Congressional Candidate Bob Marx on Hawaii Prisoners in Mainland Prisons

Bob Marx, Democratic Candidate for Hawai‘i’s 2nd Congressional District, calls for an end to outsourcing Hawai‘i’s prisoners to private, mainland prisons.

Currently, the State of Hawai‘i houses 1,738 convicted prisoners in mainland, privately operated prisons in Arizona–not counting the more than 200 female prisoners who were removed from a privately-run Kentucky prison. These women were removed to protect them from physical and sexual assault.

From left: Hawaiian inmates Margarette Kealoah-Naki, Geraldine Kealoha, Patsy Kahunaele and Deenie Tanele in a holding area outside the inmate visitation room at the Otter Creek Correction Center in Wheelwright, Ky.

The State of Hawai‘i has recently unveiled a plan to return all prisoners from out of state private prisons to facilities in Hawai‘i. The initial cost of housing an inmate in Hawai‘i is greater: $128.00 per day versus $76.18 per day. The cost savings was initially thought to be worthwhile. However, when taking into account the detrimental effects of being separated from family and cultural support, the increased recidivism rates near 90%.

Bob Marx, speaking with a group of Puna Democrats today said, “Bringing back Hawai‘i’s prisoners will initially cost more due to construction costs of new facilities on Maui and the Big Island, and re-opening of the closed facility at Kulani. In addition, we need to expand the Wahiawa Correctional facility on Oahu.”

The long-term savings are estimated at $9.8 Million for fiscal 2013, $19.5 million in 2014 and $26.5 million in 2015. Marx continued, “The cost savings does not take into account the value added effect of Hawai‘i tax dollars being spent in the local economy for staffing and operating the facilities. The short-term job creation for the construction phase of the new facilities will create an immediate economic boost.”

“I will support efforts to bring federal matching funds to Hawai‘i. Then we can build the required facilities, and ensure matching federal educational funding of programs for prisoners.  With an education they are more likely to get a job and less likely to return to prison. The best public dollar spent is invested in education,” Bob Marx concluded.

Bob Marx is a Democratic Candidate for Hawai‘i’s 2nd Congressional District.

“Images From the Edge” Photo Contest Deadline Extended Two Weeks

Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (FHVNP) has extended their deadline to enter the first annual “Images From the Edge” photo contest.  The new submission deadline is Monday, April 16 at 5:00 p.m. Hawai‘i Standard Time.

“Since our Web site redesign and photo submission page took longer to launch than originally planned, we wanted to make sure everyone had time to upload their photos to the site,” said FHVNP General Manager Julie Mitchell.

Halema‘uma‘u by National Park Services - Jay Robinson

All images will be considered for inclusion in a special multi-image slideshow on April 28 at the Kilauea Visitor Center.  All finalists’ photographs will be exhibited from June 8-17 at the Volcano Art Center Gallery.

“We also changed our opening reception of the ‘Images From the Edge’ photography exhibit to Friday, June 8,” Mitchell explained.  “We didn’t want to conflict with the reception for the Hawai‘i Photo Expo.”

Besides being exhibited, other prizes include a helicopter tour for two, a zipline adventure for two, a private Volcano tour for two, gift certificates for Big Island Candies, gift certificates for Hawai‘i Volcanoes Institute field seminars, and more.

The contest is open to anyone with an original photograph taken in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park within the last three years.  Photos may be color or black and white and can cover any subject matter.  All ages and skill levels are welcome.

“We encourage both island residents and visitors from afar will enter the contest,” said Mitchell.

First, second, and third place awards will be given in three categories: Amateur-Beginner, Amateur-Advanced, and Professional. There will also be from three to seven Honorable Mentions.

For full contest rules and to enter, visit  The entry fee for up to 3 photos is $25, payable online by credit card.

FHVNP appreciates assistance and donations from the following supporters: event co-sponsor Volcano Art Center, judges Rick Decker & Alvis Upitis, Ken & Mary Goodrich of Hawaii Photo Retreat, and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, plus Big Island Candies, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Hawaii Forest  & Trail / Kohala Zipline, Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, Nui Pohaku Adventure Tours, Volcano Places, and Volcano Video Productions.

Ka‘ū, Hawai’i Boasts Three of Top 10 Coffees of the Year

In an annual competition hosted by the Roasters’ Guild of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), three coffees from the Ka‘ū coffee growing region of Hawai‘i were among the top 10 judged, earning them the coveted title Coffee of the Year for 2012.

Winners from Hawai‘i are:

  • Will and Grace Tabios of The Rising Sun
  • Lorie Obra of Rusty’s Hawaiian
  • Francis and Trinidad Marques of Ali’i Hawaiian Hula Hands Coffee

Top Coffees in the USA were from Ka`u farmers Bull Kailiawa in 2011 and Willie Tabios (right) in 2012. Both will head for Portland to represent Ka`u Coffee April 18 at the SCAA convention. Photo by Julia Neal

More than 250 coffee samples representing 26 countries vied in the prestigious competition to be recognized as the best specialty coffee from around the globe for the 2011/12 season.  A panel of experienced coffee cupping judges blindly evaluated the sensory attributes of each coffee to determine objective scores for fragrance and aroma, taste, flavor, acidity, aftertaste and body.  A composite of those scores was tabulated to determine the ranking.

One of the Top Ten Coffees of the Year for 2012 is from Lorie Obra, who is pictured with the 2011 U.S. Barista Champion Pete Licata, who employed Obra's coffee to win last year.

Ka‘ū coffees earned Coffee of the Year honors in 2011 and 2010, and were ranked in the top 10 five out of the last six years.

This is the third time Tabios has scored in the top 10, placing seventh in 2007 and earning a Coffee of the Year award in 2010. “I’m so glad that Ka‘ū won again,” extols Tabios. “It’s the farm and the processing that makes good quality coffee. All Ka‘ū coffee is good coffee. I’m just trying to do my best.”

“This is a special day at Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee,” says Lorie Obra. “It was my late husband Rusty’s vision that Ka‘ū would become one of the world’s top coffee-producing origins. Seeing three Ka‘ū coffees among the Coffees of the Year winners continues to keep his legacy and vision alive. This victory is for Rusty, for Ka‘ū for Hawai‘i and the USA.”

Trini Marques in the top ten at SCAA.

Trinidad Marques sees it another way: “It’s the spiritual connection to the ‘aina (land). As Hawaiians, the ‘aina and nature speak to us. I knew one day we would make it. It feels great to see the results of our perseverance.”

The coffees and the impassioned growers will be celebrated at the SCAA’s annual Expo in Portland, Oregon April 18-22 and again at the fourth annual Ka‘ū Coffee Festival in Pahala on the Big Island of Hawai‘i May 5-6 and May 12-13.

“I’m again so pleased and proud of all the Ka‘ū growers,” says festival organizer Chris Manfredi of Ka‘ū Farm and Ranch Co.. “Their dedication, combined passion and willingness to work together make Ka‘ū a very special place and Ka‘ū coffee exceptional. I’m honored to be working with them.”

Find more competition and ranking info at the SCAA website,

The Ka‘ū Coffee Festival is designed to raise awareness of Ka‘ū and its growers as a world-class coffee growing origin. For more information visit or call 808-929-9550. Vendor and sponsorship opportunities are available. The Festival is supported in part by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.

Police Searching for Five to Six Young Men Accused of Accosting Man Near Pahoa High School

Big Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspects of a reported robbery in Puna early Friday morning (March 30).

A 39-year-old Pāhoa man reported that he was walking along Highway 130 near Pāhoa High School around 2:15 a.m. when he was accosted by five to six young men who were also walking in the area. One of them started a conversation with the victim. While the victim was distracted, the other men assaulted him and removed his backpack. They then fled the area.

The victim walked to Pāhoa town and notified police. He refused medical treatment for his non-life-threatening injuries.

Police recovered the backpack that was taken during the assault.

All the suspects were described as being in their 20s. One was described as “local looking,” approximately 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-7 with dark short hair, a medium build and a medium complexion. He was wearing a black T-shirt.

Another suspect was described as having a light complexion, reddish-brown short hair and a muscular build. He was wearing a black T-shirt and a ball cap.

A third suspect was described having dark shoulder-length hair, a goatee, a medium build and a medium complexion. He was wearing a T-shirt and ball cap.

The investigation is classified as a second-degree robbery and a third-degree assault.

Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed the incident contact Detective Norbert Serrao Jr. by phone at 961-2383 or by email at

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.

Groundbreaking for the New Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood was Yesterday

Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood, a new 60-unit affordable senior rental housing project in Hilo had it’s groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, March 29.

From left to right: left to right: Donald Ikeda, Hawaii County Council, William Takaba, Managing Director, Keith Kato, Executive Director - Hawaii Island Community Development Corp, Michael Singer, President, Heartwood Pacific LLC (general contractor), Cheryl Fukunaga, US Dept of Housing and Urban Development, Cynthia Elliott, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, J. Yoshimoto, Hawaii County Council, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, Hawaii County Council

Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood Phase 1 is the result of a public-private collaboration between State of Hawaii’s Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), County of Hawaii, Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) and the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation (HICDC).


HHFDC provided $20.5 million in state and federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, a Rental Housing Trust Fund (RHTF) loan of $8.6 million, and a Rental Assistance Revolving Fund (RARF) loan of $7.5 million. The project is also financed with $600,000 in HOME Investment Partnership Act funds administered by the County of Hawaii and a $4.0 million interim loan from RCAC.

The rental units are targeted at seniors whose incomes are at or below 30 to 50 percent of the Hawaii County median income as determined by HUD. Utilizing rental assistance from HUD and the County of Hawaii the tenants’ share of the monthly rent will be approximately 30 percent of their income for a 576 square foot one-bedroom unit. In exchange for federal and state financing and tax credits rents will remain affordable for 61 years.

By providing public lands and working with the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation, the County of Hawaii continues its collaborative efforts to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for our kupuna,” said Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. “In addition to generating much need jobs today, the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood Phase 1 project will be a model as we build an expanded center to serve the needs of our growing senior population.”

“The Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation wishes to acknowledge the assistance that we have received for this project from all levels of Federal, State and County government,” said HICDC Executive Director Keith Kato. “The cooperation of the Federal, State and County agencies has been the key in putting this project together with our investors, the HHF Equity Fund VI, LLC. We are working to continue the development of this Mohouli project with a new home for the Hilo Adult Day Center to replace their current facility at the old Hilo Memorial Hospital on Rainbow Drive. ”

“Public-private partnerships like this are essential to producing affordable housing,” said HHFDC Executive Director Karen Seddon. “By leveraging state resources, we are able to produce more with less. In addition to delivering safe and affordable housing for our seniors, these projects also create construction jobs and project value, investing in the future of our community.”

Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood is located at the corner of Komohana and Mohouli Streets in Hilo. Phase 1 is comprised of 11 residential buildings and a community gathering place connected with covered walkways. In addition to the new Hilo Adult Day Center future plans include 90 more residential units for seniors.

2012 Merrie Monarch Arts Fair to Feature the Waimea Artists’ Guild

Waimea Artists’ Guild (WAG) is proud to announce its participation in a very special event:  Merrie Monarch 2012 Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair, April 11-14 in Hilo.  WAG artists will exhibit and sell their work from booth #106 in the Butler Building, 648 Pi‘ilani Street.

“The Merrie Monarch Festival is the most iconic and respected hula event in the world,” said Co-Director Beth Mehau, “and we are honored and humbled to have the chance for our WAG artists to be represented.  We cannot wait to share the treasures they have worked so hard to create.”

In an unprecedented opportunity to connect with hula practitioners and aficionados from all over the world, WAG artists will present indigenous and contemporary works including prints, cultural jewelry, traditional wood and bone carvings, feather work and much more.  Many of the items are created in the Waimea Artists’ Guild workspace, a public studio for classes and workshops, with equipment and resources available to members.

Featured artists participating with WAG at the Fair include acclaimed Native Hawaiian artist Harinani Orme and Tom O’o Mehau.  Harinani, born and raised in Honolulu, has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UH Mānoa and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Pratt Institute in New York.  Currently, her works focus on the myths, legends and traditions of old Hawai`i, and though she is known primarily as a fine arts painter and a book illustrator, she also creates artwork in mixed media and is a printmaker, a ceramicist and a jeweler.

Tom Mehau, an artist from the Kamoku-Kapulena Hawaiian Homestead area of Hawaii Island, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Colorado College in Colorado Springs. He is best known for his highly detailed pen and ink renderings, some of which can be seen in P.F. “Ski” Kwiatkowski’s book The Hawaiian Tattoo. Most recently he has transitioned into small-scaled carving under the tutelage of Maori Master Carver Stacy Gordine. His attention to line, form and detail has extended smoothly into this new medium. He is the co-founder of the Waimea Artists’ Guild, an association of professional artists whose intent is to produce art and promote education in their community.

Waimea Artists’ Guild was created by graduates of HOEA, Hawaiian ‘Ohana for Education in the Arts, whose mission is to “increase the number, accessibility, and visibility of Native Hawaiian Arts and Artists.” WAG seeks to continue this vision by perpetuating cultural relevance through the arts.  Although Native Hawaiian ancestry is not required for membership in the Waimea Artists’ Guild, sensitivity for cultural themes, materials and practices is of primary concern in the operation of the program.  For additional information, contact: Beth or Tom Mehau at 887-2289, email or visit


Big Island Police Investigating Two Burglaries at Laupahoehoe Elementary and High School

Big Island police are investigating two burglaries at Laupāhoehoe Elementary and High School.

The first occurred sometime between Thursday, March 8, and Monday, March 19, during Spring Break. The second occurred sometime between Wednesday, March 21, and Thursday, March 22. In both cases locked classrooms were entered and computer equipment was taken. The items taken have a value of more than $7,380.

Among the items removed were Lenovo Thinkpad L412 laptop computers, IBM and Lenova desktop computers and monitors, and HP printers.

Police ask that anyone with information about this case call Officer Robert Panem or Amacias Valdez at 962-2120 or 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.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 20-Year-Old Hilo Man

Big Island police are asking for the public’s help in locating a 20-year-old Hilo man who was reported missing.

Charren Kaeo Ornellas

Charren Kaeo Ornellas is described as part Hawaiian, 5-foot-8, about 130 pounds with short black hair and brown eyes.  He was last seen wearing a black tank top, black surf shorts and a black hat. He has a tribal tattoo on his upper left arm and the name “Ornellas” on his upper back.

He was last seen at a home on Leilani Street in Hilo around 8:30 p.m. Thursday and reportedly left following an argument.

Police ask that anyone with information on his whereabouts contact Detective Ernest Matsumoto Jr. by phone at 961-2379 or by email at

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.