Blessing Held for Former Bank of Hawai‘i Branch Donated to County

The County of Hawai‘i today held a blessing and recognition ceremony at the former Bank of Hawai‘i branch in Kohala, which will now be used by the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Office of Aging for expanded senior citizens programs.

The building, on Akoni Pule Highway in Kapa‘au near the Kamehameha statue and North Kohala Civic Center, was constructed around 1900. Bank of Hawai‘i purchased the building in 1922, serving Kohala for 90 years before closing earlier this year. The Bank of Hawai‘i automated teller machine and depository will remain available at the front of the building.
The building had been severely damaged in the October 2006 earthquake. As part of the complete restoration after the earthquake, a photovoltaic system was installed making the building energy self-sufficient – Bank of Hawai‘i’s first green building.
Members of the Kohala Senior Club entertained the crowd at today’s ceremony.
“The bank looked at several options, and it was so right to give this building to the County,” said Bank of Hawai‘i Senior Vice President Roberta Chu. “When we understood further what the County’s limitations were [at the existing Kohala Senior Center] across the street, it was natural to make this building available to the people of Kohala. It’s an honor for us.”
“Our hearts are filled with aloha today,” said Kealoha Sugiyama, President of the Kohala Senior Club, who performed the blessing today. “It was such a treat when I was a youngster to tag along with my father or my grandfather to come and make deposits to this bank. To see it continue to live in our community is such an honor.”
“We’re very thankful to the Bank of Hawai‘i for their kindness and generosity in turning over this wonderful facility for our kūpuna. As our senior population grows, we have greater needs for our services. As the need grows and programs expand beyond our current facilities in Kohala, we now have a beautiful, green place for all of their activities,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “Everything we have is what we’ve learned from all our kūpuna. Our community is a special place because all of them have given so much for so long.”

Mayor Billy Kenoi with Senior VP Art Taniguchi, Senior VP Roberta Chu, and Branch Manager Jeff Craft of Bank of Hawaiʻi.

Hawaii Included in New Google Maps Underwater Street View

We’ve added the very first underwater panoramic images to Google Maps, the next step in our quest to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world.


With these vibrant and stunning photos you don’t have to be a scuba diver—or even know how to swim—to explore and experience six of the ocean’s most incredible living coral reefs. Now, anyone can become the next virtual Jacques Cousteau and dive with sea turtles, fish and manta rays in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii.


Starting today, you can use Google Maps to find a sea turtle swimming among a school of fish, follow a manta ray, and experience the reef at sunset—just as I did on my first dive in the Great Barrier Reef last year. You can also find out much more about this reef via the World Wonders Project, a website that brings modern and ancient world heritage sites online.

At Apo Island, a volcanic island and marine reserve in the Philippines, you can see an ancient boulder coral, which may be several hundred years old. And in the middle of the Pacific, in Hawaii, you can join snorkelers in Oahu’s Hanauma Bay and drift over the vast coral reef at Maui’s Molokini crater.

We’re partnering with The Catlin Seaview Survey, a major scientific study of the world’s reefs, to make these amazing images available to millions of people through the Street View feature of Google Maps. The Catlin Seaview Survey used a specially designed underwater camera, the SVII, to capture these photos.

Whether you’re a marine biologist, an avid scuba diver or a landlocked landlubber, we encourage you to dive in and explore the ocean with Google Maps.

Jamae Kawauchi Responds to the Cancellation of Today’s Special Council Meeting

Today, the Office of the Hawaii County Clerk received media inquiries concerning the cancellation of the today’s special meeting of the Hawaii County Council.

Ms. Kawauchi stated, “The deadline for filing responsive pleadings in the lawsuits has been extended to October 26, 2012. The Hawaii County Council cancelled the special meeting today to allow additional time to explore issues regarding the representation of all named defendants. The Hawaii County Council will be discussing these matters at the October 3, 2012 Hawaii County Council meeting.”

Jamae Kawauchi

Questions on Conflicts of Interest – Cancellation of Special County Council Meeting Scheduled for Today

By letter dated September 19, 2012, Hawaii County Council Chairman, Dominic Yagong, scheduled a special meeting of the Hawaii County Council, to discuss the lawsuits filed against the County of Hawaii, the Hawaii County Council Chairman, and the Hawaii County Clerk.

Chairman Yagong stated, “The meeting was called because I was aware of the September 25, 2012 deadline to respond to the lawsuits and that the Corporation Counsel had failed to schedule a meeting with the Hawaii County Council to discuss the lawsuits and responses. The failure by Corporation Counsel to respond to the lawsuits by the September 25, 2012 deadline could have resulted in a default judgment against the County of Hawaii.”

To avert the possibility of a default judgment against the County of Hawaii, Chairman Yagong requested that the Corporation Counsel seek an extension to the September 25, 2012 filing deadline, which was granted. The new deadline to respond to the lawsuits is October 26, 2012.

Chairman Yagong further stated, “Also, the Corporation Counsel notified the Hawai‘i County Council that they have a conflict of interest. In light of Corporation Counsel’s assertion that they have a conflict of interest, and that they will not be representing all parties involved, it is inappropriate, and not in the best interest of the County of Hawaii, for the Corporation Counsel to advise and represent the County of Hawaii in matters relating to the lawsuits.”

According to Chairman Yagong, “We will be seeking an opinion from the State of Hawaii Office of Disciplinary Counsel to confirm the Corporation Counsel’s representation that they have a conflict of interest and therefore cannot represent county agencies, the council and all officers and employees named in these lawsuits.”

“It is in the best interest of the County of Hawai‘i to determine whether or not Corporation Counsel is in a legal position to advise the Hawai‘i County Council,” said Yagong.

The County Council will be discussing these matters at the October 3, 2012 Hawai‘i County Council meeting to be held in Hilo, Hawaii.

Big Island Police Looking for Pahoa Punk… Again

Big Island police are looking for a 20-year-old former Pāhoa man wanted for questioning in connection with a domestic violence incident.

Ronsten Andrade

Ronsten Keone Andrade III, also known as Ronsten Andrade Tripp, is described as a local male, about 6-feet tall, about 180 pounds, with short black hair, brown eyes and a medium complexion.

He was last seen at a makeshift home in Tiki Gardens in Puna late Monday afternoon (September 24). He was wearing a green-grey long-sleeved flannel jacket and a cap. He may be operating late-model white 4-door Saturn sedan with a burnt finish on the driver’s side door.

The incident started in the Hawaiian Beaches Subdivision in Puna where Andrade allegedly assaulted a 19-year-old Puna woman, forcibly removed items from her, and prevented her from leaving.

The victim declined treatment for her injuries, which were not life-threatening.

Police have classified this incident as abuse of a family or household member, second-degree robbery, second-degree terroristic threatening and kidnapping.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section are continuing the investigation and caution the public not to confront Andrade. Instead, anyone who sees him or knows his whereabouts should contact Detective Grant Todd at 961-2385 or email him at or Detective Norbert Serrao at 961-2383 or Callers may also 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.

Big Island’s Bree Wee Finishes 4th in Ironman Cozumel

Professional Tri-Athlete, Mother and Big Island’s own Bree Wee who just last month won her first Ironman was in Mexico this past weekend to compete in the Ironman 70.3 Cozumel race.

Before the race Bree wrote:

…Round #3 here in Cozumel.  And yet, this place feels different with a twist of the same.  Funny how islands have that effect on us, same place but forever new.  My first trip I was in the North part of town, last trip I was in the smack middle of town, this trip I am further South from town.  I like it here, but it’s way more quiet, as if the triathlon is not even here this Sunday.  I’ve yet to figure out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for a girl like me. I’m going to just make it a positive thing….

The flight was you know, long.  It got longer when the plane broke and we sat on the runway for 3hrs.  Extra taper?  Extra rest, I fell asleep.  By the time we landed on the little island of Cozumel it was too late for check-in. In fact it was about dinner time!  My legs were so eager to run, my lungs were craving fresh air, and my heart was having a little wanderlust, so I ran…

Well the race was yesterday and I’m happy to report that Bree took a respectable 4th place.

Bree Wee crosses the finish line at Ironman Cozumel

Here are the splits and final times of her race:

Today Bree wrote:

The morning was usual butterflies meshed with excitement.  I’m over worrying about how my body feels race week and race day, after a year of feeling good only to race bad or feel bad only to race good, I’ve learned that through 70.3 miles or 140.6 miles our body will do for us what we push it to do.  Well, I could use some speed work to help with that, but you get what I’m saying. 

Prerace in the transition area was pretty scary for me.  I’m still like a rookie at the whole “pro in transition” thing. If I look too close at any girl and where she came from in the land of results it humbles me to the point of forgetting to focus on what I can do on the day.  With the likes of most the women’s 70.3 World Champs in the line up, my eyes fixed their gaze on what was within my control…

You can read more about Bree’s adventures as an athlete, mom and Big Island resident at her excellent blog “Bree Wee: Mom & Triathlete“.

$16 Million Renewal Project Completed at Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa – New GM Named for Rays on the Bay

Pyramid Hotel Group has appointed Jayden Callahan as General Manager at Rays on the Bay at the renewed Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, a 22-acre oceanfront resort on Hawaii, the Big Island.

Jayden Callahan

“Jayden’s background in food and beverage management and event planning is ideal for Rays on the Bay,” said Area Managing Director and Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa General Manager Steve Lindburg. “Her passion for creativity, education, training and mentoring is a perfect fit for the enthusiastic and fun team at Rays.”

Callahan’s responsibilities include overseeing operations at Sheraton Kona’s new signature restaurant which opened to rave reviews September 9. With superb viewing of Keauhou’s resident manta rays, Rays on the Bay offers fresh local seafood, farm-to-table cooking, handmade artisan pizzas, nightly live music by island musicians, endless ocean views, romantic sunsets, engaging aloha service, Rum Bar, fire pits, lounge coves and the coldest beer on the island.

Callahan comes to Sheraton Kona from the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort on Kauai where she was food and beverage manager and was awarded manager of the year in 2011. Callahan moved to Kauai in 1992 right after Hurricane Iniki and has called Hawaii home ever since. She has planned weddings, golf tournaments and music festivals during her more than 20 years in the industry.

“We want Rays to connect on a personal level with Sheraton guests and with local residents,” Callahan explained.  “Sheraton Kona inspires connections and when people travel to Hawaii they don’t just come for surf and sun, they come for the culture and a sense of place.  When you walk into Rays on the Bay you know you’re somewhere special.”

Rays on the Bay is part of a now complete $16 million renewal at Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.

Dinner service is from 5:00pm until 10:00pm daily, the bar and patio are open until 11:00pm. Entertainment is nightly 6:30pm until 9:30pm. Dinner reservations can be made online at or by calling Rays on the Bay direct at 808.930.4949.  Complimentary valet parking is available for guests of Rays on the Bay.

Dolphin Trainer Talks About Being in Water While Dolphin Gives Birth

Well the Dolphin Quest video of the birth of the dolphin has now gone viral on youtube with over 700,000 views and climbing each day.

Julie Rocho-Levine

The dolphin trainer that was with Keo during her labor, Julie Rocho-Levine, talks about the time she spent with her before she gave birth.


Federal Aviation Administration Grants Hawaii $250,000 for Space Transportation Infrastructure

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced nearly $500,000 in new Space Transportation Infrastructure matching grants to three projects located in California, Colorado and Hawaii that will help develop and expand commercial space transportation infrastructure.

“These investments will help us continue to develop a safe and robust commercial space industry in the United States,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“Government and private sector partnerships are essential to carrying out our national space policies,” said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta.  “Today’s grants help keep America competitive by investing in space transportation infrastructure development.”

The matching grants are $250,000 to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; $200,000 to Colorado’s Front Range Airport Authority, and $23,750 to the East Kern Airport District at California’s Mojave Spaceport. The Hawaii and Colorado grants both will be used to conduct environmental and other feasibility analyses for a potential FAA Commercial Launch Site Operator’s License.  The grant to the East Kern Airport District will be used for acquisition of a “pyrolance,” a dual firefighting piercing system to aid in rapid response to rescue emergencies and to fires involving launch vehicles.

The federal matching grants fund up to 50 percent of the total project cost in conjunction with state and local government funding.  In addition, the grants require that a minimum of 10 percent of the total project cost come from private funding.

The United States’ space program has three sectors – civil, military and commercial. The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is responsible for licensing, regulating and promoting the commercial space transportation industry.  Since the office was created in 1984, the FAA has issued licenses for more than 200 launches, licensed the operation of eight FAA-approved launch sites known as spaceports and has helped ensure that no loss of life or serious injury has been associated with these efforts.

For more information on FAA’s commercial space transportation activities a fact sheet is available at: