Hawaii Invasive Species Council Approves Fiscal Year 2014 Budget

The interagency Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) has approved a budget of $2.55 million for fiscal year 2014 to support statewide programs to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species in Hawaii, as well as management and public outreach efforts.

HISC members receive Governor’s proclamation for Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week in March. From left: DOH Deputy Director Gary Gill, DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, UH CTAHR Dean Maria Gallo, HDOA Chairperson Russell Kokubun, DOT David Rodriguez.

HISC members receive Governor’s proclamation for Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week in March. From left: DOH Deputy Director Gary Gill, DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, UH CTAHR Dean Maria Gallo, HDOA Chairperson Russell Kokubun, DOT David Rodriguez.

The HISC voting members are the directors or designees of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Department of Agriculture (HDOA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and the University of Hawaii (UH).

“Interagency collaboration and coordination are key components of this administration’s strategy to address invasive species,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “We are also increasing our capacity to protect Hawaii from the threat of invasive species. I am pleased to see a return of general funding from the state Legislature to the HISC. This funding directly supports on-the-ground, community-based and cost-effective programs across the state.”

The HISC funds a variety of efforts to address statewide invasive species priorities through an annual competitive grants process. In fiscal year 2014, the HISC will provide support to projects including the county-based Invasive Species Committees for early detection and rapid response, the Hawaii Ant Lab for preventing the spread of stinging little fire ant, response plans to protect native ohia from an invasive rust, community outreach and education programs in every county, ballast water and biofouling coordination to prevent aquatic invasive species, and scoping for improved biological control facilities. (For the full list and more details on HISC-funded projects, visit: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/projects/fy14/)

“Our priority has been finding a balance between responding to new threats, such as invasive species arriving with Japanese tsunami marine debris or axis deer on Hawaii Island, while at the same time supporting the maintenance of core detection and response capacity statewide,” said Dr. Josh Atwood, coordinator for the HISC. “This has been a particularly difficult challenge as the HISC does not have a dedicated funding source, and instead has received funds each year at the discretion of the Legislature and the DLNR. The amount of funding currently available from these sources is less than what is needed to adequately support vital programs, and critical positions may be lost.”

The HISC was created in 2003 when the Legislature declared invasive species as “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people.” The HISC first received funding in fiscal year 2005 with at total of $4 million in general funds and special funds through the Natural Area Reserve Fund. Since fiscal year 2009, the HISC budget dropped to below $2 million without general funds.

“We are dedicated to working across departments and with partners to find solutions as we face increasing challenges posed by invasive species and decreasing support from federal agencies,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We hope to continue to build our state capacity and restore full funding to the HISC. We thank the Legislature for their additional support in general funding this year and plan to work together on this important issue that affects all of us.”


HawaiiCon Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention LOGO Contest

The HawaiiCon Board of Directors is looking for a unique logo that will appear on various materials used to promote the HawaiiCon Science Fiction and Fantasy convention to be held annually on Hawaii Island.

HawaiiCon Logo ContestThe ideal entry shall exhibit:

  • A clean and simple design;
  • A theme relevant to at least two of the following elements of HawaiCon: Hawaii, space, navigation, Hawaii, science, Hawaii, exploration, observatories….get the picture?
  • Do NOT include culturally sensitive images of Pele or other deities, menehune or other cultural or historical figures.


1. Each logo design must include this copy (font of your choice, be creative!):

  • HawaiiCon

2. The logo must be adaptable to multiple uses and sizes and be used online and in print materials including large banners; must be reproducible in solid tones using one color or multiple colors and use only original artwork.

3. The design must be vector based, 3000 x 3000 pixels, tif, jpeg or other compatible.

4. Entries should include:

  • Artist’s Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone number
  • Physical Address
  • Two to three sentences on artist’s design inspiration and process (optional).


1. All submissions will become the sole property of HawaiiCon at the time of submission and will not be returned. Each entrant understands, and fully agrees that he or she relinquishes any and all present or future rights to his or her design. HawaiiCon will become vested with all the rights and privileges afforded any owner of the property at the time of submission. Such rights are to include, but are not limited to any use, reproduction, reprint, or publication of the entries by HawaiiCon without the written or implied consent of the artist. HawaiiCon has unlimited rights to use the design in any form or application necessary.  By submitting any form of entry for selection, the artist is agreeing to accept and abide by these rules, and the judgment of the logo selection panel. The selected submission will be used on all conference materials.

2. Only entries with a declaration of authorship will be accepted. Please add:

  • The design is my own creation and has been developed in conformity with the contest’s guideline.
  • The contest’s guideline is the following; the design shall not in any way infringe any third party’s right, including but not limited to copyright, logos, trademark, trade names, or other proprietary rights of publicity or privacy.

3. HawaiiCon reserves the right to adapt the winning design, if necessary.

4. The selected logo’s artist will receive two free passes to the 2014 HawaiiCon convention to be held at the Hapuna Prince Resort in Waikoloa, Hawaii, September 12-15th, 2014.  Passes do not include meals or hotel accommodations.


1. All entries must be received by August 15th, 2013.

2. Entries should be emailed to: HawaiiCon@gmail.com

If you have any questions or require further information, please contact Jessica Hall, 808-217-5860, HawaiiCon@gmail.com

Big Island Police Arrest Man After Two Attempted Robberies in Hilo

Hawaiʻi Island Police have arrested a man in possession of a car that was used in two attempted robberies in Hilo on Wednesday.

Kris Villasista

Kris Villasista

At about 11:40 a.m., a man armed with what appeared to be a firearm attempted to rob the cashier at a gas station on Kaumana Drive. He left without getting any cash. The cashier was not injured.

Approximately 20 minutes later, the same person attempted to rob an employee at a recycling center off Waiānuenue Avenue but again was unsuccessful. The employee was not injured.

The suspect fled in a white Suzuki Samarai that had previously been reported stolen.

At approximately 3:20 p.m., while conducting checks in the Honomū area, officers located the car at a Honomū residence. Kris Villasista, 37, of Honomū was arresting for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle. He was taken to the Hilo Police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.


Five Arrested in Illegal Gambling Operation in Hilo

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested two men and three women in connection with an illegal gambling operation in Hilo.

Slots in Hilo
On Friday (July 26), Area I Vice Section officers served a search warrant at Hilo Arcade, which is located at 138 Kinoʻole Street. There they recovered eight gambling devices, including slot machines and computers used for gambling, as well as $1,447 in cash for forfeiture.

Two female employees, 19-year-old Morgan Kamalei Kim of Hilo and 23-year-old Nicole Enos of Hilo, were arrested at the scene on suspicion of promoting gambling, possession gambling devices and possessing gambling records.

The business owners were not present but were identified as 27-year-old Cody Gilbert Yomes of Keaʻau and 25-year-old Anthony Nakoa Areal of Keaʻau. Areal was arrested Monday morning (July 29) and Yomes was arrested Tuesday morning (July 30). Another employee, 19-year-old Ruana Garcia of Hilo was arrested Tuesday afternoon.

All five were released pending further investigation.

Big Island Police Searching for SUV Involved in an Attempted Robbery in Hilo

Hawai’i Island police are searching for a sports-utility vehicle that was involved in an attempted robbery in Hilo at approximately 11:45 a.m. today.

HPDBadgeThe car is a lifted white Suzuki Sidekick with a black soft top, silver rims and wide tires. It has no license plates.

The public is advised not to approach the car but to call police if you see it. The driver may be armed and dangerous.


Puna Man Busted at Hilo Airport With Eight Pounds of Marijuana in Carry-On Bag

A Puna man was arrested at Hilo International Airport last week with eight pounds of marijuana in his carry-on bag.

At 6:30 a.m. Friday, 39-year-old Wendell Figueroa Jr. of Mountain View was arrested on suspicion of first-degree attempted commercial promotion of marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia after police recovered a duffle bag containing four 2-pound bags of marijuana in the terminal, where he was waiting for his flight. He was taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Vice Section continued the investigation.

After consulting with prosecutors, detectives released him at 8:10 a.m. Friday pending further investigation.


Shark Bites Woman Off Maui Beach

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) this morning closed the beaches from Polo Beach Park to the Mana Kai Maui Resort in the Kihei-Wailea area due to a shark incident earlier today. Closure is in effect until further notice.

Polo Beach

Polo Beach

DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers were informed of a shark incident between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

The female victim was approximately 30 feet seaward, north of the rocky point at Ulua Beach Park. The victim was taken to the hospital and is currently receiving medical treatment.

DOCARE and Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) staff initiated a beach closure one mile in either direction from the incident  – approximately from Polo Beach Park to the Mana Kai Maui Resort — and posted shark warning signs. DOCARE officers remain in the area to facilitate and maintain the closure.

Pāhoa Aquatic Center Reopening Set for August 26

The Pāhoa Aquatic Center improvement project is nearly complete, and the facility is tentatively scheduled to reopen to the public on Monday, August 26.

Pahoa Pool Opening

The project’s schedule originally estimated completion by the end of July. However, due to the recent discovery of unforeseeable existing conditions and some minor weather delays, the project will require approximately an additional month to complete.

Installation of the pool’s new main pumps necessitated testing all existing metallic pool accessories installed around the pool’s edge to ensure compliance with the Electrical Code’s “equipotential bonding” requirements. This testing revealed that certain items no longer exhibited the continuity necessary to successfully reduce voltage gradients in the pool area. While it is unclear why the items lost their bonding, the condition must be resolved before the pool can be refilled and reopened. Pump installation and testing occurred near the end of the project, which is why the matter was not discovered sooner.

The $1.55 million invested in this project provides for an expanded equipment building, allowing the pool’s new pumps to be placed below the pool’s operating water level. This modification will make it easier to restart the pool’s circulation system in the event of an electrical outage. Work also involved repairing leaks that had caused significant water loss and further aggravated the pool’s circulation system following longer-duration power interruptions.

Other improvements include the installation of roof-mounted solar heating panels to help warm the pool water, a new variable-frequency drive to manage the pump motors more efficiently and reduce energy consumption, and various repairs and safety upgrades to the facility.

While the pool is closed, Department of Parks and Recreation personnel are addressing miscellaneous maintenance needs and repair issues that were not part of the project’s scope.

The Department of Parks and Recreation apologizes for this inconvenience, and thanks swimmers, other pool users and the general public for their patience and understanding while this critical work is performed.

New operating hours will take effect once the pool is reopened. Weekday hours will be 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The pool will be opened weekends from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Novice Swim Team registration will be held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 28, at the Pāhoa Aquatic Center. A water aerobics class starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday, September 4.

For additional pool information, please call Cassandra at 965-2700.

Big Island Police Searching for 21-Year-Old Missing Puna Woman

8/7/13 UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 21-year-old Chelsea Wondergem, who was reported missing.

She was found unharmed Tuesday night (August 6) in Hilo.

Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a 21-year-old Puna woman who was reported missing.

Chelsea Wondergem

Chelsea Wondergem

Chelsea Wondergem is described as Caucasian, about 5-foot-2, about 110 pounds with short blond hair and brown eyes. She was last seen May 27 in Hawaiian Beaches.

Police ask that anyone with information on her whereabouts call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

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.