Remembering 9/11

0n 9/11/2001 my wife and I had been married for less then 3 months.  My son wasn’t born yet and I was on Oahu and had graduated from UH Manoa and was trying to put my future wife through school at the time.

Never forgetThe planes struck late at night Hawaii time… and for some odd reason… I was up to watch the first tower drop.

My wife was sleeping in our small one bedroom apartment over on Oahu and I ran into the back room to tell her what just happened… not even thinking about what time in the night it was.  I think she thought I was crazy and slept right through it all.

When the second tower dropped and I was watching it live on television… I couldn’t do anything but bust a tear realizing that we were watching history unfold in front of us.

I remember my girlfriend (future wife) sleeping through everything and me being glued to the TV.  I remember thinking possibly I was dreaming but then stayed glued to the tube all early morning as we were literally under attack.  The next morning the airspace went dead over on Oahu and it just felt like we were under attack.

I went to work that morning with no sleep and in a very somber mood knowing that I was going to work in Mapunapuna which was both close to the airport and a military base.  I ended up leaving work half way through the day because I was sickened to see what was happening and that America was under attack.

Let’s hope this never happens again, but unfortunately… we have punks in society that really want to ruin things for everyone!

Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Observance of Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance

In observance of the 12th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawaii be displayed at half-staff at all state offices and agencies as well as the Hawaii National Guard from sunrise to sunset tomorrow, September 11, 2013.

We will never forget

We will never forget

President Barack Obama today proclaimed September 11 as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, calling for the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff. The presidential proclamation states:

“… On September 11, 2001, amid shattered glass, twisted steel, and clouds of dust, the spirit of America shone through. We remember the sacrifice of strangers and first responders who rushed into darkness to carry others from danger. We remember the unbreakable bonds of unity we felt in the long days that followed – how we held each other, how we came to our neighbors’ aid, how we prayed for one another. We recall how Americans of every station joined together to support the survivors in their hour of need and to heal our Nation in the years that followed.

“Today, we can honor those we lost by building a Nation worthy of their memories. Let us also live up to the selfless example of the heroes who gave of themselves in the face of such great evil. As we mark the anniversary of September 11, I invite all Americans to observe a National Day of Service and Remembrance by uniting in the same extraordinary way we came together after the attacks. Like the Americans who chose compassion when confronted with cruelty, we can show our love for one another by devoting our time and talents to those in need …”

View the President’s proclamation here.

(Gov. Abercrombie will be offering remarks at the annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at 12:15 p.m. tomorrow in Tamarind Park, Bishop Square, in Downtown Honolulu.)


West Hawaii Community Forums on Health Care Issues Scheduled

If you are interested in health care in West Hawaii or want to learn more about the Affordable Care Act, two upcoming community forums are designed to answer your questions.  Community Enterprises is pleased to announce a two part program on health care in West Hawaii that it will present from 6:00-8:00 pm on Tuesday, September 17 and 5:30-8:00 pm Tuesday, October 15, at Maka’eo Pavilion at the Old Airport Park.

State Senator Dr. Josh Green

State Senator Dr. Josh Green will be on hand.

The Community Forum on September 17 will focus on critical health issues in West Hawaii and specific actions that are being taken by West Hawaii health providers to address them.  Presenters for the evening include Dr. Sharon Vitousek, former Director of the North Hawaii Outcomes Project; Susan Hunt, Director of the Hawaii Island Beacon Project to improve the use of innovative technology in patient care; Jay Kreuzer, CEO of Kona Community Hospital; Richard Taaffe, Executive Director of the West Hawaii Community Health Center; and Dr. Jeffrey Tolan, West Hawaii Medical Chief for Kaiser Permanente.  The latter three will discuss actions taken by these institutions to improve health care in West Hawaii.  They will be joined by State Senator Dr. Josh Green in a panel discussion during the second hour of the September 17 forum.

On Tuesday, October 15, the Community Enterprises will present a second health care forum, this one focusing on implementation of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as ObamaCare.  Tom Matsuda, Implementation Manager of the Affordable Care Act in Hawaii, and Coral Andrews, Executive Director of the Hawaii Health Connector, an on-line health insurance marketplace will be the main presenters. They will also participate in a panel discussion with Senator Josh Green.  Representatives from the West Hawaii Community Health Center, Hope Services Hawaii, and the HIV AIDS Foundation who have been trained as Marketplace Assisters regarding the ACA will also be available to provide personal assistance.

Both programs will be moderated by Sherry Bracken.  Pupus and beverages will be served.

For more information please call John Buckstead at 326-9779 or email


Volunteer with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on National Public Lands Day

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park encourages the public to mālama ‘āina on Sat., Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day – by volunteering to remove invasive Himalayan ginger in the park, or fountain grass in Ocean View.

Park entrance fees are waived for National Public Lands Day, and the annual event is the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the United States.

Stewardship at the Summit. Join volunteers Paul and Jane Field, and remove Himalayan ginger from the summit of Kīlauea.  While pretty and fragrant, Himalayan (also called kāhili) ginger is one of the most invasive plants in the park, and on earth.

Volunteer Marilyn Nicholson helps eliminate invasive Himalayan or kāhili  ginger near Halema‘uma‘u Trail in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo NPS

Volunteer Marilyn Nicholson helps eliminate invasive Himalayan or kāhili ginger near Halema‘uma‘u Trail in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo NPS

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature includes it on the “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species” list. The park strives to protect the habitat of native and endemic Hawaiian rainforest plants, but Himalayan ginger displaces and replaces the native rainforest understory, making it impossible for many native plants to grow, including pa‘iniu (a Hawaiian lily), ‘ama‘u fern, and others. Wear closed-toe shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, raingear, snacks, and water. Loppers/gloves provided.  No advance registration required.
When: Sat., Sept. 28, 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Meet the Fields at Kīlauea Visitor Center

Fountain Grass Removal in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates (HOVE). Fountain grass is a highly flammable bunch grass native to North Africa.

Fountain grass dominating this lava landscape in the Ka‘ū District. Photo NPS

Fountain grass dominating this lava landscape in the Ka‘ū District. Photo NPS

This fire-promoting plant spreads quickly, and is one of the few invasive species that can colonize young lava flows that would otherwise serve as natural firebreaks. In 2005, this noxious weed contributed to the spread of a 25,000-acre wildfire that forced evacuation of Waikoloa Village. Fountain grass is especially problematic in leeward areas on Hawai‘i Island, such as the HOVE community, because it increases the risk of wildfire. Volunteers will work with the HOVE community association, Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and park ecologist David Benitez. Bring lunch, water, hat and sunscreen. The first 30 volunteers will get a free pass to return another day and enjoy the park at their leisure. For more information and to register, contact David Benitez at 808-985-6085, or email  

When: Sat., Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Meet at the Ocean View Community Center at 9 a.m.


Governor Abercrombie Applauds President Obama’s Intent to Nominate Esther Kiaaina to U.S. Department of Interior Post

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today applauded President Barack Obama’s announcement of his intent to nominate Esther Puakela Kiaaina of Hawaii to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“Esther brought a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm in serving as First Deputy of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “While she will be sorely missed here as part of the DLNR ohana, Esther’s personal and professional background on Capitol Hill, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands will make her the strongest possible asset to the Interior Secretary.”

When confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kiaaina will lead the Department of Interior’s efforts to coordinate federal policy for Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. She will also have the responsibility to administer and oversee federal assistance to the Federated State of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau.

For more information on the Office of Insular Affairs, visit:

Alexander & Baldwin Buy Kahala Properties Owned By Genshiro Kawamato for $98 Million

Alexander & Baldwin Properties, Inc. announced today that it has acquired a portfolio of 31 properties from Japanese real estate investor Genshiro Kawamoto for approximately $98 million. Twenty-seven of the properties are located on Kahala Avenue, Honolulu’s premier residential address, which runs along the ocean from Diamond Head to Waialae Country Club, home of the Sony Open, and the world-famous Kahala Hotel & Resort. The 27 properties represent nearly 16% of the residential lots on Kahala Avenue, with about half of the lots having ocean frontage or beach access. A&B plans to reposition and refurbish the properties to take advantage of the continuing improvement in the Honolulu real estate market.

278 House on Kahala Avenue Honolulu

278 House on Kahala Avenue Honolulu (Photo credit: MattSims)

“The opportunistic acquisition of this highly coveted residential land portfolio in Hawaii represents a significant investment in a key Oahu market and reflects A&B’s confidence in Hawaii’s economy and real estate markets,” said Christopher J. Benjamin, A&B’s president & chief operating officer. “From a strategic perspective, the transaction highlights our competitive strengths in Hawaii. We were able to leverage our local market knowledge and relationships to complete an off-market transaction at attractive pricing. Our experience and balance sheet strength allowed us to negotiate and close the all-cash deal in less than 90 days, once the seller indicated a willingness to sell, and we anticipate achieving investment returns consistent with our past Hawaii investments.”

“Through this transaction, we have acquired a significant position in Kahala real estate — nearly 90% of the current inventory on Kahala Avenue, a well-established, world-class residential Honolulu community for local and offshore homeowners,” noted Michael G. Wright, executive vice president, A&B Properties. “We will be focused on cleaning up these properties, and anticipate a full recovery in property values. This acquisition is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are gratified to see our efforts come to fruition.”

280 House on Kahala Avenue Honolulu

280 House on Kahala Avenue Honolulu (Photo credit: MattSims)

The acquired portfolio includes 27 fully entitled Kahala residential properties encompassing 13.7 acres, as well as two residential lots and a preservation-zoned parcel in Windward Oahu, and a 146-acre agricultural-zoned parcel in Kihei, Maui. The Kahala residential properties include eight oceanfront lots (6.5 acres); one oceanfront home/lot (0.8 acres); five non-oceanfront lots (1.7 acres) and one home (0.2 acres) located on the makai, or ocean, side of Kahala Avenue; and six lots (2.4 acres) and six homes (2.1 acres) located on the mauka, or mountain, side of Kahala Avenue. The land-only component of the tax assessed value of the 31 properties acquired totals $117.6 million. Sales will commence immediately and continue over a projected three- to five-year timeframe.

14 Hawaii Public Schools Rewarded With $1 Million for Exceptional Achievement

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today rewarded 14 public schools with $1 million for exceptional achievement as part of the state’s new Strive HI Performance System.

DOE Release

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii State Board of Education Chairman Don Horner, Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and other state officials attended a ceremony at Red Hill Elementary – one of the top-performing schools – to present individual awards ranging from $20,000 to $95,000.

“These exemplary educators, staff, students and their families share a belief and commitment to always Strive HI,” said Governor Abercrombie. “I applaud their resilience and dedication to provide the very best opportunities to all children.”

“We are excited to provide well-deserved recognition and support to help schools continue to excel in preparing students for college and careers,” stated Superintendent Matayoshi. “To get to this point is not easy. Yet these principals and teachers have shown what is possible through a unified effort, hard work and dedication.”

Strive HI, the state’s redesigned school accountability and performance system, measures key success indicators and provides rewards to “Recognition” schools – those demonstrating the highest progress toward raising student achievement, graduation rates, and closing the achievement gap.

Notably, more than half, or nine of the state’s 14 “Recognition” schools are Title I, meaning they overcame challenges associated with serving a large number of disadvantaged children from low-income families. Red Hill Elementary is one of the Title I schools that worked with its community to focus on intervention programs for student success.

“Our hardworking teachers’ dedication and commitment to our students are why we are able to celebrate today,” said Red Hill Elementary Principal Mona Smoot. “These funds will play a critical role in allowing schools such as ours to continue to focus on student success and to align our school to common core state standards.”

Award funds must support initiatives to sustain success such as professional development, investments in technology, musical instruments, science lab and equipment, among other improvement strategies.

The 14 “Recognition” schools and their awards are:

Highest Performance and High Progress ($95,000 each)

· Ahuimanu Elementary
· Red Hill Elementary
· Waters of Life Public Charter School

Highest Performance ($75,000 each)

· E.B. de Silva Elementary
· Hickam Elementary
· Hokulani Elementary
· Lanakila Elementary
· Liholiho Elementary
· Manoa Elementary
· Maunaloa Elementary
· Palisades Elementary
· Pearl Ridge Elementary
Highest Progress ($20,000)

· Kalihi Uka Elementary
· Konawaena Elementary
About the Strive HI Performance System

The federal government in May approved the Strive HI Performance System to replace outdated aspects of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Under NCLB, schools were graded on whether students met escalating annual reading and math benchmarks, known as Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP. In that system, AYP status was a single indicator and crude instrument that led directly to a series of strict, escalating consequences.In contrast, the Strive HI Performance System serves as more of a diagnostic tool to understand and support a school’s performance and progress on multiple, research-based indicators, including reading, math and science scores, achievement growth and gaps, chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, college readiness and enrollment.

The inaugural Strive HI Awards were held last spring, when 32 schools received nearly $1 million to further improvement efforts.

The Strive HI Performance System goals are aligned with the Hawaii State Board and Department of Education’s 2011-18 Strategic Plan. For school-by-school results and more information, visit

Strive HI Awards criteria

“Recognition” schools are limited to no more than five percent of all Hawaii public schools.

· High-performing school criteria:

– Meet or exceed annual targets for all student groups.

– Graduation rates in top 10 percent of all high schools.

– Current year achievement gap rate less than 30 percent.

· High-progress school criteria:

– Increases of 15 percent or higher of all students’ proficiency over three years.
– Highest increases in grad rates (top 10 percent of schools with increase of 10 percent over three years).
– Reduction of achievement gap rate between high-needs and non-high needs students by 10 percent or more over three years.


Hawaii Horse Expo Results Announced

The 6th annual Hawaii Island Humane Society’s Hawaii Horse Expo concluded on August 11. Through the generosity of sponsors, attendees and Expo Producer Nancy Jones, Hawaii Horse Expo netted a donation of more than $15,000 to the HIHS Horse Rescue Fund. The event also benefited Paniolo Preservation Society which saw continued improvements made to Pukalani Stables, carried out by Horse Expo organizers.

2013 Hawaii Horse Expo Presenter Lester Buckley.

2013 Hawaii Horse Expo Presenter Lester Buckley.

“Even with a few weather challenges and these difficult economic times we are so impressed with the continued support of Hawaii Horse Expo,” said event producer Nancy Jones. “New sponsors, returning sponsors and record attendance helped drive results to our bottom line.”

Hawaii Horse Expo is a unique opportunity for horse owners and enthusiasts to learn from world-renowned experts, most of whom would otherwise only be seen at Expos on the mainland.

“We know that education promotes understanding and so our goal is to reach as many individuals as we can to help them realize the importance of responsible horse care and ownership,” Jones says.

Hawaii Island Humane Society has already rescued fourteen unwanted horses this year. Each animal requires extensive evaluation, veterinary care, nourishing feed and perhaps most of all, care and attention. The Horse Rescue Fund helps offset some of the costs associated with these rescues.

Over the past six years funds raised during Hawaii Horse Expo for the HIHS Horse Rescue Fund has totaled more than $70,000. The money has literally meant the difference between life and death for 125 horses.

Horse Rescue Funds have also been used to build a first class equine holding facility at Hawaii Island Humane Society’s Waimea Shelter. Staff has developed a well-devised protocol for equine evaluation and post rescue care resulting in one of the best equine rescue programs in the nation. A proclamation read and presented at this year’s Expo from Governor Neil Abercrombie attested to the good work that results from Hawaii Horse Expo proceeds.

Mana Award Winners Wallie Kimura-Nobriga and Edwin Nobriga.

Mana Award Winners Wallie Kimura-Nobriga and Edwin Nobriga.

Hawaii Horse Expo also included the presentation of the 4th annual Mana Award by HIHS and Veterinary Associates to Edwin Nobriga and Wallie Kimura-Nobriga in recognition of their dedication to the Hawaii High School Rodeo Association.

Hawaii Horse Expo clinicians and presenters included Dr. Brady Bergin, David Bodin, Lester Buckley, Sharon Camarillo, Dr. Kelleyerin Clabaugh, Rick Lamb, Elizabeth Mason, Dr. Robert Miller, Dale Myler, Charles Wilhelm, Solomon Singer, and Dr. Lisa Wood.

Sponsors of the 6th Annual Hawaii Horse Expo included AK Ranch and Hawaii Lowline Cattle Co., Aloha Auto Group, Dr. Harm De Blij, Henry Dallal Photography, Malama Lio-The Hawaii Horse Journal, Pony Express Mail Services, Kapaau Veterinary Center, and Dr. Jan Ellison.

2014 plans will be announced soon.


HI-PAL “Click It Or Ticket” Events This Weekend

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is hosting two HI-PAL “Click It Or Ticket” events on Saturday, September 14.

Officer Joseph Botelho Jr. at a HI-Pal Tournament

Officer Joseph Botelho Jr. at a HI-Pal Tournament

A “Click It or Ticket” volleyball tournament for 10 and under will be held at the Kawananakoa Hall gymnasium in Keaukaha beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Also, a “Click It or Ticket” basketball clinic for youth in the 5th through 8th grades will be held at the Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiʻi campus, middle school gymnasium, beginning at 9 a.m. “5-on-5” basketball games for the participants will follow the clinic.

Persons interested in participating or needing additional information on either event may call Officer Joseph Botelho Jr. in East Hawaiʻi at 961-8121 or Officer Randy Morris in West Hawaiʻi at 326-4646, ext. 258.

“Click It or Ticket” is a national education and enforcement campaign aimed at increasing seat belt use and decreasing traffic fatalities and injuries. The Hawaiʻi Police Department encourages all youth, teens and adults to always use their seat belts.


Big Island Police Renew Search for Man Last Seen in Waipio Valley on May 13th

Hawaiʻi Island police are renewing their request for information about a Honokaʻa man who was reported missing on May 14.

John Spillane aka

John Spillane aka Kevin Devlin

John Spillane, who was known in Hawaiʻi as Kevin Devlin, was last seen on May 13 between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Waipio Valley, where he reportedly was going for a swim. He is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-10, 160 pounds with short, thin white hair and in his late 50s or early 60s.

Police ask that anyone with information on his whereabouts call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Derek Morimoto at 961-2380 or

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.