MAYOR WILLIAM P. KENOI NOT GUILTY

Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that a Hawaii Island jury has acquitted Hawaii County Mayor William P. Kenoi of all charges filed against him. Mayor Kenoi’s trial ended on Monday, October 31.

billy-kenoiThe jury deliberated for one day before rendering its verdict.

Attorney General Chin said “The crime of theft requires proof a person intended to permanently deprive his victim of what he stole. The prosecution argued that not paying back funds to the county of Hawaii until after the press caught him was proof of Mayor Kenoi’s intent. We respect the verdict and thank the jurors for their service.”

On March 23, 2016, a Hawaii Island grand jury indicted Mayor Kenoi for two counts of felony theft, two additional counts of misdemeanor theft, three counts of tampering with a government record and one count of false swearing. The charges arose from alleged conduct taking place from 2011 through 2015 while Mayor Kenoi was in office. During trial, after the prosecution rested its case, the court dismissed three of the misdemeanor counts for tampering with a government record based on insufficient evidence.

Leaders Begin Process of Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan for Albizia on the Big Island

Today, Senator Schatz met with Mayor Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia on the Big Island.

Senator Brian Schatz is back in Puna today.  Earlier he could be spotted handing out supplies to Hurricane Iselle victims at the Nanawale Longhouse.

Senator Brian Schatz is back in Puna today. Earlier he could be spotted handing out supplies to Hurricane Iselle victims at the Nanawale Longhouse.

Agreement was reached by all parties that all levels of government share responsibility for dealing with the hazard that these trees pose, and that the federal, state, and county government would provide financial and other resources towards this mitigation plan. HELCO also agreed, subject to approval by the PUC, to participate in the hazard mitigation program.

The next steps are to assemble all key stakeholders, and develop a hazard mitigation plan with a budget, and determine cost sharing. The target timeframe is to assemble the key stakeholders, and develop a preliminary hazard mitigation plan as soon as possible.

“Albizia wreaked havoc on power infrastructure and damaged private property, and we have to work together to minimize the likelihood that this happens again. I’m thankful for Mayor Kenoi’s leadership and assistance in helping to put together the resources necessary to mitigate this problem.”

Community Forum Features Mayor Kenoi and Senior Officials

If you want to learn more about current activities and projects of our county officials and staff, come to the free Community Enterprises’ April 8, 2014 West Hawaii Community Forum. The forum will feature Mayor Billy Kenoi and his senior officials.

Community Forum with Mayor Kenoi

Council member Dru Kanuha will also share issues before the Hawaii County Council. And a special presentation will be made to the youth who lobbied Hawaii County Council with the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii which resulted in raising the age to buy cigarettes to 21.

The April 8 West Hawaii Community Forum will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Maka`eo Old Airport Pavilion. Pupus and beverages will be served.

Community Enterprises Inc. is a private non-profit organization with a 501c (3) designation from the IRS. Its mission is to bring educational resources to the residents of West Hawaii so they can better participate in the public policy issues that affect their lives and their communities. Visit us at our website www.konatownmeeting.org.

For more information please call Shirley David at 756-1633 or email at shirleydavid@hawaii.rr.com

Mayor Kenoi Proclaims “October 25th, 2013 – Body Glove 60th Anniversary Day” in the County of Hawaii

Last week, Body Glove International celebrated it’s 60th Anniversary with a party in Kona, Hawaii that was attended by the family of Body Glove and was open to the public.

Creature From the Black Lagoon and Mayor Kenoi

Creature From the Black Lagoon and Mayor Kenoi

The following night the party continued at the Wyland Gallery in Kona where Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker was signing merchandise and had his new Body Glove 60th Anniversary “Tiki Mug” release party.

Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker, Mayor Kenoi and Abbas Hassan

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker, Mayor Kenoi and Abbas Hassan

Here is a photo of the new mugs:

Brad Parker Tiki Mug

Mayor Kenoi was on hand and proclaimed October 25th, 2013 as Body Glove 60th Anniversary Day in the County of Hawaii.

Meistrell Brothers, Abbas Hassan and Mayor Kenoi

Billy Meistrell (2nd generation Owner and Co-Founder of Body Glove), Russ Lesser (President), Abbas Hassan and Mayor Kenoi

Here is the proclamation that he read to folks in attendance:

Proclamation:

WHEREAS, growing up in Missouri, twin brothers Bob and Bill Meistrell fell in love with the water. They dreamed of making a life in the ocean, and those dreams came true when the family moved to California in 1944; and

WHEREAS, in 1953, the Meistrell brothers turned their passion for the ocean into a business venture. They joined Bev Morgan and the three became business partners at Dive N’ Surf, the first dive and surf store of its kind; and

WHEREAS, Dive N’ Surf became quickly known for being the home of the first practical and commercially viable wetsuit, invented by the Meistrell brothers and Morgan. The name given to the suit – Body Glove, because it fit like a glove – has become an iconic brand worldwide; and

WHEREAS, over their sixty years in business, serious watermen and waterwomen worldwide have come to count on Body Glove’s products, and Body Glove-sponsored teams in surfing and wakeboarding are made up of many of the most skilled athletes in those sports in the world; and

WHEREAS, the values that have guided Body Glove for the past six decades – hard work, perseverance, love of family, and love of the environment – are values shared by the people of Hawai‘i Island and the many long-standing family-owned businesses that are the cornerstones of our economy; and

WHEREAS, we are honored to host Body Glove’s 60th anniversary celebration on Hawai‘i Island here in Kailua-Kona, home of local partners Body Glove Cruises and Tiki Shark Art Hawai‘i,

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BILLY KENOI, Mayor of the County of Hawai‘i, do hereby proclaim October 25, 2013, as BODY GLOVE 60th ANNIVERSARY DAY in the County of Hawai‘i, and we hope to celebrate many more Body Glove anniversaries in the future.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused The Seal of the County of Hawai‘i to be affixed.  Done this 25th day of October, 2013 in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i.

Billy Kenoi
MAYOR

You can click on the pictures in this gallery to open them up for larger views:

Hawaii County Completes $1.7 Million Renovation of Hilo’s Waiākea Recreation Center

Mayor Billy Kenoi and the Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation are proud to welcome the public back to a thoroughly renovated and improved Waiākea Recreation Center.

Under renovations a few months ago.

Under renovations a few months ago.

A public blessing and re-dedication ceremony will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, April 26, at the Hilo facility. Refreshments will be served, and several martial arts and other groups that use the Waiākea Recreation Center will perform free athletic demonstrations.

Located at 1634 Kamehameha Avenue, the Waiākea Recreation Center has undergone a five month, $1.7 million makeover that has made it more comfortable, accessible and safer for the numerous groups and individuals who use it.

New roof insulation, ceiling fans and lighting have been installed in the main gym area. Extensive termite and water damage have been repaired, new roofing systems installed, hazardous building materials removed, existing bathrooms and showers renovated, the entire facility repainted, and various other improvements performed to meet federal accessibility standards.

General contractor Stan’s Contracting Inc. also installed an underground drainage system in the parking lot, graded and repaved the parking area and three driveway entrances, and connected the facility to the County’s wastewater treatment system.

Many others helped to make an improved Waiākea Recreation Center and save taxpayer money. Several martial arts organizations volunteered their time to complete various finishing touches in preparation for this weekend’s reopening, while personnel from the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Maintenance Division performed numerous repair tasks that complemented the contractor’s efforts.

The Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to thank the Shudokan Judo Club for improving the judo mat area, the Hilo Seishikan Aikido Club for repainting the kitchen, the Hilo Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Club for beautifying the planter boxes, and the Kongo Zen Shorinji Ryu Son Ryu Karate Club for repainting the wooden floor of the martial arts practice area.

The department also wishes to recognize the following organizations for their monetary contributions and/or volunteer efforts toward improving the facility: Hilo Reshinkan Kendo Club; Hilo Tae Kwon Do Association; Waiākea Judo Club; Hawai‘i International Karate League; Hilo Kobukan Kendo Club; Hayaite Shotokan Karate; Atkins Martial Arts; Mo Min Kuen; Danish Fitness; Morning Fitness; Evening Fitness; and Insane Workout.

A sincere mahalo is extended to all Waiākea Recreation Center users and the general public for their patience and understanding while this important recreational center was being enhanced, repaired, and made more accessible.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

 

New Hawaiian Paradise Park Bus Route Begins April 1st

Effective April 1, 2013, a change to the Pahoa-Hilo Hele-On Bus route will bring long-awaited service to the residents of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

New Bus Route

On any given day, a young mother has her child strapped to her back, hiking down Maku`u Drive; residents struggle as they hitchhike long distances, and our kupuna become isolated and shut-in. “It’s a dangerous situation,” said Council Member Greggor Ilagan of District 4. “The community needs this bus service to access necessary social and medical services,” said Council Member Ilagan.

The Hilo-bound bus will turn from Highway 130 down Maku’u Drive to 16th, across to Paradise Drive, and back up to Highway 130. The Pahoa-bound bus will turn down Paradise, across 16th, and up Maku’u before continuing on Highway 130 toward Pahoa. The dedicated bus stop will be located at the HPP Activities Center and riders may park their vehicles or bikes there. Flag stopping will be honored where it is safe to do so, however riders should call the transit agency for tips.

“We thank our riders for supporting our Hele-On Bus system. This expansion will have a positive impact on the Hawaiian Paradise Park,” said Acting Administrator of Hawai’i County Mass Transit Agency, Tiffany Kai.

The Hilo-bound bus will run through HPP at 6:25 a.m., 12:05 p.m., and 4:35 p.m. The Pahoa-bound bus will run through HPP at 10:45 a.m., 2:35 p.m., and 4:50 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“This new Hele-On Bus route in HPP is the result of many people working together. I thank the HPP Owners Association’s President June Conant, the Board of Directors, Tiffany Kai and the Hawai’i County Mass Transit Agency, as well as Mayor Billy Kenoi for making this happen,” said Council Member Ilagan. “Serving the community is my priority. We invite everyone to utilize this new route to ensure its success.”

For more information, contact the Hawai’i Mass Transit Agency at www.heleonbus.org, or call 961-8744. Council Member Ilagan of District 4 is available at 965-2712.

 

Mayor Kenoi Submits Budget To Council

In accordance with the Hawai’i County Charter, Mayor Billy Kenoi today submitted a proposed Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget to the Hawai’i County Council.

Click to see the full report

Click to see the full report

This FY 2013-2014 budget is $32,426,525 or 8.0 percent less than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. It marks the fifth consecutive year of our efforts to control the cost of government in a strategic and responsible manner that maintains critical infrastructure and public services. This proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.

Printed copies of the full budget are available by request from the Mayor’s Office in Hilo (808-961-8211). A PDF of the budget message is available for download at this link: Hawaii County 2013-2014 Budget Message.

 

County of Hawai’i’s Strong Bond Rating Affirmed

Fitch Ratings on Wednesday affirmed the County of Hawai’i’s strong bond rating, citing the county’s sound financial management and conservative budgeting as grounds to maintain the county’s “AA-” classification.  Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s Rating Services also affirmed the County’s ratings.

Fitch Ratings“This rating review by nationally recognized experts is a testament to our careful, conservative approach to balancing the budget in very challenging economic times,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “This demonstrates that we have taken a responsible approach to cutting costs and controlling spending, and I am very pleased that these agencies recognize the hard work by all of our employees. I want to thank all those who worked so hard to keep our county on sound financial footing.”

The ratings reviews were prompted by county plans to issue $97.52 million in bonds on Jan. 29, including $47.52 million that will be used to refinance existing debt to take advantage of today’s exceptionally low interest rates.

 

 

Makalei Fire Station in North Kona Blessed

For the people of Kona, it means faster emergency responses and lower insurance premiums. For future firefighters, it’s a modern classroom to learn the art of fire science. And for the fire fighters who keep our community safe, it’s home.

“Welcome to your home,” Hawai‘i County Fire Chief Darren Rosario told about 80 people in attendance as the County of Hawai‘i opened the doors to its newest and largest facility, the $7 million Makalei Fire Station.

Located on Māmalahoa Highway less than a mile north of its intersection with Ka‘iminani Drive, the 11,000 square foot Makalei station sits on more than two acres just south of the 32-mile marker on the mauka side of the highway.

The fire station, designed by KYA Design Group, includes three apparatus bays, hose tower, pump house, office, kitchen and training room, dormitory, exercise/work rooms, a dedicated classroom, laundry room, fuel tank and parking areas for staff and guests.  Parked outside one of the bays was a bright yellow pumper with “North Kona” emblazoned on the doors. The station will also feature a hazardous materials unit and a ladder truck.

About $4 million of the funding for the project came from a federal grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through its Fire Station Construction Grant Program. Ground was broken in March 2011.

“This is a special day here in Kalaoa, in North Kona. This 11,000 square foot home will house those who run in when a lot of us are running out. Those who protect our community, protect our parents, our kūpuna, protect our children,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.

Joining Mayor Kenoi and Chief Rosario in speaking at today’s blessing were former Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira, Kahu Kaniala Akaka, who performed the blessing, and Hannah Kihalani Springer, who gave a history of the area and the Makalei name.

The station will positively impact the Kalaoa area of North Kona with quicker emergency response times and lower homeowner insurance rates. Before Makalei Fire Station was built, the next closest unit was seven miles to the south at the intersection of Palani Road and Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway. Response time from the Kailua Kona Station to Makalei is about 15 minutes.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the station is the hose tower, which doubles as a training facility for building fires and cliff rescues. Materials used to manufacture modern hoses make hose towers optional features on fire stations, but the one at Makalei has a catwalk on the inside that will be used to train a firefighter how to pick up a victim and get him out of a building. The tower will also be used to train recruits how to rappel down the side of a building or a cliff during an emergency. Also included in the facility is a dedicated classroom.

Videos From Monday’s Mayoral and Prosecuting Attorney Debates

On Monday evening at Kealakehe High School, debates were held between Mayor Kenoi and Candidate Harry Kim for the Hawaii County Mayor’s race.

Part I:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/fZ9ZFby9iCQ]

Part II:

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

The candidates for Hawaii County Prosecutor also debated on Monday:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/aXTlnDIP6S4]

Video’s from the KLEI youtube channel.

I’m still running the following polls:

TONIGHT – Mayoral and County Prosecutor Debates on the Radio

Mayor Candidates and County Prosecutor Candidates will debate tonight from 6 p.m. til 8:15 p.m. at the  Kealakehe High School Cafeteria and will be broadcast live on the radio at LAVA 105.3 fm. 

Candidates for Mayor,  Mayor Billy Kenoi and former Mayor Harry Kim, and Candidates for Prosecutor, Lincoln Ashida and Mitch Roth have agreed to attend.

Food sales by Kealakehe High Principal Wil Murakami and School Community Council at 5:15 p.m. featuring Chinese Chicken Salad and homemade cookies.

The moderator for tonight’s debates is Sherry Bracken.

Here are a couple polls that I’m running in these races:

New Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter to Break Ground This Fall

Ka‘ū District residents will see their ideas and dreams for a community gym and emergency center begin to take shape this fall with the start of construction on the new Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter.

The County of Hawai‘i recently awarded the $17 million construction contract to Summit Construction; construction is expected to begin this September and last approximately 18 months to complete.

The new Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter will be located on the Ka‘ū High and Pāhala Elementary school campus.  It will be operated and maintained by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation.

The 43,300- square-foot facility will be built to Enhanced Hurricane criteria.

In acknowledgment of Ka‘ū’s proximity to vog emissions, the multi-purpose room and recreational room are provided with filtration systems and can serve as a shelter when there is an increased level of volcanic discharge in the area’s atmosphere.

The size and diversity of the facility is in direct response to comments gathered in November and December from the community, said Mayor Billy Kenoi.  “The Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter has been designed to expand athletic and recreational opportunities, serve as a destination for community events and emergency shelter during natural disasters.”

The gym will also accommodate three regulation HHSAA basketball or volleyball courts, and could host the Big Island Interscholastic (BIIF) basketball or volleyball games.  Accessory rooms will include; locker and training rooms, and restrooms; a lobby, courtyard, certified kitchen, ticket booths; and office space, and storage areas for the State Department of Education, County Parks & Recreation, and the American Red Cross.

Mary Correa, Complex Area Superintendent for Ka‘ū – Kea‘au, Pāhoa Complex Area (KKPCA) said, “We are appreciative of the partnership between the County of Hawai‘i, the Department of Education Facilities Section Duane Kashiwai, Nick Nichols, Tracy Okumura, Ka‘ū High Principal Sharon Beck and Athletic Director Kalei Namohala.  They worked diligently and quickly to figure out what was needed to award a construction contract before the fiscal year ended in June.  We are also grateful to Senator Gil Kahele and Representative Bob Herkes for securing funding for a new Gym and Shelter in Ka‘ū District.  Our students and the community are excited to have a new gym in their midst and continue to dream of possibilities once it is completed.”

A groundbreaking will be held prior to the start of construction.

 

2012 Big Island Film Festival Kicks Off With Reception Hosted by Mayor Kenoi

The 2012 Big Island Film Festival kicked off today with workshops by Brian Kohne and Jennifer Grisanti, then from 5:00 – 7:00, the festival had an opening reception hosted by Mayor Billy Kenoi which included light pupu’s, wine from Kenwood Vineyard and Hula performed by a local Halau.

Mayor Kenoi flanked by Hollywood consultant Jennifer Grisanti (Left) and television star Eloise Mumford (Right)

The festival continues for the next few days ending on Monday night with a concert by Kohala.

You can click on the pictures below to make them larger:

2012 Student Malama Award – Hawaii Island Student Sustainability Award

The Office of Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi is pleased to announce the Student Malama Award, the first Hawai‘i Island student sustainability award to highlight and celebrate youth led stewardship and sustainability initiatives on the Big Island .  Outstanding student leaders in this field will be awarded $500 scholarships.

Click for application form

Individual students and student groups from public, charter and private schools, as well as for-profit or non-profit youth organizations are eligible to apply.

Projects may include, but are not limited to topics such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, agriculture such as school gardens and local foods; resource management such as zero waste, community-based volunteerism, social and community service, and environmental projects such as conservation and preservation of the ocean, land and forest.

Scholarships will be awarded to winners in K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade categories.  An awards ceremony luncheon with Mayor Billy Kenoi will be scheduled for the end of the school year.

Nomination applications may be found on the Office of the Mayor’s website at www.hawaiicounty.gov/office-of-the-mayor/categories/SMA.  The nomination deadline is April 15, 2012.

For more information contact Barbara Kossow at 323-4448 or Lisa Robertson at 961-8211.

The Mayor’s Corner… With Mayor Billy Kenoi – A New Web Based Series?

Well it looks like Mayor Kenoi is starting up some sort of new “Mayor’s Corner” video segment on KLEI-TV.

KLEI-TV appears to be a digital channel based out of Kailua-Kona and they posted the following video on youtube yesterday:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/wNr8TvJuSKI]

At the end of the episode, Mayor Kenoi states “I’ll see you on the next edition of The Mayor’s Corner…” so I assume that this may become some sort of a series?

A quick scan of the KLEITV youtube channel shows that The Mayor’s Corner is the only one produced in English and it looks like the KLEIT.TV website in general is geared to the Filipino community.

Mayor Kenoi at APEC 2011

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi spent Thursday and Friday in Honolulu engaged in high-level talks with East Asian officials about investment and visitor industry opportunities on Hawaii Island.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi speaks to newsman Howard Dicus during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit Wednesday, Nov. 9 in Honolulu.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi speaks to newsman Howard Dicus during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit Wednesday

The mayor is participating in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference taking place this week in Honolulu. Leaders of nearly two dozen Pacific Rim countries, their ministers and other high officials are in Honolulu to discuss various economic opportunities and issues such as renewable energy.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi speaks to two reporters from the Guangzhou Daily News, the world's 24th largest newspaper in the world during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit Wednesday, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi speaks to two reporters from the Guangzhou Daily News, the world's 24th largest newspaper in the world during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit Wednesday,

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi speaks to two reporters from the Guangzhou Daily News, the world's 24th largest newspaper in the world during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit Wednesday,

Mayor Kenoi has also been interviewed by various local and international media outlets, including the Guangzhou Daily News, which featured the mayor on the front page of the Thursday edition of this large southern Chinese newspaper, the 24th largest newspaper in the world in circulation at 1.6 million editions a day.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi speaks to reporters from the People's Republic of China, Russia, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan and other Pacific Nations during an event hosted by the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board and the Hawaii Visitors Bureau

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi speaks to reporters from the People's Republic of China, Russia, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan and other Pacific Nations during an event hosted by the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board and the Hawaii Visitors Bureau

“We want to let people know that there is an island called Hawaii, and that island is covered with natural wonders and great economic opportunity,” said Mayor Kenoi. “APEC is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do this on a world stage.”

On Wednesday, the mayor welcomed journalists from all around the Pacific Rim during an event in Honolulu hosted by the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board and the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. Journalists from the People’s Republic of China, South Korea, Russia, England and Vietnam as well as other countries had the opportunity to meet many county and state officials as well as leading businessmen from Hawaii Island.

“While we have extended invitations to these journalists to visit Hawaii Island, we understand that many of them came to cover APEC, so we did the next best thing to taking them to Hawaii Island,” said Kenoi. “We brought Hawaii Island to them.”

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

Hawaii Island is also represented by a display at the Hawaii Convention Center.  The Hawaii Island booth, which is being manned by county officials, features island products such as Kona and Ka’u coffee as well as island grown macadamia nuts and Kona potato chips.

Also represented from the Big Island was Business Innovation awardee Big Island Carbon, alternative energy company Sopogy, ocean thermal energy conversion technology developer Makai Ocean Engineering and a number of telescopes.

La Réunion President Robert Didier Tours Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

The president of La Réunion, a French volcanic island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, visited Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Thursday afternoon, and marveled over similarities between Hawai‘i Island and his home.

La Réunion President Robert Didier, and his delegation

Officials from La Réunion Island visited Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Thursday afternoon. Pictured from left to right: Alain Gerente, Marie Gerente, La Réunion Film Commissioner Edy Payet, Vice-President Jean-Francois Sita, La Réunion President Robert Didier, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Chief of Interpretation Jim Gale, and La Réunion Public Information Officer Corinne Peyron-Beaulieu

La Réunion President Robert Didier, and his delegation of Vice President Jean-Francois Sita, Film Commissioner Edy Payet and Public Information Officer Corinne Peyron-Beaulieu, explored the park as part of a four-day mission to “build a bridge” between La Réunion and Hawai‘i Island by promoting sister park status between Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Réunion National Park. Both national parks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and both are home to active volcanoes.

Both islands are located in the middle of vast oceans, and are situated over volcanic hot spots. La Réunion’s active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise (“Peak of the Furnace”), is listed among earth’s most active volcanoes and last erupted in 2010. It stands 8,632 feet above sea level, and like Kī
lauea, is a shield volcano.

President Didier and his delegation were also here to gather ideas on how to increase tourism to La Réunion by promoting its national park, which comprises 40 percent of the 970-square-mile island. By comparison, the Island of Hawai‘i is 4,028 square miles.

“Tourism is key to our economic success. We want to have tourism but also environmental respect. Our ecology, our biodiversity, is unique,” President Didier said. Réunion National Park is largely undeveloped, he said. In 2010, approximately 400,000 tourists visited La Réunion. President Didier said they intend to increase the number of visitors to 600,000 by 2015.

Part-time Volcano residents and La Réunion citizens Marie and Alain Gerente were instrumental in planning President Didier’s trip to Hawai‘i, and accompanied the delegation as liaisons and translators.

Other similarities between the two islands include a multicultural population. In Reunion, a mix of people from European, African, Malagasy, Indian and Chinese ancestry comprise the population. Both islands have dense rainforests, a high level of endemism, and are home to white-tailed tropic birds – an important national symbol in La Réunion. La Réunion also has olivine, and therefore, green sand beaches.

“I stepped off the plane, and looked around, and said, ‘oh, I’m at home,’” President Didier said.

The delegation also met with Mayor Billy Kenoi, Big Island Visitors Bureau, Executive Director George Applegate and other officials, and toured Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.

Hawaii County Police Awarded Funding for Six New Officers for Rural Areas

The County of Hawai`i has been awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to hire six additional police officers, Mayor Billy Kenoi announced today.

The COPS grant application process is highly competitive, and the County of Hawai`i was awarded $1,392,336 to cover salaries and benefits for six officers for three years. A total of $243 million was awarded to communities across the nation, according to an announcement by the Department of Justice.

“The six additional positions for the County of Hawai`i will be used to add officers and increase patrols in the Puna District and other rural districts where the populations have been growing, and where the demand for police services has grown,” Mayor Kenoi said. “This will help to protect the public, and make our communities safer. We want to thank the Department of Justice, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and our entire Congressional delegation for this assistance.”

Hawai`i County Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said the funding will be used to hire, train and field the officers, who will be deployed to rural areas that have shown the largest increases in calls for service.

“Especially in these difficult economic times, this grant represents an important boost for public safety,” Chief Kubojiri said. “We have asked our officers to do more with less, and they have responded. We have seen an overall decline in reported crimes in the county over the last decade, but there are some areas including Puna that have seen an increase in calls for service. There is much more to be done, and the entire community will benefit from these additional police officers.”

The last increase in the number of police officers in the county was in 2004, when 10 officers were added in Kona, and five were added in Puna, Kubojiri said. The police department now has 432 authorized sworn officer positions, including eight vacant positions.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) today announced more than $243 million in grants awarded nationwide to 238 law enforcement agencies and municipalities for the hiring of new officers and deputies.

The awards were made through the COPS Hiring Program, a competitive grant program that provides funding directly to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire police officers dedicated to addressing specific crime and disorder challenges confronting communities.  The grants provide 100 percent funding for the entry-level salaries and benefits of newly-hired, or rehired, full-time officer positions over a three-year period.

For the 2011 COPS Hiring Program, 2,712 applications were received requesting more than $2 billion and 8,999 positions.  Funding decisions were based on an agency’s commitment to community policing, crime rates, changes in law enforcement budgets, and other local fiscal data (poverty, unemployment, foreclosure rates, etc.).

“Cities across the country are dealing with numerous challenges and we are pleased to be able to assist their public safety efforts,” said COPS Director Bernard Melekian. “Creating and maintaining jobs is a key part of this program.  This funding helps support local departments in their efforts to increase their ranks, enhance their relationship with the community and directly address their public safety concerns.”

The 2011 COPS Hiring Program awards will create or help preserve 1,021 sworn law enforcement positions.  The jobs created, preserved or refilled with COPS Hiring Program funds will advance community policing at the local level and contribute greatly to the quality of life of the citizens in each community.

The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, COPS has awarded over $13 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of approximately 120,000 officers and to provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training, technical assistance, conferences, and webcasts.

For additional information about the COPS Hiring Program, and to view a list of municipalities that received grants, visit the COPS website at www.cops.usdoj.gov.

Hawaii County Mayor Poll: Kenoi vs. Yagong

Last Thursday, Nancy Cook Lauer wrote an article in the Hawaii Tribune entitled “Yagong vs. Kenoi for Mayor?

Two Hawaii County councilmen have cleared the decks for a potential Dominic Yagong-Billy Kenoi mayoral match-up next year.

I know Yagong hasn’t officially filed but if the Hawaii County Mayor Elections were held today, who would you vote for?  I know this isn’t anything official… just curious to see who the readers of this site would vote for.

[polldaddy poll=5334067]



Mayor Kenoi Speaks About the Big Islands Role in APEC 2011

Remarks by Hawaii County Mayor William P. Kenoi regarding the Big Islands Role in the upcoming Asian Pacific Economic Conference (APEC 2011)

[youtube=http://youtu.be/h13H7JTTqnA]