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Commentary: Signage Needed Along Bayfront Highway to Help Tourists “Fresh Off The Boat”

Dear Mayor Billy Kenoi,

I don’t know who else to contact as I have tried for the last several years to make this matter known to a few people I thought could help, but so far no one has been able to do anything about it. Hopefully you will know who can help with this matter.

Hike into Hilo
Every ship day in Hilo we see visitors walking into town in pairs or groups all the way from the port to downtown. Most of them follow the coastline after they cross the Wailoa River Bridge and continue hugging the shores of Hilo Bay on Bayfront Park.

When they reach Pauahi Street, there is no sign to direct them to Kamehameha Avenue so that they can approach downtown easily and most of them continue to follow Bayfront Highway, not realizing there is no access to downtown from Bayfront until they reach the intersection of Waianuenue Avenue.

Hike Into Hilo 2

There are several gates on the fence separating the downtown area all the way from Pauahi Street to Waianuenue Avenue, but the gates are locked.

Several times, (including this morning) I’ve picked up visitors, both young and elderly, especially when it is raining, as I drive back home towards Hamakua. After I pick them up, I continue on across the Wailuku Bridge and turn around at Pukihae Street by the Bay Shore Towers, so I can drive back to Hilo and drop them off wherever they wanted to go in downtown. In most cases, it was to drop them off at the Farmers Market.

I cannot believe that it would be such a hardship for the County, the Department of Transportation or the Department of Parks and Recreation (I’m not sure in whose jurisdiction this matter would fall) to have proper signage at the corner of  Bayfront and Pauahi directing them to Kamehameha Avenue and/or at least have the gates open along the fence so we can make it a little bit more welcoming and convenient for our visitors to reach the downtown area without having to walk all the way to the end of the fence.

It doesn’t seem like such a big thing to do and yet, I believe it would make a big difference and maybe visitors would try to stay a bit longer in the downtown area if they weren’t so tired from having to walk the extra few blocks.

Can you think of any other solution?

Cordially,

Sonia R. Martinez

Department of Agriculture Confirms Stinging Little Fire Ant Has Spread to Oahu and Maui From Hawaii Island

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has confirmed that an invasive stinging ant called the Little Fire Ant (LFA) has spread from Hawaii Island to Oahu and Maui.  On Dec. 23, a customer at garden shop on Maui reported a suspicious ant to the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), which sent the specimens to HDOA entomologists who confirmed the identification of LFA.

Little Fire Ant - Worker Ant

Little Fire Ant – Worker Ant

On Dec. 26, HDOA entomologists surveyed several nurseries and stores and found LFA infestations on hapuu (Hawaiian tree fern) at several garden shops on Oahu and at another Maui store.  All infested hapuu were contained and the areas secured. On Dec. 27, HDOA staff revisited the stores and treated the areas with pesticides.  Through trace-back and trace-forward efforts, HDOA believes the infested hapuu originated on Hawaii Island and products from that nursery have been ordered for treatment prior to shipping. The last shipment was made to Oahu and Maui on Dec. 11.  Surveys and treatment will continue by HDOA and MISC staff.

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

HDOA is advising those who recently purchased hapuu logs or planters to contain the logs by placing them in a plastic or garbage bag and seal it securely.  They should contact their nearest HDOA office as soon as possible.  Due to the holiday, please leave a message and staff will respond as soon as they are able:

Maui – (808) 872-3848

Oahu – PEST HOTLINE – 643-PEST (7378).  This is also a toll-free number for neighbor islands.

“It is important that those who have recently purchased hapuu which may be infested with little fire ants to help contain the infestation and contact us as soon as possible,” said Dr. Neil Reimer, administrator of HDOA’s Plant Industry Division. “Through past experience, we know we can contain an infestation if we find it in its early stages.”

Originally from South America, LFA is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.

LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th inch long, are pale orange in color and move slowly. LFA move slowly, unlike the Tropical Fire Ant which is established in Hawaii, move quickly and are larger with a larger head in proportion to its body. LFA can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets. They can build up very large colonies on the ground, in trees and other vegetation and completely overrun a property. They will also freely move into homes.

Infestation of LFA

Infestation of LFA

The first detection of LFA in Hawaii was in the Puna area in 1999. Surveys determined that LFA appeared to have been on the east side for several years prior to their initial detection and was widely distributed in Puna. Attention was then focused on controlling ant populations and preventing the spread to non-infested areas on the island and to other islands.

In October 2009, LFA was detected on a farm in Waihee, Maui. Eradication efforts at that site appear to have contained the infestation, which is being continually monitored. HDOA staff also trained Maui County employees, MISC and private pest control operators on Maui to assist in recognizing and reporting possible infestations on the island. MISC is also assisting HDOA in conducting surveys at high-risk areas on Maui.

Attached is a HDOA Pest Advisory that contains information on LFA and its history in Hawaii.
(Also available on the department’s website: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2013/01/npa99-02-lfireant.pdf). 

Puna Woman Arrested Following Drug-Related Explosion That Sends Man to Hospital

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested a 28-year-old Puna woman in connection with a drug-related explosion that sent a man to the hospital with severe injuries.

Savannah Maloof of Keaʻau was arrested Monday afternoon (December 30) on suspicion of first-degree promotion of marijuana, second-degree promotion of marijuana, first-degree promotion of a harmful drug, promotion of a detrimental drug and four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. She was taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Vice Section continue the investigation.

At 8:16 p.m. Saturday (December 28), police responded to a report of a loud explosion at a home on 17th Street in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision in Puna. When officers arrived, Fire Department personnel were already at the scene, where smoke was present but not flames.

The blast had knocked out windows, melted plumbing fixtures and blown the doors off cabinets.

The sole occupant at the time, a 30-year-old Keaʻau man, was initially taken to the Hawaiian Paradise Park fire station by private vehicle. He was then taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center with third-degree burns. He was later transferred to a hospital on Oahu.

Maloof, who also lives at the house, was not home at the time of the explosion.

Butane honey oil. (Wikipedia Photo)

Butane honey oil. (Wikipedia Photo)

Police recovered 102 marijuana plants from an indoor growing operation, more than an ounce of butane honey oil (a marijuana byproduct) in several stages of manufacture, three e-cigarettes and components associated with the manufacture of butane honey oil.

Police ask anyone with information about any butane honey oil lab to 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.