HI-SEAS Crewmember Transported to Hilo Hospital

A crewmember of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mission VI was admitted this morning to Hilo Medical Center for required medical attention and was under observation for a few hours before being released.

The crewmember was taken to the hospital from the HI-SEAS dome at the 8,200-foot level of Mauna Loa at about 8 a.m. today.

Under Institutional Research Board regulations, no further medical information can be provided without the crew member’s permission.

Crew safety is the top priority and, in line with safety protocols, the mission has been postponed and the crew has left the dome, according to HI-SEAS Principal Investigator Kim Binsted.

The mission will remain suspended until an inspection of the dome and investigation are completed.

HI-SEAS Mission VI started on Feb. 15, 2018, with four crewmembers and was scheduled to last eight months.

The crewmembers are from Australia, Korea, Scotland and Slovakia.

The NASA-funded project studies human behavior and performance and aims to help determine the individual and team requirements for long-duration space exploration missions, including travel to Mars.

KSBE Boys Soccer Team Wins Div. II State Championship

Congratulations to the KSBE Hawai’i Campus Boys Soccer Team for winning the 2018 State Division II Championship defeating Kapa‘a 3-2 at the Waipio Soccer Complex on O’ahu on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.

Jonathan DeMotta’s penalty kick in the final minute of regulation gave the Kamehameha Warriors a 3-2 win against the Garden Isle Warriors.

This is KS-Hawai‘i first HHSAA Division II state boys’ soccer crown.

Scoring Live posted the following photo on Twitter:

Twitter image via Scoring Live.

UPDATE: Flood Warning Extended for Big Island

UPDATE: 7:23 p.m.

Special Weather Statement:

The National Weather Service in Honolulu states that a strong thunderstorm will affect Hawai‘i.

At 7:20 p.m., a strong thunderstorm was located over Kukuihaele, moving northeast at five to 10 mph.

Winds in excess of 40 mph are possible with this storm.

Locations impacted include Kapa‘au, Honoka‘a, Pa‘auilo, Waipi‘o Valley, Kukuihaele, Hawi, Kamuela, Poloūu Valley, ‘O‘ōkala, Kohala Ranch, Hala‘ula, Waimanu Valley, Kawaihae and Māhukona.

Frequent cloud to ground lightning is occurring with this storm. Lightning can strike 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. Seek a safe shelter inside a building or vehicle.

UPDATE: 7:15 p.m.

The National Weather Services is extending the Flash Flood Warning for the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County until 10 p.m.

At 7:06 p.m., radar indicated heavy rain along the windward slopes of the Kohala Mountains. The most intense rainfall was from Waipi‘o Valley to Honoka‘a with rates of around 4 inches per hour.

Heavy rainfall may continue along the Hāmākua Coast for several hours.

Locations in the warning include but are not limited to Pololū Valley, Waipi‘o Valley, Kukuihaele, Kohala Ranch, Hawi, Hala‘ula, Kamuela, Kapa‘au, Waimanu Valley and Honoka‘a.

A flash flood warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring in streams, roads, and low lying areas. Move to higher ground now.

Do not cross fast flowing water in your vehicle, or on foot. Turn around, don’t drown.

This warning may need to be extended beyond 10 p.m. if heavy rain persists.

This flash flood warning replaces the previously issued flood advisory that was in effect for portions of the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County.

UPDATE: 6:00 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County until 6:30 p.m.

At 5:57 p.m., a severe thunderstorm was located nine miles south of Pu‘uanahulu, moving northeast at 30 mph.

Radar indicated gusts up to 60 mph. Expect damage to roofs, siding and trees.

Locations impacted include Kailua-Kona, Kealakekua, Honalo, Pōhakuloa Camp, Pu‘uanahulu,
Kalaoa, Hōnaunau, Pōhakuloa Training Area, Kainaliu, Hōlualoa, Kahalu‘u-Keauhou and Captain Cook.

For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building. Stay away from windows.

Torrential rainfall is occurring with this storm, and may lead to flash flooding. Do not drive your vehicle through flooded roadways.

Due to the Severe Thunderstorm Warning, the following advisories are issued:

  • High winds are expected; take necessary precautions.
  • Be aware of lightning; the best place to be is indoors.
  • Expect possible interruptions in your utility services.
  • Be on the alert for malfunctioning traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for The island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County until 6 p.m.

At 5:01 p.m., severe thunderstorms were located along a line extending from 24 miles northwest of Kona International Airport to nine miles northwest of Miloli‘i, moving northeast at 25 mph.

Radar indicated 60 mph wind gusts and residents can expect damage to roofs, siding and trees.

Locations impacted include: Kailua-Kona, Captain Cook, Pu‘uanahulu, Hōnaunau, Kawaihae, Kahalu‘u-Keauhou, Kainaliu, Waikoloa Village, Kealakekua, Honalo, Kohala Ranch and Kalaoa.

UPDATE: 2:32 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Advisory for the Island of Hawai‘i through this evening.

Heaviest rains were currently over the Saddle area and Hāmākua Districts.

Heavy showers and lightning are forecast through Monday.

Take necessary precautions when in these conditions.

UPDATE: 1:51 p.m.

A Flood Advisory for the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County is in effect until 4:45 p.m.

At 1:46 p.m., radar indicated heavy rain continuing over the Big Island.

The heaviest rain is now falling over the Saddle area and the Hāmākua District, with rainfall rates up to three inches per hour.

Locations in the advisory include but are not limited to Hilo, Na‘alehu, Pa‘auilo, Waipio Valley, Orchidland Estates, Kukuihaele, Hawi, Pepe‘ekeo, Kea‘au, Kamuela, Honoka‘a and O‘okala.

Stay away from streams, drainage ditches and low lying areas prone to flooding.

Rainfall and runoff will also cause hazardous driving conditions due to ponding, reduced visibility and poor braking action.

Do not cross fast flowing or rising water in your vehicle, or on
foot. Turn around, don’t drown.

This advisory may need to be extended beyond 4:45 p.m. if heavy rain persists.

This advisory replaces the previously issued advisory that was in effect for portions of Hawai‘i County.

A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect.

ORIGINAL POST

The National Weather Service announces a Flood Advisory for the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County until 3:30 p.m.

At 12:23 p.m., radar indicated heavy showers and thunderstorms moving over the Big Island from the southeast, affecting portions of the Ka‘ū, Puna and South Hilo districts. Rain was falling at a rate of two to three inches per hour.

Locations in the advisory include but are not limited to Hilo, Hawaiian Acres, Na‘alehu, Orchidlands Estates, Glenwood, Hakalau, Pepe‘ekeo, Kea‘au, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, Pahala and Wood Valley.

Stay away from streams, drainage ditches and low-lying areas prone to flooding.

Rainfall and runoff will also cause hazardous driving conditions due to ponding, reduced visibility and poor braking action.

Do not cross fast flowing or rising water in your vehicle, or on foot. Turn around, don’t drown.

This advisory may need to be extended beyond 3:30 p.m. if heavy rain persists.

A Flash Flood Watch is also in effect.

Flash Flood Watch for All Hawai‘i Islands

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for all islands through Monday afternoon.

A strong upper level trough approaching from the northwest will provide increasingly unstable conditions across the state today through Monday. This will combine with moisture pooled around a weak surface trough drifting westward from near O‘ahu to produce the threat of heavy, flooding rainfall and thunderstorms. Heavy showers and thunderstorms have already occurred across the eastern and central parts of the state, and the threat of heavy, flooding rainfall and thunderstorms will spread westward to Kaua‘i later today.

Abundant low level moisture over the eastern and central parts of the state will spread westward to Kaua‘i today. A strong upper level trough approaching the state will produce unstable conditions that will generate heavy showers and thunderstorms.

Due to increasing instability, heavy showers and thunderstorms could develop rapidly. Heavy rainfall could affect urban and leeward areas, which are more susceptible to flooding problems.

A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a dangerous situation. Please monitor forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

Acting and Producing Workshop with ‘True Blood’ Star

Interested in acting or producing movies? The Hawai‘i Island Film Office and the Palace Theater is offering a workshop on acting and producing for film and television at the Palace Theater in Hilo on Saturday, March 3, 2018, from 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.

Leading the class is Hilo native, Kristina Anapau, who is an actress, writer and producer with over 20 years’ experience in the motion picture and television industry.

Kristina Anapau. PC: Damon Tucker

Anapau has had leading roles in features and television including Black Swan, True Blood, Anger Management, House, Monk, CSI NY and many more. She first stepped behind the camera in 2013, co-producing the thriller, 5 Souls, and recently completed Kuleana, a mystery drama on which she served as executive producer.

Kuleana, an independent film shot in Hawai‘i, has gone on to receive audience and critical acclaim at several prestigious film festivals around the country.

Anapau is also the creator and executive producer of The John Kerwin Kids’ Show, a Tonight show for kids which airs nationwide on DirecTV.

In the acting session, Anapau will cover training, marketing, getting an agent, audition technique, working on set and will set aside some time for participant cold readings and critiques. In the producing session, she will cover selecting and developing material, packaging your project, getting financing, budgeting, physical production and distribution.

This workshop is intended for those who seek professional level training in these areas so as to pursue career opportunities in these fields, or for those seeking a broader understanding of how these skill sets and functions relate to the overall motion picture production process.

For more information, contact johnmasonkona@gmail.com or to register or call (808) 464-4379.

Information can also be found at the Hawaii Island Film Office web site

The workshop price is $15 for students, $20 for SAG members and $25 for the general public. Light breakfast refreshments and a pizza lunch is included in the price.

Live Skunk Found at Honolulu Harbor

A live skunk was captured early this morning at Pier 1 at Honolulu Harbor. Plant Quarantine inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) were called by agents of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at about 7:15 a.m. today and were informed that a skunk was captured by stevedores at the pier. The stevedores used plastic traffic barriers to contain the animal until HDOA inspectors arrived. Inspectors then transported the skunk to HDOA’s Animal Industry Division where samples are being prepared for testing for the rabies virus at a Mainland laboratory. Results will take several days.

State veterinarians tentatively identified it as a striped skunk and appears to be a young adult weighing 3.5 pounds. The gender has not yet been determined as veterinarians minimize handling of the animal until a negative rabies test result is received.

It is not known exactly when or how the skunk got onto the pier, but CBP reports that stevedores saw the animal running around in the harbor yard with its head in an empty yogurt cup.

Skunks are prohibited in Hawaii and are only allowed by permit for research and exhibition in a municipal zoo. Skunks inhabit the U.S., Canada, South America, Mexico and other parts of the world. They are also one of the four wild animals considered to be the primary carriers of the rabies virus, a fatal viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. and one of the few places in the world that is rabies free.

The Plant Quarantine Branch records indicate that this is the first skunk captured in the state.

Sightings or captures of illegal and invasive species should be reported to the state’s toll-free Pest Hotline at 643-PEST (7378).

Hakalau Stream Bridge Repairs

Repair work on the Hakalau Stream Bridge located on the road leading to Hakalau Beach Park which is currently closed, not the bridge on State Highway 19, will begin on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, and is expected to be completed by Tuesday, April 17, 2018, weather and construction conditions permitting.

Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company was awarded the contract to repair the northern abutment that has been undermined due to scouring from the Hakalau Stream. The bridge repairs will meet Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) standards and ensure the public’s safety at this stream crossing.

The County conducted an assessment of the bridge and found the bridge’s northern abutment (foundation) has been undermined due to scouring from Hakalau Stream. A plan of action is in process to repair the bridge that will meet the National Bridge Inspection standards and ensure the public’s safety at this stream crossing.
The Hakalau Beach Park will also be closed until further notice due to the closing of the bridge.

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this closure has caused and thanks the community for their patience and understanding.

All State and Federal approvals, certifications, and environmental permits required by the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) have been secured. 80% of the $1,644,000 project cost will be funded by federal funds and the county will contribute the remaining 20%.

If there are any questions or concerns regarding the bridge repair work, call Barett Otani, Information and Education Specialist, at (808) 961-8787.

Sen. Hirono Votes to Protect Dreamers

Sen. Mazie Hirono

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement today, Feb. 15, 2018, after voting to protect Dreamers:

“I have consistently supported a clean DREAM Act, and voted in favor of the Coons-McCain amendment today that came very close to it. And while it earned the support of a bipartisan group of 52 senators, the vast majority of Republicans blocked this effort.

“Unfortunately, we were left with only one option to protect the 800,000 current DACA recipients and an additional one million Dreamers who the President has threatened with deportation. It’s for them that I voted for the Rounds-King amendment.

“The Rounds-King amendment included a number of provisions I strongly oppose, including $25 billion for Trump’s wall. The Republicans also sought to dismantle our legal, family-based immigration system. Democrats fought hard to limit the damage.

“President Trump created this crisis when he cancelled DACA and threw 800,000 young people under the bus. And with his recent veto threat, he has made it abundantly clear that protecting Dreamers is the farthest thing from his mind.

“With this threat, the President made it clear that he wanted all of us to stand with him against the Rounds-King amendment. That, I would not do.”

HPD Searching for Missing Man

The Hawai‘i Police Department is searching for 48-year-old Gerald Ragsdale.  He is reported to be 5-feet-1, 150 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

Gerald Ragsdale. HPD Photo.

He was last possibly seen at Walmart in Hilo on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 at 10 p.m.

Bill to Protect Homeschooled Keiki Deferred

Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele. Courtesy photo

In an effort to protect abused children, Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele had worked with the Hawai‘i County Prosecutors office to introduce Senate Bill 2323 that would have established procedures for a parent or legal guardian to obtain authorization to home school a child.

However, understanding the strong concerns about the measure, Sen. Kahele requested the bill be withdrawn during the joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Education and Human Services. In his request.

He offered this explanation:

“Senate Bill 2323 was never meant to not allow loving, caring, families from homeschooling your child and from infringing on your constitutionally protected rights. It was meant to protect children that live unimaginable lives, and are abused, neglected at the hands of the very parents and guardians that should be nurturing them and forgotten by a system that should be protecting them.

“Today is Valentine’s Day and many of us will get to share this special day with our loved ones. But that is not the case for Peter Boy Kema, Shaelyn Lehano Stone and many other children across Hawai‘i and America, who do not have a voice and live their lives in fear.

“This is a conversation we need to have. It is a conversation we need to have in other States throughout our country and it is a conversation we need to have here in Hawai‘i.

“Due to the overwhelming testimony in opposition and the overwhelming turnout today at the Capitol, as the introducer of the bill, your voices have been heard by me and my colleagues and I would like to request that this bill be withdrawn and deferred.

“In the interim, I am committed to work in collaboration with stakeholders, the Home School Network, Department of Education and other agencies to address this issue and return next Session with a bill that protects all keiki of Hawai‘i.”

The Senate Committees on Education and Human Services deferred action on SB2323.

Rock Opera Tells Story of Election Contest Between Kalākaua and Emma

Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi announces their upcoming hōʻike, Kū I Ka Mana, which will share the drama and political intrigue behind the election of 1874 between King David Kalākaua and Queen Emma Rooke, as the death of King William Charles Lunalilo left the Kingdom of Hawai‘i without an appointed successor to the throne.

Two shows are open to the public—Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, 2018, at 6 p.m. in Koaiʻa Gymnasium on the KS Hawaiʻi campus. Tickets are $5 and available for purchase online, at the door on the night of the performance, or at the high school office or Student Activities Center after school from 3 to 4 p.m. on school days.

Funds raised from hōʻike assist students with travel costs for participation in worldwide events, including performances at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Kū I Ka Mana dramatizes in music and dance the events leading up to the election of 1874 after the death of William Charles Lunalilo left the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi without an appointed successor to the throne.

In the running are Queen Emma, beloved by the people, and the charismatic David Kalākaua. In this telling, Bernice Pauahi Bishop also considers being part of the election, having second thoughts about having refused the crown when offered to her by Lot (Kamehameha V) before his death. The results of the election would have lasting repercussions on the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, setting the stage for many of the events that have shaped the history of the state.

Kū I Ka Mana will be presented as a rock opera in two acts with libretto by theater Kumu Eric Stack and music by Choir Director Herb Mahelona. The entire production is designed around a Steampunk theme in keeping with the genre of music. The production will be presented in English and Hawaiian.

Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i High School presents its hōʻike annually in the spring as an all-school event. All high school students participate in the production as actors, dancers, musicians or crew. This year, the production will also feature the KSH Elementary School Keiki Choir and the Mamalahoe Chapter of the Kamehameha Alumni Chorus.

All hōʻike productions focus on some aspect of Hawaiian history or culture presented to the public with the goal to educate our haumāna and to share with the community. It is a unique opportunity to celebrate Hawaiian culture, history and language and to instill pride and appreciation for things Hawaiian.

Senators Call on Senate Appropriators to Respect State Marijuana Laws

Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) urged Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to include provisions that require the federal government respect states’ laws regarding the regulation of marijuana when finalizing fiscal year 2018 appropriations. Congress has until Friday, March 23, 2018, to craft final fiscal year 2018 appropriations bills.

The majority of states, including Hawai‘i, have some form of reduced restrictions on marijuana. Recognizing this, under President Obama the Department of Justice has issued a series of guidance memoranda over the last several years outlining a federal law enforcement priorities that provided state and local governments and citizens a framework upon which citizens rely to establish legitimate businesses. However, on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, the Attorney General rescinded this guidance.

The Senators wrote that rescinding years of guidance has created “disruption, confusion, and uncertainty throughout the country. Citizens who have been acting in good faith based on federal and state assurances now feel exposed. This disruption may deny medications to the sick, push individuals back into illicit markets, and nullify the previously-effective regulations – all while thwarting the democratically-expressed will of the states.”

“It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the Attorney General’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” the Senators continued. “Doing so will provide the opportunity to pursue federal legislation that both protects the legitimate federal interests at stake and respects the will of the states – both those that have liberalized their marijuana laws and those that have not.”

The letter was also signed by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.).

Onishi Appointed to Serve as Governor’s Rep. for East Hawai‘i

Dennis “Fresh” Onishi. File photo.

Gov. David Ige announced that he has appointed Dennis “Fresh” Onishi to serve as the governor’s representative for East Hawai‘i.

Onishi has worked for the County of Hawai‘i for 29 years, including eight years on the Hawai‘i County Council. From 2008 to 2016, Onishi served as chair of the council’s committee on Environmental Management; chair of the committee on Governmental Relations and Economic Development and; vice chair of the Committee on Public Works and Parks and Recreation.

Onishi has also worked for the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties, and most recently as interim president and chief professional officer of the Hawai‘i Island United Way.

“Fresh was born and raised in Hilo and has spent most of his life serving the people of Hawai‘i Island. I know that he will continue his exemplary service through the Office of the Governor,” said Gov. Ige.

“I will always work hard for the people to make the Big Island a better place to live,” Onishi said.

Onishi is a graduate of Hilo High School and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

He starts his new position on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.

Rep. Hirono: Trump Budget Bad for Hawai‘i

PC: James Grenz

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement on President Trump’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2019:

Instead of investing in programs that help middle and working-class families across our state, the president proposes trillions of dollars in cuts that would harm nearly everyone in Hawai‘i. I will continue to fight to protect Hawai‘i residents from this administration’s misplaced priorities.

The president’s FY 2019 Budget makes harmful cuts to many programs and initiatives important for Hawai‘i, including:

  • A 33% cut to Essential Air Service that supports air transportation to communities like Kalaupapa, Hāna, and Kamuela.
  • The elimination of the TIGER Grant program that has supported construction of Honolulu Pier 29, Saddle Road, and the Līhue Town Core Mobility and Revitalization Project.
  • A $451 million cut to health professionals training programs.
  • The elimination of funding for the Native Hawaiian Education Program—which has helped tens of thousands of Native Hawaiian youth—and the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant—which assists the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands in providing housing counseling, housing developments, and other assistance for thousands of Native Hawaiian families.
  • A $70 million cut to Impact Aid.
  • The elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Sea Grant College Programs.
  • A 34% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Cuts to the Volcano Hazards Program ($6 million), the Tsunami Warning Program ($11 million), and the Ocean Acidification Program ($2 million).
  • The elimination of the National Housing Trust Fund, Community Development Block Grants, the HOME Investment Partnership, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
  • A $1.4 trillion cut to Medicaid over the next 10 years.

HPD Charge Man Wanted on Outstanding Warrant

Anthony Louis Gover

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department has apprehended and charged a 58-year-old man who was wanted for an outstanding warrant of arrest for violating conditions of his release.

At 3:20 p.m. this afternoon, Feb. 13, 2018, Anthony Gover was arrested without incident at a business establishment in Hilo. He is currently being held without bail in the Hilo cellblock pending his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 14, in Circuit Court.

Police appreciate the public’s assistance for their calls on his possible whereabouts during that period.

This information was provided by the authorities. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Hawai‘i Island Missing Person: Donald McKay

Donald Linn McKay has been reported as missing from the Kohala Hospital area.

He is a 69-year-old Caucasian male described as 5-feet-7-inches tall, weighing 150 pounds with white hair and a short white beard.

He was last seen wearing a black hat, blue jacket, blue jeans and a multi-colored aloha shirt.

If you have information to regarding the location of McKay, call the police non-emergency number: (808) 935-3311.

Plea Deal Offered to Man Facing 77 Years for Medical Marijuana Collective

A hearing held was held for Mike Ruggles, the man facing 77 years for attempting to start up a medical marijuana collective, this morning, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, at the courthouse in Hilo on Hawai‘i Island.

The hearing consisted of a Motions to Compel, a Motion to Dismiss Due to Prosecutorial Misconduct as well as a Frye Hearing, in which the state offered Ruggles a plea agreement.

The state of Missouri prosecutors offered Galin Edward Frye two deals while seeking his conviction for driving while his license was revoked, but his lawyer never told Frye about the offers. Frye pleaded guilty to a felony charge and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Frye appealed, saying his lawyer should have told him about the previous deals. A Missouri appeals court agreed. Prosecutors contend that not knowing about the deals they offered doesn’t mean that Frye didn’t know what he was doing when he decided to plead guilty.

Prosecutor Rick Damerville spoke to Big Island Now after the hearing and explained the process of the Frye Hearing and how it is pertinent to this case.

In a written letter from the prosecutors office, Deputy Prosecuting Damerville offered the following plea:

Dear Mr. Ruggles:
Re: State of Hawai‘i v. Michael Doyle Ruggles, CR. No 15-1-0391

Pursuant to Rule 11 of the Hawai‘i Rules of Criminal Procedure, and a recent suggestion by the Court, the State of Hawai‘ij makes the following plea offer in the above styled case:

  1. Mr. Ruggles may conditionally plead guilty of no contest (for civil liability reason only) to:
  2. Count 3, the lesser included offense of Commercial Promotion of Marijuana in the Second Degree (knowingly possessing marijuana (cannabis) having an aggregate weight of two pounds or more, in violation of Section 712-1249.5(1)(a), HRS; or
  3. Count 5, the lesser included offense of Promoting a Harmful Drug in the Second Degree (knowingly possessing 50 or more capsule, and/or tablets and/or dosage units containing one and/or more of the marijuana (cannabis) concentrates, in violation of Section 712-1245(1)(a), HRS; or
  4. Count 6, the lesser included offense of Commercial Promotion of Marijuana in the Second Degree (knowingly possessing, cultivating, and/or has under his control fifty or more marijuana plants in violation of Section 712-1249.5(1)(c), HRS);
  5. and stipulate the forfeiture of the evidence recovered in this case, unless the State agrees to the return of specified items of evidence; In return, the State will agree to recommend 30 months of probation pursuant to Section 706-622.5, HRS and expungement provided Mr. Ruggles complies with the terms and conditions of his probation.  The State reserves the right to ask for up to one year in jail as a condition of probation; further the parties agree that a PSI will be conducted in this case.  If the PSI writer recommends a lesser amount of jail, the State will concur with that recommendation.  The State Reserves the right for other reasonable terms and conditions of probation including drug testing.
  6. Further, Mr. Ruggles may condition his plea of guilty or no contest reserving in writing the right on appeal from the judgement, to seek review of the adverse determination of the specific pretrial motions listed below, and if Mr. Ruggles prevails on appeal he shall be allowed to withdraw the pleas: (1) An adverse ruling on Ruggles’ motion to quash the warrant filed on February 2, 2016; (2) An adverse ruling on Ruggles motion to dismiss for vagueness and/or on the grounds of entrapment and/or for constitutional violations filed on February 2, 2016; (3) An adverse ruling on Ruggles motion in limine no. 1 to assert the affirmative defense of medical cannabis at trial.
  7. Should Mr. Ruggles enter a conditional plea guilty or no contest as described above, the State will agree to stay any sentence imposed pending appeal should Mr. Ruggles elect to ask for a stay.
  8. If Mr. Ruggles accepts this offer by pleading guilty or no contest as described above and then pending sentencing, inexcusably fails to cooperate in the preparation of the PSI report, or commits a new crime pending sentencing, then the State will not be bound to recommend the sentence described above and can ask the court to impose any legal sentence including up to ten years in prision.
  9. As part of this plea agreement, the State will dismiss the remaining counts of the complaint.
    This offer will remain open unless withdrawn in writing before acceptance.

Thank you for your cooperation,
Very truly yours,
Ricky R. Damerville
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

HPD Identifies Man Found in Burnt Vehicle

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department has identified the charred remains found within a burnt vehicle this past Christmas Day as that of 67-year-old Douglas Vernon Don of Kalapana. This identification was made via DNA.

At approximately 10 a.m. Monday morning, Dec. 25, 2017, police and fire units responded to a side road off 39th Avenue near Pōhaku Drive in the Orchidland subdivision to a reported vehicle engulfed in flames. After dousing the flames, firefighters observed burnt human remains in the vehicle. Investigators were unable to immediately identify if the remains are that of male or female.

Police have reason to suspect that this incident is related to evidence located at another property, also on 39th Avenue, but near Auliʻi Drive.

Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section are continuing this investigation classified as a murder.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Kayne Keli‘i at (808) 961-2378 or Kayne.kelii@hawaiicounty.gov.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Replaces Plastic Straws with Sustainable Alternatives

Hilton Waikoloa Village last straw initiative. Courtesy photo.

Hilton Waikoloa Village has initiated “the last straw”—a new commitment to discontinue the use of plastic drinking straws resort-wide in its restaurants, bars, venues and vendors.

The Hilton Waikoloa Village Last Straw Campaign comes as an effort to care for Hawai‘i’s ocean environment by eliminating the impact of plastic straws, one of the top 10 marine debris most commonly found in Hawai‘i.

The resort is the first on the Island of Hawai‘i to implement an initiative of this kind which has substantial environmental benefits. In 2017, the Hilton Waikoloa Village used more than 800,000 plastic straws while serving more than 1 million guests. Plastic straws cannot be recycled and can have devastating effects on marine and coastal life like fish, turtles and seabirds if ingested. The resort will now offer FDA-approved, GMO and BPA-free compostable paper straws upon request.

Hilton Waikoloa Village last straw initiative. Courtesy photo.

“Over the years, concerned guests have notified us of the impact that plastic straws have on our environment,” said Simon Amos, hotel manager. “We are thrilled to be able to respond and officially say that Jan. 31, 2018, was ‘the last straw.’ Hilton Waikoloa Village is uniquely gifted with a location that affords guests a front row seat to Hawai‘i’s spectacular marine life. We’re glad to take this step to be better stewards of this beautiful place.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, the resort held an informal celebration to mark this move toward greater sustainability with its partner, Dolphin Quest. The Hilton Waikoloa Village Last Straw Campaign is a proactive step to contribute to larger movements like Strawless Ocean Initiative by Lonely Whale Foundation, One Less Straw by One More Generation and The Last Plastic Straw, all of which challenge individuals and companies to commit to a sustainable alternative to single use plastic straws.

Hilton Waikoloa Village last straw initiative. Courtesy photo.

Furthermore, a Senate bill is currently being considered by Hawai‘i lawmakers that would prohibit the distribution, sale and provision of plastic straws in the state. The team behind the resort’s last straw campaign hopes its efforts will encourage support for the bill and continue the movement toward greater sustainability.

 

$500,000 for Master Plan for Pāhoa Elementary School

Pahoa Elementary School.

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura received a letter from Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige announcing that the state has released $500,000 in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding to finance a master plan for Pāhoa Elementary School.

Gov. Ige said:

Aloha Representative San Buenaventura:

I am pleased to let you know that my administration has released funding for the following Capital Improvement Project(s) (CIP):

Name: Pāhoa Elementary School, Master Plan, Hawai‘i

Description: To finance a master plan for Pāhoa Elementary School.

Amount Released: $500,000

Mahalo for your work on behalf of the residents of your district to secure these funds.
Projects such as these are critical components of the public infrastructure and
contribute to building a better home for our kupuna, keiki, and all the residents of
Hawai‘i.

A list of released CIP and CIP Grants-In-Aid (GIA) will be emailed once a month.

By working collaboratively, we can climb the mountains of challenges that face Hawai‘i.

With warmest regards,

David Y. Ige
Governor, State of Hawai‘i

Rep. Sanbuenventura said:

“Pāhoa Elementary School is the oldest elementary school in Puna. Despite its continued growth, Pāhoa Elementary School has had only one building and had been operating mostly from portable classrooms, a sub-standard administration building and no cafeteria. In fact, part of its playground has been coopted by the county for a baseball field.

Little children walk a careful line with escorts to cross the street to Pāhoa Intermediate/High school to eat. Thus, it is a long time coming that a master plan to design the school is finally coming to fruition instead of the hodgepodge portables connected by sometimes-covered walkways that the teachers and children have had to endure.”