Hawaii House of Representatives Moves 69 Bills Over to Senate

The Hawaii House of Representatives moved 69 Bills over to the Senate for consideration.


Among the measures approved by the House several focused on  sustainability, the environment, the economy,  healthy living and improving the quality of life of Hawaii’s citizens.

  • HB 503 Relating to the General Excise Tax.  The bill provides local farmers with a tax deduction for all produce grown and sold within the state.
  • HB 478 Relating to the Department of Education.  The bill allows schools to establish their own gardens and to utilize the produce in their meal programs.
  • HB 560 Relating to Affordable Housing Urban Gardening.  The bill encourages development projects to incorporate urban gardening into their plans.
  • HB 1365 Relating to Urban Agriculture.  The bill  allows for a rooftop garden on the State Capitol roof to promote agricultural innovation and greater food security in Hawaii and  serve as a symbol of the importance our  the State places on agriculture sustainability.
  • HB 726 Relating to Film and Digital Media Industry Development.  The purpose of the bill is to encourage new film, television, entertainment, digital media and music video production in Hawaii by enhancing existing incentives and thus adding to the diversification of our economy.
  • HB 1339 Relating to the Transient Accommodations Tax.  The bill intends to help the tourism industry retain its competitive edge in its promotional and marketing efforts by repealing the $10 daily hotel tax collected on rooms furnished on a complimentary or gratuitous basis.
  • HB120 Relating to Health.  The bill protects the health and safety of the public by enhancing public access regarding information on care homes.
  • HB 358 Relating to Video Conferencing.  The bill would make it more accessible for neighbor  island residents to participate in state government.  It requires that the legislature establish audio visual procedures for people on the neighbor islands to provide oral testimony at legislative committee hearings.
  • HB 1432 Relating to Aging and Disability Resource Centers.  The bill would support the elderly and aging population by appropriating an unspecified amount of funds to statewide aging and disability centers.

Bill Addressing Rock Climbing on Government Land on its Way to the Full Senate Vote

Senate Bill 1168 was passed through its final committee and will go before the full Senate for consideration next week.  If passed, the bill will go to the House for consideration.


The bill clarifies the State Tort Liability Act, stating that no public entity or public employee will be held liable to any person for injury or damage sustained on government land while mountain climbing, rock climbing, rappelling and bouldering.

“The bill received an overwhelming amount of support, which we took into consideration while hearing the measure,” said Senator Malama Solomon, chair of the Senate Committee on Water and Land.  “This bill will release the State from being responsible for anyone’s injuries while participating in climbing activities on state land.”

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, State Attorney General, Access Fund, and Change.org. supported the measure, while the Hawaii Association for Justice and numerous individuals opposed the bill.


March Events at the Volcano Art Center

Activities scheduled for March at the Volcano Art Center

Volcano Art Center

Fridays, March 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29, 11:00AM–1:00PM

Aloha Fridays. Every Friday, a hands-on demonstration lesson is given in a cultural craft that will vary from week to week at the VAC Gallery porch in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service should call (808) 967-8222 or email julie@volcanoartcenter.org at least two weeks in advance. This program is supported in part by the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. All events are free (donations welcome); park entrance fees apply. Visit volcanoartcenter.org for more information.

Saturday, March 2–Sunday April 14, 9:00AM–5:00PM

La‘a Ka Pa-Kapala, Sacred the Rhythms And Patterns. A collaborative exhibit by Natalie Mahina Jensen and Lucia Tarallo. A collection of acrylic paintings depicting the Hawaii Maoli’s penchant for sacred geometry. The paintings serve to illustrate the newly interpreted Nature Chant Kumulipo, entitled Kane Keia! Wahine Kela! (Male This! Female That!). Opening reception Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 5:00PM, Talk Story with both artists on Thursday, March 14 at 6:00PM at VAC Gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. All events are open to the public; park entrance fees apply. Call the VAC Gallery at (808) 967-7565 or visit volcanoartcenter.org for more information.

Mondays at 9:30AM & Saturdays at 11:00AM

March 2, 4, 9, 11, 16, 18, 23, 25 & 30

Niaulani Nature Walk – Free Guided Rain Forest Tour in Volcano. This one-hour nature walk travels through a lush portion of an old-growth Hawaiian rain forest on an easy, 1/7-mile loop trail. The walk introduces individuals, families, and groups to the native plants and birds of Volcano. Guides focus not only on the biological, ecological, and geological features of the area, but also the cultural usages of flora and fauna by native Hawaiians. Offered every Monday and Saturday at VAC’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Free; donations welcome. Call (808) 967-8222 or visit volcanoartcenter.org for more information.

Saturday, March 2, 10:00AM–1:00PM

“Make Books!” with Lisa Louise Adams. Join Lisa in this half day workshop. Learn to paint and fold a hard cover accordion book and also make 2 soft cover books. Treat yourself to a fun day of learning the simple art of making books and get inspired by Lisa’s collection of one-of-a-kind art books. Students are asked to bring cotton fabric for covers and magazine or favorite copies of photos. Cost is $35 or $31.50 for VAC members plus a $10 supply fee. Held at VAC’s Niaulani Campus. Please call to register in advance at (808) 967-8222.

Saturday, March 2 at 6:30PM & Sunday, March 3 at 2:00PM (Matinee)

Volcano Variety Show! The ultimate in good time entertainment! Spring fever is in the air and everyone needs a good dose of delight! Acts range from sketch, comedy, music, dance and downright fun! Shows are appropriate for all ages. Performances held at VAC’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Tickets: Adults $8, Children under 17 $5. Order your tickets now at (808) 967-8222 and visit volcanoartcenter.org for more information.

Mondays at 7:30AM, Tuesdays & Thursdays at 5:30PM

March 4, 5, 7, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21, 25, 26 & 28

Yoga with Emily Catey. Relax your body and rejuvenate your soul in this gentle and peaceful class. The focus is on stretching and releasing both physical and mental tension. Classes are offered on Monday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday evenings, open to both beginning and intermediate students at VAC’s Niaulani Campus. $10 drop in fee or $5 for VAC members. Call (808) 967-8222 or visit volcanoartcenter.org for more information.

Mondays, March 4, 11, 18 and 25, 5:30PM–7:00PM

Beginner’s Yoga With Rob Kennedy. A gentle, comprehensive yoga practice suited to all levels of experience but aimed specifically at beginners or people resuming their practice after an injury or interruption. Slow-paced but with an emphasis on individual growth. Stretch and strengthen your entire body then reward yourself with a deep, conscious relaxation. Participants should wear loose, comfortable clothes and bring a mat or large towel. Ongoing on Mondays. $5 per class. Volcano Art Center Niaulani Campus. Call (808) 967-8222 or visit volcanoartcenter.org for more information.

Tuesdays, March 5, 12, 19 & 26, 2:00PM–3:00PM

Tea for Tuesdays – Hina Matsuri (Girls Day) & National Women’s History Month. Join JoAnn Aguirre, tea educator and member of the Hawaii Tea Society, for an hour of tea talk, a delicious scone and a cuppa, in a special tribute to all young girls, and to women’s contributions to the world of tea. Tea for Tuesdays is a one hour program and part of our monthly 2013 Volcano Tea Series. Free activity; donations accepted. Held at VAC’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. For more information, call (808) 967-8222 or visit teachingtea.com.

Wednesdays, March 6, 13, 20 & 27 at 5:30PM

Kanikapila Jam Sessions are open to all musicians. Bring your instrument and enjoy “garage style” jamming with your neighbors and community. Donations are appreciated. Ongoing at VAC’s Niaulani Campus. Call (808) 967-8222 or visit volcanoartcenter.org for more information.

Thursday, March 7, 5:30PM–7:00PM

HINA Community Meeting – Kau District. Come and learn about VAC’s Hawaii Island Network of Artists project, partially funded by the County of Hawaii. This exciting new initiative aims to encourage and support a greater awareness of Big Island artists and the economic impact of this unrecognized creative workforce. Held at the Naalehu Community Center, 95-5635 Mamalahoa Hwy in Naalehu, Hawaii. For more information, visit www.HINArtists.org or contact HINA Project Manager Tiffany DeEtte Shafto at info@hinartists.org. Stay connected with HINA on our Facebook Page and on Twitter, join our Facebook Group and subscribe to our Blog to receive updates in your inbox.

Saturday, March 9, 10:30AM–11:30AM

Hula Arts at Kilauea in HVNP – Na Mea Hawai`i Hula Kahiko Performance. Featuring Halau Hula Manaolana `O Kohala and visiting halau, Hula Halau Ka Pi’o O Ke Anuenue of Ashland, Oregon. Their performance honors their late kumu hula Raylene Kawaia`ea. This inspired outdoor presentation takes place rain or shine at the pa hula (stone platform) located near VAC Gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The audience is encouraged to bring sitting mat and be prepared for variable weather. On the same day, there is a hands-on cultural demonstration from 9:30AM to 1:30PM on the VAC Gallery lanai. Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service should call (808) 967-8222 or email julie@volcanoartcenter.org at least two weeks in advance. This program is supported in part by the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. All events are free, though donations are welcome and park entrance fees apply. Visit volcanoartcenter.org for more information.

Sunday, March 10, 4:00PM–5:30PM

Medicine for the Mind, Buddhist Healing Meditation. Everyone longs for happiness in external conditions, expecting people and things to be the source of the satisfaction we seek. In these classes, we will look at Buddha’s teachings on finding happiness inside – in states of mind that are the cause of inner peace. We will engage in meditations to train our mind in the inner causes of fulfillment and discover a lasting source of happiness. Everyone is welcome to these free classes held at at VAC’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Free; donations welcome. For more information contact Buddhist student Patty Johnson at (808) 985-7470.

Thursday, March 14 at 6:00PM

La‘a Ka Pa-Kapala, Sacred the Rhythms And Patterns – Artist Talk Story. Talk Story with artists Natalie Mahina Jensen and Lucia Tarallo about their collection of acrylic paintings depicting the Hawaii Maoli’s penchant for sacred geometry. The paintings serve to illustrate the newly interpreted Nature Chant Kumulipo, entitled Kane Keia! Wahine Kela! (Male This! Female That!) Held at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. All events open to the public, although park entrance fees apply. Call VAC Gallery (808) 967-7565 for more information.

Big Island Police Identify Man Who Died in Hit-and-Run Accident This Morning

Police traffic investigators have identified a 71-year-old Kealakekua man who died Thursday (February 28) in a motor vehicle/pedestrian crash on the Hawaii Belt Road (Route 11) and Hokukano Road in Kealakekua.


The pedestrian was identified as Francisco Asuncion of Kealakekua.

Police are looking for a dark colored Nissan sedan, unknown model, and unknown if it is a 2-door or 4-door. The vehicle should have damages to the front bumper, hood, and possibly the windshield.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide and accident involving death or serious bodily injury cases.

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

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.

Mayor Kenoi Submits Budget To Council

In accordance with the Hawai’i County Charter, Mayor Billy Kenoi today submitted a proposed Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget to the Hawai’i County Council.

Click to see the full report

Click to see the full report

This FY 2013-2014 budget is $32,426,525 or 8.0 percent less than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. It marks the fifth consecutive year of our efforts to control the cost of government in a strategic and responsible manner that maintains critical infrastructure and public services. This proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.

Printed copies of the full budget are available by request from the Mayor’s Office in Hilo (808-961-8211). A PDF of the budget message is available for download at this link: Hawaii County 2013-2014 Budget Message.


North Hawaii Community Hospital Announces New Chief Development Officer

North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) is pleased to announce the appointment of Wayne Higaki to the expanded role of Vice President, Public Affairs, and Chief Development Officer. Higaki’s additional responsibilities include overseeing the hospital’s marketing, communications and fundraising development.

Wayne Higaki

Wayne Higaki

“For more than a decade, Wayne has been an invaluable member of our NHCH ‘ohana,” says Lowell Johnson, NHCH Interim CEO. “His newly expanded role allows us to consolidate administrative leadership roles and resources into one functional area, under Wayne’s very able leadership. I am confident that he will excel in his newly expanded role and help lead NHCH to continued success in the future.”

Higaki’s tenure with NHCH began when the hospital was still under construction in 1996. He has been involved in many varied leadership roles over the years, most recently, as the organization’s government representative while serving as Vice President, Public Affairs. Higaki also leads the hospital’s Community Advisory Group (CAB), established in 2011, which serves as a critical conduit for sharing two-way communication between the hospital and communities served by NHCH. Higaki will continue to also oversee the hospital’s Facilities, Engineering and Security.

“I looking forward to helping our hospital transition through the challenges of healthcare reform, especially in our ability to serve the community in a meaningful way,” says Higaki. Higaki was born and raised on Hawaii Island and has more than 30 years of healthcare experience. He is a member of the Statewide Health Planning Council, Chair of the County of Hawaii’s Workforce Investment Board and a Director of the Waimea Community Association.

Women’s Support Group Workshop at the Neighborhood Place of Puna

Neighborhood Place of Puna (NPP) is hosting a Women’s group facilitator workshop on March 14-15, 2013, from 8:30am to 4:30pm in the Conference rooms on the ground floor of the Hawaii State building in Hilo.

Through exercises and dialogue participants in this workshop will explore what they can do to bring women together, end horizontal hostility and create true social change.

Jill Abernathy

Jill Abernathy

The workshop will be facilitated by Jill Abernathy who has worked for 26 years with the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs as a women’s advocate, women’s group facilitator, and mentor. Jill is an international trainer, having trained professionals in the battered women’s movement using Duluth Model curricula.

The workshop is open to women who are interested in forming and facilitating women’s support groups in their community.

The workshop costs $25 which will help Neighborhood Place of Puna defray the cost of hosting the workshop.

Space is limited. The registration deadline is end of the work day on Thursday March 7th.

For more information and to register please call Stacey at 965-5550 or email: Stacey@neighborhoodplace.org.

Neighborhood Place of Puna (NPP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to help families raise healthy safe keiki by providing families with the tools and supports they need to be successful.

Hit-and-Run Leaves 71-Year-Old Man Dead in Kealakekua

A 71-year-old Kealakekua man died Thursday (February 28) from injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle/pedestrian crash on the Hawaii Belt Road (Route 11) and Hokukano Road in Kealakekua.
Responding to a 1:32 a.m. call, Kona patrol officers determined that the pedestrian was walking in a northerly direction on the mauka shoulder of the highway when an unknown vehicle struck him.

The driver of the vehicle fled the scene.

The pedestrian was transported to the Kona Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:54 a.m.

Police are looking for a sedan with damage to the front end, hood and possibly the windshield.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide and accident involving death or serious bodily injury cases.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

The name of the victim is being held pending positive identification and notification of the next of kin.

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

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.

This is the 9th traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared to 5 at the same time last year.


Big Island Police Asking Public’s Assistance in Identifity Weed Eater Thief in Puna

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect caught on video during the theft of a weed eater. The crime took place in Puna in late January of 2013. The suspect appears to be a male with close cropped dark hair and a thin build.
Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed this theft or who has any information about it call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Officer Kimo Veincent of Puna Patrol at 965-2716.

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.


UH Hilo Hosts Women’s History Month Events

The Women’s Center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hosts a series of events during March in honor of Women’s History Month. The events are free and open to the public.

A lecture on “Gender Agenda” by Patrick Madden, is held on Monday, March 4, 6:30 p.m. in Campus Center 306. Madden is executive director of the United Nations Association. He previously served four years as president & CEO of Sister Cities International (SCI), building a network of U.S cities partnered with more than 2,000 international communities that worked to implement economic development, humanitarian, cultural and education programs and exchanges.

A film screening of “Half the Sky” is on Wednesday, March 6, 5 p.m., Campus Center 306. Discussion and light refreshments will follow. On Friday, March 8, an International Women’s Day presentation will be held at 10 a.m. on the Campus Center Plaza. Local women’s organizations will present information, discuss ways to help support woman locally and internationally, and to network.

The Women’s Center is also hosting Yoga Tuesdays with Amanda Pierson through the end of the school year. The weekly sessions are being held every Tuesday from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. in Campus Center 301.

For more information about any of these events, or disability accommodations, contact the Women’s Center at 974-7306 or email uhhwomen@hawaii.edu.

Student Pharmacists Earn National Award for Pacific Islander Mobile Screening Clinic

A team of student pharmacists from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo attained the top spot in a national pharmacy organization’s student community service awards.

The American Association of College of Pharmacy (AACP) named Shanele Shimabuku (Class of 2013), Jed Sana, Tracy Nakama, Ann Txakeeyang, Brianne Gustillo, Amanda Wendel and Naoto Oki (Class of 2014) and Davis Hanai (Class of 2015) as the top team to have earned The Student Community Engaged Service Award.

The award, sponsored by Teva Pharmaceuticals, is “intended to encourage students and faculty to design and build programs of community-engaged service learning, deliver consumer education about medication use, expand access to affordable medications, and improve the public’s health.”

The award-winning project is called the Pacific Islander Mobile Screening Clinic (PIMSC), which seeks to improve public health and access to people largely from the Marshall Islands through the use of health fairs and wellness clinics. Students conducted diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, as well as provided wellness and lifestyle counseling and referrals to accessible health care services offered at reasonable costs.

Through collaboration with the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) and networking with other community organizations island-wide, the PIMSC has screened more than 350 participants so far this year through mobile screening clinics. PIMSC participants are invited back for follow-up, and Hawaiʻi County residents are welcome to take advantage of regularly scheduled clinic office hours at the free ADRC Wellness and Safe Medication Use Clinic run by Dr. Katherine Anderson and second-year pharmacy students.

“Part of the beauty is that students and our community partners serve when they are able and so there is a fluid combination of different members volunteering at different times,” said Anderson, who is the faculty adviser for the project. “In this way, in addition to providing an important service for our patients, the overall educational experience of our student pharmacists is enriched.”

The students were awarded plaques and a cash team prize to be used for enhancing or sustaining PIMSC, or for travel support for them to attend and present their projects at a professional meeting.

The College also received a cash award to be used exclusively to support program expansion of recognized or new community engaged service projects, as well as a Tiffany & Co. Shooting Star. One designated student and faculty advisor will receive funding to attend the national awards ceremony at AACP’s 2013 annual meeting that will be held in Chicago this July.

Txakeeyang, who is the lead author on a poster that will be presented at a conference for the American Pharmacists Association (AphA) March 1-4 in Los Angeles, said PIMSC has come a long way since beginning in 2010. She said being a part of the mobile clinic has helped her and her fellow students become better future pharmacists.

“By reaching out to disenfranchised Pacific Islanders and giving us hands-on, real professional pharmacy experience working with people, we as student pharmacists have the ability to increase our cultural awareness,” Txakeeyang said. “One of our greatest accomplishments this year was establishing relationships with some of the Marshallese leaders. This allowed us to build bridges with a group of individuals who typically do not seek health care due to barriers such as language and health care access.”

The Marshallese Mobile Screening Clinic got its start with funding from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy’s Student Leadership Enrichment fund. In March 2012, it was named one of 17 Healthy Eating and Active Living projects to receive funding from the Hawaiʻi Island Beacon Community.

Parents Given Extra Week to Return Public School Survey

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is extending until March 8 the deadline for parents to complete a survey to help public schools set priorities for improving programs and services.

DOE ReleaseParents whose children are enrolled in grades 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 11 are asked to complete the School Quality Survey (SQS) and return it in a prepaid envelope. Schools have mailed or asked students to bring the surveys home.

Survey results provide schools data on everything ranging from parent satisfaction with course offerings, support services and availability to discuss their child’s progress to whether students feel safe and are meeting their goals. In addition to the parent survey, teachers and students from the selected grades will fill out separate surveys at school.

Results will also be used to measure strategic plan goals for the DOE.

Survey responses are confidential. Overall survey results should be available to schools by the end of the academic year. The reports will also be posted on the internet at http://arch.k12.hi.us.

An informational video about the survey is available online at http://vimeo.com/57619187. Questions about the survey may be emailed to sqs@notes.k12.hi.us. Parents may also call 808-733-4008 (Oahu) or 1-855-276-5801 (toll-free Neighbor Islands) from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


New Restaurant Opening in Pahoa – “Mauka Makai” Scheduled to Open Late March

Imagine what it would be like if a restaurant, using ingredients from local farmers, came along and replaced a fast food restaurant . . . would that make your day? Would it be something to cheer about? Would you love the ability to choose healthy over fast food? Well then, your wish it about to come true.

Starting in late March 2013 Mauka Makai Restaurant will be opening in what used to be KFC in Pahoa . . . You read that right, a healthy, farm to table restaurant will be opening up in what once was a fast food establishment!

A sign on the building currently reads "Lehua Cafe"... however the name of the restaurant will be Mauka Makai.

A sign on the building currently reads “Lehua Cafe”… however the name of the restaurant will be Mauka Makai.

Mauka Makai Restaurant will be serving healthy meals using ingredients from local farmers and ranchers. Not only will the ingredients be local but as local suppliers are sourced (after visits to their farm by the chef) information about where each ingredient comes from will be made available at the restaurant as well as on-line.

Now if that alone is not enough to make you want to stop by and have a meal, let us tell you what else will be happening at this location: there will be a bakery, a culinary school, and even some computer classes. You see, Mauka Makai Restaurant is one of many seeds being planted and nourished by the Grassroots Community Development Group (know around town for The Keaau Youth Business Center and the Lehua Cafe) in an effort to help make Puna THRIVE, from the ground up!

The Grassroots Community Development Group will be using this facility to grow beyond their original mission of providing an alternative learning environment for the youth. They are evolving into the Hawaii Youth Business Center (HYBC) and will be teaching real world skills to the youth and the community at large. Skills that the youth need if they are to thrive in their future employment will be taught. Skills that employers wish to see in new recruits will be taught (including skills tailored to specific industries needs as HYBC partners with more and more local businesses). And finally that create tomorrows Big Island entrepreneurs.

Mauka Makai Restaurant will also hold special events each month where you can come and talk story with the farmers as well as the chef. These events will be part of “Insiders Dinners Club” which also will include daily discounts, farm tours, tasting of possible new menu items and more.

This is just the start of something amazing in Puna. We hope you join us as we evolve Puna from the ground up into a thriving and healthy community.

Kona Charter School Feeds Community

When the only federally-certified food vendor in West Hawai‘i closed down, putting area residents at risk for hunger, a Kona charter school stepped forward to serve.

Kona Pacific Public Charter School (Kona Pacific) in Kealakekua has taken on the challenge of providing a critical community service – feeding impoverished and disadvantaged West Hawai‘i residents. The school’s innovative new program, which has gained statewide attention, offers delicious meals prepared with healthy whole foods and totally free of refined grains or sugars.

WHOLE Food Service lunch serves up smiles at Kona Pacific Public Charter School.

WHOLE Food Service lunch serves up smiles at Kona Pacific Public Charter School

The new program was inspired by an unexpected urgent need in West Hawai‘i.

In late September 2012, Kona Pacific and other community support organizations in West Hawai‘i received a letter from the Hawai‘i County Equal Opportunity Council (HCEOC) stating that HCEOC was ceasing operations as of October 26. The abrupt termination of the HCEOC’s food service, the only federally approved nutrition program for West Hawai‘i, created a significant crisis for the 200 residents dependent on HCEOC for a substantial portion of their day’s nutrition.

These residents included disadvantaged students enrolled at Kona Pacific and other area schools, low-income elderly citizens served by Meals on Wheels and other programs, and young children served by Head Start and Early Head Start.

Without a nutrition program, all of these residents – primarily children and elderly, were suddenly at risk of food insecurity and the resultant health problems and academic challenges.

The administration at Kona Pacific responded by taking over the program in its entirety. With an expedited timeline of only 10 days, the school, with assistance from food service consultant Carleton Gillenwater, had the new program up and running.

“We couldn’t let these most vulnerable members of our community, impoverished children and elders, go hungry,” says Chris Hecht, the executive director of Kona Pacific. “So we took on this program, with a pledge to make it better, healthier and more responsive to the needs of our community.”

The new program, WHOLE (West Hawai‘i Ono Local Eats) Food Service, utilizes some components of the former HCEOC operation, including leasing the same kitchen facilities and hiring existing staff members that bring years of experience, USDA training and certification, and willingness to serve the community.

In addition to those resources, Gillenwater, who serves as a key project consultant, has 24 years of experience – most recently with Crestwood Behavioral Health, where he established a sustainable high quality whole food program for people with severe mental illness

Kona Pacific, which offers a rigorous academic program inspired by Waldorf education and firmly rooted in the land and culture of Hawai‘i, is located on 40 acres of prime agricultural land mauka of Kona Community Hospital. This unique school site is also a major WHOLE Food Service resource, as Kona Pacific is currently developing a biodynamic farm that will be integrated with the food service program to ensure the program’s ongoing access to affordable and high-quality produce.

The WHOLE Food Service program utilizes the standards and regulations of the USDA National School Lunch Program, My Plate, and the Hawaii Department of Health to bring fresh local cuisine to school, health care facilities and community service organizations at a minimum price point.

“We’re also using a lot of creativity in the program to make our food fun,” says Gillenwater. Regular offerings include plate lunches, adobos and curries, tacos and enchiladas, Asian cuisine and vegetarian options.

The new program took on most of HCEOC’s existing clients, and is in the process of expanding the client base, in hopes of serving all of West Hawaii’s at-risk populations with high-quality fresh local food.

To schedule a nutritional presentation explaining the program for your students or clients, or if you are farmer seeking to become a program supplier, please contact:
Chris Hecht
WHOLE Food Service program coordinator
Kona Pacific Public Charter School

Navy’s First Littoral Combat Ship to Make Stop in Hawaii

The U.S. Pacific Fleet announced today that the Navy’s first littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) will depart her homeport of San Diego on March 1 and deploy to the Asia-Pacific region.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 22, 2013) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) is underway conducting sea trials off the coast of Southern California. Freedom, the lead ship of the Freedom variant of LCS, is expected to deploy to Southeast Asia this spring. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans/Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 22, 2013) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) is underway conducting sea trials off the coast of Southern California. Freedom, the lead ship of the Freedom variant of LCS, is expected to deploy to Southeast Asia this spring. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans/Released)

Making good on a pledge made initially by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the 2011 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Freedom will deploy to Southeast Asia and Singapore for approximately eight months. Marking the first of many planned rotational deployments to the Western Pacific for the new LCS platform, Freedom will conduct maritime security operations with regional partners and allies.

“Freedom’s maiden deployment is another clear signal of the Navy’s enduring commitment to maintain security and stability in the vital Asia-Pacific region,” said Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Rotationally deploying our new littoral combat ships improves our warfighting capability and directly supports the Navy’s rebalance strategy to the Asia-Pacific.

“Even in the face of potential budget cuts, there should be no doubt that the U.S. Pacific Fleet remains on watch and that we will continue to deploy our most capable units forward to operate with our allies and partners.”

After making initial port visits in Hawaii and Guam, Freedom is expected to participate in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) in Singapore and in select phases of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series in Southeast Asia.

During the first-ever LCS deployment, Freedom will demonstrate her operational capabilities and allow the Navy to evaluate crew rotation and maintenance plans. Fast, agile, and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. Freedom will be initially manned by her “Gold” crew of 91 Sailors to include mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter.

“We are genuinely excited about our deployment,” said Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, Freedom’s Gold Crew commanding officer. “The men and women of Freedom have worked extremely hard to get us to where we are today, and I couldn’t be prouder. We’re ready to get out there, work with regional navies and show the world what this ship can do.”

Freedom will remain homeported in San Diego throughout this rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. Midway through Freedom’s deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with her “Blue” crew, commanded by Cmdr. Patrick C. Thien.

Walmart Expands Solar Installations in Hawaii

Kahului, Kailua-Kona and Kapolei Walmart stores now receive solar power

Walmart and SunEdison today announced the completion of new solar power installations in the islands at three Walmart stores in Kahului, Kailua-Kona and Kapolei, doubling the total number of stores in Hawaii powered by renewable solar energy. The installations contribute to the company’s broader aspirational goal of being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy. Similar installations are already in operation atop the Honolulu Sam’s Club and Mililani Walmart on Oahu, and the Lihue Walmart on Kauai.

Walmart Kona

During the first full year of production, the 311 kilowatt solar power rooftop system on each store will produce more than 400,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of solar electricity. Each rooftop system will eliminate 320 metric tons of CO2e annually. That means the three systems combined, over a 10-year period will eliminate 9600 metric tons. One year of operation for each rooftop system is equivalent to removing 67 cars off the road for one year. That means the three systems combined will remove the equivalent of 2,010 cars over a 10-year period.

‘We are committed to making decisions that are not only good for business and the environment, but also allow us to pass on savings to our customers,’ said Rey Armijo, Hawaii Market Manager for Walmart. ‘We’re excited about the expansion of our solar program in the islands and this important step towards our goal of being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy.’

‘Fantastic!  I congratulate Walmart for making this wise decision to reduce their electricity bills and do good for the environment through solar PV,’ said Senate Energy & Environment Committee Chair and State Senator Mike Gabbard.

Learn more about Walmart’s commitment to sustainability at The Green Room and follow us on Twitter (@WalmartGreen) to get updates about sustainability efforts and milestones. Additional information about our commitment to renewable energy is also available on our website.



Wordless Wednesday – Video of Big Island Girl Brittni Paiva Playing With Carlos Santana Last Night

Yesterday, Big Island girl Brittni Paiva got the surprise of her lifetime when she was asked to come up on stage and play with Carlos Santana at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Brittni posted the following on her Facebook page last night:

Brittni Paiva

21st Annual Hawaiian Family afFair on Saturday

Nā Pua No`eau, the Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children, presents its 21st annual Hawaiian Family afFair on Saturday, March 2, from 9-3 p.m. on the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Campus Center Plaza. The event is free and open to the public.

Na Pua Noeau

The theme of this year’s event is Ke Ola Mau (perpetuating our families through health and wellness) and honors Aunty Edna Baldado. Kaho`okele Crabbe will emcee with special guest emcee, former Nā Pua No`eau student and television news reporter, Mileka Lincoln.

Exhibits will highlight the various services available in the areas of health, education and social services such as free health screening and workshops. Participants can also dance for fitness to Zumba, Hip Hop or hula, enjoy live entertainment and visit a variety of food, arts and crafts booths. Children’s activities include a Keiki Fitness Center for ages six months to six years.

The event is produced in partnership with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Queen Lili`uokalani Children’s Center, Hui Mālama Ola Nā ‘Ōiwi, Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiian Civic Club of Hilo, INPEACE Keiki Steps, Hawaiʻi Community College, UH Hilo-Kipuka and the UH Hilo Minority Access and Achievement Program.

For more information, call the Nā Pua No`eau office at (808) 974-7678.

National Park Tourism in Hawaii Creates $278 Million in Economic Benefit

Part of $30 billion impact that supports 252,000 jobs nationwide

A new National Park Service (NPS) report for 2011 shows that the 4.7 million visitors to national parks in Hawaii spent $278 million in communities surrounding those parks.  This spending supported 3,330 jobs across the state.

The US Navy provides a free ferry to and from the USS Arizona Memorial

The US Navy provides a free ferry to and from the USS Arizona Memorial

“The national parks in Hawaii are great places to learn about America’s story,” said NPS Regional Director Chris Lehnertz. “We attract visitors from across the U.S. and around the world who come here to experience these parks and then spend time and money enjoying the services provided by our neighboring communities and getting to know all that this state has to offer.  The National Park Service is proud to have been entrusted with the care of America’s most treasured places and delighted that the visitors we welcome generate significant contributions to the local, state, and national economy.”

To download the report – which provides park-by-park information – visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/products.cfm#MGM and click on Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2011.   The national parks in Hawaii included in this study are: Haleakala National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokohua National Historical Park, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, and World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

The information is part of a peer-reviewed spending analysis of national park visitors across the country conducted by Michigan State University for the National Park Service.  For 2011, that report shows $13 billion of direct spending by 279 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.  That visitor spending had a $30 billion impact on the entire U.S. economy and supported 252,000 jobs nationwide.

Most visitor spending supports jobs in lodging, food, and beverage service (63 percent) followed by recreation and entertainment (17 percent), other retail (11 percent), transportation and fuel (7 percent) and wholesale and manufacturing (2 percent.)

To learn more about national parks in Hawaii and how the National Park Service works with communities to preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide local recreation opportunities, go to www.nps.gov/hi.

Creating Effective Marketing Publications Workshops Presented by Experienced Educator Mililani Hughes at Hawaii TechWorks

Learn to be your own marketing designer using software readily available on your computer!

Tech Works

Hawaii TechWorks, a program of the East Hawaii Community Development Corporation (EHCDC), is sponsoring a series of three Effective Marketing Publications workshops that will each build upon each other:

  • Workshop 1: Designing a Postcard Reminder, March 6, Wednesday 1-4, $30
  • Workshop 2: Designing Eye-Catching Flyers, March 13, Wednesday 1-4, $30
  • Workshop 3: Designing an Effective Brochure, March 20, Wednesday 1-4, $30

Participants may register for the Workshop events online at: http://easthawaii.org/hawaii-techworks-creating-effective-marketing-publications-workshops/

The workshops are being held at Hawaii TechWorks at 230 Kekuanaoa Street, south of Hilo Shopping Center, in Hilo.

Attendees are encouraged to bring jump drives so that they may take their final products with them, for publishing or printing.

This Workshop series is being presented by Mililani Hughes, an educator with 20+ years of teaching experience who currently resides in Volcano.

For more information, participants may email community@easthawaii.org or visit http://easthawaii.org.