Hawaiian Paradise Park Bus Service Begins

A long awaited answer to public transportation needs was delivered April Fool’s Day with a new Hawaiian Paradise Park bus route. “All this time I had to walk…hitch a ride, and that’s pretty dangerous, but what else can you do?  So this [new bus route] is good,” said bus rider Jeanne Seimer.

The long awaited HPP Bus route official began today.

The long awaited HPP Bus route official began today.

Seimer was one of eight residents who utilized the bus on its maiden trip through HPP at 6:25 a.m. Monday April 1. Council Member Greggor Ilagan of District 4 cheerfully served donuts to early morning riders and discussed the journey, and the people it took to get the bus route in place, with HPP Owners Association President, June Conant. “Once Greggor got into office, he bent some elbows and finally got it going,” said Conant.

Councilmember Ilagan on the Bus

Councilmember Ilagan on the Bus

“We had a lot of great people working together to get this bus into HPP. Past and present efforts have all culminated today to provide sorely needed transportation to the people in this community. This bus route is a reality thanks to Tiffany Kai, Acting Administrator of Hawai’i County Mass Transit, Mayor Billy Kenoi, the HPP Owners Association and the people of Puna,” said Council Member Ilagan.

From L-R: June Conant, Council Member Ilagan, Jeanne Seimer

From L-R: June Conant, Council Member Ilagan, Jeanne Seimer

For maps and schedule information, visit the Hawai’i County Mass Transit website at www.heleonbus.org. For concerns and questions call Councilman Ilagan’s office at 965-2712, or E-mail at gilagan@hawaiicounty.gov.


Newly-Designed Hawaiʻi Police Department Flag to Make Debut in Merrie Monarch Parade

A newly-designed Hawaiʻi Police Department flag will make its debut in the Merrie Monarch parade on Saturday (April 6).

Former Police Commission Chair Pudding Lassiter helps display the Police Department flag designed by Police Records Clerk Danielle Medeiros (seen at right).

Former Police Commission Chair Pudding Lassiter helps display the Police Department flag designed by Police Records Clerk Danielle Medeiros (seen at right).

The design of the flag was chosen in a vote by Police Department employees as the result of a contest open to all sworn and civilian personnel. The winning entry was designed by Police Records Clerk Danielle Medeiros.

Medeiros said the flag’s red, white and blue colors are symbolic of America, with the majority of the background color being blue to represent the Police Department. Five stars at the right represent the department’s five Core Values (integrity, professionalism, compassion, teamwork and community satisfaction) while the words “Serving and protecting with aloha,” summarize the Police Department’s vision statement. The department’s badge at the top corner is meant to bring an official feel, and the flag has an image of Hawaiʻi Island in the center in bold red so it can be visible from afar.

The idea to create an official flag for the Police Department came from former Hawaiʻi County Police Commission Chair Pudding Lassiter. Officers in the Administrative Services Section coordinated the contest, which ended with a vote of three finalist designs. The vote was held January 18-25.

Chief Harry S. Kubojiri said he left the selection of the flag’s design to the employees and purposely abstained from looking at any of the designs until after the contest committee chose the finalists. Even then, the chief chose not to vote in the contest because he wanted the employees to have complete control over which flag would represent their department.

After the contest, the winning flag became the property of the Hawaiʻi Police Department. It will be displayed at department ceremonies and community events.


‘The Fruit Hunters’ Debuts During HIFF Spring Showcase

Partially filmed in Hawai’i, “The Fruit Hunters” move premieres at the 2013 Spring Showcase of the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF). Appearing in the award-winning film is the Big Island’s Ken Love, executive director of the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG).

Fruit Hunters Poster

The Hawai‘i premiere is 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 10 at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium Theatres. As part of a fundraiser for HTFG programs, members will offer a fresh fruit display and sell HTFG videos and posters showing Hawai‘i’s many varieties of mangos, bananas and avocado, plus a poster featuring more than 160 unusual types of fruit grown in Hawai‘i.

“In ‘The Fruit Hunters’ the characters travel across culture, history and geography to illustrate how people are intertwined with the fruits they grow and eat,” says Love.

Directed by Yung Chang in 2012, the 95-minute film received the Grand Prix at the 30th edition of the Festival International du Film de l’Environnement in Paris. A cinematic odyssey through nature and commerce, “The Fruit Hunters” changes not only the way we look at what we eat, but how we view our relationship to the natural world.

Inspired by Adam Gollner’s 2008 book of the same name, the film is a documentary about exotic fruit cultivators and preservationists. It uses performers and fruit enthusiasts to stage real and imagined moments in the history of fruit.

“The Fruit Hunters” follows actor Bill Pullman’s crusade to create a community orchard near his Hollywood Hills home. Noris Ledesma and Richard Campbell of Florida’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden “scour the jungle for rare mangos, hoping to intervene before the plants are steamrolled by industrialization,” according to the film synopsis. Other plots include a scientist racing to breed bananas resistant to a fungus that threatens the worldwide crop and fruit detective Isabella Ragione investigating paintings for clues to rediscover lost fruits.

Love appears in the film introducing Pullman to some of Hawai‘i’s finest fruits and later appears in Pullman’s dream sequence. Hawai‘i filming was done on the Big Island, at the Keauhou Farmers Market, Manago Hotel and a number of private farms in South Kona.

Before coming to Hawai’i, the film is being featured at film festivals in Canada, Amsterdam, Berlin and Turin. It will be released in 15 U.S. cities in May and later this year in Japan. A TV version, with different footage, appeared on the Canadian TV show, “The Nature of Things.”

HIFF’s 2013 Spring Showcase offers 33 films from 15 countries April 5-11. For more info, visit http://www.hiff.org.



Got Guacamole? Free Avocado Fest April 13

There’s double the pleasure, double the fun at the free Hawai‘i Avocado Festival Saturday, April 13 at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa. The festival offers two stages headlining entertainment, culinary and agricultural activities according to festival organizer Randyl Rupar.

The seventh annual event is a celebration of avocados—a versatile, locally grown fruit that’s a source of healthy monounsaturated fat. The Zero-Waste festival is 10 a.m. -5 p.m. on the Sheraton lawn fronting Kaleiopapa Road.

Avacado Fest 2013

Kumu Keala Ching opens the day with a Hawaiian pule (prayer), followed by chanting and hula. The entertainment stage lineup continues with Aunty Irma Kahekena Nahe Nahe at 11 a.m., Maka at noon, Big Island Blue Grass Band at 1 p.m., Sahra Indio at 2 p.m., 2 for the Show at 3 p.m. and Beginagain’s Wake at 4 p.m.

On the agriculture-culinary stage, there’s a full schedule of activities. Ty McDonald, of the Kona Extension Office of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, leads a session on grafting avocados at 11 a.m. The popular panel discussion, “Keeping the Culture in Agriculture” returns at noon with a 2013 version featuring local leaders concerned with agriculture, organic food and nutrition.

The second stage is also the location of the recipe contest, overseen by cookbook author and freelance food writer Sonia Martinez.  Recipes are due by 11 a.m. and will be judged in three categories: entrée, dessert and guacamole. Festival attendees can taste the entries at 12:30 p.m. and vote for the People’s Choice Award. Announcement of the winners is at 2 p.m. and top culinarians will receive gift certificates from Kealakekua Ranch Center. Recipe entry forms can be downloaded at www.avocadofestival.org.


Get the scoop on different varieties of avocados at an informative display by the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers. Enjoy a farmer’s market, arts and crafts booths, plus food vendors with avocado-themed cuisine. Geared for families, the festival offers keiki activities, a variety of healing arts and alternative energy demonstrations.

Also on display will be original festival art by Jean Love and event t-shirts. For information, contact Randyl Rupar at 936-5233 or visit www.avocadofestival.org.

Hawai‘i Avocado Festival

The 2013 Hawai‘i Avocado Festival is sponsored by Sanctuary of Mana Ke‘a Gardens, Hawai‘i Tropical Fruit Growers-West Hawai‘i and Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.

USS Chung-Hoon to Deploy to Western Pacific

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) will depart Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam April 2 for an independent deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

The ship’s departure, originally planned for Feb. 28, was deferred to better refine sequestration planning and execution.

Commanded by Cmdr. Justin Orlich, the ship and its crew of nearly 280 Sailors will conduct integrated operations in conjunction with allies and partners.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

“Our team is looking forward to executing the mission,” Orlich said. “This is why we train. This is why we remain ready. This is what we do: operate forward.”

The Commanding Officer gave me this coin after we had lunch on the USS Chung Hoon

The Commanding Officer gave me this coin after we had lunch on the USS Chung Hoon

The ship’s motto is, “Imua e na Koa Kai” which translates to “Go Forward Sea Warriors.” As part of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific and Destroyer Squadron 31, Chung-Hoon operates forward, maintaining the highest warfighting readiness to preserve the freedom of vital sea lanes.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Chung-Hoon is a guided-missile destroyer that is a multi-mission anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare surface combatant — an important component of the Navy’s rebalancing of assets and forces to the Pacific.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

USS Chung-Hoon is named in honor of native Hawaiian Rear Adm. Gordon Pai’ea Chung-Hoon, recipient of the Navy Cross and Silver Star in World War II for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of USS Sigsbee (DD 502) from May 1944 to October 1945.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare surface combatants, an important component of the Navy’s rebalancing of assets and forces to the Pacific.


Big Island Police Identify Man Who Drowned Last Week in Puna

Police have identified the man who drowned March 23 in Puna as 37-year-old Jay Patrick Corbett of Gunnison, Colorado.

Wa Wa
At 3:38 p.m. on that date, Puna police officers responded to a report of a swimmer in distress at Orr’s Beach in the Waʻa Waʻa area of Puna. They learned that the victim had been jumping off cliffs into the water with friends when he became caught in the current and pulled under.

Fire Department personnel retrieved him from the water and took him to Hilo Medical Center, where he was pronounce dead at 5:50 p.m.

His name was initially withheld pending positive identification and notification of his family.


Flaw in Redistricting Software Means Hawaii County Council Districts to Change Again in 2014

The State of Hawaii Reapportionment Commission announced today that there was a flaw in the software that was used in 2011 to draw the Hawaii County District Maps and that a new Redistricting Commission will be selected next month to redraw county districts based on the 2010 Decennial Census Bureau Population Count.


The software used was a ArcGIS platform and pertinent dataset components provided comprehensive features and functionality for plan management, visualization, editing, and community collaboration.

Hawaii County Councilman Dru Kanuha, who was the Redistricting Commission Co-Chair, said “Unfortunately the software was flawed and the data was only recently inputted correctly so the new maps need to be drawn.  We can’t unding a bell and have an entirely new election.”

In establishing the boundaries of the districts, the Hawai‘i Reapportionment Commission gave consideration to the following factors: (a) population deviations from ideal district targets (b) cohesiveness, contiguity, integrity, and compactness of territory, and (c) socio-economic interests of the districts.

Another member of the 2011 Redistricting Commission and current Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter stated, “We did the best we could with the software that we had.  None of us (members of the commission) knew that the software was flawed.”

Fourteen plans were submitted by Advisory Councils or the public prior to July 26, 2011 and were reviewed by the Commission before their proposed plan was published. An additional twelve public plans were received during the public hearing period as well as verbal and written testimony. Congressional, State Senate and State House plans now online are those adopted on March 8, 2012.

Rene Siracusa, who was the Chair of the Commission, stated “It’s unfortunate that this has happened, however, I believe even if we had the correct software, that the current districts that were drawn into place, would still remain the same”

A County Council Meeting to discuss these matters is scheduled for Executive Session later on today, April 1st.

Big Island Police Charge Puna Man in Connection with Barricading Incident Last Week

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged the Puna man arrested last Tuesday (March 26) in connection with an incident involving a barricaded subject in the Eden Roc subdivision.

Jeffrey K. Cabantan

Jeffrey K. Cabantan

Jeffrey K. Cabantan, 55, of Eden Roc was charged Thursday with first-degree terroristic threatening and four firearm offenses. His bail was set at $104,000. He remained at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court hearing scheduled for Monday (April 1).