9th Annual Health and Wellness Recovery Day

A small army of athletes from the Waiākea High School Football team spent their weekend going door to door collecting pledges to support the Big Island Substance Abuse Council’s (BISAC) upcoming Strong Man Contest, which will be hosted as part of the organization’s 9th Annual Health and Wellness Recovery Day on August 3, 2013. The all day event will be held on the Kamehameha Schools Kea‘au Campus from 9:00 am.


Besides the Strong Man Contest, which will feature events like tire flipping and car towing, there will be a Move and Groove-a-Thon, a Health Fair with cooking demonstrations, giveaways, martial arts demonstrations and health and wellness promotions. The event will also have a Recovery Day Walk that is dedicated to honor and celebrate all those in recovery.

The football players’ efforts collected over $450.00 in pledges to support BISAC’s much-needed programs. “I’m truly grateful for all the players that came out to help me collect pledges for my participation in the Strong Man Contest,” said BISAC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita. “It really inspires me to see young people coming out to make their community a better place to live,” said Preston-Pita.

Since 1964, BISAC has been inspiring individuals and families to reclaim and enrich their lives through substance abuse counseling in a non-threatening environment. For more information about how to support BISAC’s programs or about the 9th Annual Health and Wellness Fair call 854-2827.

Hawaii Makes Significant Gains to Rebuild Financial Reserves

With the signing of three bills, the State of Hawaii committed to making good on its past and future obligations. Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed several measures related to fiscal management that appropriate a combined $100 million to increase fiscal reserves and create a new statutory requirement to address long-term unfunded liabilities.

“Today, we are officially no longer a ‘pay as you go’ state,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “The Legislature has joined this administration with the goal of moving our state on a path to deal with long-term unfunded liabilities that have gone unaddressed for decades.

Proposed as part of the Governor’s legislative package, SB1092 (Making an Appropriation to Recapitalize the Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund) and SB1094 (Making an Appropriation to the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund) direct a total of $100 million in general funds for fiscal year 2013-2014 toward paying back borrowed money from the state’s Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund and “Rainy Day Fund.” Each fund is appropriated $50 million.

HB546 (Relating to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund) requires the state’s annual employer contribution to equal the amount determined by an actuary beginning in fiscal year 2018-2019. The bill also holds the state and county governments accountable for said contribution by supplementing deficient payments with the General Excise Tax or Transient Accommodations Tax. It further establishes a phase-in schedule (beginning fiscal year 2014-2015) and a task force to examine the unfunded liability.

“This is a game changer; Hawaii will be the only state in the country where governmental employers have a statutorily required mandated funding course toward 100 percent pre-funding for post employment benefit liabilities,” said Finance Director Kalbert Young. “This is a clear message to financial institutions that the State of Hawaii takes very seriously building its financial capabilities to meet all of its financial obligations.”


Governor Abercrombie Signs Bills Related to Energy and Technology

Focusing on two of his administration’s priority issues, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed several bills that advance Hawaii’s energy and technology goals.

Senator Glenn Wakai shared the following picture on his Facebook account

Senator Glenn Wakai shared the following picture on his Facebook account

Upon enacting four measures related to energy, Gov. Abercrombie stated: “We are removing unnecessary barriers to allow a greater segment of our community to invest in and benefit from renewable energy. These bills also improve the efficiency of the industry’s registration and reporting process, while encouraging greater openness and expanding protections for our local communities.”

HB811 (Relating to Energy Information Reporting) simplifies the registration and reporting process for fuel distributors. Part of the Governor’s legislative package, the bill also amends Public Utilities Commission (PUC) responsibilities and powers in relation to energy industry information reporting and allows the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to receive energy industry information.

HB1405 (Relating to the Public Utilities Commission) requires the PUC to include a summary of the power purchase agreements in effect during the fiscal year in its annual report to the Governor. It also expands the use of the public benefits fee to support clean energy technology, demand response technology, energy use reduction, and demand-side management infrastructure.

SB19 (Relating to Renewable Energy) removes barriers for landlords to invest in renewable energy and allows renters/tenants to benefit from lower energy costs. The bill exempts landlords and lessors who install renewable energy systems on their property and provide, sell or transmit electricity generated from those systems to tenants or lessees.

HB1149 (Relating to Wind Energy Facilities) requires a wind energy facility owner to be responsible for facility decommissioning and provide evidence of financial security unless the owner has an existing lease or other agreement that provides for decommissioning. The bill establishes standards and assurances of adequate financial resources to avoid abandoned or neglected wind energy facilities.

Regarding three of the bills related to technology, the Governor said: “Technology is ever-changing, and state government needs to change with it. An open government helps citizens be engaged in their government and further promotes government accountability and transparency.”

HB632 (Relating to Open Data) requires state departments to make electronic data sets available to the public. The bill also requires the chief information officer (CIO) to develop policies and procedures to implement the Open Data Initiative, and appropriates $100,000 each fiscal year of the biennium to Office of Information Practices (OIP).

HB635 (Relating to Broadband) requires the state and counties to take action in advancing the Hawaii Broadband Initiative within 60 days (for conservation districts, the state must take action within 145 days). The initiative’s goal is to provide ultra high-speed Internet access by 2018, and this clear and decisive timeline will reduce uncertainty for broadband companies and serve as an incentive to invest in increased bandwidth.

SB1003 (Relating to Information Technology), another of the administration’s bills, authorizes the CIO to conduct security audits and direct remedial actions, as necessary, in the management of the state’s cyber security.

“As these resources come online, cyber security will become even more critical, and these measures include steps to further secure the people’s data,” the Governor added.


Snake Found by Vacationers in Kona Condo

A family staying at a Kona vacation condo unit found a 16-inch-long snake on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 and turned it over to security on the property. The black, orange and yellow-colored snake was identified as a garter snake.  It is possible that the snake hitchhiked on the luggage of the family, which had just arrived that evening at the condo.

Kona Snake

The snake was safeguarded at the Hilo Plant Quarantine Office and transported to Honolulu yesterday. It will be kept for educational purposes.

Kona Snake3

Garter snakes are native to North America and Central America. Their diet consists of small prey, such as lizards, worms, insects and amphibians.  Their bite may release a mild neurotoxin, which is not lethal to humans.

Kona Snake2

Snakes are illegal in Hawaii. Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the State’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.  Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

Hawai’i Fire Department’s 13th Annual EMS Run To Be Held In Hilo

In celebration of Emergency Medical Services Week, the Hawai’i Fire Department is sponsoring their 13th annual EMS Family Fun Run/Walk, Keiki Fun Run, and Health Fair on Saturday, August 3, 2013. The event will take place at Lili’uokalani Park in Hilo, and the public is invited to participate.
The 5K Family Fun Run and 2-Mile Walk begins and ends at Lili’uokalani Park. Both events will begin at 8:30 a.m. A Keiki Fun Run, a non-competitive event for children ages 3 to 10, will be held within Liliuokalani Park following the 5K run.
Applications may be downloaded, obtained at the Spencer Health and Fitness Center, the Fire Administration office located at the County Building, 25 Aupuni Street, Suite 2501, in Hilo, at any district fire station, or by calling 932-2900 during normal business hours. The entrance fee is $20 for adults, and $10 for youth, students & seniors (60+).
Awards will be presented following the completion of the event. All participants will also become eligible to receive random drawing prizes which have been provided by our generous sponsors.
The family fun run/walk will also kick off various events and displays that will continue throughout the day. The American Heart Association (blood pressure screening), Ululani Pharmacy (blood sugar/cholesterol screening), Big Island Asthma Coalition-East Hawai’i (asthma awareness and education), Hospice of Hilo, Tri Fit (personal fitness assessment administered by Kea’au High School students), and the County of Hawai’i Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (Keiki ID) are among the agencies that will provide their services to the public.
The Hawai’i Island branch office of the American Cancer Society will have volunteers and staff on hand to assist with the event as well as to provide information about their services.
One of the beneficiaries of the EMS Run will be the Greg Cameron Fireman’s Fund, a non-profit fund that will be used to help firefighter’s families that need help while fighting hardship and disease.
EMS Week, which is celebrated nationwide, will bring together local communities and medical personnel to publicize safety, and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of the medical “front line.” The celebration of EMS Week underscores the commitment and dedication of the 750,000 EMS personnel who provide an essential community service every day. The Emergency Medical Services Week coordinators are Battalion Chief Lance Uchida (Emergency Medical Services Bureau, telephone 961-8319) and Battalion Chief Jerry Lum (telephone 961-8348). The fun run/walk race director is EMS Captain Jesse Ebersole.
The County of Hawai’i’s Emergency Medical Services Division provides 24-hour quality pre-hospital emergency medical care and services to the residents and visitors on Hawai’i. Last year, EMS responded to 15,310 calls for assistance island wide. To learn more about your local EMS Bureau, please call 961-8319.


Park Rangers Rescue Endangered Plants

It’s not always lost or injured hikers who get rescued by park rangers.

Image shows the pit cater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where the endangered plant search and rescue mission occurred June 26, 2013. NPS Photo/Mark Wasser

Image shows the pit cater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where the endangered plant search and rescue mission occurred June 26, 2013. NPS Photo/Mark Wasser

Rangers from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park rappelled nearly 200 feet into a remote pit crater last week to “rescue” seeds and cuttings from four extremely rare Hawaiian plants in the national park. The park will use the seeds and cuttings to help reestablish these species.

During the mission, seeds and cuttings from hāhā (Cyanea stictophylla), a federally endangered shrub found only on Hawai‘i Island, were carefully collected. This stunning plant is extremely rare, and in 1996, only 20 plants were estimated to survive in the wild.

NPS Photo/Jon Maka'ike

NPS Photo/Jon Maka’ike

Seeds and cuttings from other rare species collected included a species related to hāhā, Cyanea pilosa, an odorless Hawaiian mint (Phyllostegia sp.), and a native shrub in the African violet family, ha‘iwale (Cyrtandra lysiosepala).

Although a 4,000-foot elevation and the steep, sheer walls of the forested pit crater aid in protecting its ecology, those conditions make it challenging to retrieve cuttings and seeds. Two specialized teams from the national park, the Natural Resources Management rappel team and the Search and Rescue team, descended into the crater, retrieved the seeds and cuttings, and returned safely to the surface – a 12-hour mission.

Plants shown is closeup of Cyanea stictophylla flowering. This individual was collected from the Pit Crater a few years ago, and has been growing in a park greenhouse since. It flowered and fruited this year. NPS Photo/Mark Wasser

Plants shown is closeup of Cyanea stictophylla flowering. This individual was collected from the Pit Crater a few years ago, and has been growing in a park greenhouse since. It flowered and fruited this year. NPS Photo/Mark Wasser

Joining rangers were members of Hawai‘i County Fire Department and Pōhakuloa Training Area’s fire management team. This enabled the project ample contingency resources in the event of an incident, and fosters interagency cooperation that will be seeds in themselves for future mutual assistance.

“Hoakua: Elevated Perceptions” Unites Traditional Japanese and Hawaiian Music and Dance

“Hoakua: Elevated Perceptions” will be presented by the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation on Saturday, July 20, 2013, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Performing Arts Center.

Hoakua is an evening of dance, music, and spirituality bringing together traditional Japanese and Hawaiian dance in celebration of a common respect for the environment. Tickets are $10.00 each and available for purchase at http://hoakua.eventbrite.com or by calling Leina‘ala Thornton at the Foundation at 808-961-5242. Event seating is general admission and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the performance begins at 6:00 p.m.

Mr. Yoshida, the high priest of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan

Mr. Yoshida, the high priest of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan

The Foundation has invited Mr. Yoshida, the high priest of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan, to Hawai‘i to share environmental kinship through the Shintō religion and Hula. The invitation to Hawai‘i was prompted by Hālau O Kekuhi’s dedication dance in 2008 at the Hachiman Shrine, when the hālau visited Japan for a series of performances.

Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan

Hachiman Shrine at Kamakura, Japan

While foreigners are typically discouraged from dancing at the shrine’s sacred pavilion, Hālau O Kekuhi was allowed to dedicate their dance. After the dedication, the hālau was invited to lunch to discuss their practices. Both the hālau and the Hachiman people recognized the commonalities at the core of their practices, and decided that it would be “beautiful”—spiritually, educationally, socially, and ecologically—if they introduced the Japanese and the Hawaiian fire deities to one another.

At the hālau’s invitation, Mr. Yoshida and the Gagaku-dan—the ancient court music orchestra and their Miko (maiden) dancers—are visiting Hilo and Hawai‘i Island in July. Their visit will culminate in the presentation of Hoakua in partnership with Hālau O Kekuhi. The Foundation hopes to bring Mr. Yoshida’s retinue of approximately 30 priests and maidens to Kīlauea for further collaboration in 2015.

Halau Kekuhi

Halau Kekuhi

Hoakua is sponsored in part by The Kohala Center, Dr. Tom Blackburn and Dr. Kate Bell of the Deviants from the Norm, The Kahiau Foundation, and Larry Isemoto of Isemoto Contracting Company, Ltd. Sponsorship opportunities are still available by contacting Reiko Yoshida Hamano via e-mail at reikoyoshidahamano@gmail.com.

Mangos and Mantas at Fifth Annual Mango Festival

Free juicy fun is on tap at the fifth annual Mango Festival Saturday, July 20 on the Hawaii Lawn of the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. This year’s festival theme of Mangos & Mantas features displays on agricultural sustainability and marine conservation from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


Mangos—the richly hued summer orbs that seduce island residents each year with their juicy flavor and fragrance— will be showcased in a variety of horticultural and culinary activities. In addition, festival goers can enjoy mangolicious treats and smoothies offered by vendors.

Foodie fun includes an amateur recipe contest. See how local residents are using mangos in salads, entrees and desserts and cheer on your favorite entrants. Spearheading the contest is foodie blogger and cookbook author Sonia Martinez; find recipe entry details at www.mangofest.org.

The Sheraton’s Rays on the Bay will offer samplings of tasty mango-inspired pupus at the festival. These tasty morsels will be featured on the restaurant’s menu after the festival, along with refreshing, mango-inspired beverages.

For green-thumb wannabes, enjoy a presentation by Harold Moodie on grafting mangos and the trees will also be for sale. The West Hawaii Master Gardeners will provide free advice for home gardeners at their friendly question-and-answer booth. The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association is offering info and samples for the many varieties of mangos grown statewide.

The annual agricultural-themed panel discussion expands to encompass this year’s festival theme, “Keep the Culture in Agriculture While Protecting Our Marine Environment.” Panelists include Dr. Hector Valenzuela, vegetable crop extension specialist with University of Hawaii at Manoa; soil authority Graeme Sait of Nutri Tech Solutions Australia and James Wing, a local manta ray expert and representative for the Manta Network, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection and conservation of mantas worldwide.

Browse among arts and crafts booths and enjoy non-stop entertainment featuring Kumu Keala Ching, Bolo, Maka, Poncho Man, Auntie Irma’s Kahikina Nahenehe Ohana and Incense & Nouveau Gypsy with Stephanie Bolton.

Also on display will be original festival art by Bruce Sherman and event t-shirts. For information, visit www.mangofest.org.

Mango Festival: The 2013 Mango Festival is sponsored by Sanctuary of Mana Kea Gardens, Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers-West Hawaii and Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.


Boaz Johnson Now Considered the Suspect in Murder Investigation of Brittany-Jane Royal

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in locating the 22-year-old former boyfriend of a 25-year-old woman whose body was found in waters off the Kalapana coast on May 28. After the completion of additional follows-ups conducted in this investigation, Boaz David Johnson is now considered the suspect in the murder investigation. He may still be on the island.

New picture released

New picture released

Johnson is described as Caucasian, about 5-foot-7, about 150 pounds with a slim build and a fair complexion. He was last seen unshaven and with medium-length brown hair. He also has a tattoo of a upper body of a horse near the right side of his abdomen. He is considered dangerous.

On May 28 at about 6:28 a.m., police received a report that a body was caught in a fishing line from a nearby boat. With the assistance of a Hawaiʻi Fire Department helicopter, the body was retrieved from the ocean and taken to a nearby landing zone, where detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section responded and continued the investigation.

The body was identified through fingerprints as Brittany Jane Royal. The medical examiner ruled that she died as the result of strangulation.

Detectives continue to actively pursue leads in this investigation. Police ask that anyone with information on Johnson’s whereabouts contact Detective Robert Almeida at 808-961-2386 or ralmeida@co.hawaii.hi.us, Detective Fetuutuunai Amuimuia at 808-961-2278 or famuimuia@co.hawaii.hi.us, or Lieutenant Gregory Esteban at 808-961-2252 or gesteban@hawaiicounty.gov.

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.