

For more information or to purchase shared-ride taxi coupons, contact the Mass Transit Agency at 961-8343.

HawaiiCon Early Pre-Sales Offers Mega Deals

Today HawaiiCon announced the start of early pre-sale tickets to their highly anticipated science, sci-fi and fantasy convention.

Hawaii Con 2014

HawaiiCon is scheduled for September 12-15, 2014 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Resort.  Pre-sales, via Kickstarter, give members big breaks on hotel rooms and Con passes.  Three night hotel packages with convention pass will start at only $595. For a 3-day pass without hotel, prices start as low as $75. Getting in on these pre-sale deals assures members the best experiences HawaiiCon has to offer.  Attendance will be limited to 2,500. Once the pre-sale is sold out, regular costs are $250 for the Con pass and $795 for the pass plus hotel and up.

Discount Passes and hotel packages are available here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/289378015/hawaiicon

In additional to the usual panels and workshops in the convention rooms, HawaiiCon will also provide members the unique opportunity to go on tours, share a luʻau or go to the beach with their favorite stars.

HawaiiCon founder, GB Hajim, says, ”We want to create a unique event that will set us apart from other Cons, to give folks both the feeling of ʻOhana and an inspirational experience that only can be found through the adventures that the Big Island offers.”

The signed list of celebrities continues to grows every week: Torri Higginson, Rachel Luttrell, Paul McGillion, and Andee Frizzell from Stargate: Atlantis are scheduled to appear for a 10th year reunion, along with Claudia Christian and Patricia Tallman from Babylon 5 and voice actress Cree Summer (Drawn Together). David Franklin is coming for 15th reunion of Farscape.  More actors and actresses will be added in the next few weeks. Panelists and workshop experts include world reknown Mars mission scientists, Hawaiian cultural experts, cosplay designers, robotics teams, astronomers, and aerospace experts.

HawaiiCon expects to add $1-2 million to the islandʻs economy in its first year and grown 15-20% per year.

Hawaii Con Group

ABOUT HAWAIICON:

HawaiiCon is a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase public awareness of science, the science fiction genre, and mythologies, past and present, which guide humanity.  HawaiiCon will emphasize education and uniquely Hawaiian contributions to science, including navigation and ensure that Native Hawaiian culture is accorded an honored place in the conversation of science and science fiction.

HawaiiCon founder is GB Hajim, Producer and Director of the award winning film, Strange Frame.  The Board of Directors is made up of Performing Arts Learning Center Director Jackie Seaquist, Realtor Jessica Hall, Dave Steiner, owner of Hawaii White Mountain Coffee Company, and UH-Hilo Communications student Jessie Minick.

HawaiiCon has partnered with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Big Island Visitors Bureau, Gemini Telescope, Big Island Film Commission, and Imiloa Astronomy Center, with more organizations coming aboard every day.

Follow HawaiiCon on FaceBook at: facebook.com/HawaiiCon and Twitter: @HawaiiCon

 

Father and Son Arrested After Shots Fired in Puna

Two Puna men are in police custody on suspicion of reckless endangering after police received reports of shots being fired Wednesday night (August 21) in a residential neighborhood in Puna.

Peter Lopes

Peter Lopes

Shortly after 9 p.m. police responded to Nenue Street in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision, where they arrested 63-year-old Peter Lopes and 45-year-old Peter Lopes Jr., both of Pāhoa.

No one was injured in the shooting.

Both men were taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

Video Conferencing Brings Social Security Services Back To West Hawai’i Civic Center

A video conferencing service launched today is connecting West Hawai’i residents with the nearest Social Security office – a two-hour drive away. The service, provided by the Social Security Administration, AARP volunteers, and the County of Hawai’i, will allow most people to conduct their Social Security business without making the trip to Hilo.
A video conferencing service launched today is connecting West Hawai'i residents with the nearest Social Security office – two hours away in Hilo

A video conferencing service launched today is connecting West Hawai’i residents with the nearest Social Security office – two hours away in Hilo

 After the Social Security Kona satellite office was closed last year, West Hawai’i residents who needed direct assistance had to make the four hour round trip drive to Hilo to get answers to their questions and handle routine business, such as ordering a duplicate Social Security card.
Coordination between the Social Security Administration, AARP Hawai’i, the Hawai’i Executive Office on Aging’s Sage PLUS program, the office of Senator Mazie Hirono, the County of Hawai’i Department of Information Technology, and the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi made this service possible to serve the needs of the West Hawai’i community.
The video conferencing will be held the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the West Hawai’i Civic Center. No appointments are necessary. On a first come first served basis, constituents are escorted into a room to chat privately over a secure connection with a Social Security representative in the Hilo office.
“Social Security simply does not have enough manpower to provide the services. We’re happy to partner with Social Security to provide the services and make it available to the community on this side of the island,” said Ken Guerra, an AARP volunteer who was among those manning the site today. “Without this service, people would have to make the drive to Hilo. It’s a major inconvenience, a long drive. With this, they can just come to the West Hawai’i Civic Center and connect immediately with the office.”
Maureen McIntyre, who just moved to Kona from New Hampshire, needed to order a replacement Social Security card in order to get her Hawai’i driver license. She was directed from the driver license office just a few yards away in the West Hawai’i Civic Center to the Social Security video conferencing room. “I’ve never lived in a place where all the offices were located in one spot. It just makes it so much easier to get plugged into a new community. This is fabulous.”

Big Island Police Investigating Puna Murder

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a fatal stabbing in Puna that occurred Wednesday night (August 21).

At 10:44 p.m., police and Fire Department personnel responded to a reported stabbing at a residence on Kawakawa Street in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision.

Upon arrival, police found a 42-year-old man with stab wounds. Fire Department personnel took him to Hilo Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:30 p.m. His name is being withheld pending notification of his family.

Manaolanalai Benford

Manaolanalani Benford

At the scene, police arrested 27-year-old Manaolanalani Benford of Pāhoa on suspicion of second-degree murder. She is being held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

 

Hawaii’s Senate Ways and Means Committee Visits Puna

Today, as part of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means‘ (WAM) two day visit to Hawai’i Island, Senator Ruderman hosted the group on a tour of sites in Puna.

Puna Community Medical Center

Puna Community Medical Center

The Senators visited the Puna Community Medical Center, Pahoa Public Library, and Pohoiki Boat Ramp. The need for emergency medical facilities, a new library and safe swim area in Puna were discussed. The Senators also experienced the drive from Hilo to Pahoa along perilous State Highway 130 and visited the site of the proposed Pahoa roundabout.

Rene Siracusa (Far Right) explains how the center is funded and talks to the Senators about getting more funding

Rene Siracusa (Far Right) explains how the center is funded and talks to the Senators about getting more funding

The purview of this committee includes those programs relating to overall state financing policies, including revenue enhancement, taxation, other revenues, and cash and debt management; statewide implementation of planning, programming, budgeting and evaluation; and government structure and finance.

Senators got a tour of the facility

Senators got a tour of the facility

Leading the group is Chairman of the committee, Senator David Ige, and Vice Chair, Senator Michelle Kidani. Senate President, Donna Mercado Kim, also joined the WAM committee on this trip.

Senate WAM

The visits on Hawai’i Island included facility tours of State facilities and briefings to update the Senators on programs, projects, and concerns on Hawai`i Island.

Only one of the events, a community information briefing on Grant in Aid funding at Waimea Middle School cafeteria was open to the public.

The itinerary for their Hawai’i Island Site Visit was:

Tuesday, August 20

8:15am ‐ 8:45am Kona Airport
9:30am ‐ 11:15am Judiciary Courthouse
11:30am ‐ 12:45pm Kona Community Hospital
1:15pm ‐ 2:15pm Palamanui Community College
4:30pm ‐ 5:30pm Waimea Middle School
5:30pm ‐ 6:30pm Community Meeting Waimea Middle School

Wednesday, August 21

9:30am ‐ 10:00am Puna Community Medical Center
10:15am ‐ 10:45am Pahoa Public Library
11:00am ‐ 11:30am Pohoiki Swim Area and Boat Ramp Isaac Hale Park
1:00pm ‐ 1:45pm Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Research Labs
2:00pm ‐ 2:45pm Hale Ala Honua, University of Hawai`i at Hilo
3:00pm ‐ 3:15pm Old Hilo Memorial Hospital
3:30pm ‐ 5:00pm University of Hawai`i at Hilo briefing

At the Pahoa Public Library, the committee was met by Branch Manager, Gaila Vidunas, who talked about the need for more parking and the fact that the facility was used by such a wide diverse group of folks.

WAM at Pahoa Public LibrarySenator Ruderman mentioned the fact that they are looking at the possibility of creating a Puna “Regional” Library somewhere in the Puna District but thoughts are just being tossed around at the moment.
Senate WAM at Pahoa Library
After leaving the library, the Senators then cruised down to Pohoiki Bay where they checked out the harbor and talked with local residents about how things could be improved in the area.

Senate WAM

(Left to Right) Sen. Laura Thielen, Sen. Michelle Kidani, Sen. J. Kalani English, Sen. Donna Mercado-Kim, Sen. David Ige, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, and Sen. Russell Ruderman

I reminded a couple of the Senators that this is where “Ulu Boy” got attacked by a shark a few days ago and they were kind of shocked to realize that!

Senators at Pohoiki

They were treated to a lunch down at Pohoiki by a local family and then after that they got into their cars and headed back into Hilo for the rest of their itinerary.

Federal Officer Steps on Booby Trap in Marijuana Patch Chasing Suspect in Puna

Police are investigating a case involving a Federal Task Force officer who stepped on a booby trap device in a marijuana patch while chasing a wanted suspect in Puna.

No the actual booby trap

Not the actual booby trap

At about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday (August 21), while conducting warrant sweeps in the Ainaloa subdivision, a Federal Task Force officer was attempting to apprehend a wanted individual in the area of Azure Drive. The officer ran into the brush area in a marijuana patch and stepped on a booby trap device made of nails, causing puncture injuries.

The presence of a booby trap device in a marijuana patch increases the offense to first-degree commercial promotion of marijuana, a class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Police ask anyone with information about this incident to contact Lieutenant Mark Farias of the Area I Vice Section at 961-2253 or mfarias@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.

Big Island Police Arrest Two in Puna Robbery Incident that Happened in July – Seeking Third Suspect

Hawaiʻi Island police have located two 30-year-old Puna men who being sought in connection with a robbery in the Leilani Estates subdivision last month.

Mark McCurley

Mark McCurley

Mark McCurley of Hawaiian Beaches and Kawika Kahee of the Black Sand subdivision were arrested at 11 a.m. Tuesday (August 20) during a warrants sweep in Hawaiian Beaches.

Kawika Kahee

Kawika Kahee

At 11:35 a.m. Wednesday (August 21), detectives charged McCurley with second-degree robbery, second-degree theft and kidnapping. His bail set at $85,000. Kahee was charged with second-degree robbery, second-degree theft and third-degree assault. His bail was set at $37,000.

Both men are being held at the Hilo police cellblock pending their initial court appearance scheduled for Thursday.

The victim, a 56-year-old woman, reported that three individuals who were invited to her home used force against her and removed several items on July 24. The suspects left the home in a white Ford Mustang. The third suspect has not been identified.

Police ask anyone with information about the third suspect to contact Detective Derek Morimoto at 961-2380 or dmorimoto@co.hawaii.hi.us. Persons may also call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Majority of Hawaii’s Class of 2013 Did Not Meet ACT’s College-Readiness Benchmarks

The ACT early today released the results of the graduating Class of 2013’s performance on its college-readiness exam. A record 5,345 Hawaii students in both public and private schools took the ACT test in spring 2012, representing a 75 percent increase from the Class of 2010. However, results show a majority of Hawaii’s Class of 2013, similar to the rest of the nation, did not meet the test’s college-readiness benchmarks. The data reinforces the importance of the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (DOE) focus on supporting all students for success after high school.

The 5,345 Hawaii students, most of whom took the ACT as juniors in 2012 and graduated this past spring, represent about 40 percent of the Class of 2013 – the biggest group of students ever to take the ACT in Hawaii. Kaiser High graduate Jason Cheng, a Harvard University freshman this fall, was the only Hawaii student to earn a perfect score of 36 among those included in the results released today.

“The good news is the high number of students challenging themselves with the college rigor of the ACT Test,” said DOE Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe. “We look forward to improving our results as we continue our focus on college and career readiness.”

Acknowledging a need to boost college and career readiness among graduates, the DOE has already taken steps to better prepare students by introducing the following new initiatives in 2013:

· Strive HI Performance System: For the first time, the DOE is holding schools accountable for achievement, growth, achievement gaps, and college and career readiness. As a part of the Strive HI Performance System, the DOE administers the ACT EXPLORE exam to all students in grades 8 and 9, the ACT Plan exam in grade 10, and the ACT Test in grade 11. Based on local research, a composite score of 19 on the ACT exam indicates readiness for entry-level courses in the University of Hawaii System. The eleventh-grade results from the spring 2013 administration, included in the recently released Strive HI results, show that 34 percent of students met a composite score of 19 or higher. ACT scores being reported today are part of the last round of exams taken before the DOE began administering the ACT as part of the Strive HI Performance System.

· Common Core State Standards (CCSS): For the first time this school year, all teachers are implementing the Common Core State Standards. The new standards are a set of consistent, high-quality academic standards that clearly define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each school year in order to be on track for success.
The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each exam is graded on a scale of 1-36, and a student’s single composite score is the average of the four test scores. In each of the four subjects, ACT sets a college-readiness benchmark — the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college course. The benchmarks are set based on national level data. Hawaii graduates who tested as juniors in the spring of 2012 posted a statewide average composite mark of 20.1. The national average composite score was 20.9. In each benchmark area, Hawaii students also posted lower ACT scores than their national peers. The figures below represent the percentage of students who met benchmark scores by subject:

ACT Performance

“The drop in ACT scores for Hawaii students should not be interpreted as a decline in student learning or readiness,” said Jon Erickson, ACT president of education. “The state results were impacted by the change in the composition of test takers included in the report. As a result, this year’s data should be viewed as a new baseline against which future years can be compared.”

For more information about the DOE, log on to HawaiiPublicSchools.org. Additional ACT information is available at act.org/readiness/2013.

Obesity in Hawaii Rising Alongside National Trends

According to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013, a new report released yesterday by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), obesity in Hawaii continues to increase rapidly consistent with national trends and, without effective interventions, more than half of Hawaii’s adults will be obese by 2030.

F as in Fat

The report summarizes obesity rates in the United States and identifies 13 states with obesity rates above 30 percent and 41 states with rates of at least 25 percent. Every state is above 20 percent. “While Hawaii has a lower obesity and chronic disease rate relative to many other jurisdictions, our state is following the same troubling path as the rest of the nation,” said Director of Health Loretta J. Fuddy. “Nearly one-quarter of Hawaii adults are obese, and some population groups have much higher rates. Obesity is an epidemic, and we cannot afford to sit back idly on this issue.”

The TFAH report ranks Hawaii 47th among all states for adult obesity, with 23.6 percent of Hawaii adults currently obese. According to the report, adult obesity in Hawaii has increased nearly three times from what it was a little over 20 years ago. In the past year alone, obesity has risen more than seven percent and childhood obesity has also remained high (13.2 percent in 2011).

Hawaii’s ethnic diversity also masks significant disparities in obesity that exist in our state with higher rates among native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander populations. While adult obesity in 2011 was 21.9 percent for the overall state, rates ranged from 6.8 percent among Chinese, to 20.6 percent among Filipinos, to 40.8 percent among Native Hawaiians.

Not only is obesity in general increasing in Hawaii, but the proportion of adults who are morbidly or excessively obese in Hawaii is also increasing. In 2011, there were 30,000 morbidly obese adults in Hawaii—roughly 3 percent of the population.

Increases in obesity are attributed in-part to physical inactivity and unhealthy eating. Among high school students, only 21 percent met the national recommendations for physical activity. Fruit and vegetable consumption in Hawaii also remains low; the percentage of adults who reported eating more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day is only 11.4 percent.  Among high school students, it was 17.5 percent.

Obesity is costly to our state and can lead to diabetes and other chronic conditions later in life. Eighty-two percent of adults in Hawaii have at least one chronic disease, over half have two or more, and 31.5 percent have three or more chronic diseases. Hawaii spends an estimated $470 million annually on obesity-related medical costs, and $770 million on diabetes-related medical costs.

“We need to move forward policy, systems and environmental changes to curb rising obesity rates and costs,” said Director Fuddy. “We must continue to work together across diverse public and private organizations, governmental agencies, and communities so healthy choices are the desirable easy decisions.”

The Department of Health recently released the Hawaii Physical Activity and Nutrition Plan 2013-2020 a comprehensive set of Hawaii-specific strategies designed to curb the obesity epidemic. The Plan represents the work of community members and stakeholders in obesity prevention from across the state. The plan is available on the Department of Health’s website under “Publications and Campaigns” or via the following direct link: http://health.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/DOH_PAN2020_LO.pdf.