Big Island Police are Searching for a 44-year-old Hilo Man Reported as Missing

Media Release:

Big Island police are searching for a 44-year-old Hilo man reported as missing.

Frank J. Verece Jr (Click on the picture for an interesting background on the guy)

Frank J. Verece Jr. was last seen in Hilo at 9:30 p.m. Sunday (July 31).

He is described as 5-foot-8 to 6-feet tall, 240 to 250 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. He has tattoos on his neck, chest, stomach and arm. He was last seen wearing blue floral print surf shorts, a white T-shirt, slippers, a baseball cap and sunglasses. He may be riding a gray-and-black bicycle.

Verece has a medical condition that may require medical attention.

Police ask that anyone with information on his 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. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

New Polynesian Dance Academy Opens in Waimea

Media Release:

A new opportunity for dancers of all levels to experience Hula and Polynesian Dance is now available, with the establishment of ‘Alohi Polynesian Dance Academy for the Performing Arts, in Waimea.  Classes are offered for both wāhine and kāne dancers, from keiki as young as three, to tūtū 65 and older, in a convenient location off Mamalahoa Highway, next to Napa Auto Parts.  Special pricing is available for registration by August 15.


The academy’s curriculum is grounded in the learning of fundamental dance steps in three Polynesian dance disciplines: Hula, Tahitian and Maori.  Beginners and “Hula Le’a” recreational classes offer a good workout and fun cultural experience, while more structured and rigorous Intermediate and Advanced classes help students improve and move forward.  Dancers who qualify for the Performing Troupe receive specialized and intensive training, to take their talents to the next level.

In addition to dance, a Beginners Drumming class is planned, as well as regularly scheduled kani ka pila (musicians’ jam sessions), ‘ukulele lessons and other activities and workshops throughout the year.  A small retail area will offer Polynesian arts and crafts, Academy logo wear and gifts.  Led by founder/director Kumu Hula Lani Isaacs, a lifelong dancer, teacher and choreographer, the ‘Alohi Polynesian Dance Academy is unique in its wide variety of programs, open to all.

“My daughters grew up with Polynesian hula as part of their life,” said Isaacs, “and now my grandchildren are coming up and learning to dance and play drums.  The Academy is an educational environment, where we can share what we have learned over the last 40 years and pass that knowledge and experience on to others.“

“No matter who you are—if you’re just curious about hula or want to connect with the culture, if you’re one of our kūpuna who danced when you were young, if you have children you’d like to expose to hula or if you’re an experienced dancer looking for a performance troupe—our new school is a place you can come and feel welcome,” said Isaacs

The Academy is located just off Mamalahoa Highway (19), across from Kamuela Liquor Store (the last right turn before the lane ends, eastbound toward Hamakua).  The fall session runs from August 5 to December 17.  Classes range in price from complimentary (for tūtū 65 and up) to $60 per month.  The Academy offers one free introductory class (call to sign up); plus waived Registration Fee ($25) for sign-ups prior to August 15, and a 20% off Introductory Rate for Teen and Adult Classes.  (See schedule below).  To register or for more information, call 887-0369, email: or visit

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Mayor Kenoi Launches Solar Powered Green Government Initiative

Media Release:

Mayor Billy Kenoi officially turned on the 250-kilowatt solar photovoltaic project at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center (WHCC) in Kailua-Kona today, converting the 80,000-square-foot complex to 100 percent solar power.

Solar panels at the West Hawaii Civic Center

Solar panels at the West Hawaii Civic Center

The project, owned by SunRun, Inc., will sell energy to the County of Hawai‘i under a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (“PPA“) at half the current electricity rates. During hours when the project produces more than the needs of the WHCC, excess power will be sold to HELCO under the first “Feed-In Tariff” agreement on the Island of Hawai‘i.

The mayor lauded the project as an example of the County’s commitment to clean, renewable energy. “This PV system harnesses the power from the sun, saves county government $46,000 a year and creates more stability in the price of electricity,” said Kenoi. “And we sell any excess energy back to HELCO.”

“We congratulate the County of Hawai‘i as the first to take advantage of our new feed-in tariff. The leaders of our County are doing a great job of leading by example to move Hawai‘i Island to energy independence,” said Jay Ignacio, HELCO president.

More Here: Mayor Kenoi launches solar powered Green Government initiative

Three $5,000 Awards from the Cooke Foundation are Currently Available to Hawai‘i Public Schools with Completed Beautification Projects

Media Release:

The Cooke Foundation will present three $5,000 awards, to one elementary school, one middle school and one high school, who have completed projects that beautify their school environment and significantly enhance the school’s overall appearance and ambiance. All public schools, including charter schools, in the state are eligible to apply.

“A beautiful environment at school is conducive to learning and encourages respect for one’s school, respect for others and respect for oneself,” said Lynne Johnson, Cooke Foundation trustee.

“I was inspired to witness the collaboration between students, faculty, staff and alumni as they transformed physical spaces into meaningful and beautiful works of art, through creative and innovative means,” said Gregory Wrenn, award coordinator for the Cooke Foundation.

Last year’s award recipient, Roosevelt High School, created a ceramic tile mural representing the school years from 1932 to the present. The project not only improved the school’s environment, but also promoted teamwork by bringing together 75 ceramic art students, alumni from the Class of 1960, teachers and staff.

The following criteria are required for all nominees:

  • The project should demonstrate significant improvement in the school’s appearance through better landscaping and/or improvement in the appearance of a school’s buildings, through such things as children’s artwork, murals, and gardens;
  • The school’s students, parents and faculty should have had an active role in the beautification project; and
  • All projects should show a clear maintenance plan for the ongoing beautification of the school, which must involve continued participation by the school community and/or outside organizations.

This is the fourth year the Cooke Foundation is awarding qualified schools with a beautification award. Previous Beautification Award recipients include Mokulele Elementary School, Washington Intermediate School, and Roosevelt High School on O`ahu (2010); Prince Jonah Kuhio Elementary School on O`ahu, Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School on Hawai`i Island, and West Hawai`i Explorations Academy also on Hawai`i Island (2009); and S.W. King Intermediate School on O’ahu, Lahainaluna High School on Maui, and Innovations Public Charter School on Hawai’i Island (2008).

“We are very fortunate to have been the recipient of the Cooke Foundation Beautification Award but more importantly, it has fostered a school community spirit in continuing to create a beautiful art-based learning environment for our students,” said Ann A. Mahi, President Theodore Roosevelt High School principal. “We are excited as we plan our next project with our teachers, students and alumni and community members and thank the Cooke Foundation for this wonderful opportunity.”

Nomination forms can be obtained through the Cooke Foundation website at Nominations must be submitted to the Cooke Foundation, c/o the Hawai‘i Community Foundation by September 1, 2011.

Wordless Wednesday – Hawaii as a Nursery of Evolution

Richard Dawkins shows how the relatively young island chain of Hawaii acts as a nursery of evolution as it moves over a volcanic hotspot in the Pacific Ocean, generating new islands.

He shows how Drosophila flies (Fruit Flies) have diverged on the different islands, driven by sexual selection.