Poll: Who Will You Vote for President of the United States in 2012

Tonight was the second major debate between current US President Barack Obama and Republican Candidate Mitt Romney.

Has the debates changed the way you may vote?

[polldaddy poll=6614441]

Pa’auilo Slaughterhouse Improvements Commence

The County of Hawai’i held a blessing this morning to commence $4.15 million worth of improvements to the State-owned slaughterhouse in Pa’auilo. Funds for the improvements were appropriated by the State Legislature and released by the Governor directly to the County of Hawai‘i to implement improvements that will help secure the future of Hawai‘i Island’s grass-fed beef industry.


“Today marked the beginning of $4.15 million in improvements to the Paʻauilo Slaughterhouse, improvements that will increase the plant’s capacity by 40% and create 10 to 15 more jobs! It took years of work to get us to this point. Mahalo nui to Jill Mattos, the De Luz family, and the ranching community for your efforts, to our State legislators for working to get the funding, and to our County departments of Research & Development and Public Works for taking on the project! We look forward to being able to grow and expand Hawaiʻi Island’s grass-fed beef industry!” (Mayor Kenoi’s Facebook page)

“If the rancher cannot ranch and the farmer cannot farm, we’re all in trouble. This isn’t all that we need, but it’s an important first step. We look forward to Hawai‘i Island being able to grow and expand our grass-fed beef industry,” said Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi.

The proposed project will make much needed improvements in the critical areas of wastewater disposal, rendering of unusable solid waste, and refrigeration space to expand plant capacity and improve meat quality.

When complete, the plant’s capacity will increase by 40% and reduce the current processing backlog that makes it difficult for ranchers to bring their animals to market in a timely fashion. Improvements will also transform waste that currently goes to the landfill into useable value-added and energy producing by-products. Improvements will also address outstanding wastewater issues.

Once complete, the improvements will create new employment opportunities and increase the economic sustainability of the Hāmākua district.

“The future of beef depends on an up-to-date processing plant that can accommodate all the ranchers’ needs. Hawai‘i Beef Producers does, at present, three to four hundred head a month. With these improvements, we hope to increase to 600 head a month and add on 10 to 15 more employees,” said Jill Mattos of Hawai‘i Beef Producers.

Contracts for the work have been awarded to three separate contractors. Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd. will be responsible for expanding refrigeration capacity and installing a new dry chill box to age grass fed beef before it is marketed. Ludwig Construction will install wastewater improvements including a new septic system and improvements to enable the recycling of wash water to irrigate surrounding pastures. Site Engineering will make repairs to the rendering plant and install equipment that turns inedible waste into compost material and animal fat for processing into biofuels.

The rendering plant work and the wastewater system will take 9 months to complete. The refrigeration improvements will begin after the holidays to reduce impact on slaughterhouse use and is scheduled for completion by the summer.

The Pa’auilo Slaughterhouse is owned by the State of Hawai’i and leased to Hawai’i Beef Producers, a partnership between David DeLuz Sr. and a group of ranchers. It is one of two USDA certified slaughterhouses on Hawai‘i Island, where over 75% of all the state’s cattle are raised.

According to the County’s recently released Food Self Sufficiency Baseline study, only about 17% of the beef eaten on Hawai’i Island is locally produced, in spite of the fact that the cattle industry produces nearly twice the number of cattle annually that the island consumes. Since the early 1990’s the cost of grain imports has made it too expensive for local ranchers to finish cattle locally. As a result, the bulk of the cattle industry ships young cattle to the mainland to be grown to market size and harvested there. Local slaughter capacity has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years and needs to be revitalized before a strong local grass fed industry can re-emerge.

The cattle industry has gone through its challenges, and it continues to face challenges,” said Randy Kurohara, director of the County’s Department of Research & Development. “But this slaughterhouse and rendering facility really represents a milestone in the advancement of our grass-fed beef industry here. Increasing our capacity to produce locally-raised beef is very important to our island’s self-reliance.”

Second Kona Community Meeting Planned on Rash of Burglaries and Car Thefts

Police and members of the County Administration will hold a second informational meeting about the recent rash of burglaries and car thefts in the Kona area and other parts of Hawaiʻi County.

Konawaena High School

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (October 18) at the Konawaena High School cafeteria.

This is a follow-up meeting to one held September 11.

Persons desiring additional information may call either Bobby Command, executive assistant to Mayor Kenoi, at 323-4442 or Police Captain Richard Sherlock of the Kona District at 326-4646, extension 299.

Intersection Conversion at Ohuohu and East Puainako

Roadwork to change the Ohuohu Street and East Puainako Street intersection to an all way stop is near completion.  The conversion could happen Wednesday, October 17, weather permitting.

Ohuohu and E. Puainako Intersection

Once the change is made, motorists approaching this intersection will be required to stop.

Stop signs will be installed on E Puainako and turn lanes removed.

Whichever vehicle comes to the intersection first has the right of way.  If vehicles approach the intersection at the same time, right of way is to the vehicle on the right.

This message is brought to you with the support of the Traffic Education Safety Program, County of Hawaii, Department of Public Works.

Special off duty police officers will be directing traffic as traffic patterns will be temporarily altered during the work hours of 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM.

California Man Gets Jaw Broken in Kona Robbery

Big Island police are investigating the robbery of a California man Monday night (October 15) in Kona.

At 10:35 p.m., Kona patrol officers responded to a report of a robbery in the rear parking lot of Aliʻi Sunset Plaza, which is located between Kuakini Highway and Aliʻi Drive in Kailua-Kona.

A 50-year-old Los Angeles man reported that he walked in the direction of a group of males at the rear of the plaza, where he was attacked by two of them. One reportedly struck him in the chin with an unknown object and removed an undisclosed amount of cash from his pants pocket. The other one reportedly struck him in the face with his fist.

The suspects left the area in a small white sports-utility vehicle.

The first suspect, the passenger, was described as a short and stocky local male between 21 and 25 years old with spiked hair. He was wearing white shorts and a white shirt. The second suspect, the driver, is described as 5-foot-10, thin, possibly in his 20s, with a dark complexion and black curly hair.

The victim suffered a broken jaw, loss of teeth and a laceration to his chin. He was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries and released.

Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who has information about the identity of the suspects call Detective Sean Smith at 326-4646, extension 262.

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.

Volcano Art Center Invites the Crafty to Come Unhinged

Join award-winning artist Charlene Asato for a crafting workshop like non other: Piano Hinge, Unhinged on Saturday, October 20, 2012 will dispel the mysteries of the piano hinge structure to guide you through the process of creating a decorative, functional and unique hand-bound book.

Charlene Asato

Charlene Asato is a renowned Big Island artist whose works have been praised in many juried shows. She avidly pursues book arts, paper arts, photography, calligraphy and doll arts. This whimsical and creative workshop of her design will inspire you to explore the potential for sculpturally and texturally rich homemade books using all kinds of imaginative materials.

Piano Hinge, Unhinged with Charlene Asato will be held Saturday, October 20 from 9:00am to 12:00pm at VAC’s Niaulani Campus located at 19-4074 Old Volcano Road in Volcano Village. Cost is $35 or $31.50 for VAC members plus a $10 supply fee.

For more information and to reserve your space, visit www.volcanoartcenter.org or contact VAC’s Program Coordinator Julie Callahan at (808) 967-8222 or julie@volcanoartcenter.org.

Volcano Art Center (VAC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1974 to develop, promote and perpetuate the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Hawaii’s people through the arts and education.

“Aloha Buddha” – Award Winning Documentary Comes to North Hawaii

Aloha Buddha,” winner of “Best Documentary” at Hawaii International Film Festival last year, tells the story of Japanese Buddhism in Hawaii—from its historic temple buildings, many of which have fallen into disrepair, been demolished or abandoned altogether.  The film will be screened on Saturday, October 20 at 2 p.m. at Hawi Jodo Mission and on Sunday, October 21 at 9:30 a.m. at Kamuela Hongwanji, and 3:30 p.m. at Honokaa Peoples Theater.

In it, filmmakers have gathered interviews with priests and elder temple members across the state—including Hawi Jodo Mission in North Kohala—and painstakingly restored 16mm color film footage from the early 1900’s.  At that time, according to the website, www.AlohaBuddhafilm.com, Buddhism was a major religion in Hawaii, with about 50% of the population belonging to one of 170 temples across the islands.  However, according to the 2010 census, the number of Buddhists in Hawaii has shrunk to less than 5%.

From the site: “What has happened over the past 80 years to the people of Hawaii to cause such a shift, and why, with the tremendous upswing and interest in Buddhism on the mainland U.S. doesn’t Hawaii increase its membership even today? The answers to this are simple, yet complex at the same time, and a final question remains: is there any way to save the foreseeable death of Buddhism in Hawaii from happening?”

Filmmaker/producer Dr. Lorraine Minatoishi, PhD, AIA, will be available to talk story at informal receptions following the film screenings.  Founder and owner of Minatoishi Architects, Inc. and certified Historic Architect and Architectural Historian, Dr. Minatoishi earned her Doctorate of Engineering from Waseda University in Tokyo where she focused on ancient traditional Japanese architecture and the preservation thereof.

“I was looking at the architectural style of the temples focusing only on that,” said Minatoishi.  “However, I realized that the memberships of the temples were going down and I saw that most members were already older nisei and sansei generation.  I also realized that this story of the architecture was much broader…  The architecture reflected the story of immigration and settlement of the Japanese people in Hawaii.”

“I would like people to come away with a much greater and better understanding of the history of Hawaii—a big part of the history that has been largely untold,” said Minatoishi.  “For Japanese Americans, I would like for them to come away with a greater appreciation of the sacrifices that our ancestors have gone through.  Finally, I would like people to come away with an appreciation of Buddhism as a religion. The ministers and members were able to be flexible enough to change the religion to relate to the immigrants and to the larger society to meet the needs of the people.”

A donation of $5 is suggested for the screenings.  “Aloha Buddha” film presentation and talk story with filmmaker/producer Lorraine Minatoishi, Ph.D., AIA are presented by the Hawi Jodo Mission (889-5456), Kamuela Hongwanji (885-4481), Honokaa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple (775-7232) and the Peace Committee.


15 Big Island Plants and Animals, Plus 19,000 Hawaiian Acres, Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protection today for 15 species on the island of Hawaii, with 18,766 acres (29 square miles) of habitat. The decision stems from a 2011 settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity requiring the agency to speed protection decisions for 757 species around the country. Thirteen plants, a picture-wing fly and an anchialine pool shrimp were proposed for protection.

“Hawaii’s home to an amazing diversity of plants and animals, but many of them are on the razor’s edge of extinction. I’m thrilled to see these unique species being proposed for the Endangered Species Act protection that can save them,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist at the Center.

Seven of the 15 species being proposed for listing — five plants, the pool shrimp and the picture-wing fly — have been on the “candidate” waiting list since before 2004, when the Center petitioned for their federal protection.

anchialine pool shrimp

The anchialine pool shrimp lives only on the Big Island and nowhere else in the world; only five individuals of the species have ever been seen. Anchialine pools are land-locked bodies of water that have underground connections to the sea and show tidal fluctuations in water level. The pool shrimp is threatened by degraded water quality due to siltation, which harms the algae, bacteria and small invertebrates it feeds on. Its body is two inches long; it has two-inch antennae and eyestalks, but no eyes. One of the most primitive shrimp species in the world, it can only swim forward, whereas most shrimp can also swim backward.

picture-wing fly

The picture-wing fly was discovered in 1968. Adults are less than a quarter-inch in length and have brownish-yellow bodies, yellow legs and shiny, clear wings with prominent brown spots. They are dependent on one specific host plant to reproduce, laying their eggs only on decaying stems of Charpentiera plants. Adults live for one to two months. Historically there were five known sites for the fly, but today it survives in only two places, the Manuka Natural Area Reserve and the Olaa Forest Reserve. The fly is threatened by forces that harm its host plant, including browsing by goats, pigs and cattle; invasive plants; fire; drought; and hurricanes. It is also threatened by predation from non-native wasps.

The 13 plants being proposed for protection are threatened by habitat loss, agriculture, urban development, feral pigs and goats, invasive plants, wildfire, hurricanes and drought.


The Service is proposing 18,766 acres of “critical habitat” to protect the kookoolau — a yellow flower in the aster family — due to the imminent threat of urban development to 98 percent of the individuals known for this species. The habitat is also being designated to protect two previously listed plants, the wahinenohokula and the uhiuhi, that occur in the same lowland dry areas as the kookoolau. Approximately 55 percent of the area being proposed as critical habitat is already designated as critical habitat for 42 other protected plants and the Blackburn’s sphinx moth.

In addition to the seven candidate species, the Service is proposing to protect four plants that have been identified as the “rarest of the rare” by the Plant Extinction Prevention Program. They each have fewer than 50 individuals surviving in the wild and are in need of immediate action to conserve them. The Service is proposing to protect four additional plants at risk of extinction that occur in the same areas and face the same threats as the other proposed plants.

“The Endangered Species Act has been 99 percent effective at preventing the extinction of the plants and animals under its care. I’m hopeful its protection, coming in the nick of time, will be able to save the picture-wing fly, anchialine pool shrimp, and these unique Hawaiian plants,” said Curry.