Highway 130 Speed Limit Changing to Reduce Accidents

Highway 130 from Keaau to Pahoa is one of the more dangerous highways in the State.  I’ve documented many accidents that have happened over the last few years but this is only just a few of them that happen each week.

Senator Ruderman sent a request into the State Department of Transportation asking that one of the sections of the highway have it’s speed reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph and the State responded that they will make the changes and put in an order for the signs to be replaced with lower speed limits from Shower Drive to Ainaloa Drive.

Highway 130 Speed


Men Jump From C-17 Globemaster in Hawaii

Maj. Aaron Lawson jumps from a C-17 Globemaster III Feb. 26, 2013, near Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam-Hawaii. The jump was filmed by veteran freefall cameraman and skydiver cinematographer, Tom Sanders, and will be used in a scene on an upcoming episode of the television show “Hawaii Five-0.”

C17 Skydiver

Lawson was given the opportunity to serve as a stunt double for actor Alex O’Loughlin, who plays Steve McGarrett on the show and will be featured alongside Marine Corps Staff Sgt. John Phillips, SOCPAC jumper and parachute rigger, performing the freefall jump.

Maj. Aaron Lawson opens his parachute after performing a freefall jump from a C-17 Globemaster III near Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam-Hawaii, Feb. 26, 2013. (Photo by Tom Sanders)

Maj. Aaron Lawson opens his parachute after performing a freefall jump from a C-17 Globemaster III near Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam-Hawaii, Feb. 26, 2013. (Photo by Tom Sanders)

Even though this was Sanders’ first jump from a C-17, he’s still had the opportunity to jump with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton and former President George Bush.

Members of the “Hawaii Five-0″ production crew film the landing of Special Operations Command, Pacific freefall jumpers. (Photo by Tom Sanders)

Members of the “Hawaii Five-0″ production crew film the landing of Special Operations Command, Pacific freefall jumpers. (Photo by Tom Sanders)

This episode will air April 15 on CBS at 10PM EST. Lawson is a Special Operations Command, Pacific jumper and special tactics officer. (Photo/Tom Sanders)

Commentary – A Petition to the Chairman of Hawaii DLNR


I’ve created a petition to William Aila, Chairman, DLNR, Hawai`i County Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Saul Pinto, CEO, Kohanaiki Shores LLC which says:

Click to sign petition

Click to sign petition

A gate has already been erected on the shoreline at the south end of the surfing beach, with the southern end of the beach trail scheduled to be closed to vehicular access as soon as the end of March.

Sign the petition TODAY and share it with everyone you know! http://signon.org/sign/protect-public-access?source=c.em.cp&r_by=7312816.

Charles Flaherty



Hawai’i County Completes $3.4 Million Upgrade to Hilo’s Edith Kanaka’ole Multi-Purpose Stadium

A thoroughly renovated and expanded Edith Kanaka’ole Multi-Purpose Stadium was officially blessed during a ceremony held today at the prominent Hilo facility.

Mayor Billy Kenoi recognized the contractors, Hawai’i County employees, and community volunteers who worked tirelessly to finish the upgrades in time to meet a rigid construction deadline.

“Without all your hard work, we wouldn’t be here at this time,” Mayor Kenoi told attendees. “Mahalo everybody.”

He was joined by Parks Director Clayton Honma, County Council members Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and Valerie Poindexter, former County Council member Donald Ikeda, Merrie Monarch Festival organizers, and representatives of the contractors and community organizations who worked on the project. The blessing was performed by Kahu Leifi Hao of Ka Hoku Ao Malamalama church in Keaukaha.

Anchored by a new 4,200-square-foot building featuring six dressing/meeting rooms and tiled restrooms, the project has modernized a facility used for such varied public events as trade shows, school graduations, and the world famous Merrie Monarch Festival.

Merrie Monarch Dance

“Beyond Merrie Monarch, this is for the entire community to enjoy year-round,” Mayor Kenoi said.

A new color scheme, native landscaping, new fencing, and covered side entrances now greet stadium users. Inside, the public will find an expanded lobby, a larger concession area complete with new roof coverings and lighting, and a freshly painted interior. An upgraded electrical system to support enhanced lighting and sound system capabilities, a replacement sewer line, drainage improvements, and a larger vehicle entrance are also part of the renovation project completed in approximately three months.

“Everybody had to work really fast,” Mayor Kenoi said in thanking the people who helped with the project. Rapid progress by Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd., its 15 subcontractors, and volunteers will allow the stadium to be reopened for the March 31 start of the Merrie Monarch Festival’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Hawai’i County maintenance employees, electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, grounds crews, and tree-trimmers collectively spent more than 1,000 hours improving the stadium and the surrounding grounds. In addition to performing their normal duties, the employees’ work included replacing worn bleacher seat and foot boards, plumbing fixtures, and electrical fixtures, adding landscaping, installing new signs, and fabricating guardrails to improve the safety of bleacher spectators.

Dozens of community volunteers also provided vital painting, landscaping and other facility improvements that saved taxpayer dollars. The Department wishes to recognize and thank the Jehovah’s Witnesses – Hawai’i Circuit 5 members, Hilo Jaycees, 1st Battalion 12th Marines, Hawai’i Community Correctional Center inmates, East Hawai’i District Tennis Association, Hawai’i Carpenters Union, Local 745, Hilo High School tennis teams, and tennis players from Hilo-area schools for contributing their time and efforts toward the renovations.

The Edith Kanaka’ole Multi-Purpose Stadium upgrade is the anchor of a $4 million revitalization of the Ho’olulu Complex, which also includes work on the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, Aunty Sally Kaleohano’s Lu’au Hale, and multiple support buildings.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.



32 Fugitives Arrested on the Big Island During Kona Warrant Sweep

U.S. Marshals Hawaii Fugitive Task Force Officers comprised of Deputy U.S. Marshals, Hawaii State Sheriff’s Department, Maui Police Department, Hawaii County Police Department, and Kauai Police Department located and arrested 32 state fugitives clearing 45 warrants during a warrant Operation which began on Monday and wrapped up yesterday afternoon. Task Force Officers targeted fugitives with extensive criminal histories to include kidnapping, robbery, possession of narcotics and firearms.

US Marshall Service
Task Force Officers began the Operation on Monday by arresting Arizona native Sean Patrick Carroll at Full Life in Kealakekua. On February 13, 2013, the State of Arizona- City of Gila issued a warrant of arrest for Carroll, 21, charging him with three counts of Sexual Assault, a class two felony. The alleged crime took place in August 2011 involving two female victims both under fifteen years of age. Carroll is being held at Hawaii Community Correctional Center pending extradition back to Arizona. He is being held on $100,000 bond.

On Tuesday, Qshawane Argeme Pryor, 26, was arrested without incident for violation of parole. Pryor was paroled from the Kansas Department of Corrections Facility on October 13, 2011. He has since violated the terms and conditions under which he was released and a warrant was issued on October 1, 2012 for his arrest. Pryor was on parole for Sale of Opiates and Possession of Depressants, Stimulants, and Hallucinogenic. The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in Topeka, Kansas received information that Pryor fled Kansas and was residing in Kona. The Hawaii Fugitive Task Force picked up the investigation and tracked Pryor to a residence in Waikaloa. Pryor is being housed at Hawaii County Correction Center where he awaits an extradition hearing back to Topeka, Kansas.

On Tuesday, Task Force Officers arrested 26 year-old Garrett Teaua Tehaamatai at a residence in Kailua-Kona. Tehaamatai was wanted for four State warrants charging him with two Probation Violations, Terroristic Threatening in the second degree, Burglary in the first degree, and Theft in the second degree. Tehaamatai has been convicted of Terroristic Threatening in the first degree, Abuse of a Family and Unlawful Imprisonment. He is being held on two bonds totaling $45,300.


Big Island Officer and Firefighter of the Year Recognized

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized Officer Ryan Domingo as “Officer of the Year” and Ian Smith as “Firefighter of the Year” in a dinner ceremony Thursday evening (March 14).

Ryan Domingo

Ryan Domingo

Domingo joined the Police Department in 2003 and is a patrol officer in the South Hilo District.

Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Smith, who joined the Fire Department in 2004, is a Fire Equipment Operator assigned to the Kawailani Fire Station in Hilo.

During a ceremony at the Hilo Yacht Club, each honoree received a plaque from the Aloha Exchange Club, a Certificate of Commendation from the mayor’s office, and a gift basket of donated items and gift certificates.

Domingo was honored for administering life-saving first aid to a victim who had been shot. On May 13, police responded to a disturbance involving gunshots in Hilo. At the scene, officers quickly identified and arrested a suspect, and Domingo found a 55-year-old woman with multiple gunshot wounds lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood. He immediately applied pressure to her wounds to control the bleeding.

The victim believed she was going to die. For more than 20 minutes, Domingo reassured her and kept her focused and calm. His comfort and compassion were critical in saving her life.

Domingo also obtained important evidence by recording his conversation with the woman. A suspect was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder, burglary and two counts of attempted second-degree murder. The victim was expected to make a full recovery after months of rehabilitation.

Last September, Hawai’i State Law Enforcement Officials Association named Domingo Hawaiʻi Police Department’s “Officer of the Year” for the same incident.

Smith was considered one of the more energetic and enthusiastic firefighters in his recruit class. Following in the footprints of his late father, a paramedic, Smith became a paramedic in 2007 and was assigned as an MICT on aero-medical unit C-2. He continued his career and was promoted to fire equipment operator in 2010.

Smith is a seven-year member of the E PCR committee, a four-year member of the peer fitness committee and was part of the AFG grant committee that received funding to update the Fire Department’s EKG monitors.

His certifications include CPR Instructor in the Fire Department through the American Heart Association and ACC Instructor. He continues to provide instruction and support to his peers through these leadership roles and regularly offers mentoring and support to his brother and sister firefighters.

The “Officer of the Year” and “Fire Fighter of the Year” awards are projects of the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi.

Saturday – UH Hilo Open House

The public is invited to a University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Open House on Saturday, March 16, 8:30-1:30 p.m. Check-in is at the Campus Center Plaza.
UH Hilo
Sponsored by the UH Hilo Admissions Office, there will be information booths on the University’s various academic programs, residence halls, clubs, organizations, and student activities, as well as campus tours and live music.

Participants are asked to RSVP at hilo.hawaii.edu/rsvp (choose UH Hilo Open House). For any questions, email uhhadm@hawaii.edu or call (800) 897-4456.


Keck Astronomers Detect Water in Atmosphere of Distant Planet

A team of international scientists using the W. M. Keck Observatory has made the most detailed examination yet of the atmosphere of a Jupiter-size planet beyond our Solar System.

Artist’s rendering of the planetary system HR 8799 at an early stage in its evolution, showing the planet HR 8799c, a disk of gas and dust, and interior planets.

Artist’s rendering of the planetary system HR 8799 at an early stage in its evolution, showing the planet HR 8799c, a disk of gas and dust, and interior planets. Image courtesy of Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics; Mediafarm.

According to lead author Quinn Konopacky, an astronomer with the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto and a former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) postdoc, “We have been able to observe this planet in unprecedented detail because of Keck Observatory’s advanced instrumentation, our ground-breaking observing and data processing techniques, and because of the nature of the planetary system.” The paper appears online March 14th in Science Express, and March 22nd in the journal Science.

“This is the sharpest spectrum ever obtained of an extrasolar planet,” said co-author Bruce Macintosh, an astronomer at LLNL. “This shows the power of directly imaging a planetary system—the exquisite resolution afforded by these new observations has allowed us to really begin to probe planet formation.”

The team, using the OSIRIS instrument fitted on the mighty Keck II telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, has uncovered the chemical fingerprints of specific molecules, revealing a cloudy atmosphere containing water vapor and carbon monoxide. “With this level of detail,” says coauthor Travis Barman, an astronomer at the Lowell Observatory, “we can compare the amount of carbon to the amount of oxygen present in the atmosphere, and this chemical mix provides clues as to how the planetary system formed.”

There has been uncertainty about how planets in other solar systems formed, with two leading models, called core accretion and gravitational instability. When stars form, they are surrounded by a planet-forming disk. In the first scenario, planets form gradually as solid cores slowly grow big enough to start absorbing gas from the disk. In the latter, planets form almost instantly as parts of the disk collapse on themselves. Planetary properties, like the composition of a planet’s atmosphere, are clues as to whether a system formed according to one model or the other.

Although the planet’s atmosphere shows clear evidence of water vapor, that signature is weaker than would be expected if the planet shared the composition of its parent star. Instead, the planet has a high ratio of carbon to oxygen—a fingerprint of its formation in the gaseous disk tens of millions of years ago.  As the gas cooled with time, grains of water ice form, depleting the remaining gas of oxygen. Planetary formation began when ice and solids collected into planetary cores—very similar to how our solar system formed.

“Once the solid cores grew large enough, their gravity quickly attracted surrounding gas to become the massive planets we see today,” said Konopacky. “Since that gas had lost some of its oxygen, the planet ends up with less oxygen and less water than if it had formed through a gravitational instability.”

One of the discovery images of the system obtained at the Keck II telescope using the adaptive optics system and NIRC2 Near-Infrared Imager. The rectangle indicates the field-of-view of the OSIRIS instrument for planet C.  Image courtesy of NRC-HIA, C. Marois and Keck Observatory.

One of the discovery images of the system obtained at the Keck II telescope using the adaptive optics system and NIRC2 Near-Infrared Imager. The rectangle indicates the field-of-view of the OSIRIS instrument for planet C. Image courtesy of NRC-HIA, C. Marois and Keck Observatory.

The planet is one of four gas giants known to orbit a star called HR 8799, 130 light-years from Earth. The authors and their collaborators previously discovered this planet, designated HR 8799c, and its three companions back in 2008 and 2010. Unlike most other planetary systems, whose presence is inferred by their effects on their parent star, the HR8799 planets can be individually seen.

“We can directly image the planets around HR 8799 because they are all large, young, and very far from their parent star. This makes the system an excellent laboratory for studying exoplanet atmospheres,” said coauthor Christian Marois, an astronomer at the National Research Council of Canada and another former LLNL postdoc. “Since its discovery, this system just keeps on surprising us.”

Although the planet does have water vapor, it’s incredibly hostile to life—like Jupiter, it has no solid surface, and it has a temperature of more than a thousand degrees Fahrenheit as it glows with the energy of its original formation. Still, this discovery provides clues as to the possibility of other Earth-like planets in other solar systems. “The fact that the HR8799 giant planets may have formed the same way our own giant planets did is a good sign—that same process also made the rocky planets close to the Sun,” said Dr. Macintosh.

The HR 8799 four planet system:
All four planets are more massive than any in our Solar System, with masses three to seven times that of Jupiter. Their orbits are similarly large when compared to our system. The system is believed to be young, of the order of 30 million years. HR 8799c orbits 40 times farther from its parent star than the Earth orbits from the Sun; in our Solar System that would put it beyond the realm of Neptune.

The OSIRIS instrument:
The team analyzed the distant giant’s atmosphere using a high-resolution imaging spectrograph called OSIRIS. Just as Keck’s adaptive optics technology gives astronomers a sharp image of HR 8799c, OSIRIS enables an extremely detailed analysis of the spectrum of the light from the planet—much more detailed than ever before—and allows astronomers to separate the star’s light from the planet’s. This in turn provides a more detailed understanding of the composition of the gas giant’s atmosphere.

The telescope’s adaptive optics system corrects for distortion caused by the Earth’s atmosphere, making the infrared view through Keck II sharper than through the Hubble Space Telescope.

The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectroscopy and a world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics system. The Observatory is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and a scientific partnership of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA.

Bryan Rankie Named Hawaii’s ‘Teacher of Promise’

Mauka Lani Elementary School teacher Bryan Rankie this morning was honored as the National Milken Educators of Hawaii’s “Teacher of Promise.”

Brian Rankie

Brian Rankie

Rankie received a plaque, a gift and $1,000 through a sponsorship from the HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union. The award annually recognizes a teacher who demonstrates excellence in the field and the highest qualities of a professional educator during the first four semesters in the classroom. Established in 2007, the award alternates annually between elementary and secondary school teachers.

A New York native, Rankie joined Mauka Lani Elementary in 2011 as a general education fifth-grade teacher and had an immediate impact.

“Bryan has an excellent rapport with everyone within our school, especially the students,” said Mauka Lani Elementary Principal Shelley Ferrara. “He has an innate ability to connect with students through their academic strengths and interests.

Within the first week of school, a Mauka Lani teacher unexpectedly resigned, meaning the school would need an immediate replacement for a general education position in an inclusion classroom.

“Without any hesitation Bryan volunteered to move to the inclusion classroom, explaining that he felt comfortable taking on the extra responsibility,” recalled Ferrara. “This was our first experience with Bryan’s selflessness.”

From left to right: Mauka Lani Elementary Principal Shelley Ferrara, Catherine Payne of the National Milken Educators of Hawaii, "Teacher of Promise" Award winner Bryan Rankie, Heidi Armstrong, Campbell-Kapolei complex area superintendent, Lisa Chun from HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union, and Francine Fernandez, coordinator for the Teacher of Promise Award.

From left to right: Mauka Lani Elementary Principal Shelley Ferrara, Catherine Payne of the National Milken Educators of Hawaii, “Teacher of Promise” Award winner Bryan Rankie, Heidi Armstrong, Campbell-Kapolei complex area superintendent, Lisa Chun from HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union, and Francine Fernandez, coordinator for the Teacher of Promise Award.

Through Rankie’s hard work and dedication, students in his inclusion class have closed the achievement gap and met federal annual progress benchmarks.

His dedication to students extends beyond the classroom.

During Rankie’s first year of teaching, he took on many new roles and responsibilities, including coaching both the school basketball and track teams – not only to increase their athletic abilities, but also so he could better support his students academically. Rankie plans on implementing what he learns about all students in his recently elected position as School Community Council co-chair. Rankie accepted the new post to improve his understanding of what is happening in the community, school and, eventually, his classroom.

A graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., Rankie holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction (Special Education Strand) and a bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education.

The National Milken Educators of Hawaii (NME-Hawaii) committee members who selected Rankie for the award are all past recipients of the National Milken Educator Award. In 1996, the Hawaii Milken group formed NME-Hawaii to promote and enhance the quality of teaching and the education profession in Hawaii.