Commentary – Senator Kahele on Safety Concern of Hilo Medical Center Helipad

On behalf of our constituents within the first senatorial district of Hilo and all of Hawai‘i Island, I am writing to request Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) Board to discontinue its Agreement for Purchase of Goods and Services (APGS) with Hawai‘i Life Flight, Inc. (HLF), signed on April 10, 2013 which allows permanent parking on the helipad of Hilo Medical Center (HMC) and has presented numerous safety of flight issues for other operators in the area.


Although the agreement allows HLF to park their aircraft to one side of the helipad and the space meets the minimum requirements to do so – it has still proven, on numerous occasions, to present a safety concern.

The U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area Department of Emergency Services has reported that on two occasions within the past year, several of their Blackhawk Medevac helicopters have been prevented from landing safely during training patrols and other exercises because of HLF’s permanent occupation of the helipad. On October 29, 2015 an emergency transport helicopter arrived at the HMC helipad to find the HLF helicopter still on the helipad. As an HLF employee was securing the aircraft, the Medevac Blackhawk was in its final approach and unfortunately was forced to land with the HLF aircraft only partially secured.  The Engine Company Captain on scene reported a “near miss” incident with both aircraft being on the helipad at the same time.

Additionally, the County of Hawai‘i Fire Department which maintains two helicopters for emergency medical services has reported that on three separate incidents their Chopper 2 aeromedical helicopter has landed at the helipad with the pad being occupied by HLF.

One way to resolve this issue is to keep the helipad vacated and available at all times. This would ensure a safer overall operation.  It is our understanding that the aforementioned APGS is up for renewal on April 10, 2016 and that last fall representatives of the U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area met with HHSC’s Board of Directors and raised these safety of flight issues with them.  At that time, there was an indication that HHSC’s board did not intend to renew the agreement.

Because of these safety of flight issues which could have resulted in serious loss of life to patients, crew and bystanders on the ground – as well as loss of necessary medical equipment funded by and provided for the use of our community – we support your efforts to preserve necessary landing space at HMC to allow for a safer environment and improved access.

Thank you for your leadership in keeping the health and safety of our residents HHSC’s top priority and we look forward to working with you towards a positive solution.

Hau‘oli ka mana‘o,

Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele, Senate District 1-Hilo

Coast Guard Coordinates, Assist Search Efforts for 9 Missing Boaters on 3 Separate Cases

Coast Guard and AMVER crews rescued three boaters in the waters between Chuuk and Puluwat Atoll, Federated States of Micronesia, Wednesday.  An HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu, located three additional boater missing near Tarawa and are coordinating their rescue by a commercial vessel and the same Hercules aircraft crew has been diverted to search for an additional vessel also with three boaters overdue near Tarawa.

Coast Guard C130In the first case, three boaters, several days overdue on a voyage from Chuuk to Puluwat Atoll, in the Federated States of Micronesia are safe in Puluwat Atoll, Wednesday, following a joint international search. The missing men were on a 19-foot skiff and located by the motor vessel Shoryu.  All three men were brought aboard the Shoryu and are reportedly to be in good condition. The skiff was placed in a side tow and the Shoryu took the three men to Puluwat. A family member reported the men overdue Monday, prompting a search by the Coast Guard.  Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Guam issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast alerting mariners in the region to the situation. The watchstanders coordinated search efforts of two Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System ships: the Soma Maru and Shoryu and provided search patterns for each vessel.

In the second case near Tarawa, a Hercules aircraft crew located three boaters, missing for 8 days, just before noon, Wednesday. They dropped supplies from the plane to the boaters and the Coast Guard is working to identify a vessel in the area to relocate and rescue them. Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center in Honolulu were notified Monday, by search coordinators with the Rescue Coordination Center Nadi, Fiji, of an overdue 17-foot white and yellow skiff. The vessel reportedly had a 40 hp engine with 18 to 20 gallons of fuel on board and some fresh water. The skiff was reportedly last seen the morning of March 22 departing Teaoraereke Village, Tarawa, en route a fishing area 10 miles to the south. A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion airplane crew completed a search Saturday with no sightings. The Coast Guard provided the Hercules aircrew Tuesday. Due to the distance the crew covered to get to the search area, roughly 2,400 miles the distance from Los Angeles to New York City, they were able to search for 1 hour on scene before needing to land for crew rest and to refuel. Their search resumed Wednesday at first light.

In the third case Coast Guard watchstanders in Honolulu are coordinating with search and rescue controllers at RCC Fiji to search for an overdue 18-foot skiff with three boaters aboard reportedly left Tarawa en route Maiana on a fishing trip.  The Coast Guard C-130 aircraft that searched on the second case has been diverted to begin searching the area. The missing 19-foot skiff is three days overdue on their return from fishing near Maiana.

“We sincerely appreciate the support and coordination of all our search and rescue partners. Due to the size and scope of the Pacific we depend on them to help us respond in a timely manner in remote locations,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Dustin Welch, a search and rescue controller at Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center Honolulu. “We also recommend to all boaters to be prepared for unforeseen interruptions in their voyages by being prepared with extra supplies and communications devices.”

Mariners are reminded a properly registered electronic position indicating radio beacon can make a dramatic difference not only in being located, but in the amount of time spent at sea. EPIRBs use satellites, not line-of-site like VHF radios or cellular towers, increasing their range and reliability. They’re highly accurate and once activated provide rescuers with excellent location information for anyone in distress, significantly reducing on scene search time.

AMVER, sponsored by the Coast Guard, is a computer-based, voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.

New Tsunami Forecast Model Animation: Aleutian Islands 1946

On April 1, 1946 at 4:28 am (12:28 UTC), an 8.6 moment magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Unimak Island in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, generating a tsunami that caused the greatest damage and number of deaths in Hawaii’s history, leading to the creation of the United States’ first tsunami warning system.

tsunami warning

As is typical for dangerous tsunamis the greatest wave heights were nearest the epicenter. The waves reached as high as 42 m or about 138 ft. on Unimak Island and destroyed its lighthouse and killed the five people there. Elsewhere this tsunami caused the greatest damage and number of deaths on inhabited Pacific islands. In Hawaii the waves reached about 17 m or 55 ft. high and killed 158 people, most in the town of Hilo, while in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia the waves reached even higher to 20 m or 65 ft but killed only two people. Chile’s Easter Island also got nearly 9 m or 28 ft.while its Juan Fernandez Islands got nearly 3 m or 9 ft. high waves. Pitcairn Island also had 5 m or 16 ft. high waves, New Zealand had over 2 m or 8 ft. high waves, and Samoa had over 1 m or about 4 ft. high waves. In North America the highest waves were in California at over 2 m or over 8 ft. and killed one person there and in South America it killed one more person in Peru.

A tsunami warning system did not exist in 1946 and no one had any warning of the approaching dangerous waves. In response to this event the United States government set up its first tsunami warning operation at the Honolulu Magnetic and Seismic Observatory in 1948 to mitigate tsunami hazards in Hawaii. This facility would later be renamed the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) and expand its mission to include the rest of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Today, 70 years since the Unimak Island Earthquake, PTWC will issue tsunami warnings in minutes after a major earthquake occurs and will also forecast how large any resulting tsunami will be as it is still crossing the ocean. PTWC can also create an animation of a historical tsunami with the same tool that it uses to determine tsunami hazards in real time for any tsunami today: the Real-Time Forecasting of Tsunamis (RIFT) forecast model. The RIFT model takes earthquake information as input and calculates how the waves move through the world’s oceans, predicting their speed, wavelength, and amplitude. This animation shows these values through the simulated motion of the waves and as they travel through the world’s oceans one can also see the distance between successive wave crests (wavelength) as well as their height (half-amplitude) indicated by their color. More importantly, the model also shows what happens when these tsunami waves strike land, the very information that PTWC needs to issue tsunami hazard guidance for impacted coastlines. From the beginning the animation shows all coastlines covered by colored points. These are initially a blue color like the undisturbed ocean to indicate normal sea level, but as the tsunami waves reach them they will change color to represent the height of the waves coming ashore, and often these values are higher than they were in the deeper waters offshore. The color scheme is based on PTWC’s warning criteria, with blue-to-green representing no hazard (less than 30 cm or ~1 ft.), yellow-to-orange indicating low hazard with a stay-off-the-beach recommendation (30 to 100 cm or ~1 to 3 ft.), light red-to-bright red indicating significant hazard requiring evacuation (1 to 3 m or ~3 to 10 ft.), and dark red indicating a severe hazard possibly requiring a second-tier evacuation (greater than 3 m or ~10 ft.).

Toward the end of this simulated 36 hours of activity the wave animation will transition to the “energy map” of a mathematical surface representing the maximum rise in sea-level on the open ocean caused by the tsunami, a pattern that indicates that the kinetic energy of the tsunami was not distributed evenly across the oceans but instead forms a highly directional “beam” such that the tsunami was far more severe in the middle of the “beam” of energy than on its sides. This pattern also generally correlates to the coastal impacts; note how those coastlines directly in the “beam” are hit by larger waves than those to either side of it.

The tsunami evacuation zones for Hawaii and Guam are available at

Big Island Police Investigating Series of Crimes Involving Stolen Tractor and Trailer

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a series of crimes involving a stolen tractor and trailer.

At 7:17 p.m. Wednesday (March 30), South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report of a tractor and trailer that struck two other vehicles and a house on Pilipaʻa Street in Hilo.

Responding officers observed several individuals restraining the alleged driver of the tractor and trailer as he was seen walking away from the scene. Police learned that the tractor, trailer and its contents were stolen from a business on Makaʻala Street and were observed driving through a closed gate.

Police learned from witnesses that the stolen tractor and trailer also struck a vehicle and ran another vehicle off the road on Pilipaʻa Street before striking and severing a utility pole. The tractor and trailer continued southbound on Pilipaʻa Street and then ran off the street and struck a house.

Neither of the drivers of the vehicles nor the three occupants of the house was injured.

Pilipaʻa Street between Puainako Avenue and Kahaopea Street was closed to traffic overnight due to the downed power lines. Utility crews from HELCO made temporary repairs and Pilipaʻa Street was opened to traffic Thursday morning (March 31).

The suspect, 30-year-old Solomon Aloha Kepano of Hilo was arrested on suspicion of first-degree theft, fourth-degree theft, third-degree criminal property damage, accident involving damage to a vehicle or property and two counts of first-degree reckless endangering. He remains in custody at the Hilo police cellblock while detective from the Area I Criminal Investigation Section continue the investigation

Detectives ask anyone who may have witnessed a white Freightliner and a white container trailer traveling through the industrial areas onto Kanoelehua Avenue, Puainako Avenue or Pilipaʻa Street in Hilo to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Dean Uyetake at 961-2379

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls of subscribe to caller ID and the information is kept confidential.

Hawaii Island Women’s Leadership Forum’s 2nd Annual Summit

The Hawai‘i Island Women’s Leadership Forum (HIWLF) is pleased to announce that the 2nd annual Hawai‘i Island Women’s Leadership Summit is scheduled for Friday, August 26, 2016.  This announcement comes with much anticipation due to the overwhelming success of last year’s inaugural event, which drew nearly 300 attendees.


This year’s theme is Tools for Excellence – Self, Relationships, Career and Community.  The purpose of the Summit is to strengthen women by providing real tools for real life, thereby empowering and advancing ourselves, our relationships, our careers and our community.  The Summit will include a keynote speaker, breakout presentations, lunch, vendor expo and a networking pau hana.  Breakout topics will complement the Summit theme and be presented by a wide array of Hawai‘i Island entrepreneurs, professionals, leaders and rising stars.

The Summit event date was moved from April to August based on feedback from attendees, as well as efforts to find a fiscal sponsor whose mission aligned with HIWLF.  “We are thrilled to share that Friends of the Future will serve as our fiscal sponsor,” says Farrah-Marie Gomes, Chair of HIWLF.   Since 1991, Friends of the Future has provided an organizational home to over 40 programs and community initiatives that unify, empower and strengthen individuals’ and organizations’ ability to flourish.  HIWLF is extremely grateful for this new-found partnership and shared vision.

For general HIWLF and Summit information, to include sponsorship and volunteering, please contact Farrah-Marie Gomes, Chair at  Follow HIWLF on Facebook at for future announcements about the Summit.

Hawaii Secures Grant to Develop Bold Plan to Improve Career Preparation Systems for Young People

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) today announced it has secured a $100,000 grant to develop a detailed career readiness action plan, which is an essential step to expanding economic opportunity for young people across our state.

“This grant will go a long way in building upon the various partnership projects that are focused on preparing our students for the workforce,”stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’re seeing positive results throughout our high schools as students create their path towards college and careers. Partnerships and grants like this are essential in our efforts and we’re excited to expand on our collective initiatives to help students achieve their goals.”

HS to College

Hawaii is among 24 states and the District of Columbia to receive a New Skills for Youth grant that includes expert technical assistance to perform a diagnostic assessment of their career preparation system and prepare for implementation of a new action plan. The grants are one piece of a $75 million, five-year initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Advance CTE, aimed at increasing economic opportunity for young people by strengthening career-focused education, starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with business needs.

The grant enables HIDOE to begin a rigorous needs assessment to determine program strengths and necessary improvements.  With that baseline set, a new three-year career readiness action plan will be developed to set goals and targets toward providing students equitable access to career pathway opportunities, along with the identification and allocation of resources.

“States across the country are adjusting their career readiness programs to ensure they adequately prepare students for their next step after graduation,”said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “States have seized this grant opportunity to pursue bold plans for pathways that will put kids on a course for success after high school and beyond.”

According to CCSSO, only about half of young Americans have a meaningful postsecondary credential that enables them to compete for good jobs, and the U.S. youth unemployment rate is more than double the national rate.

“We must address the youth career crisis, and it starts in our schools,”said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. “These grants kick start an effort to ensure career and technical education systems are better aligned with the needs of business and leaders throughout states are committed to tackling youth employment.”

In 2015, Hawaii’s youth unemployment rate for ages 16 to 19 was 13 percent.  For ages 20 to 24, the unemployment rate was 7 percent, compared to Hawaii’s overall rate of 3.7 percent for its entire labor force.

A growing number of Hawaii’s public high school students are taking college-level courses and earning dual credits –for both high school and college –before they graduate from the 12th grade, according to a College and Career Readiness Report (CCRI), released by Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education.

Hawaii, and the planning grant states, will be eligible to apply for a phase two grant opportunity, which will require states to demonstrate the commitment and capacity to execute the action plans developed in its first phase.

This grant opportunity builds on CCSSO’s Career Readiness Initiative, launched in 2015 to help close the country’s skills gap. It is guided by recommendations made in Opportunities and Options, a report of CCSSO’s Career Readiness Task Force.


Big Island Film Festival Announces 2016 Official Selections

Now in its eleventh year, Big Island Film Festival (BIFF) has announced its 58 Official Selections, to be screened May 26-30, 2016. BIFF, the “talk story” film festival is a celebration of narrative filmmaking in the luxury resort setting of the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii and The Shops at Mauna Lani.

Photo by Kirk Aeder

Photo by Kirk Aeder

The new, independent shorts and feature-length films are widely diverse, with something for every movie fan genre from sci fi to all kinds of romance, belly-laugh comedy, zombie suspense, martial arts action, captivating mysteries, family stories, and a short, “Cosmopenguin,” by a 7-year old Austrian filmmaker.

Michael Gross

Michael Gross

Michael Gross, best known as Steven Keaton, Michael J. Fox’s TV dad in “Family Ties,” stars in the new feature “Last Call at Murray’s,” showing Sunday night. Gross will attend in person, following a salute and reception in his honor. Bellamy Young, who plays ambitious First Lady on “Scandal,” will also be honored at BIFF, with a salute and reception on Saturday. Tickets for both events are available online.

Bellamy Young

Bellamy Young

Of note are feature films to be screened at the Fairmont Orchid’s Plantation Estate, where no-host bar and snacks make movie-watching even more fun, and beach chairs are welcome. On Saturday, “Winter’s Dream,” a futuristic sci fi drama pairs with “Plan Z,” a gripping trip through the zombie apocalypse, with soundtrack by artists like Rhianna, the Black Eyed Peas and more. Friday’s lineup includes a hilarious defense of family leave, “The Bad Mother,” and a multi-level love story filmed on our island, “Throuple.” On Sunday, “The Closer” is an intense drama about super high stakes real estate during the boom and bust of Brooklyn’s subprime meltdown.

A scene from "Throuple"

A scene from “Throuple”

“I am so impressed with the quality of films this year,” said Executive Director Leo Sears. “Picking the Official Selections was very difficult. The features are excellent, and the shorts are so good that we added an extra film block so we could show six more. Many of the daytime movies are good enough to be shown in the prime Festival Venue, but we only have so much space. This is a great selection that any movie-lover will enjoy and we hope everybody will come and support indie films with us.”

The Official Selections for BIFF 2016 are:

A Mighty Nice Man
As You Like It
Bernie and Rebecca
Between The Miles
Beyond Shattered Lenses
Blue borsalino
Catfish Blues
Cuddle Party
Danny Boy
Diablo (Devil)
Dream Land
Frankie – Italian roulette
God Is A Dog
Green Lake
Hook Man
Jack’s Apocalypse
Last Call At Murray’s
Market St.
Monty and the Runaway Furnace
New Generation
Plan Z
Reservations For Three?
Romantic Rouse
Speaking of Fairies
Stoked Steves
Superior The Movie
The Bad Mother
The Bench
The Boy
The Closer Movie
The End aka John Doe
The End of Blessings
Kidnapping of a Fish
The Light Thief
The Schoolboy
The Surrender Call
Water Girl
West of Her
White Lies, Blue Dream
Wifey Redux – A Short Film Based on the Story by Kevin Barry
Winter’s Dream

The five-day schedule includes free Opening Night and family films at The Shops at Mauna Lani, daytime movies and screenings under the stars at Plantation Estate, special events, screenwriting workshops, Awards Brunch and more.

A limited number of ballots will be given to audience members during each screening. Votes are tallied at the end of the festival, to determine the Audience-choice Feature and Short to be screened at Best of the Fest on Monday, May 30. An exciting closing night event, Best of the Fest will kick off with a Hawaiian music concert, and two ways to give back: a silent auction for Fisher House at Tripler Army Medical Center, and a portion of each ticket sold donated to Hawai‘i Island Food Basket.

The Big Island “Talk Story” Film Festival is a celebration of independent narrative films and filmmaking, taking place May 26-30. Major sponsors include the Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i and The Shops at Mauna Lani and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority/Hawai‘i County CPEP. For complete schedule information and tickets, visit

Free Document Shredding Event in Kailua-Kona

AARP Hawaii and Access Corporation is teaming up for a free document shredding event at the Access Information Management Destruction Plant in Kailua-Kona.

Document Shredding

Shredding documents with confidential information on them is an important part of protecting your identity and avoiding fraud.

Free Document Shredding & Food Drive – Big Island Record and Destruction Center, 73-4164 Huli Koa Dr #5, Kailua Kona, HI 96740 on Saturday, April 30, 2016 from 8 a.m. to Noon.

You are invited to bring old tax forms, bank statements, & sensitive papers for confidential on site destruction. This is a drive through and drop-off event with unloading assistance available.  Staples and paperclips do not need to be removed.  AARP membership is not required.  Limit of four file boxes or bags of paper per vehicle occupant.

We encourage you to bring donations of brown rice and canned goods to benefit that will be given to the Hawaii Food Basket.   Registration is not required.

Hamakua Springs Offering Free ‘Thank You’ Bananas this Friday

Hamakua Springs Country Farms will be giving away 300 boxes of bananas from its final banana harvest this Friday, April 1, 2016 (no fooling). That’s 12 thousand pounds of bananas – about 30 thousand bananas – so there’s definitely enough for everyone who’s interested.

Hamakua Springs bananas

Hamakua Springs bananas

Bananas will be available for people to drive in and pick up at Kumu Street in Hilo. (Turn off Kamehameha Avenue onto the short Kumu Street, which is just past Ponahawai St. at the soccer fields.)

Hamakua Springs owners Richard and June Ha, along with other family members and workers, will be at the Hilo soccer fields from 10 a.m. Friday morning.

“It’s our way of saying thank you for the community’s support over all these years,” said Richard Ha. The company, first as Kea‘au Bananas, then Mauna Kea Bananas and most recently Hamakua Springs Country Farms, was in business for 35 years.

Richard Ha and family at Hamakua Springs Country Farms. From left: Richard Ha, his mother Florence Ha, Richard’s wife June Ha, son-in-law Kimo Pa and daughter Tracy Pa.

Richard Ha and family at Hamakua Springs Country Farms. From left: Richard Ha, his mother Florence Ha, Richard’s wife June Ha, son-in-law Kimo Pa and daughter Tracy Pa.

The primary reason they stopped farming bananas, Ha explained, was that Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) was found on the farm. “We had experience with BBTV at our banana farm in Kea‘au, and we knew that if the disease became imbedded in the gulches it would become a constant source of infection,” he said. “That’s the main reason we decided to stop bananas.”

Another factor is the rising cost of oil, which has significantly driven up farm costs such as fertilizer, plastic, and other items with oil petroleum costs embedded in their price. When the oil price dropped recently, those costs stayed up. “We know the oil price will go back up again, and anticipating that we had to make a decision,” he said. “It’s not that we’re going bankrupt – we’re not. We just needed to do what we had to do before it got to that point.”

The former banana acreage has been leased to another farmer, and other possibilities are being investigated for the farm land and hydroelectric system.

Hawaii Endangered Species Gain 157,000 Acres of Protected Habitat – More Than 100 Hawaiian Plants, Animals Get Critical Habitat Designations

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected 157,000 acres of critical habitat for 125 species of plants and animals from the Hawaiian islands of Molokai, Maui and Kahoolawe.

Click to view (warning large file)

Click to view (warning large file)

The species range from plants like Haleakala silversword; the state flower, mao hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei); and bird-pollinated lobelias as well as a tree snail and striking forest birds like the Akohekohe or crested honeycreeper. Invasive species, habitat loss and the effects from introduced pigs, goats and deer are the primary threats to these species.

“Critical habitat will speed restoration efforts for many of these imperiled species so I’m glad to see that happen,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, endangered species recovery director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Endangered Species Act continues to save hundreds of Hawaiian species from extinction and can be a significant force to save these species too.”

With more endangered species than any other state, Hawaii continues to be on the front line of the extinction crisis. The 135 species addressed in today’s rule include two birds, three snails and 130 plants. However, only 125 species actually received critical habitat. The final rule excluded critical habitat for 10 species. A total of 84,892 acres were excluded from critical habitat because they are included in management plans and agreements thought to benefit these species. An additional 29,170 acres were removed from critical habitat.

“The lack of designated critical habitat for these species is a concern if the management agreements do not hold up or are ineffective,” said Mehrhoff. “We’re also concerned with the removal of 9,800 acres of lowland rainforest from critical habitat designation on Maui.”

Man Goes Crazy on Mauna Kea – Damages Astronomy Facility

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a property damage complaint at one of the astronomy facilities on the summit of Mauna Kea on Tuesday morning (March 29).

VLAB Telescope

VLBA Telescope

Officers responded to a 9:30 a.m. report of a traffic accident involving a disorderly man at the summit of Mauna Kea. Further reports indicated that the man then attempted to forcibly enter one of the facilities.

Police arrested 30-year-old James Coleman of Kailua-Kona on suspicion of criminal property damage. He is being held at the South Hilo cellblock pending further investigation.

Doug Arnott from Arnotts Lodge reported the following from one of his guides:

Breaking News….apparently around 10:15 a vehicle attempted to break into VLBA telescope on Mauna Kea by ramming the Chain Link fence and once inside hitting other things…this is second hand info from one of my guides who had Cruise Ship guests at the Visitor Center.

Apparently Fire and Ambulance were called and Police are on the way…anyone gets better news…please post.

Statement from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory:

A lone attacker drove a vehicle onto the Mauna Kea station of the Very
Long Baseline Array (VLBA) Tuesday, damaging the installation’s fence,
building, and official vehicles. The attacker was apprehended by
law-enforcement officers. The station’s two employees were uninjured.

Initial reports indicate that the radio-telescope antenna is undamaged.
Site personnel are assessing the damage to the building.

The VLBA is a continent-wide radio telescope system, with ten,
25-meter-diameter dish antennas. The Mauna Kea antenna is the
westernmost, with one at St. Croix in the Caribbean, and eight on the
U.S. mainland. The VLBA is operated from the National Radio Astronomy
Observatory’s Science Operations Center in Socorro, New Mexico.

The VLBA is used by astronomers around the world to make high-resolution
images of celestial objects, and has made landmark contributions to our understanding of the Universe.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National
Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated
Universities, Inc.

Hawaii Public Schools Score Big in National TV Competition

Hawaii schools walked away with 34 awards at the 13th annual Student Television Network (STN) competition in Atlanta, held March 10-13. Scroll down for the complete list of Hawaii winners.


Close to 3,000 middle and high school students from across the U.S. gathered to compete in on-site, time-restricted contests in video journalism, television production, filmmaking, music videos, commercials, and public service announcements. All of the Hawaii schools that attended the competition are public schools and participants in PBS Hawaii’s HIKI NŌ student news network.

Last year, Hawaii schools brought home 28 awards from the STN Convention. As in the last few STN competitions, the number of awards won by Hawaii schools was notably high in comparison to states with larger populations, such as California, Florida, and Texas.

“Without a doubt, the stellar performance by Hawaii schools at STN is due to the work our schools have done with HIKI NŌ and PBS Hawaii,” said Kevin Matsunaga, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School media teacher and STN regional board member. “Our students have developed solid technical and storytelling skills through our workshops throughout the year. Our Hawaii media teachers have worked tirelessly, as well, and the outstanding work their students have done at these competitions is proof that HIKI NŌ is making a huge difference in the lives of our students.”

The Hawaii school awards count was led by Maui Waena Intermediate’s nine, followed by Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School with eight, and Waianae High School with six. There were a number of first-time awardees among the Hawaii schools, including Kapolei High School, Waipahu Intermediate School, and Ewa Makai Middle School.

Ewa Makai media teacher Ethan Toyota said his students were “in shock” when they won two honorable mention awards in the commercial and public service announcement categories. “We wouldn’t be here without all the training and help HIKI NŌ has contributed in getting us off the ground,” he said.

“HIKI NŌ offers students the ideal preparation for this national competition and it also readies them for different professional paths — by teaching them to work their way through challenges and deliver quality work on tight deadlines,” said Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawaii President and CEO.

“Congratulations to all of the students that participated in this rigorous competition in which they represented their schools and our state well,” said Kathryn Matayoshi, Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent. “PBS Hawaii is a valued partner for providing opportunities like HIKI NŌ. The teamwork and use of technology needed to create these quality productions align with the Department’s mission to help our students connect with their communities and be lifelong learners.”

2016 Student Television Network – Hawaii Winners:





Honorable Mention — WAIANAE HIGH SCHOOL (Oahu)










MIDDLE SCHOOL NAT. PACKAGE (No announcer, only interview soundbites and natural sound)






Honorable Mention — EWA MAKAI MIDDLE SCHOOL (Oahu)

MIDDLE SCHOOL PSA (Public Service Announcement)



Honorable Mention — EWA MAKAI MIDDLE SCHOOL (Oahu)










Honorable Mention — KAPOLEI HIGH SCHOOL (Oahu)

CRAZY 8’s (In these categories, schools had eight hours to complete an eight-minute show)




Honorable Mention — WAIAKEA HIGH SCHOOL (Hawaii Island)





STN FILM EXCELLENCE AWARDS (entries submitted prior to the competition)

BEST FILM – LIVE ACTION – Waianae High School (Oahu)

BEST FILM – ANIMATED –Waianae High School (Oahu)


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Waianae High School (Oahu)


BEST WRITING – Waianae High School (Oahu)

BEST DIRECTING – Moanalua High School (Oahu)

“Aloha From Lavaland” to Premier at Hawaii International Film Festival

Hawaiian Anthropological documentary Aloha From Lavaland is set to premiere on April 7 at the Hawaii International Film Festival.


Produced by three Big Island-based production companies, the film follows the aftermath of the 2014 eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, which sent a flow of lava directly toward the center of Pahoa, a small rural town on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Hard to predict and impossible to stop, the flow threatened to cut off the town’s only access road, leaving the residents of this remote community to rely heavily on  one another as they prepare for possible isolation.

Produced in conjunction by Gift Culture Media, Larkin Pictures and Pure Mother Love, this 52 minute documentary explores an inner community perspective of the lava flow, following residents as they ask and answer important questions about community, sustainability, harmony, and what it really means to live in such an unpredictable paradise.


In addition to street interviews and news coverage, the documentary follows a local Hawaiian kumu (healer), a sustainability expert and the leader of a sovereign Hawaiian community over a period of seven months as they attempt to prepare for the unpreparable.
“Puna is unlike any place I’ve ever lived,” says co-director Suzenne Seradwyn, who has created films in Los Angeles, New Mexico and Hawaii. “The people here have different values because of the natural elements at play, and the rich cultural history surrounding those elements. There is a very important message to share about what happens when you allow yourself to trust these elements.”

“This film is important for anyone living in a state of change, whether it be due to external elements or an internal shift,” says the film’s co-director, Phillips Payson. “Part of what this film explores is how one’s attitude toward change can make all the difference.” Before moving to the Big Island, Payson worked in the film industry in New York and Los Angeles. This is his fourth film.

The film will premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival at the Dole Cannery on Thursday, April 7 at 6:15pm.

For more information, visit


Bob May Golf Academy Returns to Waikoloa Beach Resort

For the third year in a row, noted golf instructor Bob May will bring his Golf Academy to Waikoloa Beach Resort. From June 6-July 5, 2016, island golfers and visitors will have a chance to learn from the man who “schooled” Tiger Woods in the 2000 PGA Championship in Valhalla.

Bob May

Bob May

Bob May pushed Tiger Woods to the limit in a three-hole playoff that ultimately went to Woods, but the golf world never forgot.  Today, with over twenty years on the PGA Tour, extensive teaching experience and a solid focus under pressure, May’s approach includes both the physical and mental game, for high-handicap players as well as juniors. From fundamentals to finesse, his instruction is inspired by and emphasizes the importance of what he calls “a passion for the game.”

Growing up in California, May’s passion for golf started when he was a boy, and he played his first tournament at age 8. He attended Oklahoma State University, and as an Amateur, chalked up an impressive list of tourney wins and golf awards, including Sports Illustrated Player of the Year, three times NCAA All American, and a #5 U.S. ranking by Titleist and Golf Week Publications.

In 1991, he was a finalist in the British Amateur, and—with Walker Cup teammates Phil Mickelson and David Duval—defeated the European team. That same year, May turned pro, playing competitively on the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour (now the Tour) for over 20 years, winning the British Masters in 1999, achieving four second-place titles on the Tour and three on the PGA Tour, including the unforgettable match with Tiger Woods.

The Bob May Golf Academy at Waikoloa Beach Resort will offer private lessons for adults, juniors and couples, as well as “Trackman” performance analysis. For more information and to book teaching time, visit

Waikoloa Beach Resort Golf inspires the spirit of adventure in every golfer, with two epic golf courses along Hawai‘i Island’s rugged lava coast: the dramatic, tropical Beach Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and the Kings’ Course, designed in a classic Scottish links style by the winning team of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. Spectacular, historic and compelling, the Beach Course and Kings’ Course challenge the champion and inspire new players every day.

For more information, contact the Kings’ Course at (808) 886-5375

Coast Guard to Temporarily Move Navigation Aids Near Hilo Harbor to Assist with Dredging of Harbor

The Coast Guard began temporarily moving aids to navigation in Hilo Harbor, Hawai’i, Sunday, to assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with planned dredging operations.
Harbor BuoysAs previously released, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hopper dredge Essayons will conduct maintenance dredging in March and April starting in Nawiliwili last week, and then at Kalaeloa (Barbers Point), Hilo, Kahului, and Honolulu harbors. Mariners should NOT rely on the aids to navigation that are relocated.

Mariners entering or departing Hilo Harbor during this time period are encouraged to contact the Essayons to determine the location of dredging operations and coordinate passing arrangements. Mariners should transit at their slowest safe speed to minimize wake when in the vicinity of the dredge and proceed with caution after passing arrangements have been made.

All waterway users should transit with caution when in the vicinity of the dredging vessel and operate at a safe speed when the potential for hazards such as dredging components are present. During operations near Barbers Point no aids will need to be moved but mariners should exercise caution around dredging operations.

The following buoys will be temporarily relocated starting March 27, 2016 through April 11, 2016. These dates may vary due to unforeseen on-site conditions, weather and other factors. See attached graphic.

Hilo Harbor Buoy 6 (LLNR 28080) relocated in approximate position 19-43-51.80N/ 155- 03-51.00W in 12ft of water.

Hilo Harbor Buoy 7 (LLNR 28085) relocated in approximate position 19-44-06.62N/ 155- 03-40.04W in 12ft of water.

Hilo Harbor Lighted Buoy 9 (LLNR 28105) relocated in approximate position 19-44- 05.10N/ 155-03-28.00W in 12ft of water.

Hilo Harbor Lighted Buoy 10 (LLNR 28110) relocated in approximate position 19-43- 44.95N/ 155-03-29.77W in 10ft of water.

Again, the relocated buoys may be in shoal water and should NOT be used for navigation.

General safety information regarding operating in the vicinity of dredging vessels can be found in Coast Guard Marine Safety Alert 14-15. This safety alert and other information about the 2016 Maintenance Dredge Project can be found on the Sector Honolulu homeport website under the Waterways Management page and Hawaii Commercial Harbor 2016 Maintenance Dredging tab.

Hawaii is a maritime state over 2,400 miles from the mainland and far more dependent on its harbors than most of the United States. The Hawaii state DOT claims that over 80 percent of all consumer goods – food, clothing, autos, building supplies, machinery, paper, and allied products, medical supplies, and agricultural materials – are imported into the state. Of that 80 percent, approximately 98 percent enters Hawaii though commercial harbors on the major islands.

To ensure that these vital goods continue to arrive safely in Hawaii, the Essayons crew will dredge approximately 290,000 cubic yards from the five key harbors. The dredge-material will be safely disposed of at EPA-designated ocean disposal sites.

For questions about the dredging operations specifically please contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Honolulu District Public Affairs office at or 808-835-4004.

Hawaii Department of Health Investigates Travel Related Cases of Mosquito Borne Illnesses on Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health is investigating four cases of travel related mosquito borne viruses on Oahu. The cases include an individual who traveled to Latin America, returned ill, and is being tested for dengue and Zika virus, as well as individuals who are being tested for dengue fever and chikungunya and have a history of travel to the Pacific Islands and Latin America. All of the individuals have recovered.

Mosquito Bite

Initial lab tests for the first individual referenced above conducted by the State Laboratories Division were not conclusive, and further testing will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The department’s Vector Control teams have been assessing residential and other areas in urban Honolulu and along the North Shore this week to determine if mosquito control measure such as eliminating mosquito breeding sites or spraying to reduce adult mosquitos activity will be necessary.

Dengue fever, Zika, and chikungunya are all mosquito borne viruses that are spread when a sick person is bitten by a mosquito, which later bites another person. Evidence suggests that Zika can also be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with someone who has been infected. The best way to prevent all these viruses is to take mosquito control measures and to avoid getting bitten. Some who carry Zika do not show symptoms, and in others, illness may last from several days to over a week. There is currently no cure for these viruses.

“The department expects to see more of these travel related cases as outbreaks of all these diseases continue in other countries,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “The department is working closely with the counties and taking precautionary measures to respond to all suspected and confirmed cases. We ask for the public’s help in reducing mosquito breeding areas around homes and workplaces and preventing mosquito bites by using repellant or protective clothing.”

Department of Health staff will continue to conduct site visits in various areas on Oahu in the coming week to assess problem areas for mosquito breeding and inform residents of the need to take precautions against mosquito-borne viruses. Residents who are not at home when a Vector Control team visits their neighborhood will receive a flyer or letter from the Department of Health and are advised to read the information carefully.

The public is advised that anyone who has traveled outside the country and has mild to severe symptoms such as fever, joint pain, rash, or red/pink eyes within 2 weeks after returning from travel should see their healthcare provider. All residents and visitors should avoid getting mosquito bites by using repellent and wearing light-colored clothing with long sleeves, pants, shoes and socks when outdoors. Residents should fix broken window and door screens at home, and get rid of standing water in the yard. Old tires, buckets, toys and plants, especially bromeliads, can become breeding sites for mosquitos.

For more tips on how to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne viruses, visit

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

International Space Station

It will be visible beginning tonight, Monday, March 28, at 7:37 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes at a Maximum Height of 51 degrees. It will appear 10 degrees above the Southwest part of the sky and disappear 11 degrees above the North Northeast part of the sky.

Hokulea Makes U.S. Mainland Arrival at Everglades National Park

Hokulea has made her first touch on the U.S. Mainland at Everglades National Park to pay homage to nature, the National Park Service and the area’s indigenous people.


Arriving at Everglades National Park on Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. (EST); 1:00 a.m. (HST), the Hokulea crew were welcomed by The Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples in a sacred ceremony honoring the Voyage. Following this sacred ceremony, The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Everglades National Park Service hosted a welcoming ceremony at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, where the public was invited to meet the crew and learn about the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

“We thought it would be most appropriate to have Hokulea’s arrival into the U.S. mainland take place where we could honor and pay respect to the area’s native people and to our National Park Service,” said Nainoa Thompson, Pwo navigator and president of Polynesian Voyaging Society. “This arrival represents two key pillars of our voyage, which are to connect with other indigenous cultures and to discover the efforts of our environmental mission partners such as the National Park Service, which is celebrating its Centennial,” he added.


Everglades National Park is a public park for the benefit of the people. It is set aside as a permanent wilderness preserving essential primitive conditions including the natural abundance, diversity, behavior, and ecological integrity of the unique flora and fauna. The park is visited on average by one million people each year. It is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. It has been designated an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and Wetland of International Importance.

Hokulea sailed to Everglades National Park from Key West, FL where she entered the US on March 23, 2016, after two years of sailing around the globe. The canoe departed Key West on March 25, 2015 to set sail for the Everglades. Her next destination after Everglades National Park is Fort Meyers, FL.

From Fort Meyers, Hokulea will cross the Florida peninsular via the Okeechobee Waterway to the eastern coast of the state where the crew will honor the late Lacy Veach at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in early April. Veach was a Hawaii-born NASA astronaut who first suggested the idea that Hokulea should sail around the world to share the message to care for Island Earth.

Everglades2As Hokulea sails up the East Coast of the U.S. for the first time in history, the Polynesian Voyaging Society has been developing the canoe’s sail plan based on stops where the crew will be able to make deeper connections with schools, Native American tribes and environmental mission partners such as National Park Service, UNESCO, NOAA and Mission Blue.

Following Florida, the crew will travel up the east coast making several stops including South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, where PVS will celebrate Earth Day with the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, offering canoe tours and dockside outreach to the public. Additional engagement stops in Virginia include Yorktown and Tangier Island, where the crew will focus on many of the environmental issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay and the efforts to protect the country’s largest watershed. From there, the iconic canoe will arrive at the nation’s capital by sailing down the Potomac River and docking at the Washington Canoe Club.

After spending about a week in Washington DC, Hokulea will sail to New York City, where she will be a focal point at World Oceans Day events hosted by the United Nations on June 8, 2016. The theme of this year’s World Oceans Day is Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet. While in New York City, Hokulea will also participate in the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge, which is the east coast’s largest Pacific Islands festival and one of the world’s most competitive outrigger races. Hokulea is expected to depart New York City on June 18, for several engagements in the New England area.

Since departing Hawaiian waters in May 2014, Hokulea has sailed more than 21,500 nautical miles and made stops in 12 countries and 55 ports, weaving a “Lei of Hope” around the world. Along the way, more than 160 volunteer crewmembers have helped to sail Hokulea accompanied by escort vessel Gershon II to spread the message of malama honua (or taking care of Island Earth) by promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness, as well as exchanging ideas with the countries she has visited. So far, crew members have connected with over 45,000 people in communities across the South Pacific, Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean including Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa and Brazil.

For a midway recap of the Worldwide Voyage, please view

Click here for an archive of news releases since Hokulea’s 2014 Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage launch.

Hokulea first set out on the Pacific Ocean in 1975. Since then, she has traveled to multiple countries across the globe, reawakening a Hawaiian cultural renaissance in the process through reviving the traditional art of wayfinding – navigating the sea guided by nature using the ocean swells, stars, and wind.

Final Numbers Show Bernie Sanders Dominated Hawaii

33,716 ballots were cast today in Hawai‘i’s Presidential Preference Poll.

Hawaii Bernie

Unofficial Candidate totals are below:

Bernie Sanders            23,530 Ballots             70%

Hillary Clinton            10,125 Ballots             30%

Rocky De La Fuente          12 Ballots               0%

Martin O’Malley                  6 Ballots               0%

Uncommitted                     43 Ballots               0%

Based on those totals, 17 delegates were awarded to Sanders and 8 to Clinton.  Here are the totals by Congressional District and county.

Delegates (% of Vote)             Delegates (% of Vote)

Congressional District 1         3 Clinton (38%)          /           5 Sanders (62%)

Congressional District 2         2 Clinton (25%)          /           6 Sanders (75%)

At-Large Delegates                 2 Clinton                     /           4 Sanders

Pledge PLEO                         1 Clinton                     /           2 Sanders


“Today’s turnout is a real testament to the hard work and commitment of the Sanders and Clinton campaigns and the engagement of Hawai‘i Democrats in the presidential process,” said State Party Chair Stephanie Ohigashi.  “We saw turnout today reminiscent of 2008 when Hawai‘i Democrats broke all records in the contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton,” Ohigashi said.

“I would like to thank all of the volunteers who worked so hard to make to make today successful.  From Pahala to Kaumakani the Democratic Party volunteers and the Presidential campaign representatives demonstrated the very best of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i.”

The official results will be certified by the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i State Central Committee within 20 days.


Hawaii Democratic Party Selects Bernie Sanders

The 2016 Hawaii Democratic Caucus results are in and Bernie Sanders has won the State of Hawaii.

Hawaii Bernie

Total ballots cast: 32,096.

Representing 88% of all precincts.

22,661 ballots were cast for Bernie Sanders, representing 71% of the partial results.

9,377 ballots were cast for Hillary Rodham Clinton, representing 29% of the partial results.

Rocky De La Fuente had 12 votes, Martin O’Malley had 6, and 40 were uncommitted. All counting for 0%.

The tabulating is continuing for the remaining 12%. These precincts are all on Oahu