Big Island Police Asking Public’s Help Finding Information About Recent Fires

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying anyone who may have information about the cause of half a dozen recent suspicious fires over the past two weeks.

The fires were located south of Puʻuanahulu along Hawaiʻi Belt Road, also known as Route 190, in the areas between the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (New Saddle Road) and the 14-mile marker.

Waikoloa Fire
Last Monday (November 25) at approximately 3:33 p.m., police and firefighters responded to a report of a brush fire on the mauka side of Hawaiʻi Belt Road in the area of the 14-mile marker in Kona. Upon arrival, they discovered that the fire had spread north from the mauka side of the roadway toward the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, approximately four miles east and approximately two miles south along Hawaiʻi Belt Road.

Last Tuesday (November 26) at 3:54 p.m., police and firefighters responded to a report of a brush fire on the mauka side of Hawaiʻi Belt Road in the area of the 16-mile marker in the area of Puʻuanahulu. Upon arrival, they discovered that the fire had spread from the mauka side of the roadway and headed south in the direction of the Puu Lani Ranch subdivision, burning approximately 150 acres of vacant land.

As emergency personnel were working to extinguish that fire, another brush fire was reported in the area of the 23-mile marker, also on Hawaiʻi Belt Road. Fire personnel were able to quickly extinguish that fire, which burned approximately a quarter of an acre.

Last Thursday (November 28) at 5:50 a.m., police and firefighters responded to a report of a brush fire on the mauka side of Hawaiʻi Belt Road in the area of the 16-mile marker in the area of Puʻuanahulu. Upon arrival, emergency personnel were able to extinguish that fire, which burned an undetermined amount of vacant land.

This Monday (December 2) at 4:23 p.m., police and firefighters responded to a report of a brush fire on the makai side of Hawaiʻi Belt Road in the area of the 24-mile marker in the area of Puʻuanahulu. Upon arrival, emergency personnel were able to extinguish that fire, which burned approximately 2,000 square feet of vacant land.

This Wednesday (December 4) at 6:28 a.m., police and firefighters responded to a report of a brush fire on the mauka side of Hawaiʻi Belt Road in the area of the 17-mile marker in the area of Puʻuanahulu. Upon arrival, emergency personnel were able to extinguish that fire, which burned approximately 4,800 square feet of vacant land.

No structures have been damaged nor were any in close proximity to any of the fires. The total extent of the burned property has yet to be determined.

Detectives with the Area II Criminal Investigations Section, along with Hawaiʻi County fire inspectors, have deemed the fires as suspicious in nature and continue to investigate their cause.

The Hawaiʻi Police Department asks members of the public who frequent Hawaiʻi Belt Road, especially in the areas between the Daniel K. Inouye Highway and the 24-mile marker, to be aware of the recent fires and to report any suspicious activity in the area immediately to police at 935-3311. In addition, anyone with any information about the cause of the fires is encouraged to contact Detective Levon Stevens, at 326-4646, extension 275, or lstevens@co.hawaii.hi.us.

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.

 

Flags to Fly at Half-Staff at All State Offices and Agencies Beginning Now until Dec. 9 – RIP Nelson Mandela

As a mark of respect for the memory of Nelson Mandela, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawaii shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies as well as the Hawaii National Guard, now until sunset Dec. 9, 2013.

From the Governor's Desk

Gov. Abercrombie shared the following remarks upon learning of Mandela’s passing:

“Nelson Mandela reminded us all of our common humanity. He was the symbol and the living reality of what perseverance and determination a human being can bring to bear on behalf of the freedom of us all.

“It’s less that he is passed from us than the message of his life stays with us. If we can retain that in our hearts and our minds, then we, too, can focus on our common humanity for the benefit of all.”

President Barack Obama today ordered that the U.S. flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period of time at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the federal government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions, as well as at all U.S. embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad.

 

Vintage Warbirds Make Historic Landing on Ford Island Runway – Navy Assists With Fly In

In preparation for their December 7th flyover ceremonies at the USS Arizona Memorial and for Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s 7th Anniversary gala fundraiser tonight, two vintage warbirds made a historic landing on Ford Island Runway today at 9am. Navy runway #04/22 has been closed to air traffic for years. The Navy assisted in this fly in today.

Warbirds1

At approximately 9am, Bruce Mayes of Pacific Warbirds piloted his North American SNJ T-6 Texan on to the Ford Island Runway  followed by Harry Greene in his Boeing Stearman PT-17, landing about 9:15am.

Warbirds4

Both warbirds will be standing guard at Hangar 37 tonight at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s 7th Anniversary fundraiser gala “Some Enchanted Evening.” 450 guests are expected to attend. Loretta Ables Sayre will entertain. Dan Cooke is emcee. The event is to raise funds for the Museum’s Education and Restoration projects.

Warbirds3

“We’re honored to have these great warbirds gracing our event tonight,” said Museum Executive Director Ken DeHoff. “It’s a wonderful sight to see them in the air over Ford Island and landing on historic Ford Island Runway.”

Warbirds2

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, which depends on membership and donations for its support. A Smithsonian affiliate Museum, it is also rated one of the top 10 aviation attractions nationally by TripAdvisor. Located at 319 Lexington Boulevard, Historic Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818. 808-441-1000.

 

Japanese Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Season with Food Drive

The Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii collected foodstuffs for The Food Basket: Hawaii Island’s food bank, during its holiday party and general membership meeting Dec. 2.

Francis Rickard, Hilo Hawaiian operations manager, JCCIH’s social chair Gina Tanouye, Mark Yamanaka, entertainer, and Carol VanCamp, JCCIH president, with the collected food for The Food Basket.

Francis Rickard, Hilo Hawaiian operations manager, JCCIH’s social chair Gina Tanouye, Mark Yamanaka, entertainer, and Carol VanCamp, JCCIH president, with the collected food for The Food Basket.

Francis Rickard, operations manager of the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel where the event was hosted, joined JCCIH president Carol VanCamp in collecting the donations.

JCCIH fosters economic sustainability, perpetuates the Japanese cultural heritage and traditions in Hawaii.  Its mission is to promote the well-being of our community through business and personal relationships that embody the values of Kahiau & Okage Sama De. From the Hawaiian, Kahiau means giving without expecting anything in return. Okage Sama De is a Japanese Proverb which means I am what I am because of you.

The Chamber sponsors the popular annual Taste of Hilo, hosts business and cultural events and information sessions throughout the year and works with other business organizations as watchdog over state and county legislation.

For information about JCCIH, visit the website at www.jccih.org

Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 113 – Relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants

Kenoi Apec

Aloha, Chair Yoshimoto and Members:

On Nov. 19, 2013 the Hawai‘i County Council adopted Bill 113 Draft 3 adding a new article relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants, and on Nov. 21, 2013 delivered the bill to me for my consideration. After careful deliberation and discussions with members of my administration and the public, I am signing Bill 113.

Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching.

The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai‘i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support. That commitment includes initiatives such as the public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse to support our grass-fed beef industry, and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultural Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land. It also includes support for innovative training programs to grow the farmers of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Korean Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock. It includes completion of the first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai‘i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.

We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector. It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must turn now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.

With my approval of this bill, our administration will launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in our community should take. This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements. We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts.

Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi
MAYOR

Hawaii Earns ‘D’ for Judicial Financial Disclosure

The Center for Public Integrity evaluated the disclosure rules for judges in the highest state courts nationwide.

Click to see how your state scored

Click to see how your state scored

The level of disclosure in the 50 states and the District of Columbia was poor, with 43 receiving failing grades, making it difficult for the public to identify potential conflicts of interest on the bench. Despite the lack of information in the public records, the Center’s investigation found nearly three dozen conflicts, questionable gifts and entanglements among top judges around the country. Here’s what the Center found in Hawaii:

total score
62/100

Strengths:

Despite receiving a “D”, Hawaii’s financial disclosure law ranks as sixth best out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The state earned full credit in the accessibility category because it posts financial disclosure records online. Hawaii judges must also report household income beyond their judicial salaries. The state has strong gift-disclosure requirements, as well. In addition to reporting the source of gifts, judges must describe each gift and estimate its value.

Weaknesses:

While the Aloha State requires judges to report their income, they need to do so only in broad dollar ranges, rather than exact amounts. Additionally, judges in Hawaii aren’t required to report reimbursements for travel or other expenses.

Highlights:

Hawaii, unlike most other states, requires judges to report investment transactions. As part of the requirement, judges must disclose the date when they transferred ownership of the investment, as well as the value of the transfer. Hawaii’s disclosure forms also include a section in which judges report the amount of hours they spent attending state-approved judicial education courses.

Read the 2012 reports

How Hawaii scored

Source: Center for Public Integrity analysis of state records, laws. See methodology for details.

 

Coast Guard Locates Boaters Who Were in Possible Distress Off Kauai

Two boaters who were in possible distress off Kalalau Beach, Kauai, were located safely ashore Tuesday.

The Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received the initial report at 6:30 p.m. Monday from a concerned hiker who observed two people in a small inflatable boat with an outboard engine striking a reef just off the beach. The boaters then attempted to hand paddle their black 8-foot inflatable boat out to sea toward Haena Beach Park. The boaters were observed unsuccessfully attempting to restart their engine. They were later able to restart their engine and returned to shore.

Coast Guard Station Kauai coordinated efforts with the Kauai Police and Fire Departments to check boat ramps and landing areas along the coast. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point was launched at 10:30 p.m. and began searching. The Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island, home ported in Honolulu, arrived on the Napali Coast at 6 a.m. Tuesday to join the search effort.

The Coast Guard advises all mariners to carry safety equipment to include a VHF radio, flares and life jackets. For more information about boating safety, visit www.uscgboating.org.

 

DLNR Accepting Nominations for American Forests’ National Register of Big Trees – 2013 Register Includes 10 Champions Crowned in Hawaii

Lovers of the forests and their magnificent specimens are now invited to submit nominations to recognize Hawaii’s largest and finest trees.

Current Champion Mamane Photo credit: Division of Forestry and Wildlife

Current Champion Mamane
Photo credit: Division of Forestry and Wildlife

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is accepting nominations by December 31, 2013 for the 2014 National Register of Big Trees. Across the United States, the largest trees of their species joined the ranks of the more than 780 national champion trees listed in American Forests’ National Register of Big Trees. More than 40 new champions were crowned across 50 states and the District of Columbia, including 6 new champions in Hawaii.

“Hawaii’s Big Tree Competition is proud to announce that our champion, a Māmane in Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve, has been included in the American Forests 2014 Calendar,” said DLNR Forestry Program Manager Sheri S. Mann. “

To learn more about Hawaii’s Big Tree Competition or how to nominate a potential champion tree, contact DLNR’s new Hawaii Big Tree coordinator, Nicholas Joly at (808) 586-0915. Be ready to also provide the tree’s height, circumference, and crown spread measurements.

The 10 Nationally Crowned Champions in Hawaii include:

  • Koa in South Kona, Hawaii Island
  • Niu (Coconut Palm) in Hawea Heiau Complex and Keawawa Wetland, Oahu
  • Kōlea lau nui in Puu Waawa’a Forest Reserve, Hawaii Island
  • Wiliwili in Puu Lani Ranch, Hawaii Island
  • Hau (Sea Hibiscus) in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island
  • Aalii (Hopbush) at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Maui
  • Olopua (Hawaiian olive) in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Island
  • Pāpalakēpau in Pu’u Waawaa Forest Reserve, Hawaii Island
  • Mānele (Soapberry Wingleaf) in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Island
  • Māmane in Pu’u Wwaawaa Forest Reserve, Hawaii Island

To learn more about American Forests’ National Big Tree Program or the Big Tree measuring guidelines, go to http://www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/ or http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/info/big-tree/

Since 1940, American Forests National Big Tree Program has promoted the importance of planting and caring for trees and forests in helping to sustain healthy ecosystems and life on Earth. The program has campaigned to locate, protect and save the biggest specimens of every native and naturalized tree species in the United States.

current champion wiliwili Photo credit: Division of Forestry and Wildlife

Current champion wiliwili
Photo credit: Division of Forestry and Wildlife

Beyond national champions, Hawaii’s Big Tree Competition also recognizes the biggest trees in Hawaii using the same equation as the national program. Sheri Shannon, coordinator of American Forests National Big Tree Program said: “Anyone can be a big tree hunter. It’s because of avid tree lovers that we are able to find some of the nation’s biggest trees.”

Sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company, the National Register of Big Trees accepts nominations for national champions year-round, and American Forests releases an updated version of the register twice a year. The National Register of Big Trees records the largest trees of each species in the United States based on height, circumference and average crown spread.