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    January 2014
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Scuba Diver Died From Medical Condition

An autopsy conducted in connection with the December 12th death of a scuba diver in waters off Kona has determined that 55-year-old James Uihlein of Fallbrook, California, died from a medical condition.

Big Island Man Charged with Theft and Forgery

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged 51-year-old Benjamin Fonseca of Hilo, who was arrested Thursday on suspicion of theft and forgery.

Benjamin Fonseca

Benjamin Fonseca

At 2:15 p.m. Friday (January 17), detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section charged him with one count of second-degree theft and 28 counts of second-degree forgery. His bail was set at $58,000.

He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Tuesday (January 21).

Governor Abercrombie Shares 2010-2013 Administration Accomplishments

In anticipation of his fourth State of the State Address, Gov. Neil Abercrombie shared his administration’s accomplishments over the past three years with the state Legislature, news media and the general public.

Click to read

Click to read

The accomplishments highlight the Abercrombie Administration’s commitment to growing a sustainable economy, investing in people, and transforming state government.

“This administration has made significant strides in restoring the state’s fiscal health, strengthening the local economy, and paving the way for universal access to preschool in Hawaii. Prior to my State of the State Address, I felt it important to take stock and review our progress in order to gain perspective and guide our way forward,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “None of these accomplishments would be possible without dedicated and creative public employees, who work tirelessly, each and every day, to make Hawaii a better place for all of us.”

The highlighted accomplishments are available on the Governor’s website at: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/2010-2013-abercrombie-administration-accomplishments/

The Governor’s State of the State Address is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Hawaii State Capitol, House Chambers.

Hawai‘i County to Install Two New Playgrounds

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce the upcoming installation of new children’s playground equipment at both Waiākea-Uka and Gilbert Carvalho parks in Hilo.


Construction work will start Tuesday, January 21, at Waiākea-Uka Park located at 1200 ‘Āinaola Drive. Beginning Thursday, February 20, work will shift to Gilbert Carvalho Park located at 850 Waiānuenue Avenue.

Both parks will remain open for public use during the construction phase. However, the parks’ existing playgrounds will be removed and therefore unavailable for use. To protect the public, work areas will be fenced in. Park users are advised to be aware of construction activities and equipment at both sites.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks park users and the general public for their cooperation, patience and understanding as we provide for enhanced recreational experiences for our keiki.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.


Sheriff’s Wanted

The Department of Public Safety (PSD) is looking for a few good men and women to join the Sheriff Division.

Sheriff BadgeRecruitment will open on the Department of Human Resources and Development (DHRD) website for a three-week period from this Saturday, Jan. 18, until Feb. 7. PSD is particularly seeking applicants willing to serve on Hawaii Island.

“This recruitment will help the department fill several positions,” said Sheriff Robin Nagamine. “We are looking for people who possess traits and characteristics required for this type of work. Among these are physical and mental fitness, alertness, tact, integrity, honesty, good judgment and the ability to deal effectively with the public.”

“I am very pleased with what this means for the safety and security of the residents of Hawaii Island and, in particular, for my own district of West Hawaii,” said State Representative Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau). “We have been working closely with the Department of Public Safety to accomplish this end, and it will go a long way in helping to ensure peace of mind for our families and neighbors.”

To qualify, the applicant must be a high school graduate; be able to demonstrate knowledge of English grammar, spelling and punctuation; have the ability to read and comprehend complex written material; write a clear, factual report; and have at least two years of work experience which demonstrates these abilities.

After the initial recruitment, chosen applicants will be tested on physical fitness (pushups, sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run) and have to complete a written test to gauge their reading, writing and comprehension skills. After successful completion of the physical ability and written test, the applicant may be scheduled for an interview with the department.

Once the physical testing, written testing and interview are completed, individuals selected from the recruitment will participate in a 5-month Sheriff Recruit Class, which will consist of classroom and on-the-job training in the laws, rules, regulations, principles, practices, procedures and techniques of law enforcement; the operation of firearms and other equipment; as well as physical conditioning.

For a complete list of recruitment requirements and to apply to become a Deputy Sheriff, go to the DHRD website at: http://dhrd.hawaii.gov/job-seekers.

Big Island Police Searching for 38-Year-Old Kohala Man with Medical Condition

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 38-year-old Kohala man who was reported missing.

Jonathan Riveira

Jonathan Riveira

Jonathan Riveira was last seen at a Hawi home Sunday afternoon (January 12). He has a medical condition that requires medication.

He is described as 5-foot-9, 145 pounds with brown eyes and short black hair.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Officer Dayton Tagaca at 889-6540.

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.

Hawaii Receives “A” Grade for Public Health and Injury Prevention from American College of Emergency Physicians

Hawaii has received an “A” grade for Public Health and Injury Prevention in the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

Report Card for America’s Emergency Care Environment. The report card also ranked Hawaii second in the nation for injury prevention.
The overall letter grade awarded for the nation in the same area of public health and injury prevention was a “C.”
Department of Health
“The Department of Health is very proud of Hawaii’s A grade for public health and injury prevention; however, there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Dr. Linda Rosen, chief of the EMS System and Injury Prevention. “The report card reflects the state’s early and very wise investment in strong injury prevention policies such as car seatbelt and firearm laws that have resulted in lower injury rates.”
Dr. Rosen added: “There is continued support for injury prevention with the commitment of trauma special and general funds that will help to ensure progress toward reducing and preventing injuries. Through policy change, education, and mobilizing partnerships and communities, Hawaii has been successful in reducing traffic-related fatalities. This same approach is being applied to other emerging areas such as falls among older adults and poisoning prevention.”
Hawaii also ranks above average nationally among all of the categories combined, earning the 24th spot on the list in the five areas of: access to emergency care, quality and patient safety environment, medical liability environment, public health and injury prevention and disaster preparedness.
Hawaii made significant improvements in the area of quality and patient safety environment, receiving a “B-“in 2014, compared to a “D+” in 2009.  The report noted that these improvements reflect the state’s strong commitment to quality care and system oversight.  Hawaii has a uniform system for providing pre-arrival instructions, a statewide trauma registry, and funds a state EMS medical director. To view the state-specific report on Hawaii, go to http://www.emreportcard.org/Hawaii/.
Among Hawaii residents of all ages, injury is the fourth leading cause of death and disability. The Department of Health Injury Prevention Program focuses on the areas of: drowning prevention, fall prevention, poisoning prevention, suicide prevention, traffic safety, and violence and abuse prevention.
For more information on each of these areas go to http://health.hawaii.gov/injuryprevention/

Hawaii Health Advocates Mark 50th Anniversary of First Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

As the United States marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, Hawaii tobacco control advocates are applauding the enormous progress achieved in reducing smoking. However, they are also calling on state leaders to take strong action to continue the fight against what is still the nation’s number one cause of preventable death.


The first Surgeon General’s report, issued on Jan. 11, 1964, alerted Americans to the deadly consequences of smoking. This was a historic turning point in the nation’s fight against tobacco.

“In the past 50 years, the U.S. has made remarkable progress, cutting smoking rates by more than half, thereby protecting much of the population from harmful secondhand smoke and saving millions of lives,” said Lola Irvin, Tobacco Settlement Program manager. “Hawaii can take pride in the progress our state has made in tobacco control since the first SGR was issued.  Hawaii’s youth smoking rates are the second lowest, and adult rates the third lowest in the nation. Over the last ten years, smoking rates for youth went down about 60 percent and for adults almost 40 percent.”

But the battle against tobacco is far from over. Tobacco use still kills more than 440,000 Americans every year, sickens millions more and costs the nation $193 billion a year in health care bills and lost productivity.

Acting Health Director Gary Gill commented: “In Hawaii, an estimated 1,100 adults die annually from smoking, costing $336 million in related medical expenses. The Department of Health will continue its work with partners in Hawaii to prevent initiation of tobacco use by youth and young adults; promote quitting; eliminate involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke; and reduce tobacco-related disparities among population groups. Hawaii is one of only a handful of states that continues to use the master settlement agreement payments on tobacco prevention and control efforts.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie noted the challenge of addressing the increasing use of new, unregulated products, such as electronic smoking devices or e-cigarettes: “Hawaii must remain vigilant about smoking behavior, especially as it influences our youth because we don’t want it to be an entryway into more dangerous smoking or drug use. On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report, it is time for our nation and Hawaii to end the smoking epidemic. We know how to do so, and we cannot afford to wait another 50 years.”

To learn more about the Surgeon General’s Report, The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress, go to www.SurgeonGeneral.gov. Important Hawaii Milestones in Tobacco Prevention and Control

The following are highlights of important milestones that contributed to Hawaii’s successful reduction in tobacco use. The efforts were
achieved by partners across legislative, governmental, public and business sector organizations, and concerned community members
who worked to introduce and pass state and county policies on tobacco sales and use, and providing resources for communities to help people quit.
  • 1965:  The state tax on tobacco products was amended to 40% of the wholesale price
  • 1976:  Smoking in Public Places legislation (Act 108) passed by the state legislature prohibiting smoking and requiring signage for designated areas (e.g. elevators, auditoriums, meeting rooms, community centers)
  • 1978:  The Hawaii Department of Health developed states’ first governmental agency policy on smoking
  • 1988:  Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors legislation (Act 293) passed raising legal age from 15 to 18 years
  • 1991:  Hawaii Department of Education policy bans smoking in all departmental classrooms, facilities and activities. Act 253 passed by state legislature restricting placement of cigarette vending machines
  • 1997:  City and County of Honolulu prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces (except bars, restaurants, and nightclubs)
  • 1998:  Hawaii State Attorney General entered into master settlement agreement with 5 of the largest tobacco companies and 45 other states
  • 1999:  Hawaii establishes Tobacco Settlement Special Fund and Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund. . Hawaii cigarette tax increased to $1/pack
  • 2005:  Hawaii Tobacco Quitline started
  • 2006:  Hawaii became 14th state to enact a Smoke-free Workplace and Public Places Law (Act 395) prohibiting smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars, and nightclubs
  • 2008:  The Big Island passed an ordinance banning smoking in all county beaches, parks, and recreation areas, followed in 2010 with legislation prohibiting smoking in motor vehicles when a minor is present
  • 2011: Hawaii cigarette tax raised to $3.20/pack
  • 2013: Hawaii legislature passes law banning sales of electronic smoking devices to minors under 18 and requiring warning signage (Act 295). The Big Island increases the legal age to by tobacco products to 21
  • 2014:  Honolulu County enacts ordinance banning smoking at all beaches, parks, and bus stops on Oahu

Second “Exceptional Energy” Lecture Series Event Features Renewable Energy Specialist Andrea Gill

Friends of NELHA (FON) will continue its series of lectures about energy at the NELHA Gateway Visitor Center on Thursday, January 30. The second speaker in the series is Andrea Gill, State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) Renewable Energy Specialist. Her topic will be “Understanding Energy/Electricity
Costs.”  The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series event will start at 5:30 pm and admission is free.

Andrea Gill

Andrea Gill

Andrea Gill has lived in Hilo since 1979.  She hails from Honolulu and attended Roosevelt High School and Stanford University. While at Stanford, Gill co-authored a four-volume report on biomass energy for Hawaii.  After graduation, she began working for the State’s energy program, managing a solar planning project and then opening the Hawaii Energy Extension Service office in Hilo.  She has authored a number of papers on ocean energy and the direct use of geothermal energy for presentation at energy industry conferences.

Andrea Gill also served as co-chair of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s Electricity Working Group, which discussed programs to expand the use of renewable energy in Hawaii through increased generation and improvements in transmission and distribution systems.  Among her recent projects was the development of Renewable EnerGIS, an online mapping tool that permits landowners, developers, and policy makers assess the renewable energy resources and pertinent attributes – like rainfall and zoning – for specific land parcels and ocean locations statewide.

The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series consists of five lectures on energy issues. The series is sponsored in part by the Hawaii Energy Resource Center, a component of the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development. A lecture on “Energy Resource Optimization” is scheduled for Wednesday, February 19.

Call FON at 808.329.8073 for more information on the Exceptional Energy Lecture Series.

Hawaii Island Humane Society’s 18th Annual Tropical Paws Benefit

Hawaii Island Humane Society’s 18th annual Tropical Paws benefit event will take place Friday, March 28, 2014. The gala affair is held annually at Four Seasons Hualalai Resort and will begin at 6:00 p.m.

Click for more information

Click for more information

Tropical Paws has an established reputation for abundant silent and live auctions, cocktail reception with furry friends meet and greet, Four Seasons-style buffet dinner, and entertainment and dancing. Proceeds from the festive evening help support Hawaii Island Humane Society’s Second Chance Fund and Spay/Neuter Community Assistance Program. The Second Chance Fund provides medical care and treatment for abused animals while they recuperate and become ready for adoption. The goal of the Spay/Neuter Community Assistance Program is to end pet overpopulation on the Big Island through increased spays and neuters and community education.

“Tropical Paws is by far our largest and most important fundraiser of the year,” said HIHS Executive Director Donna Whitaker. “We are in need of and appreciate the early support of individuals and businesses that, through their donations of cash and auction items, recognize the important work of Hawaii Island Humane Society.”

Tickets, which are $125 per person or $2,000 for a reserved table of ten, will be available beginning early February at HIHS’s Keaau, Waimea and Kona shelters and online at www.HIHS.org. A portion of each table sale is tax deductible as allowed by law.

Visit HIHS.org or call 808-329-8002 for information regarding donation and sponsorship opportunities.

Free Keiki “Read to Me” Activity Saturday in Hilo

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), in partnership with Read to Me International, is hosting a “Read to Me” activity Saturday, January 18, in Hilo.

Read to Me

Open to children enrolled in kindergarten through the third grade, the free event will be held from 10 a.m. until noon outside the entrance of the Hilo Walmart store located at 325 East Maka‘ala Street. RSVP members will read age-appropriate books to the children, conduct hands-on activities and give participants a free book to take home.

All participating keiki must be accompanied by a parent or authorized guardian.

The Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to thank Read to Me International and the Hilo Walmart store for helping to promote literacy among young readers.

For more information, please call Kaui Paleka-Kama at 961-8730.