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VIDEO: Monk Seal with Knife in Mouth

The Hawai‘i Department of Land and Resources reported that had it been something other than a sharp fishing knife, the video below may have been endearing.

Screen shot from DOCARE video of Hawaiian monk seal pup Manu‘iwa with knife.

A Hawaiian monk seal pup named Manu‘iwa had recently weaned from its mother on a Hawai‘i Island beach. Staff from Ke Kai Ola, a hospital operated by The Marine Mammal Center at Kailua-Kona, and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) have been monitoring the pup’s health and growth.

On Sunday, April 15, 2018, the seal was spotted playing with a bright orange object in its mouth. As they watched the seal dive beneath near-shore rocks and come back up, they realized Manu‘iwa was holding a knife in its mouth by its handle.

The DOCARE officer who captured the incident on video tape commented, “There was real concern that the seal pup might swallow the knife. It’s a reminder to all of us to properly dispose of our trash and not to leave it on Hawai‘i’s beaches or in the ocean.”

At one point, the seal dropped the knife under the rocks and it was later retrieved.

Animal experts say that it’s critical for young seals not to have human interactions so they can learn to be wild animals, especially after they’ve weaned from their mothers and are on their own.

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Fisheries asks people to report all monk seal sightings to your island’s Marine Mammal Response Coordinator:

Hawai‘i Island – East: (808) 756-5961
Hawai‘i Island – West: (808) 987-0765

O‘ahu: (808) 220-7802
Kaua‘i: (808) 651-7668
Moloka‘i: (808) 553-5555
Maui / Lāna‘i: (808) 292-2372

Summit Deflation Leads to Slight Drop in Lava Lake Level

The U.S. Geological Survey reports summit deflation began the morning of Wednesday, April 18, 2018, and the lake level has dropped slightly.

In this photo, an HVO geologist checks on a time-lapse camera on the rim of Halema‘uma‘u Crater. A large spatter site is active along the east margin of the lake. Courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.

On Wednesday morning, April 18, the lake was about 14 meters (46 feet) below the overlook of the crater rim, having dropped roughly 4 meters (13 feet) since yesterday morning.

VIDEO, PHOTO UPDATE, PM: APRIL 1: Merrie Monarch Festival Hoʻolauleʻa

HAWAI'I ISLAND: 2018 Merrie Monarch Ho'olaule'a.More information here: http://bigislandnow.com/category/merrie-monarch/#BigIslandNow #MerrieMonarch

Posted by BigIslandNow.com on Sunday, April 1, 2018

HAWAI'I ISLAND: 2018 Merrie Monarch Ho'olaule'a.KSBE's Halau.More information here: http://bigislandnow.com/category/merrie-monarch/#BigIslandNow #MerrieMonarch

Posted by BigIslandNow.com on Sunday, April 1, 2018

Sunday, April 1, p.m.
Hoʻolauleʻa (celebration)
Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium
Free admission to watch performances by local hālau.

[slideshow]

TOMORROW, Monday, April 2

Merrie Monarch Free Mid-day Entertainment
Monday through Friday, April 2–6
Entertainment at the Grand Naniloa Hotel, noon
Entertainment at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, 1 p.m.

RELATED LINKS

Merrie Monarch Ho‘olaulea, April 1, 2018.

Merrie Monarch Ho‘olaulea, April 1, 2018.

Merrie Monarch Ho‘olaulea, April 1, 2018.

Merrie Monarch Ho‘olaulea, April 1, 2018.

Merrie Monarch Ho‘olaulea, April 1, 2018.

Merrie Monarch Ho‘olaulea, April 1, 2018.

Merrie Monarch Ho‘olaulea, April 1, 2018.

2018 Merrie Monarch Festival Event Lineup
Merrie Monarch Festival 2018 Announces Judges
2018 Merrie Monarch Festival Participating Hālau
2018 Merrie Monarch Festival Announces Miss Aloha Hula Participants

Merrie Monarch Ho‘olaulea, April 1, 2018.

Merrie Monarch Ho‘olaulea, April 1, 2018.

 

Mayor Kim Responds to Hilo Farmers Market Closure

Tarps removed from the Hilo Farmers Market.

Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim released the following statement on Thursday, March 29, 2018, regarding the county’s order removing the tarps and tents from the Hilo Farmers Market:

“The information out there regarding the closure of the Farmer’s Market in Hilo is so wrong and misleading that it prompts this open response,” said Mayor Kim. “The public should know of truth that their government has sincerely tried to help Mr. De La Cruz comply with the county, state and federal laws to keep the market in operation. A commitment was made and kept by the county to help keep it open and develop a place to be proud of. The choices made that caused this closure and hardships imposed on the tenants were not made by your government.

“I will be more than willing to meet with anyone to discuss the history of this closure.”

Hawai‘i County:

Farmers Market Background

The Hilo Farmers Market is an important part of downtown Hilo. It has been successful due to the diversity and freshness of the offerings of its vendors. The county has tried to work with the owner for years to bring the properties into compliance with building, fire, and zoning codes. The conditions were allowed to persist for all these years in deference to constantly changing plans proposed by the owner. Continuous efforts over the past year by the county to guide the owner into compliance were unsuccessful due to delay or no action on the owner’s part.

The only way to finally achieve results was to enforce the notice of violation that the owner received in June of 2017 which clearly stated the consequences if the proper permits were not acquired in a timely fashion. This enforcement was done in fairness and responsibility to all others who follow county, state, and federal requirements.

Violations of County Code and Regulations

  • No building permits. The Farmers Market has been operating for over 20 years without any building permits.  Temporary structures, such as large tents greater than 120 s.f., used for commercial purposes are required to have a temporary building permit which is good for 180 days only.
  • Non-flammable tent material. Tents larger than 750 square feet are required to have non-flammable or non-combustible tent material.  The Fire Department reviewed and approved proposed tent material.  The owner just had to place the order.
  • Non-permitted electrical wiring. Electrical wiring was energized, used, and operated without required electrical inspections and approval of electrical work performed.
  • Extended hours of operation. Farmers Market operations exceeded two days a week as limited by Special Management Area Minor Permit No. 54.
  • Non-permitted sign. A large sign was installed without acquiring the required permits.
  • No setbacks between tents and property boundary. Temporary structures are required to have a 10 foot setback from the property boundaries and 10 foot spacing between tents.

Failure to Construct Permanent Structure as Required

The owner had 10 years to construct a permanent structure as required by SMA approval. The deadline of March 2018 has not been met. The farmers market owner initially received Planning Department approval for a permanent structure in 2008. A condition for approval required completion of construction within five years. In 2013, the owner requested an extension for another five years. The extension was granted with a new deadline of March 18, 2018.

County Assistance Provided

  • Meeting with the Mayor. On Jan.31, 2017, and Feb. 17, 2017, the mayor met with the owner to determine the status of plans to meet the March 2018 deadline and offered assistance to facilitate development.  The mayor assigned an executive assistant to work with the owner.
  • Issues Identified. The executive assistant coordinated with various departments to identify the types, sequence and estimated processing time of permits. Since the farmers market is located in the special flood hazard zone exposed to tsunami and high waves, one major issue was how to comply with these strict standards. Working with the Department of Public Works, a feasible solution was determined that allowed for a simplified structure.
  • Schedule and Budget. The executive assistant helped the owner to assess how much the owner could finance to design and construct a permanent structure based on the substantial total annual rent income the owner receives from the vendors. Additional help also identified steps to start construction of a permanent structure including development of a schedule to meet the March 2018 deadline. The schedule required prompt action by the owner.

Critical and Timely Actions Needed by Owner to Meet Schedule

  • Hire an architect to design a permanent structure and prepare the building permit application.
  • Secure financing for design and construction.
  • Apply for amendment to SMA permits for preferred hours of operation and revised design of structure.
  • Secure Plan Approval for commercial operations.

No Action by Owner

On May 24, 2017, the mayor and several departments met with the owner to assess his progress. Despite assurances from the owner to carry out critical tasks identified in the last meeting, it became evident that the owner made no progress. Consequently, the county issued notice of violations in June 2017 requiring the owner to obtain temporary structure permits or submit plans for a permanent structure. The assessed fines for violations and failure to meet deadlines were clearly outlined in the violation notice.

Time Extensions Granted

Three time extensions were granted over a 6-month period through Dec. 31, 2017, to provide time for the owner to comply. At the end of December 2017, the owner submitted applications for temporary structures. These permits were approved but the owner has not picked up the approved permits.

Order Issued

To motivate action, the only recourse was to issue an order imposing fines as declared in the June 2017 violation notice.

The County of Hawaiʻi has worked closely with the owner and made numerous efforts to help preserve the Hilo Farmers Market and bring it into compliance. It is incumbent upon the owner to continue to work with the county in a timely manner to secure the necessary permits to operate his business.

The county is committed to assisting the owner in developing a permanent farmers market that can be a fixture of the Hilo landscape, provide a safe environment for the community to shop and help make Hilo a beautiful and nice place to live.

Long-Awaited ‘KULEANA’ Opens Today

“KULEANA” is here. PC: BIN

The award-winning film KULEANA began its statewide theatrical release today, Friday, March 30, 2018, at Regal and Consolidated Theaters throughout Hawai‘i.

The film opened the Regal Keauhou Stadium 7 at the Keauhou Shopping Center in Kailua-Kona and the Regal Prince Kuhio 9 in Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo.

Big Island Now attended the noon showing at the Regal Prince Kuhio, where 90 of the 100 seats in theater were filled.

Moviegoers enjoyed the film, sharing their comments with Big Island Now—”great,” terrific,” “brilliant,” “it was wonderful,” “loved it,” “it gave me chicken skin.”

Produced entirely in Hawai‘i, KULEANA has received the Audience Choice Award in the Santa Cruz Film Festival, the Maui Film Festival and the San Antonio Film Festival, as well as “Best of Fest” in the Guam International Film Festival.

Boasting high production values in picture, performances and music, KULEANA has earned the faith of mainland theater giants Reading International (Consolidated) and Regal, which will also open the movie in Guam.

“Kuleana” is the Hawaiian word for spiritual responsibility. In KULEANA, set in Hawai‘i in 1971, a disabled Vietnam vet rediscovers the Hawaiian warrior within to protect his family, defend their land, and clear his father’s name.

Kristina Anapau (True Blood, Black Swan), one of the film’s stars and executive producers, is a Hilo-native, now living and working in Hollywood.

The film also stars Moronai Kanekoa, Stefan Schaefer, Sonya Balmores (Marvel’s INHUMANS), Vene Chun, Augie T, Marlene Sai, Branscombe Richmond (CHICAGO MED) and Mel Cabang.

KULEANA was written and directed by Brian Kohne and produced by Stefan Schaefer.

Willie K provides an original score; the soundtrack boasts hit songs by Joni Mitchell, Procol Harum, and Tony Orlando and Dawn, with Hawaiian classics of the era by Genoa Keawe, Lena Machado, Sunday Manoa, Sons of Hawaii, Marlene Sai and more.

REVIEWS

MAUI TIME, Barry Wurst II: “Brian Kohne’s eagerly awaited KULEANA is a film island audiences deserve but might not be expecting… Ambitious and more absorbing than most 2017 films, [Director Brian] Kohne infuses magical realism, social commentary and Hawaiian history into a dense, busy, but coherent narrative… An original blend of Hawai‘’s history, spirituality and culture. Kuleana introduces a unique new film genre: Hawaiian Noir. While the setting may be tropical paradise, it’s set against a shocking and densely plotted mystery that twists and turns like a Raymond Chandler thriller.

THE MAUI NEWS, Rick Chatanever: “This is heady, heartfelt stuff, a vision of Hawai‘i very different from the Hollywood version. While the plot is sometimes convoluted, and the film’s subtleties, including extensive use of Hawaiian language, might not be as resonant elsewhere… KULEANA’s message is universal. It’s a work of powerful emotions, rich imagination, uncommon cultural sensitivity, and performances and production values belying its tiny budget.

The film received an MPAA PG-13 rating, and also holds a spot on popular movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Keauhou Shopping Center is located at 78-6831 Ali‘i Drive, H-24. Prince Kuhio Plaza is located at 111 E Puainako St., #400.

Mainland residents can sign up to host/attend a screening in their city at www.hawaiicinema.com via Gathr.

For more information, go online.

Pacific Media Group, Big Island Now’s parent company, is a shareholder in the film KULEANA.

UPDATE 3: Shark Attack on Hawai‘i Island’s Kona Coast

UPDATE 3 : March 31, 1:20 p.m.

25-year-old male was stand-up paddle boarding approximately 100 to 150 yards off shore when he sustained injuries from a suspected shark attack.

Upon EMS arrival at 9:45 a.m., the victim was being treated by bystanders with multiple tourniquets to his right side extremities due to extensive injuries from a suspected shark attack.

The victim was then transported by Aeromedical Helicopter to a local hospital in critical condition where he is currently being treated.

UPDATE 2: March 31, 12:35 p.m.

At about 9:30 this morning, the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources was notified by the Hawai‘i County Fire Department of a shark incident near Kikaua Point fronting Kukio Resort.

A 25-year-old man was taken by HFD helicopter to North Hawai‘i hospital with multiple injuries to his hand and leg.

Standard procedure is for beach closure signs to warn ocean goers for one mile on either side of the incident until noon the next day.

A decision will be made to reopen beaches based on observations tomorrow morning.

UPDATE 1: March 31, 12:12 p.m.

According to an unofficial report, a father and son were paddle boarding together when a shark bumped the son off his board, bit him, and proceeded to go after the father.

Updates will be provided as they become available.

ORIGINAL POST: March 31, 2018, 11:31 a.m.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department reported a shark attack on Saturday, March 31, 2018, at 11 a.m.. The attack occurred at Kukio Beach on the Kona Coast near Hualalai.

Public beach access in this area is closed and will remain closed today.

More information will be published as it becomes available.

VIDEO: Hilo Farmers Market New Look

Despite county orders to the owners of the Hilo Farmers Market to take down their tarps and tents or face a $4,000 fine per day for being in operation, Big Island vendors are continuing to support the market location. Many have already begun to sell their goods again in their own private pop-up tents.

New look to Hilo Farmers Market.

Many residents on the Big Island were shocked to learn that the Hilo Farmers Market was forced to take down their tarps and tents that have been a Hilo mainstay for over 30 years.

Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim said that he had tried to work with the market over the years, but finally, the county had to shut the location down and on Sunday, March 25, 2018. Poles and tarps were removed.

Vendors were upset with the short notice given to them; however, many have gotten over the shock of the idea of not having a permanent tent and have already gotten use to using their own 10-by-10-foot pop-up tents.

Hilo Farmers Market.

While the vendors can set up any day of the week, the market has traditionally enjoyed its largest crowds on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Big Island Now walked through a part of the market on Tuesday, March 27, 2018:

HAWAI'I ISLAND: Hilo Farmers Market has a new look. More information on #BigIslandNow

Posted by BigIslandNow.com on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Petco Announces Opening Date

Another major mainland chain store will open in Prince Kūhiō Plaza soon, following the TJ Maxx opening last month.

Petco Hilo.

Petco announced that it is planning a soft opening and blessing on Monday, April 9, 2018, at 9 a.m.

Customers will be able to browse and purchase items from the store beginning on that day.

Store Leader John Fernandez said that approximately 30 people will be employed at the store, which will offer everything from pet grooming, adoptions, dog training and washes, aquatic fish and general pet supplies.

Hilo services offered online.

Fernandez emphasized that everyone who is being hired by the store is a local resident and that even the grooming company that the Petco will use is a Big Island company called Shear Magic.

A grand opening is planned for Saturday, May 5, 2018. The normal store hours will be Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

County Orders Hilo Farmers Market to Take Down Tents

The County of Hawai‘i has ordered Hilo Farmers Market to remove the tarps and the tents that have been its primary structures for over 33 years or face $4,000 in fines for each day they remain in place.

Hilo Farmers Market.

According to Keith Del La Cruz, owner and manager of the market, Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim ordered the removal.  When Del La Cruz was asked why the order was given, he said, “That is a good question.”

When asked if the tents would be replaced or what would happen with the vendors, Del La Cruz stated:

“We have been processing with the county for the last seven months for notices and violations. Since June of 2017, we have had our permits and are working with them [the county] in good faith to try and resolve the notices and violations…  and to submit drawings for a new farmers market roof. So just in the last several days, we have received a county order to take down the tarps or get fined each day $4,000 per day.”

Workers removed Hilo Farmers Market tarps on Sunday, March 25, 2018

The market plans to remain open; however, vendors will need to provide their own pop-up tents.

Hilo Farmers Market.

The market owner would still like to process its permits for tenants and a permanent roof. Those application processes are ongoing.

Del La Cruz remains hopeful the county will expedite the permitting process so that there is not a long-term effect on the market “being in a new mode.”

Hilo Farmers Market.

Del La Cruz has been trying to secure financing for a permanent roof; however, the economy has made it very difficult and the order to take down the tents does not include any assistance in securing funding.

Hilo Farmers Market: the end of an era.

Del La Cruz doesn’t know if any notices have been given to any other farmers markets on the island.

What Happens To Scrap Tires on the Big Island

Hawai‘i County Mayor’s Office announced that over one million motor vehicle tires are imported into Hawai‘i each year, according to a fact sheet on the State of Hawai‘i Department of Health’s website entitled “How to Manage Your Scrap Tires.” Consequently, a large number of scrap tires are generated when new tires are installed.

Hawai‘i law (Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, Chapter 342I, Part II) requires a tire retailer to charge a disposal fee for each new tire purchased, even if the customer chooses to keep the old tire. The intent of the law is to decrease the health risks from tires by reducing the number of scrap tires in the community. Scrap tires may collect water which can contribute to mosquito borne diseases, or they can catch fire and create toxic smoke. The Hawaiʻi County Code also prohibits disposal of tires in landfills or transfer stations.

It is estimated that more than 50% of scrap tires from the island of Hawai‘i are used to generate electricity in waste-to-energy plants or heat for industrial uses. Most scrap tires are utilized to generate energy on O‘ahu, the U.S. mainland and in foreign countries.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 publication, entitled, “Scrap Tires: Handbook on Recycling Applications and Management for the U.S. and Mexico” states that 54% of scrap tires generated in 2007 were used as fuel, and only about 17% were processed into ground rubber and utilized to make many creative products.

Scrap tires are also recycled to make a wide range of products that include recreational court surfaces, rubber mats, mulch, fill material, rubberized asphalt, traffic cones and even furniture. The County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Environmental Management used scrap tire crumbs as ground cover at some of the county’s recycling and transfer stations. The county is unaware of any current on-island producers of used tire content products.

For information about recycling scrap tires on the Island of Hawai‘i, go online. For inquiries at the county level, email swd@hawaiicounty.gov.

Free Cat Clinic – Hundreds ‘Fixed’

The Big Island of Hawai‘i has a huge feral cat problem and it will only get worse if nothing is done about it.

Hundreds of pets and “community cats” have been spayed and/or neutered during the first few days of the “Big Island Fix” that began on Wednesday, March 25, 2018, at a temporary clinic set-up by an organization from the mainland called Animal Balance.

Big Island Now was on hand to see just how things operated.

Animal Balance likes to use the term “community cats” when discussing cats that are not somebody’s personal pet, or more commonly known here locally as feral cats.

Elsa Kohlbus, Communications Coordinator for Animal Balance said that residents have been dropping off cats between 8 and 9 a.m. each of the clinic days and that the cats can be picked up at the end of the day between 4 and 5 p.m.

Sunday, March 25, 2018, will be the last day of the free spay and neuter clinic that the County of Hawai‘i helped sponsor along with Alley Cat Allies.

If residents want to drop off their cats this Sunday, they will need to be in a secured container.  There is no limit of the amount of cats that can be spayed or neutered and there is no fee, however, there can only be one cat in each cage that is brought in.

Volunteer Carey Yost and Mr. Balls.

Kohlbus stated that they collected enough supplies for 700 cats and that this is the third time that Animal Balance has provided this service to Hilo residents.  In July of 2017, there were 683 total cats that were spayed and neutered.

Animal Balance provides services in Hawai‘i (Hilo, Maui, Moloka‘i and Kaua‘i) as well as the Galapagos Islands, The Dominican Republic, American Samoa, Aruba, Cuba, The Bahamas, Capo Verde and Saipan.

Animal Balance was formed in 2004 to create sustainable, humane animal population strategies for island environments and communities. The work to end the practice of killing of one species to protect another.

The temporary clinic is located at 1177 Kīlauea Ave. in Hilo, located behind WikiFresh.

For more information about Animal Balance, contact Kohlbus via ekohlbus@animalbalance.org or call (508) 245-1238.

Catching Up With ‘KULEANA’ Star Kristina Anapau

The Big Island’s own local actress, Kristina Anapau, returned home to present an acting and producing workshop at the Hilo Palace Theater on Saturday, March 3, 2018.

Kristina Anapau at the Hilo Palace Theater. PC: BIN

Anapau has starred in many films. Her most recent, KULEANA, is set to be released statewide here in Hawai‘i on Friday, March 30, 2018, on the Big Island at the Regal Keauhou Stadium 7 in Kailua-Kona and the Regal Prince Kuhio 9 in in Hilo.

Big Island Now (BIN) had the opportunity to talk with Anapau about some of her latest projects, as well as do a photo shoot with the actress.

Anapau on stage at the Hilo Palace Theater. PC: BIN

BIN: How many folks attended the workshop?

About 40 people. It was the perfect amount to be able to really speak with everyone, do some cold reading and answer everyone’s questions. We were also so lucky to have special guest Writer-Director-Producer Brian Kohne Skype in from Maui on the big screen and talk about the process of making KULEANA! KULEANA is a Hawaiian-made film that I starred in and exec produced—it opens in theaters March 30.

BIN: Anything that you wanted folks to take away from the workshop in particular… without giving away the workshop?

So much! I really tried to condense all the information as much as possible. Eight hours seems like a lot of time up there talking about acting and producing, but there are so many topics to cover, so many details… enough for eight days!

BIN: Who created your dress and haku?

I wore a silk dress by Badgley Mischka and my haku was made by Hilo’s own Haku O Hawai‘i! Matt and Mandy are awesome—we worked together to create a perfect haku for the dress—they did an absolutely beautiful job!

BIN: What are you up to these days? Most recent movie and/or current projects you are working on?

I’ve spent the past year co-creating and producing a kids show with award-winning host John Kerwin. It’s essentially, The Tonight Show for kids—we have all the young stars from Disney, Nickelodeon and more—kids in the audience—it’s a lot of fun! The John Kerwin Kids’ Show currently airs nationwide and is being acquired by several major online streaming platforms in the coming months—follow us at @johnkerwinkidsshow on Instagram to find out all the latest news!

BIN: Any future projects in the works that you can discuss?

There is a lot more in the works for The John Kerwin Kids’ Show this year, which will keep me very busy. I also have both a feature film and TV series in development.

Backstage with Kristina Anapau. PC: BIN

BIN: Any plans to return to the Big Island for good?

Too much going on on the mainland right now, but it’s always nice to come home for a rest!

BIN: Are you married yet… dating… single? You know, all the tabloid stuff!

Haha… I like to keep all of that off the internet. But it’s the stuff of novels, Damon, the stuff of novels—I’m very happy.

BIN: Any plans on coming back to the Big Island in the next year for any particular projects.

Not anything as of now, but you never know!

KULEANA Trailer #1 from Hawai’i Cinema on Vimeo.

*Pacific Media Group, Big Island Now’s parent company, is a shareholder in the film KULEANA.

Group Loads Over 11 Tons of Marine Debris in Single Day

On the morning of Sunday, March 4, 2018, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund (HWF) and volunteers don gloves and began hauling derelict fishing nets and ropes and other plastic marine debris collected from the shores of Ka‘ū. With a volunteer heavy equipment operator (JD Services LLC), the team loaded the 11.6 tons of marine debris into a 40-foot Matson shipping container, making this effort the single largest container load. Recently, HWF has had to increase efforts to keep up with the barrage of marine debris washing up along the Ka‘ū shoreline as this year has already seen record amounts.

Photos Courtesy Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund

“We have our work cut out for us as these large derelict fishing net bundles continue to wash up along our shores,” said HWF Program Director Megan Lamson. “Net and rope bundles present special entanglement hazards for our native wildlife, including protected species like the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and humpack whale. HWF and volunteers removed 66,235 lbs. of marine debris from Hawai‘i Island in 2017 (plus another 10,060 lbs. on Maui), of which 43% by weight were derelict fishing nets.”

Since 2005, HWF and volunteers have loaded over 106,000 lbs. of plastic marine debris into containers bound for O‘ahu in the Hawai‘i Nets-To-Energy program. Once on O‘ahu, the nets will be transported to Schnitzer Steel Industries, where they will be chopped into pieces suitable for combustion at the City and County of Honolulu’s H-Power energy waste facility run by Covanta Energy (transport and other services are donated free of charge). The combustion process drives steam-powered turbines to produce electricity. The Nets-To-Energy Program, organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is a multi-organizational marine debris partnership between local nonprofit community groups and private businesses.

HWF is a small nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1996 to conserve native wildlife. During its 22-year existence, HWF and volunteers have removed a total of 260 tons of marine debris from the shores of Hawai‘i Island (86% by weight), Maui, Midway and the French Frigate Shoals. In 2017 alone, HWF and volunteers have removed 60,838 lbs. of marine debris from Hawai‘i Island & Maui. The majority of HWF’s marine debris removal work is conducted by volunteer labor, with financial support from the federal government (grants from the NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and Kona Brewers Festival), local businesses (Matson Navigation’s Ka Ipu ‘Āina, Kona Surf Film Festival), and private donations from around the world.

If you would like more information on the project or how to get involved with HWF, please contact them at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com or call (808) 769-7629 or check the HWF website.

Bill Passes to Increase Big Island Share of TAT Revenues

The Hawai‘i House Finance Committee today passed Senate Bill 648 SD1 HD1, which will increase the amount of the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) revenues for the neighbor islands.

The amended bill provides an additional $36 million to support projects essential for neighbor island residents including:

  • Increasing Hawai‘i Island’s TAT revenues from $19,158,000 to $31,248,000.
  • Increasing Kaua‘i’s TAT revenues from $14,935,000 to $24,360,000.
  • Increasing Maui’s TAT revenues from $23,484,000 to $38,304,000.

The TAT amount for the City & County of Honolulu is unchanged for a total of $45.4 million per year.

The TAT is paid by hotel guests to the State and allocated to several groups, including the counties, to pay for visitor released expenses.

During the 2017 Special Legislative Session, lawmakers voted to raise the TAT by 1% to immediately address the shortfall of Oʻahu’s rail project. At that time, House leaders discussed the possibility of revisiting proposals to increase TAT revenues for the neighbor islands.

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki credited neighbor island Representatives with working to find ways to provide more funding for the neighbor islands. Saiki said this bill is a product of their discussions.

“During the special session last summer, our neighbor island Representatives were concerned about the need to increase the counties’ share of the TAT,” said Saiki (McCully, Kāheka, Kakaʻako, Downtown). “This proposal will provide much needed financial support for the neighbor islands.”

HPD Investigates Missing Evidence: Cocaine

In October 2017, both criminal and administrative investigations were initiated after it was discovered that cocaine recovered as evidence in 2014 was found to be lighter in weight than reported during its initial recovery.

The discrepancy was discovered when the evidence was being weighed in preparation to utilize a small quantity of the cocaine for training purposes.

The investigation quickly identified a sworn employee as being a person of interest for the missing portions of the drug.

The employee was immediately placed on administrative leave without pay and subsequent audits of other evidence recovered by the officer revealed other anomalies which revealed cases in which there was a weight discrepancy in marijuana concentrate (hashish) from two separate investigations. Those investigations had been suspended because there were no suspects.

The identified employee has since retired and is no longer employed by the county. The department has tightened up procedures in order to ensure a similar scenario cannot be repeated. The department has also conducted additional audits to ensure these incidents have not been committed by anyone else.

The criminal investigation which included consultation and collaboration with the Hawai‘i County prosecuting attorney’s office was formally referred to the prosecutor’s office for review on March 2, 2018. Because the investigation has been turned over to the prosecutor’s office, further comments regarding this matter will not be made.

T.J. Maxx Opens in Prince Kūhiō Plaza

The wait is over for Hilo residents wanting to take advantage of shopping discounts at the new T.J. Maxx store in East Hawai‘i. The store opened at 8 a.m. on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at the Prince Kūhiō Plaza.

Hundreds of eager customers waited in line beginning around 7:30 a.m. for a chance to get in the doors early.

T.J. Maxx officials were on hand and presented a check to HOPE Services Hawai‘i for $10,000.

The first 500 customers through the doors received T.J. Maxx recyclable shopping bags.

HAWAI'I ISLAND: T.J. MAXX Grand Opening. #BigIslandNow #BigIslandNowBusiness

Posted by BigIslandNow.com on Thursday, March 15, 2018

Regular store hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Prince Kuhio Plaza, located at 111 E Puainako St., is the island’s largest enclosed retail center.

ABOUT T.J.MAXX

Since its first store opening in 1977, T.J. Maxx has helped customers maximize what matters most in their lives by offering an ever-changing selection of high-quality, brand name and designer fashions at amazing value. T.J. Maxx is the nation’s largest off-price retailer, with more than 1,200 stores spanning 49 states and Puerto Rico. Go online or download the T.J. Maxx app to shop online and locate your nearest store.

Brewfest Raises $100K for Local Beneficiaries

The 23rd Annual Kona Brewers Festival, also known as the Kona Brew Fest, took place this Saturday, March 10, 2018, at the Courtyard of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona.

Mugs were given to all attendees of the Kona Brewers Festival.

This year, the taps started to flow at 3 p.m. and most of the food was gone by 6 p.m. as the event raised over $100,000 for 20 local beneficiaries.

The first year of the festival was in 1996, when the event raised about $5,000 so the festival has really grown over the years.

Nearly 3,000 people attended this year’s Kona Brewers Festival, with 2,100 tickets sold.

There were over 40 breweries from all over the world on-hand for public tastings. The festival had to turn down about a dozen breweries.

Festival Executive Director Kate Jacobson said that the festival has a huge impact on the local economy and that hotel rooms are always sold out throughout the area during the weekend of the festival.

(L–R) Executive Director Kate Jacobson, Media and Marketing Coordinator Summer Carrick and Kona Brewers Festival BOD President Mattson Davis.

Summer Carrick, director of media and marketing for the festival said that the event has previously sold-out in under six minutes. Those wanting to attend next year’s festival should purchase tickets as soon as they are available.

Festival Board of Directors President Mattson Davis, the former CEO of Kona Brewing Company, stated that the initial intent of the festival was to celebrate the birthday of the Kona Brewing Company and that they weren’t interested too much in wines; however, they have had a few ciders represented at the festival.

One of the main highlights of the festivals is the “Trash Fashion Show” that showcased island models wearing costumes and outfits designed from recycled trash.

Trash Fashion Show models at the 2018 Kona Brewers Festival.

And yes, there was at least one wardrobe malfunction during the fashion show.

Ah yes, even Sesame Street Characters were involved…

 

Rooster Farmers Flock to Council Meeting, Bill Dies

Hawai’i County Council Bill 112, Relating to Rooster Farms, was heard at the Hawai’i County Building on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

Hawaii County Council Chamber.

Irate rooster farmers showed up in full force to provide their testimony against the bill presented by Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara.

Overflow crowd at the Hawai‘i County Council chamber.

The bill died a short death after no other council members would second the bill.

Residents on Councilwoman O’Hara’s email list received the following email after the bill was not seconded:

Sorry to say, but the Council Chair had made up her mind on this issue long ago and today’s hearing was set up to fail. The County Clerk’s office didn’t bother to send out the 77 supportive written testimonies which were sent in on time until after the end of the business day yesterday. We only had 26 written testimonies in opposition. None of the councilmembers read them. The councilmembers already had their minds made up. Quantitatively, there were more supportive testimonies than opposed, but given the emotional pitch of the rooster farmers in the room, none of the other councilmembers showed any sympathy for the excellent testimonies provided by supporters because none were “local”. I know some locals who supported the bill, but who were afraid to testify for fear of retribution.

I got personally attacked by several testifiers because they claimed I hadn’t consulted with them even though I went to HPP with copies of the Bill fresh off the press for their Feb. 25th member meeting knowing the rooster farmers would show up. HPP staff, Ms Bronson-Crelly, put the issue last on the agenda and didn’t bother to notify my office, but I got wind of it. Waited 3.5 hours to talk with them and they just started yelling and making threatening remarks so had to leave.

Sorry, but the County prefers to ignore the problems of Puna as out of sight, out of mind. Meantime, the rooster farmers stormed into the Dem Party’s District 4 meeting last week and elected themselves to all precinct and state delegate positions. Now that they’ve defeated this bill, I don’t expect to see them again at a political caucus. Kind of like the millennials that stormed in two years ago to support Bernie, but who left the party as soon as he didn’t win the primary.

The bill died. None of the councilmembers would second a motion to pass it on. That may be best as the rooster farmers were revved up to a frenzy and if it had continued, I would have grown tired of checking in my rear view mirror to see who might be following my car home. Very intimidating.

I came home to Pāhoa to find my two banners that owner William Quinn allowed me to put up at the feed store gone…..that’s $60 I just paid to stand against the rooster farmers. I hope this attempt won’t de-rail my attempts to get re-elected, as there are other ways to tame the beast and other fish to fry to help Puna along.

Mahalo for the support provided and sorry to report such a callous shrug off by the County Council,

Eileen O’Hara, Councilmember

Hawaii County Council, Dist 4

(808) 965-2712

Brewfest Raises $100K for Local Beneficiaries

The 23rd Annual Kona Brewers Festival, also known as the Kona Brew Fest, took place this Saturday, March 10, 2018, at the Courtyard of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona.

Mugs were given to all attendees of the Kona Brewers Festival.

This year, the taps started to flow at 3 p.m. and most of the food was gone by 6 p.m. as the event raised over $100,000 for 20 local beneficiaries.

The first year of the festival was in 1996, when the event raised about $5,000 so the festival has really grown over the years.

Nearly 3,000 people attended this year’s Kona Brewers Festival, with 2,100 tickets sold.

There were over 40 breweries from all over the world on-hand for public tastings. The festival had to turn down about a dozen breweries.

Festival Executive Director Kate Jacobson said that the festival has a huge impact on the local economy and that hotel rooms are always sold out throughout the area during the weekend of the festival.

(L–R) Executive Director Kate Jacobson, Media and Marketing Coordinator Summer Carrick and Kona Brewers Festival BOD President Mattson Davis.

Summer Carrick, director of media and marketing for the festival said that the event has previously sold-out in under six minutes. Those wanting to attend next year’s festival should purchase tickets as soon as they are available.

Festival Board of Directors President Mattson Davis, the former CEO of Kona Brewing Company, stated that the initial intent of the festival was to celebrate the birthday of the Kona Brewing Company and that they weren’t interested too much in wines; however, they have had a few ciders represented at the festival.

One of the main highlights of the festivals is the “Trash Fashion Show” that showcased island models wearing costumes and outfits designed from recycled trash.

Trash Fashion Show models at the 2018 Kona Brewers Festival.

And yes, there was at least one wardrobe malfunction during the fashion show.

Ah yes, even Sesame Street Characters were involved…

 

Award-Winning ‘Kuleana’ to Open on Big Island March 30

The award-winning film KULEANA will begin its statewide theatrical release on Friday, March 30, at Regal and Consolidated Theaters throughout Hawai‘i.

KULEANA Writer-Director Brian Kohne told Big Island Now that the film will open at the Regal Keauhou Stadium 7 at the Keauhou Shopping Center in Kailua-Kona and the Regal Prince Kuhio 9 in Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo.

Produced entirely in Hawai‘i, KULEANA has received the Audience Choice Award in the Santa Cruz Film Festival, the Maui Film Festival and the San Antonio Film Festival, as well as “Best of Fest” in the Guam International Film Festival.

Sonya Balmores and Hilo Native Kristina Anapau at the “Kuleana” world premier at the Maui Film Festival. Courtesy photo.

“Kuleana” is the Hawaiian word for spiritual responsibility. In KULEANA, set in Hawai‘i in 1971, a disabled Vietnam vet rediscovers the Hawaiian warrior within to protect his family, defend their land, and clear his father’s name.

Kristina Anapau (True Blood, Black Swan), one of the film’s stars and executive producers, is a Hilo-native, now living and working in Hollywood.

The film also stars Moronai Kanekoa, Stefan Schaefer, Sonya Balmores (Marvel’s INHUMANS), Vene Chun, Augie T, Marlene Sai, Branscombe Richmond (CHICAGO MED) and Mel Cabang.

The film was produced by Stefan Schaefer.

Willie K provides an original score; the soundtrack boasts hit songs by Joni Mitchell, Procol Harum, and Tony Orlando and Dawn, with Hawaiian classics of the era by Genoa Keawe, Lena Machado, Sunday Manoa, Sons of Hawaii, Marlene Sai and more.

The film received an MPAA PG-13 rating, and also holds a spot on popular movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Boasting high production values in picture, performances and music, KULEANA has earned the faith of mainland theater giants Reading International (Consolidated) and Regal, which will also open the movie in Guam.

KULEANA opens on O‘ahu in the Consolidated Theaters at Pearlridge, Kapolei, and also Kahala Mall, where a question-and-answer session with Writer-Director Brian Kohne and star Moronai Kanekoa will follow the March 30, 7:30 p.m. opening night screening, with another question-and-answer following the March 31, 7:30 p.m. screening with other members of the cast participating.

The film also opens in the Regal Maui Mall in Kahului and Wharf Cinema Center in Lahaina.

Kukui Grove Cinema is a likelihood on Kauai, and Mainland residents can sign up to host/attend a screening in their city at www.hawaiicinema.com via Gathr.

Keauhou Shopping Center is located at 78-6831 Ali‘i Drive, H-24.
Prince Kuhio Plaza is located at 111 E Puainako St., #400.
For more information, go online.