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Wordless Wednesday Update on the Keaau McDonalds Fire

This morning I posted a blog stating that the McDonalds in Keaau had caught fire and published the following picture:

ESPN 1420 sports announcer Josh Pacheco drove by again this afternoon and just posted the following picture to his facebook account:

I could have sworn that it was Burger King that served the flame-broiled burgers :roll:

Councilmember Smart and Hoffman Present: “How Impact Fees Impact Me” Community Meetings

Media Release:

“How Impact Fees Impact Me” With Hawaii County Councilmember Brittany Smart and Guest Speaker, Councilmember Pete Hoffmann

  • January 26th 7:00pm Na’alehu Community Center Club House
  • January 27th 7:00pm Pahala Community Center Club House
  • February 9th 6:30pm Yano Hall, Kona
  • February 10th 7:00pm Cooper Center , Volcano

Come to a community meeting organized by Councilmember Brittany Smart regarding the proposed impact fee ordinance.  The meeting will assist the public to better understand the impact fee system and how it will ensure that those responsible for developments will bear a proportionate share of the cost of improvements to our public facilities on the Big Island . Councilmember Pete Hoffmann will speak on how the proposed impact fee system is designed to enable our County government to impose such fees, the flexibility inherent in this system, how the rates can apply, as well as the constraints of such a capability.  Questions from the audience are most welcomed.  Light pupus and soft drinks will be served.

Contact: Jen at (808) 961-8536 or district6@co.hawaii.hi.us for more info.

Mayor Kenoi’s 2011 Testimony to the Hawaii Legislature

From the Mayor’s Office:

Aloha, Chair Ige, Chair Oshiro and distinguished members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the House Finance Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you to outline our priorities on issues important to the County of Hawai’i in 2011.

We have all heard a great deal in recent weeks about the budget challenges confronting the state, and the County of Hawai’i continues to chart its way through equally challenging budget difficulties.  Declining property revenues and increasing costs forced the county to cope with the largest budget shortfalls in County history in the 2009-2010 fiscal year and in the current budget year.

For the coming year, we project yet another budget shortfall that will once again force us to make painful budget cuts. The unavoidable truth is we now have a county government that we cannot afford. We will continue to reduce the size and cost of government, and to refocus our limited resources on core, critical services. Government must do more with less, and programs that are not essential to our core county mission must be set aside.

Despite our difficulties, we see reason for hope, and we see opportunities. Earlier this month, this committee heard testimony from leading economists Paul Brewbaker and Carl Bonham that funding capital improvement projects and investing in public infrastructure is a key government strategy for stimulating private sector economic activity as we begin to emerge from the recession. We agree, and in the County of Hawai’i we have taken a number of steps to push out construction projects to stimulate the economy.

Last October we asked the Hawai’i County Council to authorize $56 million in new general obligation bonds to build critically needed projects to ease traffic congestion in Kona and Hilo, including the Kapiolani Extension to help the University of Hawai’i at Hilo to grow; to build badly needed parks for our youth in Puna and Kohala; and to build affordable housing in Kona.

Moving forward with these critically needed infrastructure projects during this challenging economic time offers a variety of benefits. Borrowing costs for governments with good credit ratings are near all-time lows, which means taxpayers will pay less in interest. Meanwhile, the construction industry nationwide is struggling, which has caused construction companies to bid aggressively for government contracts. Bid prices have plummeted, and this highly competitive environment means the taxpayers today are getting the best possible prices on public works projects while governments invest in critically needed infrastructure such as airports, harbors, roads and bridges.

We know that tourism arrivals and visitor spending are showing early signs of a recovery, including the milestone announcement that Continental Airlines will soon begin daily direct flights from Los Angeles to Hilo. But we also know people who are still struggling to make ends meet in this economy, and many of them work in the construction industry. We cannot sit back and watch as our working families suffer through some of the worst economic times in County history.

This is the time for state and local governments to make an investment in our communities. We want to carry forward the momentum created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which injected more than $115 million in new federal dollars into the County of Hawai’i economy alone. These federal projects paid immediate dividends in jobs created, and work completed. Now it is time for local governments to step up to their responsibilities, and do their part to help stimulate the economy. Our working families are counting on us.

As you consider which state projects to put forward, we hope you will consider our input on some proposals we believe will be of particular benefit to our citizens, and will help stimulate the economy.  We hope your committee will consider including these projects in a state construction stimulus package because they advance key community objectives, including improving health care, relieving traffic congestion, protecting public safety and encouraging growth of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

Kapiolani Street Extension, $8.7 million

We continue to seek your support for the efforts of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and our community college system to grow as part of a larger strategy to use higher education as an economic engine. The university is now the second largest employer in East Hawai’i, and we ask for your support as we seek to position UH Hilo for continued growth. We also urge the Legislature to support State plans for the long-awaited permanent community college site in West Hawai’i.

The Kapiolani Street Extension project will lay the groundwork for a new era of growth with UH Hilo by providing a connector road that will open up 42 acres on land in urban Hilo for development of badly needed student housing. The single largest impediment to growth for UH Hilo is a lack of housing for out-of-state and local students, and the university owns land next to campus where this housing can be built. The Kapiolani Street Extension will provide access to these lands while also providing a new two-lane transportation corridor that will ease traffic congestion.

Mid-Level Road (Ane Keohokalole Highway), Kona

Ane Keohokalole Highway will be a six-mile arterial from Palani Road in Kailua-Kona to Kalaoa, mauka of Kona International Airport. The new arterial will stimulate the construction of thousands of homes (Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, affordable and market), commercial development, healthcare and recreational facilities. Construction funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is already well underway on the first phase of Ane Keohokalole from Palani Road to Kealakehe Parkway, and will comprise 11,000 feet of two-lane highway. An additional 5,000-foot segment from Kealakehe Parkway to Hina Lani Street has already been rough graded.

Also known as the Mid-Level Road, this project will relieve congestion on the crowded Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. The completed road will provide an alternative route between the town of Kailua-Kona, through an area slated for urban development to a large commercial and light industrial area near Kona International Airport. It will also provide an alternate route to the airport, and when completed will connect Hina Lani Street with a new access road to the future University of Hawai’i’s West Hawai’i community college campus.

The Legislature previously appropriated $15 million in state funds for the Ane Keohokalole project that has not yet been released by the state Department of Transportation. We ask that your committees support the release of those monies through a resolution or a new appropriation if needed to make these funds available for Ane Keoholalole Phase 2 from Hina-Lani to Kaiminani. These funds would cover the cost of paving the area that is rough graded as well as further improvements that will benefit the La’i ’Opua 2020 project supported by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. It would also cover the cost of an environmental assessment, engineering and design work for Phase 2.

Improvements to Highway 130, Kea’au-to-Pahoa Road

The state has identified five intersections across the state with the highest numbers of accidents and the highest numbers of serious accidents, and four of those intersections are on this road. The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) includes $3 million for design work and $100,000 to purchase portions of the right-of-way for major improvements to this heavily traveled and highly congested roadway, and a $600,000 state appropriation is needed as a match to the federal funding for that design work. The state is also planning $2 million in more near-term improvements to the intersection of the highway and Old Government Road at the main entrance to Pahoa, and a $200,000 state appropriation is needed as a state match for that project.

North Kona Well, $1.3 million

The County also supports efforts by the Department of Water Supply to improve the quality and reliability of the North Kona water system by constructing a new well. This is part of a much larger effort to shift from low-level water sources to higher elevation sources, and to this end the Department of Water Supply has already allocated nearly $30 million for water system improvements in the region. The existing water system is barely able to meet the current water demand.

Kona Community Hospital Emergency Room, $10 million

(Hawaii Health Systems Corporation)

The Kona Community Hospital Emergency Room was built to accommodate 10,000 patient visits per year, and is now seeing more than 18,000 visits per year. The emergency department needs to be expanded and modernized to improve patient access, flow and privacy to provide for a better working environment for staff, and the County supports HHSC’s efforts to make this essential improvement. In addition, the aging hospital urgently needs improvements to its roofs, parking lots, fire sprinkler and emergency generator systems.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with all of our distinguished state legislators as we navigate the challenging economic environment that lies ahead. Mahalo for your support and your commitment to our community.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi

MAYOR

Anuhea Jenkins to Sing National Anthem at NFL Pro Bowl Game

My favorite artist right now, Na Hoku Award Winner Anuhea Jenkins, just announced on Facebook that she was asked to sing the National Anthem at this years Pro Bowl!

“Holy football!!! I’m singing the National Anthem at the Pro-Bowl!”

This is a pretty big deal as she will now be featured all across America.

A Former Student of Mine Goes Missing and Two Other Missing Teens Reported Today

I try to only post police releases every once in a while but this time a former student of mine has gone missing.  When I was an Educational Assistant at Keaau Middle School… Micha was one of my students.  If anyone knows where she is… please contact the police.

The last time I saw her myself was a few months ago and she was sitting out front of the Pahoa 7-11 waiting to catch a bus.

Her friends just call her "Micha" (Meesha)

Media Release:

Big Island police are searching for a 16-year-old girl reported as missing from Puna since December 5 .

Micharline N. Raymond is described as Japanese, 5-feet tall, about 120 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

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

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

Two other children were also reported missing today:

Big Island police are searching for a 17-year-old boy reported as missing from Puna since December 15.

Stanley Gonsalves II is described as Part-Hawaiian, 5-foot-10, about 145 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

Big Island police are searching for a 17-year-old boy reported as missing from Hilo since September 22.

Harvey C. Damo is described as Filipino, 4-foot-10, about 128 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

5,226 Acre West Hilo Tree Farm to Be Auctioned Off

Arlie & Company hasn’t been able to sell their Hilo property for quite some time and now it looks like it’s going to be auctioned off:

Arlie & Co. has filed a plan for reorganizing its finances and getting out of bankruptcy that includes auctioning some land in Hawaii, selling other Lane County property, returning the title to a property it bought on Chad Drive, and whittling the secured debt the company owes to Bank of America…

…Its reorganization plan — filed late Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court — proposes auctioning off its 5,226-acre West Hilo Tree Farm to raise cash to fund its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The company also says it will turn back the title to the former U.S. Bureau of Land Management headquarters on Chad Drive, which the company bought for $5.1 million two years ago from a half-dozen individual investors…

Astronomers Discover Close-knit Pairs of Massive Black Holes

Media Release:

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and University of Hawaii (UH) have discovered 16 close-knit pairs of supermassive black holes in merging galaxies.

The discovery, based on observations done at the W. M. Keck Observatory on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, is being presented in Seattle on January 12 at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society, and has been submitted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

 

Three of the newly discovered black-hole pairs. On the left are images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The images on the right show the same galaxies taken with the Keck telescope and the aid of adaptive optics, revealing pairs of active galactic nuclei, which are powered by massive black holes. Credit: S. George Djorgovski

 

These black-hole pairs, also called binaries, are about a hundred to a thousand times closer together than most that have been observed before, providing astronomers a glimpse into how these behemoths and their host galaxies merge—a crucial part of understanding the evolution of the universe. Although few similarly close pairs have been seen previously, this is the largest population of such objects observed as the result of a systematic search.

“This is a very nice confirmation of theoretical predictions,” says S. George Djorgovski, professor of astronomy, who will present the results at the conference. “These close pairs are a missing link between the wide binary systems seen previously and the merging black-hole pairs at even smaller separations that we believe must be there.”

As the universe has evolved, galaxies have collided and merged to form larger ones. Nearly every one—or perhaps all—of these large galaxies contains a giant black hole at its center, with a mass millions—or even billions—of times higher than the sun’s. Material such as interstellar gas falls into the black hole, producing enough energy to outshine galaxies composed of a hundred billion stars. The hot gas and black hole form an active galactic nucleus, the brightest and most distant of which are called quasars. The prodigious energy output of active galactic nuclei can affect the evolution of galaxies themselves.

While galaxies merge, so should their central black holes, producing an even more massive black hole in the nucleus of the resulting galaxy. Such collisions are expected to generate bursts of gravitational waves, which have yet to be detected. Some merging galaxies should contain pairs of active nuclei, indicating the presence of supermassive black holes on their way to coalescing. Until now, astronomers have generally observed only widely separated pairs—binary quasars—which are typically hundreds of thousands of light-years apart.

“If our understanding of structure formation in the universe is correct, closer pairs of active nuclei must exist,” adds Adam Myers, a research scientist at UIUC and one of the coauthors. “However, they would be hard to discern in typical images blurred by Earth’s atmosphere.”

The solution was to use Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics, a technique that enables astronomers to remove the atmospheric blur and capture images as sharp as those taken from space. One such system is deployed on the W. M. Keck Observatory’s 10-meter telescopes on Mauna Kea.

The astronomers selected their targets using spectra of known galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). In the SDSS images, the galaxies are unresolved, appearing as single objects instead of binaries. To find potential pairs, the astronomers identified targets with double sets of emission lines—a key feature that suggests the existence of two active nuclei.

By using adaptive optics on Keck, the astronomers were able to resolve close pairs of galactic nuclei, discovering 16 such binaries out of 50 targets. “The pairs we see are separated only by a few thousands of light-years—and there are probably many more to be found,” says Hai Fu, a Caltech postdoctoral scholar and the lead author of the paper.

“Our results add to the growing understanding of how galaxies and their central black holes evolve,” adds Lin Yan, a staff scientist at Caltech and one of the coauthors of the study.

“These results illustrate the discovery power of adaptive optics on large telescopes,” Djorgovski says. “With the upcoming Thirty Meter Telescope, we’ll be able to push our observational capabilities to see pairs with separations that are three times closer.”

Wordless Wednesday – McDONALDS FIRE in Keaau

ESPN sports announcer Josh Pacheco reported on his facebook page that McDonalds was on fire a couple hours ago in Keaau.  Here is the picture he posted.

I was at the Keaau Shell getting my breakfast when someone inside pointed out the fire. Turned out it wasnt as bad. McD's sign basically melted, but the fire didnt get inside (Josh Pacheco)