DOE Removing Monkey Pod Tree on Waianuenue Avenue

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced yesterday that it will remove a monkey pod tree from the entrance of the district office on Waianuenue Avenue.

monkey pod tree

In June an arborist reported the tree suffers from severe rot and its condition has reached a stage that may result in its fall, causing a safety hazard.

The tree is over 50 years old and has a canopy spread of over 100 feet and a height of 60 feet to 70 feet.  The tree’s limbs are hollow from rot and estimated to weigh 15 to 20 tons.

Based on the evaluation and safety risk to the public, HIDOE will be removing the tree.  HIDOE has hired Tree Works for the tree removal, which will take place sometime before the school year begins on Aug. 1. Until that time, the area around the tree is prohibited from access.

HELCO Aerial Line Inspections Next Week and Update on Albizia Tree Removal

To improve system reliability, Hawaii Electric Light Company will conduct aerial line inspections of its major overhead transmission lines from Monday, July 11, to Thursday, July 14, 2016.

The islandwide inspections are scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. However, exact times and routes will depend on weather conditions. Inspections will be conducted in a Manuiwa Airways helicopter and require the aircraft to fly low and slow which may cause some noise disturbances.

Hawaii Electric Light apologizes for any disruptions this may cause and sincerely thanks the community for their cooperation and understanding.

If there are any questions or concerns, please call 969-6666.

In a new partnership to reduce the threat of falling albizia trees on roads and utility lines, Hawaii Electric Light Company and the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) are working together to clear thousands of the invasive trees across Hawaii Island.

HELCO AlbiziaUnder the terms of a memorandum of understanding, Hawaii Electric Light will oversee $1.5 million in work by contractors over the next year to clear albizia, focusing on areas where trees threaten both state highways and utility equipment.

Since Tropical Storm Iselle struck the island in 2014, Hawaii Electric Light has spent an estimated $14 million to clear trees and other vegetation that may damage power lines. The utility has cleared nearly 94,000 trees over the past two years, including 31,000 albizia.

Albizia, an invasive species in Hawaii, is known as one of the fastest growing trees in the world and is capable of reaching 200 feet. With broad, shallow root systems, the trees and their brittle limbs easily fall during strong winds. Iselle blew down thousands of albizia, blocking roads, toppling power lines and causing extended outages affecting thousands.

“In the aftermath of Iselle, we saw the devastating impact that fallen trees had on our communities and our customers. By working with the state DOT and doing this work now, we know we can reduce these risks,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light president.

“We greatly appreciate the partnership with Hawaii Electric Light Company on this important venture, which will help keep roadways open and utility lines connected,” said Ford Fuchigami, Hawaii Department of Transportation director.

Lava Now 0.8 Miles From Ocean

The flow front remains active, and was more than half way across the coastal plain today (July 6). This afternoon, the flow front was roughly 2 km (1.2 miles) from the base of the pali, and 1.3 km (0.8 miles) from the ocean.

The front consisted of slow moving pāhoehoe.  (Click to enlarge)

The front consisted of slow moving pāhoehoe. (Click to enlarge)

Close-up view of a typical surface on pāhoehoe lava.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

As this small channel of lava flows into a depression, its semi-congealed surface twists and wrinkles—forming the ropy surface commonly seen on pāhoehoe flows.

Flows on the pali are visible in the background.  (Click to enlarge)

Flows on the pali are visible in the background. (Click to enlarge)

The hardened crust of this pāhoehoe lava is pushed upward as the flow advances, exposing the incandescent lava beneath.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Active Shooter Presentation in Honoka’a

The Hawaiʻi Police Department will make an “active shooter” presentation in Honokaʻa on Tuesday, July 19.
Active Shooter
The presentation, which is open to the public, will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the large conference room at the North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center, located at 45-539 Plumeria Street.

It is designed to help individuals increase their survivability should they encounter an active shooter or other type of active violent incident. Police will provide information on previous incidents of mass violence, recent events, best practices for those caught in such situations, law enforcement’s response, and how to work together as a community toward prevention. They will also provide additional resources for participants so they can continue their education on this topic, followed by a question-and answer segment.

Persons unable to attend may obtain “active shooter” information by viewing the “Active Shooter/Violence Awareness” page on the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s website ( under the “Services” tab.

Big Island Police Identify Body Discovered Off Saddle Road in 2003

Hawaiʻi Island detectives have identified the body of a murder victim that was discovered off the Saddle Road in 2003.

Bradley Elmer Bussewitz

Bradley Elmer Bussewitz

Bradley Elmer Bussewitz was identified using the most current biometric technology. The New Generation Identification system, developed by the FBI, was used to identify Bussewitz through his fingerprints.

On November 2, 2003, a hunter searching for a missing dog discovered the body in the vicinity of the 12-mile marker of Route 200, formerly known as the Saddle Road and now known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section recovered the remains, which were in an advanced state of decomposition. An autopsy conducted on the remains determined that Bussewitz died from blunt force trauma and his death was ruled a homicide.

Detectives are still seeking witnesses or motorists who may have seen him hitchhiking either on Kaumana Drive or the Saddle Road on or about November 2, 2003. Bussewitz, who was 47 at the time of his death, was described as Caucasian, about 6-foot-1 with a slim build. He was wearing a green aloha print shirt and a pair of brown swim trunks with red pockets.

Bussewitz was known to be a resident of Hawaiʻi Island and is also believed to have previously lived on Maui. His primary modes of transportation were an early model Chevy Lumina van, color unknown, and a bicycle.

Police ask anyone with information about this case to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Derek Morimoto at 961-2380 or

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribed to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Zonta Hilo Awards $2,500 to Young Women Pursing Higher Education

The Zonta Club of Hilo presented $2,500 in scholarships and awards to five outstanding Hawaii Island young women at the club’s June monthly business meeting. Three high school seniors were recognized for the Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) award and two University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH) students were awarded nursing scholarships.

 “Zonta Club of Hilo service chair Julie Tulang with the club’s 2016 nursing scholarship winner Poki‘i Balaz, club president Tonya Ozone and YWPA 2016 award recipients Makena Wagner, Zoi Nakamura and Cassidy Kelii.”

“Zonta Club of Hilo service chair Julie Tulang with the club’s 2016 nursing scholarship winner Poki‘i Balaz, club president Tonya Ozone and YWPA 2016 award recipients Makena Wagner, Zoi Nakamura and Cassidy Kelii.”

The YWPA award recognizes young women committed to volunteering, who demonstrate leadership skills and are dedicated to empowering women and girls. Applicants are asked to reflect on their volunteer work and problems limiting advancement of the status of women in their community and worldwide.

  • Makena Wagner, a senior at Kamehameha High School, received the first place $500 YWPA award. “Finding ways to give back is not just good for self-esteem, but it leaves one wanting to do more,” said Wagner, who will be attending Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
  • Waiakea High School junior Zoi Nakamura was second place for YWPA and received $400. “I’ve set my mind on completing a course of study that’s based on service; that’s why I chose the Public Service Academy at school,” said Nakamura.
  • Third place for YWPA and $300 went to Cassidy Kelii, a senior at Kamehameha High School. Kelii will pursue a degree in political science on the mainland and said she will return to Hawaii to practice law. Kelii is president of an all-girl construction club.
  • Kealohaku‘ualohaku‘upoki‘i “Poki‘i” Balaz, who is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice at UH Hilo, received the club’s $1,000 nursing scholarship. Balaz said taking care of her parents inspired her to specialize in geriatric care. Balaz earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from UH Manoa and Master of Science in nursing from Oklahoma City University.
  • Carola Geitner, a junior pursuing her Bachelor of Science in nursing at UH Hilo, was second place for the nursing scholarship and received a $300 cash award. Geitner, who was responsible for the health and well-being of her younger sister at the age of seven, says the sense of caring and desire to look after people and their health fueled her interest in wanting to become a nurse.

About Zonta Club of Hilo
The Zonta Club of Hilo was founded in 1950 and is part of Zonta International, a global organization whose mission is to empower women through service and advocacy. To learn more about the club’s service projects, special events, advocacy efforts and scholarship opportunities, visit Facebook // Instagram @ZontaHIlo

First in the World Orchid Maze Opening on the Big Island

Hawaii residents are invited to have an “orchid experience” at a first-in-the-world Orchid Maze, the highlight of a special Grand Opening / Kamaaina Weekend at the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens set for Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.

Akatsuka Orchid Gardens

The unique, 8,000-square-foot orchid maze allows visitors to follow a variety of paths through more than five hundred blooming, colorful and fragrant orchids on a self-guided tour featuring educational exhibits, tips, growing instructions and interactive video kiosks.

There is a $3 admission charge to the maze, which includes an orchid planting with a plant that can be taken home plus a sampling of the Gardens original poha ice cream.  The maze is enclosed and completely covered so it is open irrespective of the weather.

The orchid maze is the creation of company vice-president Takeshi Akatsuka, who took over this year as general manager of the Gardens from his father and founder Moriyasu Akatsuka.   The special kamaaina weekend event marks 42 years in business for the Gardens, which now has the largest collection of orchids and tropical plants, including bromeliads and anthuriums, in Hawaii.

Among the many varieties of orchids are the more well-known Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, Odontoglossum, Dendrobium, Oncidium, Miltonia and Vanda species.   There are as many as 2,000 other varieties, which are the result of 20 years of continuous hybridization by Moriyasu Akatsuka, who originally learned his skills while working in his homeland of Japan.

One of the orchids displayed is a rare Paphiopedilum variety, which Moriyasu brought from its natural habitat in Thailand and is valued at $20,000.   Called the “Volcano Queen”, this rare specimen can be seen only during the months April to July annually.

In addition to the orchid maze, the Gardens offers a one-hour Greenhouse Tour every Wednesday and Friday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. for individuals, large groups and private tours.   The Gardens also has a special “photo-op” area, a mini Zen garden, a bamboo orchid wall, and a large gift shop.   All Akatsuka’s orchids are qualified for U.S. Mainland travel as well as shipping to all 50 United States and territories.

In addition to its special Grand Opening / Kamaaina weekend, the Gardens will also hold a special orchid “Sidewalk Sale” on Saturday, July 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.   Buyers may purchase a pre-priced box and fill the box with as many plants as it can hold.

Akatsuka Orchid Gardens is located on the Big Island of Hawaii on Hwy. 11 in Volcano between mile markers 22 and 23, and open daily, with the exception of holidays, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

“I think children and adults of all ages will find the orchid maze to be a really fun and unusual experience for all the senses,” said Takeshi Akatsuka.