Bob Marx Receives Nomination Papers for 2nd Congressional District Race

Bob Marx, neighbor island candidate for Hawai‘i’s 2nd Congressional District, received his Official Nomination Papers earlier today for his bid on the open U.S. Congress seat vacated by Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat formally held by Senator Daniel Akaka.

Bob Marx receives Nomination Papers for 2nd Congressional District Race”

The 2nd Congressional District represents rural Oahu and the neighbor islands. Mr. Marx, a Hilo attorney and long-time community activist, is running against former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard, Esther Kia‘aina and Rafael del Castillo for the open seat race. Marx actually lives in the district and is the only Candidate in the race from an island other than Oahu.

Two of his opponents in this race do not even reside within the 2nd Congressional District, although as Marx pointed out, “they may be able to see it from their condos.”  The other two opponents currently lack viability and financial backing. Bob Marx is from the 2nd District and will fight for the 2nd District. “For years, politics in Hawai‘i has been too Honolulu-centric, and I want to change that. Having lived in Hilo, Hawai‘i for 32 years as a Trial Lawyer, I know the challenges that face small business owners on the neighbor islands,” Marx stated. “I promise to fight for the working class and stand up against corporate interests.”

Many of the issues that face the constituents on the outer islands and rural Oahu are not the same as the ones that face the residents of Honolulu. Lack of adequate public transportation and lack of energy and agricultural sustainability, have crippled many of the small towns and cities on Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Maui, Oahu and the Big Island. “As your Congressman, I promise to fight for local farmers who are in need of agricultural loans and subsidies. I promise to hold the Government accountable and increase funding for energy sustainability.”

“We have the technology to decrease our dependence on imported oil, yet the Government continues to support the Big Oil business with millions of dollars in subsidies every year. We need to invest in our future – a future filled with green energy, environmental accountability, expanding our education system, and ensuring that all citizens are guaranteed the same rights under the law. The future of our children and grandchildren depend on that,” Marx concluded.

Advance Screening in Hilo of HBO Documentary The Weight of the Nation

WHAT:  ADVANCE SCREENING OF HBO DOCUMENTARY THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION –  Launching one of the most far-reaching public health campaigns on this epidemic to date. Event is made possible with the support and participation of:

  • HBO Documentary Films
  • Hawaii State Department of Health
  • The Institute of Medicine
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

WHEN: Friday, May 11, 2012,

  • 5:30 p.m. The Weight of the Nation Screening (Part 1: “Consequences”)
  • 6:30 p.m. Panel Discussion

WHERE:  The Palace Theater, 38 Haili Street, Hilo, HI 96720

The number of overweight children in the United States has doubled in the past 30 years, with similar patterns occurring in Hawaii. And the problem has only gotten worse. To address this rising concern, Kaiser Permanente is hosting an advance screening of The Weight of the Nation, helping launch one of the most far-reaching public health campaigns on this epidemic to date.

The Weight of the Nation is HBO’s four-part series featuring case studies and interviews with leading experts and with individuals and families struggling with obesity. Part 1 of the series, “Consequences,” which examines the scope of the obesity epidemic and explores the serious health consequences of being overweight or obese, will be screened. Following the screening, there will be a forum for the public to “Weigh-in” on the weight of Hawaii during a town hall-style discussion with local experts.

The goal of this event is to create continuing dialogue about improving the health of our community. Kaiser Permanente’s Community Health Initiatives for Healthy Eating Active Living support more than 40 obesity prevention collaboratives, which aim to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity in schools, neighborhoods and workplaces.

Kaiser Permanente has partnered with HBO, the Institute of Medicine, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on The Weight of the Nation campaign.

The documentary series debuts on May 14, exclusively on HBO, and is comprised of four documentary films, a three-part HBO Family series, 14 bonus shorts, a social media campaign, a book published by St. Martin’s Press and a nationwide community-based outreach campaign. Further information on the series can be found at theweightofthenation.hbo.com.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/zYrOW_WGJj0]

For more information on Kaiser Permanente’s work in the community, visit www.kp.org/communitybenefit.

Honolulu Zoo Will Soon Boast a Children’s Discovery Forest

Project Will Demonstrate Culturally Significant Plant Species and More

The Hawai’i Forest Industry Association (HFIA), the Hawai’i Forest Institute (HFI), and community partners are planning the Honolulu Zoo Children’s Discovery Forest, which will be created at the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki on O’ahu.

Honolulu Zoo Discovery Forest Schematic Design Plan created by Leland Miyano, Jason Umemoto, and Leonard Bisel

The project site is near the zoo entrance and adjacent to the future site of a Native Hawaiian Village. The Discovery Forest will be a representation of natural systems, creating a scene of Hawai’i before the arrival of humans. The exhibit will be designed to demonstrate culturally significant Hawaiian plant species, the significance of place, and the kuleana of mālama ‘āina (responsibility to care for the land) by integrating traditional Hawaiian forest ecosystems, forest stewardship opportunities, and innovative land-based education for residents and visitors.

The Discovery Forest will reconnect urban visitors with the Hawaiian forest through three demonstration zones: strand vegetation, dryland mesic forest species, and Polynesian-introduced species and cultivars. The Discovery Forest will be a place that serves as an ongoing outdoor educational setting in which visitors will learn about the importance of the sustainability of native and Polynesian plantings within a framework of Hawaiian cultural values. The vision is one in which the vast cultural, natural and historical attributes of Hawaii’s endemic and indigenous coastal flora and geology is shared, demonstrating the bond that must be formed between people and ‘āina if both are to thrive.

HFIA was recently awarded a $49,100 Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) Natural Resources Program award, administered by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), for the Discovery Forest. Other project partners include Paepae o He’eia, Conservation Council of Hawai’i, Scenic Hawaii, Inc., Mānoa Heritage Center, Kualoa-Heeia Ecumenical Youth Project (KEY Project), Polynesian Voyaging Society, and O’ahu Resource Conservation & Development Council.

“We extend our mahalo to community partners, HTA, and the CNHA for recognizing the importance of helping visitors, island students and kama´aina expand their appreciation for Hawaii’s forest ecosystems,” said HFIA Executive Director Heather Simmons. “Through the Honolulu Zoo Discovery Forest, we have an opportunity to promote forest awareness and significance to thousands of people.”

Big Island Man Charged With a Dozen Offenses After Crime Spree

A Hōluloa man has been charged with a dozen offenses after reportedly brandishing weapons at a family party Saturday night (April 21).

Kona patrol officers responded to the Imin Center in Hōlualoa at 10:50 p.m. Saturday to a report of a disturbance involving a large group of people.

They learned that a 34-year-old man had reportedly wielded a handgun at the community center during a baby’s birthday party and threatened the life of a 48-year-old acquaintance from Kailua-Kona. Other party guests were able to take the gun away before the gunman fled the area. Police recovered the weapon.

Chad L. Denis

At 10 p.m. Sunday (April 22) police arrested 34-year-old Chad L. Denis of Hōlualoa on suspicion of terroristic threatening. He was held at the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation. Detectives determined that the handgun had been stolen during a Kona burglary in April 2011.

Further investigation revealed that Denis had also threatened a 27-year-old Kona man and a 42-year-old Kona man during the confrontation at the party and that he had later returned to the community center and allegedly confronted the same three victims and threatened them with a rifle before fleeing with the weapon. No one was injured in either confrontation.

Detectives determined that after the second incident, Denis returned to his home, where he got into a verbal argument with a 26-year-old Hōlualoa woman. As the woman drove away, Denis reportedly threw a rock through her windshield. She was not injured.

At 4:15 p.m. Tuesday (April 24), detectives charged Denis with first-degree theft, first-degree criminal property damage, six counts of terroristic threatening, two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a weapon and two counts of failure to maintain bail or bond in connection with unrelated charges. His bail was set at $500,000.

He remains in police custody pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Wednesday (April 25).

Pictures from the Community Meeting on Geothermal at Pahoa High School

Last night at Pahoa High School, five members of the Hawaii County Council came to Pahoa to listen to residents testify about their experiences with geothermal in the Puna District.

Hawaii County Council members listen to residents concerns.

I didn’t even arrive at the meeting until 11:30 at night and residents were still testifying in three minute increments since the meeting had begun earlier in the evening.

A Puna resident talks about her breathing problems

From what I understand, earlier in the evening the cafeteria was actually packed with folks and people began to leave after they had a chance to testify.

Former legislative assistant "Sativa" speaks out against geothermal

However, many folks stuck it out until the end of the meeting just so they could put in their two cents.

Most of the folks in attendance seemed to oppose geothermal in their neighborhood.

I have to say I’m pretty impressed with our council members for sitting through such long and repetitive testimony at times.

Members of the council listen patiently

I left right as Hawaii County Council Candidate James Weatherford was addressing the council at about 11:50 and there were still more people scheduled to testify.

County Council Candidate James Weatherford testifies

Wordless Wednesday – A Picture With Me and His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Last week I had the privilege to cover His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Hawaii.  One thing you never ever want to do when covering an event like this… is to ask someone like this for a picture with him.

Many folks have asked if I got any pictures taken of me with him and I myself just felt blessed that he held my hand and I was invited to the event.

Then I started thinking about things and other photographers that were on hand and it turns out one of the best photographers in the State of Hawaii, Dallas Nagata White, was able to capture a picture of me sitting in the front row of the media section while we were given the opportunity to ask questions of His Holiness.

Yep... that's me on the far right in this picture wearing a Sig Zane shirt. Go figure... even His Holiness the Dalai Lama has more hair then me! (Photo courtesy of Dallas Nagata White)

The Kona Blog Ends After 6 Year Run

A couple months ago Blogger Aaron Stene of The Kona Blog told his viewers that he was going on a hiatus from blogging for awhile.

Tonight, I’m saddened to learn that Mr. Stene has decided after more then 6 years of blogging, that he pulled the plug on the Kona Blog and deleted the entire contents of the site as of last night.

I had to look for myself to see if it was true and sure enough I got the following message:

I myself have always felt a closeness to The Kona Blog as it was one of the original blogs here on the Big Island and one of the first to “link” my sites to it via a “Blogroll”.

The Kona Blog was voted as one of the Best Blogs on the Big Island alongside Hunter Bishop’s old blog a few years back, so this means that we have now lost two great blogs on this island

I wish Aaron the best at whatever he has plans on doing next.  I don’t think Mayor Kenoi is hiring him or anything… however, you can still view some of his posts via commentary at http://www.hawaii247.com.

And bro… I will still kick your ass in a game of hoops if we ever play!

Agriculture Inspector Positions Supported in State Budget Bill

Last night, House Finance and Senate Ways and Means conferees agreed to support Agriculture inspectors statewide by funding the positions through the state general fund rather than a special fund, freeing up more money to fight invasive species.

Currently, 20 inspector positions at airports and harbors on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island, are funded through the Pest Inspection, Quarantine and Eradication Special Fund.  Monies in the fund are normally used for invasive species programs, but have been tapped in recent years to fund the agriculture inspectors due to the downturn in the economy and the state’s limited resources.

“The struggle to fund agriculture inspectors in order to stop invasive species from entering the state has been on-going for several years,” said Rep. Clift Tsuji (District 3 – South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown), Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture.  “I’m very pleased that my colleagues on the money committees recognized the urgency to support agriculture inspection and fight invasive species in a reliable and responsible manner.  This is good news for the protection of Hawaii’s precious natural resources.”

Additionally, the conferees agreed to fund through general funds nine agriculture inspector positions at Kahului Airport on Maui that are currently funded through the Department of Transportation using Federal Aviation Administration monies that will be discontinued at the end of this fiscal year.

The budget bill, HB2012, must clear the conference committee, pass a final floor vote in both House and Senate, and if passed, will be sent to the Governor for signature.

Public Meetings Being Held on the Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan Update

The State of Hawai’i Office of Planning Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program is inviting coastal and ocean users, as well as other stakeholders and interested individuals, to a series of listening sessions being held statewide as it begins the Hawai’i Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) update.

Click here to see the Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan on file

Scheduled as follows, open house starts at 5:30 p.m. with formal presentation to start at 6:30 p.m., unless otherwise specified:

· April 25, Wilcox Elementary School Cafeteria, 4319 Hardy St., Lihu’e, Kaua’i
· May 2, Wai’anae District Park Multi-Purpose Room, 85-601 Farrington Hwy., Wai’anae, O’ahu
· May 16, West Hawai’i Civic Center, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy, Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i Island
· May 17, Hilo High School Cafeteria, 556 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo, Hawai’i Island
· May 22, Lana’i Senior Center, 309 Seventh St., Lana’i City, Lana’i (Open house begins at 6 p.m.)
· May 23, Pa’ia Community Center, Hana Hwy., Pa’ia, Maui
· May 30, Mitchell Pauole Community Center, 90 Ainoa St., Kaunakakai, Moloka’i

The ORMP takes a place-based approach to management of ocean resources in the islands, taking into account recognition of the ecological connections between land and sea, the link between human activities and impacts on the environment, and the need for improved collaboration and stewardship in natural resources governance.

In addition to coordination of overall implementation of the ORMP, the CZM Program is responsible for the review and periodic update of the plan. Last updated in 2006, the ORMP sets forth guiding principles and recommendations for use of coastal zone land and water resources, taking into consideration ecological, cultural, historic and esthetic values and the needs for compatible economic development.

The CZM Program is currently updating the 2006 ORMP by conducting an evaluation of the first five years of implementation, identifying areas of focus for the next five years, and determining how the ORMP should be refined or changed to incorporate new issues.

For more information on the ORMP, visit: http://hawaii.gov/dbedt/czm/ormp/ormp.php

Public input on the ORMP may also be submitted via e-mail to ORMP_Update@dbedt.hawaii.gov or by mail to the Office of Planning, Coastal Zone Management Program, P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, HI 96804.

Individuals requesting accommodations for disabilities should call the CZM Program at (808) 587-2846, or submit requests in writing at least five days in advance to the above address or via fax at (808) 587-2824.

Big Island to Host the Hawaii State Association of Counties Annual Conference

The spotlight is set on County of Hawai‘i, as the County Council hosts the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties (HSAC) Annual Conference.

The conference will be held on June 21-22, 2012, at the Hāpuna Beach Prince Hotel and is open to the public. This premiere conference is attended by Federal, State and County government officials as well as business leaders to discuss and address timely and important issues relevant to Hawai‘i and the Asia-Pacific Region.

The theme of this years’ conference is “E Hō‘a Ka Hawai‘i” “Ignite and Illuminate Hawai‘i.” Participating coordinators will showcase the unique qualities of the State of Hawai‘i, and its importance in the global arena towards advancing positive decisions for the future.

Council Chair Dominic Yagong, who is also this years’ conference chair said, “We are extremely delighted and excited to host this conference. We are sure it will be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. We encourage you to plan ahead and book early to ensure you are accommodated.”

Hawai‘i County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi adds, “This conference is an opportunity to make connections and to participate in decision-making concerning critical issues such as job creation, renewable energy, and food security. How will Hawai’i stay uniquely “Hawai’i”, and at the same time, achieve a place of importance in a modern global economy? What are the “big ideas” that we can all agree on and how will we create public and private partnerships to achieve these ideas? These are the important issues of today that will be discussed at the conference. All are welcome to participate and to share in the solutions.”

HSAC Vice President (and Council Vice Chair) Angel Pilago said, “We invite everyone to come and enjoy this wonderful opportunity to participate in discussions and decisions that affect the future of Hawai‘i. Panelists will focus on important topics designed to improve our economy by bringing sustainability and diversity to our state. The conference brings together important leaders from government, business and the community for the common goal of highlighting the importance  of the State of Hawai‘i as the world moves closer to global economic and environmental initiatives.”

Detailed registration information is available at http://www.hsac2012.com.

Thursday June 21

Friday June 22

2012 Youth Voter Registration Project

The Office of the County Clerk, Elections Division, is announcing the start of the 2012 Youth Voter Registration Project (YVRP).

This year, the YVRP program will be launching a “High School County Council” pilot project for high school students 16-18 years of age. Through this hands-on project, students will register to vote for the 2012 election, engage in “how-to” sessions and training covering precinct operations, learn about the local government legislative process, experience drafting legislation, and exercise leadership by becoming a candidate in an election for a district council seat representing the participating high school. Those are elected and all who participate will understand the importance of local government, and discover how interesting civic participation can be.

Four schools have expressed the desire to participate in the program: Kea‘au, Kamehahameha, Honoka‘a and Konawaena High Schools.

This will be an educational, rewarding and fun project for everyone involved.

For questions regarding this project, please contact Jeanette Aiello, Legislative Research Branch, Office of the County Clerk, at (808) 961-8564 or to her email address at jaiello@hawaiicounty.gov.

Councilman Hoffmann on County’s Decision to Truck Trash from East Side to West Side “So Much for the Transparency”

I received the following letter from Councilman Pete Hoffmann regarding the County’s recent decision to truck trash from East Hawaii to West Hawaii.

Councilman Pete Hoffmann

No one even remotely connected with County operations would deny that the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is one of the more complex and difficult operations to control. Add also the somewhat emotional reactions of County residents to the various issues that are involved in the DEM arena and the situation becomes even more complicated. Finally, the fact that the County Council for various reasons has rejected some administrative initiatives to address outstanding matters has only frustrated all involved.

That said, the sordid performance of DEM officials at the recent Finance Committee Budget hearings on 20 April far exceeded any expectations. The immediate background for this less than inspiring series of DEM comments was generated specifically by the Mayor’s presentation at the Kona Town Meeting on 10 April, (and also mentioned at Waikōloa and Waimea talk stories last month) where Mr. Kenoi emphatically stated he had no plans to truck East Hawaii trash to West Hawaii and assured the audience that no decision had been made regarding this ‘hot’ topic. In attendance at this meeting was Hunter Bishop, the DEM Deputy Director.

Despite such comments by the Mayor, a few days later, we learn that a pilot program to truck trash from Kea’au and Hilo to the Pu’uanahulu landfill adjacent to Waikoloa had been in operation for at least a couple of months, without any public notice or explanation. To be clear, the Mayor did not publicly misstate the situation, but his comments certainly gave his listeners a false impression. The budget hearing was the first opportunity for Council members to query Bishop and Dora Beck, the Interim Department Director, on this ‘silent’ project.

Without detailing all of the vocal frustration expressed by Council members, some of the pertinent exchanges of this meeting follow:

– asked why DEM didn’t inform someone of this pilot program, DEM responded they didn’t think they had to reveal to the public (nor apparently to the Council and to the Mayor’s own Environmental Management Commission) every pilot program they activated and didn’t feel it was important. The Council agreed that not every program warranted public exposure, but surely common sense should have indicated that any trash trucking operation, a flashpoint for all involved, would have been a logical project demanding public disclosure and not one to be kept silent.

– queried as to why he did not speak up at the Kona Town Meeting in light of the Mayor’s comments, at least to insure no misperceptions were generated, Mr. Bishop simply stated “no one asked the question”.

– regarding the Hilo Sort Station, DEM officials told the Council during this meeting that the County planned to staff and operate the sort station in the immediate future. The Council passed a resolution some weeks ago by a vote of 6-1 requesting the administration initiate a Request for Proposal for a private-for-profit entity to convert the sort station to a Material Recycling Facility. No County resources were to be used. Asked why DEM/administration would apparently ignore this resolution, no response was provided.

There will always be controversies regarding issues of this nature. However, the blatant refusal of DEM to disclose activities that have a high profile in the community is a curious way to promote the Mayor’s program of transparency and open government. Bishop’s comments reflect an arrogance for the Council and the public that is hard to define. After the 20 April meeting, Bishop was asked why he responded to the Council in this manner? He answered; “well how does one respond to those questions?” I told him a simple statement such as: “in hindsight, we probably should have said something” would have been more appropriate.

Whatever the reason, the Council’s frustration was palpable, the administration’s lack of transparency obvious, and DEM’s responses inappropriate. Whether one agrees or not with trucking trash, I fear that the public’s perception of County government in general has suffered a serious setback. And for those with lingering doubts about the Council’s willingness to cooperate with the administration, here’s a prime example why several Council members are reticent to work with the administration on many issues. I trust the Mayor will take some immediate action to address this matter.

Pete Hoffmann

Ala Moana Hotel Announced as the Official Hotel for the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards – After Party Announced

The Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts (“HARA”) is proud to announce that Ala Moana Hotel – The Kamaaina Favorite, is “The Official Hotel of the 35th Annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards and Music Festival,” happening May 25-27, 2012, at the Hawaii Convention Center. The Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (“Hokus”) is the culminating event of the month-long Mele Mei 2012, celebrating the unique music of Hawaii.


The celebration will continue as the Ala Moana Hotel’s Pakele Lounge hosts the Hokus After-Party on May 27th, from 10 p.m.~midnight, immediately following the 35th Annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

Ala Moana Hotel is extending special Na Hoku Hanohano room rates starting at $109 in the Kona Tower for anyone who is attending the Hokus or Festival, making the hotel not only convenient, but also an excellent deal.  To qualify for the rates, available May 23-30, 2012, guests must simply show their I.D. badge, ticket or receipt for any of the events to the front desk before checking out.  Room rates are nightly for single/double occupancy, plus tax. Rooms are subject to availability.

“Ala Moana Hotel is proud to be the official hotel sponsor of this prestigious event,” said Marty Milan, Director of Sales and Marketing for the hotel staff is excited and looking forward to extending our hospitality to honorees and the many fans, friends and ohana who will stay with us and extend their support.  I hope they don’t mind if we’re ‘starstruck’.”

“We are extremely honored and grateful to have the Ala Moana Hotel, once again, as a valued partner of the Na Hoku Hanohano Music Festival and Awards,” said Kuuipo Kumukahi, HARA president.  “We all love staying there – not only for its convenient location, but also for its well-appointed rooms and the gracious hospitality of its staff.”

Ala Moana Hotel was the original home of the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 1978.  The big winners that year were Melveen Leed and Cecilio & Kapono.  The Brothers Cazimero, Palani Vaughan and The King’s Own, and Herb Ohta were also winners.  Eventually, the Hokus grew too large for the Ala Moana Hotel.  Its current home is the 35,000 square foot Kalakaua Ballroom at the Hawaii Convention Center, across the street from the hotel.  The Ala Moana Hotel enjoys this renewed relationship with the Hokus – a kind of “homecoming,” returning to its roots.

Applications for Hawaii Island Advisory Council Positions Announced

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, is now accepting applications for vacant seats on the Laupahoehoe Advisory Council (LAC) and the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Advisory Council (PAC) on Hawai‘i Island.

Laupahoehoe Advisory Council

LAC members are expected and encouraged to provide guidance to DLNR and the USDA Forest Service on issues related to management, research, education and public access in the Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest and state lands in the Hamakua District (Laupahoehoe Natural Area Reserve and Forest Reserve). On the windward side of Hawai‘i Island, this includes 12,300 acres of wet tropical forest in both Forest Reserve land as well as a Natural Area Reserve.

The LAC consists of 14 members with two members representing each of the following categories:

Cultural Resources, Natural Resource Management, Recreation (including hunters), Education, Laupahoehoe Community, Hawai‘i Community at Large, and Scientific Research. Members of the LAC serve a 2- or 3-year term (staggered within each category).

Applicants are now being sought to fill the open scientific research seat. These applicants should have a background in forest ecology or other natural resources related research field and an interest in serving  the Laupahoehoe community as a representative. The LAC meets bi-monthly in Laupahoehoe on Hawai‘i Island from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first Wednesday of odd months.

Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Advisory Council

PAC members are expected and encouraged to provide guidance to DLNR for state lands in North Kona, including the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Bird Sanctuary, Kīholo State Park Reserve, and the makai lands of Pu‘u Anahulu. Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a is on the leeward side of Hawai‘i Island on the northern flank of Hualalai and includes tropical dry and wet forests, grasslands and coastal ecosystems, including anchialine ponds. The greater ahupua‘a of Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a is 40, 711 acres of state land and includes the Forest Bird Sanctuary, Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, and Kīholo State Park Reserve.

The PAC consists of 14 members in the following categories: Natural Resource Specialist and Recreation Use Specialist (three members each, including hunting interests), Hui ‘Ohana mai Pu‘u Anahulu Representative and Grazing Specialist (two members each), Cultural Expert, Neighboring Landowner, Business/Ecotourism Specialist, and Grant Writing Expertise/Coastal Zone Management (one member each).  Members of the PAC serve for a 2- or 3-year term.

Applicants are being sought to fill two positions, one of each in the following categories 1) neighboring landowner, and 2) grazing specialist. All applicants should have an appropriate background in the category area as well as an interest in representing community stakeholders related to their respective categories.

The PAC meets quarterly at Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve in North Kona on Hawai‘i Island.

Individuals who are interested in serving on either the Laupahoehoe or Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Advisory Councils may submit an application. Applications will be reviewed by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest working group, and current members of the selected Advisory Council. Final selections are made by the DLNR chairperson.

Applications must be received by May 30, 2012. Application forms including submittal instructions can be found at http://www.hetf.us/page/home/. Hard copy applications are also available at the Hilo DOFAW office.

For more information on either the Laupahoehoe or Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Advisory Councils and the application process, please contact DOFAW Branch Manager Roger Imoto at (808) 974-4221.

Public Invited to the Mele Mei 2012 Opening Luncheon and Concert Performances

The public is invited to the Opening Luncheon for Mele Mei 2012 at the Willows Restaurant on Friday, April 27th from 11:00 – 3:00.

General Admission is $60.00 and  $52 for HARA Members.

County of Hawaii to Roll Out New Electric Fleet Tomorrow

The County of Hawai‘i is ready to roll out its new electric vehicle fleet. Mayor Billy Kenoi will have the honor of plugging in one of the five 2012 Chevy Volt Hybrid Electric Vehicles at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24 at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center. The vehicles will be blessed during this event.

2012 Chevy Volt Hybrid Electric

These plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a great fit for Hawai‘i County, where trips can be as long as 200 miles one way. For trips under 30 miles, the vehicles can run solely on battery power charged by the West Hawai‘i Civic Center’s photovoltaic array. A gasoline-powered generator with a nine-gallon tank will allow an additional range of 300-400 miles, depending on topography.

Based on their past usage of County vehicles, it is anticipated that the new vehicles will be issued to the Departments of Parks and Recreation, Planning, and the Office of Housing and Community Development. The other vehicles are scheduled to be assigned to the Mayor’s Office and available for official use by any department. These vehicles are black and feature electric-vehicle license plates. They will be marked with the required County seal.

While each vehicle costs $47,000, the County will offset that price with a $4,500 credit per car through the state’s EV-Ready rebate program. The cost of each vehicle also includes a bumper-to-bumper warranty for seven years.

Hawai‘i Island pays some of the highest fuel costs in the United States. In fiscal year 2011, the County’s transportation fuel bill was $7 million. These prices are likely to rise in the future, so making this transition to more efficient vehicles will help control these escalating costs.

Prior to purchase of the vehicles, the county received a grant from Better Place Inc. to have three charging stations installed at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center. Each charging station can handle two electric vehicles at a time. The Chevy Volt typically takes 3.5 hours for full charge. Available charging stations will be open for public use during regular business hours.

The photovoltaic array at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center has the capability to provide energy to the building and charge up to 30 EVs or 60 PHEVs. It is anticipated that additional charging stations will be added to maximize the use of the 250 kW photovoltaic array.

An October 2011 report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Evaluation of West Hawai‘i Civic Center’s Transportation and Energy Use,” supports with economic analysis the integration of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles into the County fleet. The County has also worked with HELCO to coordinate vehicle deployment as well as charging station infrastructure.

Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community Implements Program to Help Practices Transition to Patient Centered Medical Homes

Starting this month, the Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community (HIBC) is implementing a physician practice redesign program to transform up to 30 independent Primary Care Physician practices into Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH).

Melinda Nugent, clinical program manager for HIBC, will lead the effort and collaborate with quality improvement coaches from the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii (NKFH). Other partners in the program include North Hawai‘i Community Hospital and the Hawai‘i Medical Service Association (HMSA). Practice transition to the PCMH model is tied to a new strategy for health care reimbursements. The program will use a curriculum developed by TransforMED, an American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) company.

“Introduced by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1967, the PCMH model has become the national standard for primary care delivery,” said Susan B. Hunt, MHA, project director and CEO of HIBC. “HIBC aims to help physicians fast-track the transformation of their primary care practices at no charge. The PCMH includes the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and is designed to improve care quality and efficiency, help people take an active role in improving their own health and reduce costs in the long term.”

Each of the 30 Hawai‘i Island practices participating will receive, at no charge:

  • A baseline practice assessment
  • A customized practice transformation plan
  • Access to 10 webinars that cover topics such as pre-visit planning, care coordination, and data recording and documentation
  • Admission to quarterly collaborative learning sessions with other participants
  • Recognition as a PCMH upon successful completion of the program

Enrollment is on a first-come basis. As of April 23, spots are still available. Primary Care Physicians interested in signing up may contact Melinda Nugent at (808) 933-8559 or mnugent@hibeacon.org.

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RedBull Air Drop – Largest Stunt of Its Kind In History

The RedBull Air Drop has begun!  Of course Hawaii will be left out of this stunt.

Red Bull is giving wings to millions of students around the world—the largest stunt of its kind in history.

Wings Worldwide – 400 campuses, 55 countries, 6 continents…1 day.

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Volcano Rain Forest Tours to Begin

Are you looking for an informative weekend activity aimed at revealing the splendors of Hawaii’s rare natural resources? Volcano Art Center (VAC) announces the addition of Saturday Ni‘aulani Rain Forest guided tours beginning May 19, 2012, from 11 am to noon at 19-4074 Old Volcano Road in Volcano Village.

A visiting nature enthusiast strolls along the Ni‘aulani Nature Trail, examining a natural arbor formed by fallen and merged endemic Hawaiian tree ferns

These new Saturday tours are formatted the same as the Monday Ni‘aulani Nature Walk, running strong since 2006. The weekend option is geared toward better accommodating residents’ schedules and visitors driving from the leeward side of the island. The 1/7-mile Ni‘aulani Nature Trail is an easy stroll. Bring your rain jacket, as mist is characteristic in the area. No reservations are required, but are requested for groups of five or more people.

Attendees learn of the historic importance of the Ni‘aulani Rain Forest, designated a Forest Reserve in the 1920’s in order to protect the rare old-growth native tree canopy. Volunteer guides help visitors understand the basics of Hawaiian rain forest ecology as well as the evolution and traditional uses of native plants and animals within them. Also shared are VAC-led efforts in successfully bolstering the biodiversity of Ni‘aulani, marking the unique setting as a tangible example of native forest restoration.

Come and see why VAC received the 2011 Betty Crocker Landscape Award, and why the Ni‘aulani Rain Forest now has a Warrior Marker signifying it as a place of significant scenic importance in the state of Hawai‘i.

These walks are a part of a collection of programs which help perpetuate the Ni‘aulani Rain Forest and are funded in part by Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s Natural Resources Program and a restoration grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If you need more information, please contact Volcano Art Center at 967-8222 or programs@volcanoartcenter.org.

Ka‘ū Coffee Festival Starts Local, Thinks Global

Small businesses join event providing new activities, mainland coffee experts coming to the Big Island.

Everyone wants a piece of it, or more appropriately, a cup of it.

The continued success of Ka‘ū coffee—whose attributes continue to garner worldwide and statewide coffee awards—is attracting small, local business to expand the 2012 festival by hosting additional events. It’s also bringing coffee industry experts to the remote community of Pahala to meet Ka‘ū coffee growers, tour their operations and offer advice during the 4th annual Ka‘ū Coffee Festival, May 5-6 and 12-13.

The festival's reverse trade mission enables Mainland coffee experts to meet and mingle with local growers during the ho"olaule"a on May 12 and Coffee College May 13 at the Pahala Community Center. Photo by Fern Gavelek.

Local Bizs Key to Expanding Festival

Seven Big Island businesses with Ka‘ū roots are expanding the festival to an additional weekend by presenting coffee-themed events May 5 and 6. While the festival has enjoyed the financial support of local businesses in the past, festival organizer Chris Manfredi notes “this year marks a turning point, with businesses becoming official festival venues and entrepreneurs actively promoting Ka‘ū through direct participation.”

During the Coffee Experience on May 12, U.S, Barista Champion Pete Licata will offer guided coffee tastings. Photo by Fern Gavelek.

Kalaekilohana Bed and Breakfast on South Point Road in Na’alehu is the location of the inaugural Ka‘ū Farmers’ Table: A Feast for the Senses 5-9 p.m. Saturday, May 5. Ka‘ū resident Chef Morgan Starr of Mi’s Italian Bistro in Captain Cook will prepare a locally sourced, five-course dinner, followed by a coffee and dessert bar featuring Ka‘ū coffee prepared four different ways. The event is sponsored by Hana Hou restaurant in Na‘alehu and the new Mi’s Wine and Cheese Shop in Kailua-Kona. Tickets are $100 and just a few seats are available at press time.

The inaugural Triple C Recipe Contest is 2 p.m. Sunday, May 6 and hosted by the Ka‘ū Coffee Mill on Wood Valley Road above Pahala. The event coincides with the mill’s grand opening for its visitor center. Professional, amateur and student entrants can vie in cookie, cracker and candy categories to become a signature Ka‘ū Coffee Mill product. The event is free to entrants and attendees, with limited tastings, and co-sponsored by Pahala Plantation Cottages, OK Farms and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.  Details: http://kaucoffeemill.com/hawaii/RecipeContest.html.

The Coffee College on May 13 is geared for growers and offers expertise in roasting, marketing, trade standards and dealing with the coffee bearer borer. Photo by Ralph Gaston.

“If we can continue to develop partnerships like this with businesses in our district, it will help make the festival sustainable,” adds Manfredi, of Ka‘ū Farm and Ranch Co.  “Like the success of Ka‘ū Coffee, the festival has grown every year. These new partnerships are a reflection of that growth.”

Reverse Trade Mission

In its second year, the festival brings specialty coffee industry leaders to the state’s largest agricultural district to “taste and see” what Ka‘ū coffee is all about. First, they will experience Ka‘ū coffee during community festival activities Saturday, May 12.

“These representative from the Mainland coffee industry will take farm tours, get in on guided coffee tastings with U.S. Barista Champion Pete Licata and also meet and visit our individual growers at friendly, festival vendor booths,” explains Manfredi. Open to the public, these activities are 9 a.m,-4 p.m. and headquartered at the Pahala Community Center.

Among the growers offering festival booths will be the 2012 Coffee of the Year winners by the prestigious Specialty Coffee Association of America: Will and Grace Tabios with their Rising Sun coffee, Lorie Obra of Rusty’s Hawaiian coffee and Francis and Trinidad Marques of Ali‘i Hawaiian Hula Hands Coffee.

On Sunday, May 13, visiting coffee experts will share “invaluable insight” on roasting, packaging and marketing coffee to Mainland and international consumers during the 9 a.m.-noon Ka‘ū Coffee College. The educational sessions, which will include a presentation on direct trade standards and an overiew of Starbucks, are geared to Ka‘ū coffee farmers at the Pahala Community Center.

The College is also tackling agricultural concerns. Dr. Robert Hollingsworth, research entomologist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, will present strategies for optimizing the cost effectiveness of Beauveria bassiana for controlling the coffee berry borer.

“This year’s reverse trade mission participants include Midwest native Anthony Carroll, manager of Coffee Quality for Starbucks, and Jeff Taylor, founder of PT’s Coffee Roasting Company in Topeka, Kansas,” details Manfredi.

Carroll, who taste-tests up to 100 cups of coffee per day, ensures consistency of Starbuck’s core coffees and seasonal favorites. He also develops new coffee blends and seeks out rare and exotic single-origin coffee to add to Starbuck’s exclusive Reserve Program. Last fall, Ka‘ū coffee was featured in New York City and select markets through Starbuck’s Reserve menu.

A former award-winning photojournalist, Taylor is known as one of the top micro-roasters in the nation. His PT Coffee Roasting Company was recently selected to represent the U.S. in the World Roasting Championship. Each spring, Taylor travels to coffee-producing areas to personally select the finest coffees available for roasting and selling throughout the U.S.

For details on all four festival events, visit www.kaucoffeefestival.com and follow the Ka‘ū Coffee Festival on Facebook and Twitter at kaucoffeefest.

The Ka‘ū Coffee Festival is designed to raise awareness of Ka‘ū and its growers as a world-class coffee growing origin. Ka‘ū burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous awards over several years. These awards highlight the unique combination of people and place that help make Ka‘ū coffee a favorite across the globe. For more information, visit kaucoffeefest.com 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.