Raid on Indoor Marijuana Growing Site Leads to Nine Arrests

Tips from the public led to the arrest of nine individuals last week at the scene of an indoor marijuana-growing site in Puna, which police believe is part of a larger drug distribution operation.

After receiving numerous tips, police investigation resulted in a search warrant at three adjacent properties on Tiki Lane in the Ainaloa subdivision on Thursday (October 18).

Police recovered 321 marijuana plants, 96 clones, 98.8 pounds of dried marijuana, 2.5 grams of heroin, 125 grams of hashish and 232 hydrocodone pills in indoor-growing operations at two of the properties.

Image released by HPD w/ no name

Image released by HPD w/ no name

Arrested at the scene were the occupants of the first property, 53-year-old Gilbert Espiritu and 56-year-old Phyllis Morby, and seven other persons who were present and believed to be part of the distribution operation: 46-year-old Rachelle Tuvera of Hawaiian Beaches, 43-year-old Sally Blankenship-Ziegler of Oregon, 53-year-old Tobias Nakea of Hawaiian Beaches, 22-year-old Kopia Nakea of Hawaiian Beaches, 19-year-old Kaimana Nakea of Hawaiian Beaches, 28-year-old John Muscat of Mountain View and 57-year-old Vieux Rawls of Mountain View.

On Friday (October 19), police served an additional search warrant at a home on Road 8 in Hawaiian Acres and recovered 465 marijuana plants, 643 clones, 4.2 pounds dried marijuana from another indoor-growing operation.

On Saturday, (October 20), officers recovered 37 marijuana plants and 145 grams of dried marijuana from an indoor-growing operation at property on Road 7 in Hawaiian Acres. They served a search warrant at a home on 4th Avenue in Hawaiian Paradise Park and recovered 48 marijuana plants and 3.4 pounds of dried marijuana from an indoor-growing operation.

That same day, police charged Espiritu with four counts of first-degree promotion of marijuana, two counts of second-degree promotion of marijuana, two counts of promoting a harmful drug, two counts of promoting a dangerous drug and 10 counts of possessing drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $94,000. Morby was charged with the same offenses, as well as one count of promoting a detrimental drug. Her bail was set at $98,000. Both were held at the Hilo police cellblock until their initial court appearance on Monday (October 22).

The remaining suspects were released pending additional information.

Police thank the public for their help in identifying suspected drug operations. Anyone who has information relating to illicit drug use and distribution, may call the Vice Section’s drug tip lines at 934-”VICE” (934-8423) for information about East Hawaiʻi or 329-”ZERO-ICE” (329-0423) for information about West Hawaiʻi.

Tipsters may also call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona.

Ledward Ka‘apana and Friends Benefit Concert

In a special appearance, Hawaiian slack key master Ledward Ka‘apana and friends will play a benefit concert at Kanu o ka ‘Āina New Century Public Charter School, Saturday, November 3.  Part of a day-long fundraiser to help Waimea Artists’ Guild bring arts programs into the school, the Concert follows a Holiday Arts Market, and includes a homestyle Chili & Rice dinner.

Ledward Kaapana

“Our partnership with KALO is a very important one that we value highly,” said Beth Mehau, Executive Director of The Pantry, the 501(c)(3) parent nonprofit of Waimea Artists’ Guild (WAG).  “Working closely with the teachers and administrators, our artists will bring their expertise and talents into the classroom to share with Kanu students—and they’re very excited about it the opportunity.  It’s a wonderful collaboration in our community, and we’re so grateful to Ledward for contributing his music to our day.”

The day begins with an outstanding Holiday Arts Market from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Kanu, featuring the works of island favorite artists and artisans with a wide range of original creations.  Works of art in jewelry, bone and wood carving, weaving, fiber arts, fine arts, furnishings, fashion and more will be on display, offering the opportunity to meet and talk story with all the artists.  Admission is free and Waimea Artists’ Guild welcomes artists and artisans to join the experience.  Please call 808-887-2289 to sign up.

Following the Arts Market, from 4-6 p.m., Ledward Ka‘apana & Friends appear live in a “backyard-style” dinner concert, in an open air venue on campus.  Described as a musician of “easy-going style and kolohe (rascal) charm,” Ka‘apana has grown a loyal following of “Led Heads” over 40 years as a professional musician, earning numerous Grammy and Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards and nominations.  His guitar skills, resonant baritone voice and soaring leo ki‘eki‘e (falsetto) have joined musical forces with Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins, and many other Nashville stars, as well as notable Hawaiian musicians like Aunty Genoa Keawe, Melveen Leed, the Pahinui Brothers, Amy Hanaiali‘i, and countless others.

The family-friendly festivity includes dinner of chili, rice, salad bar, and beverages.  Tickets are $15 adult, $9 youth 4-12, keiki 3 and under free, available at the school or Mama’s House Thrift Store (adjacent to Napa Auto) or by calling 887-2289.  Warm clothing is suggested in case of chilly weather.

Kanu o ka ‘Āina New Century Public Charter School is a free public school for grades K-12 with focus on Hawaiian culture, located in Waimea.  To reach the school, turn onto Kamamalu Street at the “Taco Tako” intersection; pass the Police Station on your right; stay on this road through a sharp left bend and look for the campus on your right.

The Pantry is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, of which Waimea Artists’ Guild and Mama’s House Thrift Store are components.  WAG is an association of professional artists whose intent is to produce art and promote education in their community.  For additional information, contact: Beth or Tom Mehau at 887-2289, email or visit

Kohala Center Receives $175,000 USDA Rural Development Grant

Chris J. Kanazawa, State Director for USDA Rural Development, announced the selection of the Kohala Center, Inc., to receive a $175,000 grant. The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program.

“Through this Rural Cooperative Grant, USDA Rural Development is enabling the Kohala Center to expand its capacity to support rural cooperatives that help expand businesses, retain or create new jobs and to increase economic growth in the communities throughout our Hawaiian islands,” Kanazawa announced.

The Kohala Center is an independent, not-for-profit, community-based center for research, conservation and education. With this grant funding, the Kohala Center intends to expand the Laulima Center which supports the development of cooperative businesses with technical assistance throughout the state of Hawaii. Funding is projecting to assist 30 distinct groups, 20 existing businesses, 8 existing cooperatives, and 5 new cooperative entities.

“Given The Kohala Center’s work in strengthening Hawaii’s local economy and given the demand for business and coop development services, especially on the part of small food producers, processors and distributors, we are delighted by the USDA’s support”, said Matt Hamabata, The Kohala Center’s Executive Director. “This continuing partnership will bring Hawai’i closer to reaching our ultimate goal of a vibrant and resilient economy.”

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $172 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

Free Astronomy in the Classroom Workshop Offered for Teachers All Middle and High School STEM Teachers Invited

What makes the Sun a star? What are the impacts of sunspots on Earth? What are the Earth’s defenses against the sun’s harmful rays? How can the Faulkes Telescope be used in educational programs? These are just a few of the many questions to be answered in a free Teacher Training and Astronomy in the Classroom Workshop slated for this Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27 at Kealakehe High School’s Cafeteria and Science Lab (G-203).

“Studying the sun is a good beginning for science, technology, engineering and math education. Students feel comfortable because they are familiar with it. And Super M math is an exciting way to engage students in math. These workshops are designed to provide more resources to our dedicated Hawaii Island  teachers. Furthering STEM education will help our children be qualified for the next generation of 21st century jobs,” said Sandra Dawson, Thirty Meter Telescope Hawaii Community Relations Manager.

Faulkes Telescope Project Teacher Training
Friday, October 26 • 6-8 pm
Friday evening’s program will feature a Faulkes Telescope Teacher Training exercise and star gazing for the entire family. Middle School and High School teachers will be able to test drive the large, research-grade Faulkes Telescope and learn how to obtain and use it in their classroom. The evening program runs from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Kealakehe High School.
In addition, the Hale Pohaku Visitor Information Station (VIS) will bring telescopes and the community is invited to participate in stargazing with the VIS volunteers.

Teacher Training: Heliophysics in the Classroom
Saturday, October 27 • 8:30 am-3:30 pm
The term heliophysics was coined in the early 1980s to denote the physics of the entire Sun. The teacher training will focus on hands-on activities and demonstrations to be used for grade appropriate science courses answering the following questions. How does the Sun get its energy? What are sunspots? How do you count them? How does the Earth’s
magnetic field protect us from the sun’s radiation? What happens on the Sun to cause the hazardous solar storms?

The astronomy teachers workshops are funded through an existing NASA heliophysics education and public outreach grant for these heliophysics topics to be shared with secondary science and mathematics teachers on all the islands. Follow up with the participating teachers after the workshop is planned.

Teachers will also be provided training in the innovative SUPER-M program. SUPER-M is a project at the Department of Mathematics <>  of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and funded by a National Science Foundation <> , Graduate STEM Fellows in K–12 Education program <> . SUPER-M creates partnerships between graduate mathematics students and K-12 teachers to design innovative, developmentally appropriate, and engaging activities for K-12 students.

Childcare and astronomy, and fun math activities for the teachers’ children will be available, as well as Gemini Observatory’s mobile planetarium. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served on Saturday.

These astronomy teacher workshop events are sponsored by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy and the Thirty Meter Telescope.

To reserve your spot contact Laura Aquino at 326-7820 or email:

Hulihe’e Palace Debuts Monthly Na Makana Gift Fair

Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 14, Hulihe’e Palace presents a monthly Na Makana Gift Fair on it’s sprawling oceanside grounds. Meaning “the gift“ in Hawaiian, the Na Makana Fair is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. every second Wednesday of the month.

Hulihe’e Palace

“Our new fair will showcase the talents of our volunteer palace caretakers, the members of the Daughters of Hawai’i and Calabash Cousins,“ explains Sabine Andresen, fair coordinator and Calabash Cousins president.

Andresen says the fair will also offer other made-in-Hawaii gifts, like decorative gourds, lauhala accessories, fresh lei, local jams and jellies, home-baked pet treats and skin care products using island ingredients.

Also for sale will be just-baked goodies and lemonade, plus cookbooks compiled by the Daughters and Cousins.

Hulihe‘e Palace is open for self-guided tours 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturdays. Palace admission, which at this time includes a self-guided tour brochure, remains $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and $1 for keiki under 18. Volunteer docents are sometimes available to give guided tours. For details, contact the palace at 329-1877, the palace office at 329-9555 or visit The gift shop can be reached by phoning 329-6558.

Caretakers of Hulihe‘e Palace are the Daughters of Hawai‘i and the Calabash Cousins. The Daughters was founded in 1903 and opens membership to any woman who is directly descended from a person who lived in Hawai‘i prior to 1880. Helping the Daughters in its efforts since 1986 are the Calabash Cousins; membership is available to all.

Help Hawaii Non-Profits Earn up to $25,000 During Subaru Hawaii’s “Share the Love” Event in November and December

Subaru Hawaii today announced the return of its “Share the Love” sales event where it will donate $250 for every new Subaru vehicle sold from November 1 to December 31, 2012 to a group of local non-profits: Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Oahu SPCA, SPCA Maui and Hawaii Island Humane Society.

In 2011, Hawaii Island Humane Society Executive Director Donna Whitaker accepts Subaru Hawaii’s “Share the Love” donation presented by Sean Charlston, Sales Manager, Kona Subaru.

In addition to buying a Subaru during the promotional period, the public is encouraged to vote for their favorite participating non-profit organization through Subaru Hawaii’s Facebook page at At the end of the sales event period, Subaru Hawaii will award the organization with the most “likes” an additional $5,000.

“We are delighted to partner with both our new and returning non-profits for this year’s Share the Love sales event,” said Glenn Inouye, Senior Vice President, Servco representing the Subaru Hawaii Dealers.  “This promotion is a win-win for our Subaru owners, customers and our local communities.”

In addition to its monetary donation, the Subaru Dealers of Hawaii invite the public across three islands to attend “Share the Love” day on December 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Dealerships statewide will be hosting engaging events open to the public on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Oahu SPCA, SPCA Maui and Hawaii Island Humane Society.

Adopt A Pet, Pet Food and Pet Care Supplies Drive

The Oahu SCPA, SPCA Maui and Hawaii Island Humane Society will have dogs and kittens looking for loving homes.  A $25 Petco gift card is included with every adoption and adoption fees are free for current Subaru owners or for those that purchase a vehicle during the event. The public is encouraged “Share the Love” and stop and by to donate pet care supplies such as bleach, cat litter, dish soap, paper towels, trash bags, old linens (towels, blankets and sheets), pet food and/or treats.

Adopt Wildlife

Hawaii Wildlife Fund will have information about their wildlife adoptions program.  The public is invited to “Share the Love” and contribute to the recovery of native marine life.  A 8.5 x 11 frameable certificate and turtle friendly reusable bag is included with the adoption of a sea turtle, monk seal, whale or dolphin.

Volunteer as a Mentor

Big Brothers Big Sisters will have information about how to become a trained volunteer (“Big”) to provide one-on-one mentoring that is professionally supported by a case manager.  The public is invited to “Share the Love” and positively change the life of keiki with the invaluable gift of friendship that has positive impact for youth in areas of academics, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes, high school graduation rates, avoidance of juvenile delinquency and college or career readiness.

The events are open to the public and will take place at:

  • Servco Subaru Waialae in Kaimuki on Oahu
  • Island Subaru in Kahului on Maui
  • Kona Subaru in Kailua-Kona
  • Hilo Subaru in Hilo on the Big Island

VIDEO: Solarside Chat with Guest Mayor Billy Kenoi

An intelligent and intimate conversation with leaders in Hawaii about the Environment, Energy and Economy.

Guy Toyama interviews his first guest Mayor Billy Kenoi on his new show

This month, our guest is Mayor Billy Kenoi, the Chief Executive of the County of Hawaii who talks about his goals of increasing lower cost renewable energy as a way to spur sustainable economic activity on his island.


HFIA Announces “Growing Koa in Hawai’i Nei” Symposium 2012

The Hawai’i Forest Industry Association (HFIA), in conjuntion with a group of community leaders, will present the “Growing Koa in Hawai’i Nei” Symposium, which will be held on Hawai’i Island Friday and Saturday November 16th & 17th, 2012.

Presentations will take place on Friday, November 16th in the Ohia Room at Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) in Volcanos National Park from 9:00 am-5:00 pm followed by a Pau Hana Reception from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  A field trip to Keauhou Ranch, Ka’u is scheduled for Saturday, November 17th from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Dr. Charles Michler

Keynote speaker Dr. Charles Michler, Director of both the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC) at Purdue University and the Tropical HTIRC in Hawai’i, will present his topic “The Right Koa for You”.  Dr. Michler leads the strategic planning for hardwood research and development of nine principal scientists at Purdue University. The HTIRC, with staff totaling over 58 U.S. Forest Service and Purdue University employees and an annual budget of over $5.5 million, has been publishing over 90 papers a year.

Currently, Dr. Michler is Site Director of the National Science Foundation Industry University Cooperative Research Center, Center for Advanced Forestry Systems. Over Dr. Michler’s career, he has produced over 184 publications, ranging from refereed papers, proceedings, popular articles, and reports.  He has shared in grants over $5.8 million, of which over $2.8 million went towards his research. Dr. Michler has been instrumental in procuring four endowments on Purdue’s behalf, totaling $39.8 million.

Presentations by leading experts in koa research and management will present on the following topics:

  • Who’s Growing Koa and How Many Acres are Involved?
  • Low Elevation Research Progress; Silvicultural Practices to Improve Form and Branching
  • Koa Case Studies
  • Plantation Establishment Techniques
  • Improvement Efforts to Date: Hawai’i Tree Improvement Research Center
  • Recent Koa Research
  • Koa Establishment and Management.

The Keauhou Ranch field trip will include visits to a 1987 koa stand (thinning trial); a 1978 koa stand (crop tree thinning); a 7 year and younger koa plantation; a spacing trial, and a 3 to 6 year old koa plantation.Maps and topics of discussion will be provided at each stop.

The Koa Symposium Committee is encouraging students, land managers, farmers, ranchers, policymakers, government agencies, community groups, educators, and the general public to attend the symposium.  The deadline to register in October 31.  Visit the symposium webpage at to register and learn more about the symposium and tour, committee members, and sponsorship opportunities and benefits.

Mahalo to symposium sponsors County of Hawai’i Department of Research & Development, Tropical Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center, Awapuhi Farms & Mill, Hawaii Forest & Trail, Mike Robinson, and Heather and Peter Simmons.

Photo Poster Stolen From Hilo Palace Theater

Be on the look out for the following stolen photo poster from the Hilo Palace Theater:

Photo poster of Mary Magdalene stolen from the Hilo Palace Theater

Some bastard walked into the lobby of the Palace during the show yesterday and stole the 20″ by 30″ photo poster I made of Mary Magdalene. Please let me know if you happen to see it. I’d like it back if only for the principle. ADDENDUM – If recovered, the plan will be to sign it, frame it and donate it to the Palace Theater for fund raising…. 

Daniel Nathaniel

Double Fatality and Four Seriously Injured in Major Hilo Accident

A 61-year-old Hilo man and a 65-year-old Hakalau man died Sunday (October 21) from injuries they received after being involved in a two-vehicle crash on Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Route 19) in the area of the 8-mile-marker north of Hilo.

Both men were drivers of their respective vehicles.

One of the men was identified as Miles T. Nakanishi, 61, of a Hilo address.

The name of the other man is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of the next of kin.

Responding to a 7:19 p.m. call, traffic investigators determined that the unidentified man was operating a 1999 Chevrolet pick-up truck and traveling north on Route 19 on the Hanawi Bridge when he apparently crossed the centerline and collided with a 2005 Cadillac Escalade multi-purpose vehicle traveling south and being operated by Nakanishi.

Both drivers were dead at the scene.

Passengers in the Cadillac, two women, ages 60 and 80, and two children, a 6-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, were taken to Hilo Medical Center by Fire Department rescue personnel.

The two children were flown to The Queen’s Medical Center and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu and were in critical condition.

The two women were being confined to the Hilo Medical Center in serious condition.

It is unknown at this time if speed, alcohol or drugs were involved in this crash.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated negligent homicide and coroner’s inquest investigations and have ordered autopsies to determine the exact cause of death.

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call Officer Tuckloy Aurello at 961-8119.

These are the 34th and 35th traffic fatalities on the Big Island this year compared with 16 at this time last year.

55-Year-Old Man Dies in Kona Crash

A 55-year-old Kealakekua man died Saturday (October 20) from injuries he received in a one-vehicle crash on Hawaii Belt Road (Route 11) in the area of the 105-mile marker in Hōnaunau, South Kona.

The driver was identified as Bryan T. Hanato, of a Kealakekua address.

Responding to a 1:34 p.m. call, traffic investigators determined that Hanato was operating a 2000 Mitsubishi two-door sedan and traveling north on Route 11 when he lost control, ran off the right side of the road and overturned.

The driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle.

The driver was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:17 p.m.

It is unknown at this time if alcohol or drugs were involved but speed was a factor.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a coroner’s inquest case and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Anyone with information regarding this crash is asked to call Officer Larry Flowers at 326-4646, extension 229.

This is the 33rd traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared with 16 at this time last year.