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Hawai’i County Planning Department Named Blue Zones Worksite

The County of Hawai’i Planning Department took the principles of healthy best practices to heart, earning recognition as the first County Department in the State of Hawai’i to receive the Blue Zones Approve worksite designation.

The Blue Zones concept of healthy living, aimed at a longer, healthier life, was pioneered by a book of the same name by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner, who explored areas where people routinely live to age 100 or older.  Among the longevity-favored locales is Okinawa, Japan, from whence many Big Islanders descend.

The Planning Department navigated a long list of criteria and tasks in order to clinch the designation on July 11.

According to Jana Ortiz-Misiaszek, Organizational Lead with Blue Zones Project® – East Hawai’i, the Planning Department achieved Blue Zones Project recognition by adopting the following best practices that promote well-being:

  • Plant-based cooking demonstrations – using in house staff to demo and share their favorite recipes;
  • Organized walking moais (groups) – to increase natural movement throughout the work day and connect with co-workers in a positive manner;
  • Personality testing – administered to staff and sharing each other strengths to improve communication and productivity;
  • Wellness Wednesday communication strategy – email staff health related programs, updates, testimonials, invitations once a week to limit multiple emails;
  • Created a worksite wellness program named Planning 4 Wellness;
  • Established multiple walking routes and maps that include time and distance.

Planning staff recently showcased their Blue Zones inspired healthy cuisine with rave reviews at a recent meeting of the Mayor’s Cabinet.  The rest of the County Departments were encouraged to take Planning’s example by seeking Blue Zones Approved worksite status.

To learn more about becoming a Blue Zones Project Approved worksite, contact the Blue Zones Project team in East Hawaii at BlueZonesProjectEastHawaii@healthways.com, or visit hawaii.bluezonesproject.com

State Farm Donates 500 Home Security Systems to Hawaii County Fire Fighters

State Farm Insurance officially donated 500 home security systems on Monday to Hawai’i County firefighters, in appreciation for the protection they provide to the community.

The insurance company, in cooperation with home security systems start-up Canary, made the donation worth $100,000.00 as part of a program called “Protect the Protectors.”  The program is active in more than 20 communities in the United States.

The program provides in-home camera devices that enable first responders to monitor their homes via cellphone while on duty.

Kim Hahn, State Farm’s agency field leader, said that her company had a long tradition of supporting first responders.  “We would like to return the favor, by protecting our protectors.”

Fire Chief Darren Rosario expressed his gratitude at the donation event held at Aupuni Center.

“This gives us peace of mind that our homes are safe while we’re away at work,” Chief Rosario said.  “From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.”

Chief Rosario also paid tribute to the Department’s nine-year-old Labrador Retriever arson dog, Kaimi, who was on hand at the event.  Kaimi, the only arson dog in the State of Hawai’i, was sponsored under State Farm’s arson dog program, and has helped lead to arson convictions.

Mayor Harry Kim said he was very impressed with the all-in-one security system, that can not only show visuals of what is going on at home; it can monitor for factors such as temperature, which could indicate a fire.

“I wish I had the money for every house and business to have this kind of technology,” the Mayor said.  “Thank you for what you do with these innovations.”

Hawaii Teacher Inducted Into Prestigious Bandworld Legion of Honor

Roosevelt High School’s Director of Music Gregg Abe has been inducted into the prestigious Bandworld Legion of Honor along with six other band directors from across the U.S. this year. He is the fifth band director from Hawaii to receive the award since its inception in 1989.

Gregg Abbe

“Music and the arts are important components of our students’ educational experience, and we are honored to have dedicated band directors like Mr. Abe who instill a passion and appreciation for music,” said Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi. “Congratulations to Mr. Abe and the Roosevelt community on this well-deserved recognition.”

Abe has taught at Roosevelt High for the majority of his 32-year career and directs the school’s marching band, concert band, symphonic band, jazz ensemble, percussion ensemble and symphony orchestra. Under his direction, the school’s band has been recognized nationally including being nominated for the Sudler Flag in 2005, an award that internationally recognizes high school bands for excellence.

“The most important factor that has shaped my career is my students. I’m still learning about my profession and I discover so much from them – their successes and mistakes,” said Abe. “I listen to what they have to say and structure my curriculum at times around them in order to bridge the communication gap.”

Additionally, Abe has been awarded the Hawaii Music Awards High School Music Educator of the Year and Time Warner Outstanding Educator. Abe earned his Bachelor of Education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has also done extensive studies at Brigham Young University and Vandercook College of Music.

The Bandworld Legion of Honor was established to honor band directors nationwide. Recipients have taught for at least 15 years, have maintained a high quality concert band program, and have contributed significantly to the profession through dedication to bands and band music.

Hawaiian Airlines Adding Three New Non-Stop Daily Mainland Routes

Hawaiian Airlines will expand its U.S. West Coast presence with the arrival of an A321neo fleet by adding three new non-stop daily routes early next year: Portland-Maui; Oakland-Kaua‘i; and Los Angeles-Kona. The routes will offer guests more options for direct access to Hawaiian’s neighbor islands while enjoying the company’s award-winning, warm hospitality in the comfort of medium-haul, single-aisle A321neo aircraft.

“The introduction of A321neo service to the Western U.S. heralds the dawn of a new era for Hawaiian Airlines and its guests,” said Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Hawaiian Airlines. “The A321neo offers an unrivaled combination of comfort and efficiency, allowing our guests to choose from three cabin experiences to customize their journey. We look forward to announcing additional routes in the months and years ahead.”

The new A321neo service between Portland (PDX) and Maui (OGG) will launch on Jan. 18. Hawaiian’s seasonal widebody service currently offered between Oakland (OAK) and Kaua‘i (LIH) through Sept. 4 will resume April 11 as a daily A321neo flight. Daily service between Los Angeles (LAX) and Kona (KOA) on the Island of Hawai‘i launches March 11 with widebody aircraft before the A321neo is introduced in the summer of 2018. Guests may visit www.hawaiianairlines.com to purchase tickets for all routes operated by Hawaiian Airlines.

Hawaiian’s inaugural A321neo flight between the U.S. West Coast and Hawai‘i is planned for Jan. 8 on its existing OAK-OGG service. Additional routes will be announced as Hawaiian welcomes 18 new A321neo aircraft between the fourth quarter of 2017 and 2020.

Hawaiian’s signature style flows throughout the A321neo’s three cabins, including 16 luxurious leather recliners in the Premium Cabin, 45 Extra Comfort premium economy seats, and 128 Economy class seats. All seats are equipped with complimentary high-power USB outlets for device charging, while guests in the Premium Cabin and Extra Comfort seats will enjoy access to an additional AC power outlet. Pivoting overhead bins maximize the space for carry-on luggage.

Hawaiian carefully designed its A321neo cabin interiors with textiles and materials that reflect traditional island crafts, from bark cloth (kapa) to fishing nets, and even LED lighting mirroring Hawai‘i’s idyllic sunrises and sunsets.

New to Hawaiian’s guest experience, the A321neo will feature wireless streaming in-flight entertainment. Guests will be able to simply download an application on their personal electronic devices to enjoy a wide selection of complimentary and premium content, including movies, TV shows, music and other exclusive programming. Holders for personal hand-held devices and tablets will be integrated into the tray tables of the Premium Cabin as well as the first row of Extra Comfort, and built into the backrest of all other seats.

The A321neo boasts the quietest and most fuel-efficient engines for this aircraft type, along with aerodynamic wingtips called Sharklets that significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Hawaiian’s A321neo flight schedules will be as follows:*

**Route will launch with widebody aircraft before receiving dedicated A321neo service.

The core of the A321neo experience will remain Hawaiian’s award-winning onboard hospitality program, Mea Ho‘okipa (translation: I am host). All guests are treated to island-inspired complimentary meals and made-in-Hawai‘i snacks to go along with the airline’s engaging presentation of the islands’ culture, people and Aloha Spirit throughout the flight.

Sales for additional routes served by new A321neo aircraft will be announced later this year. For more information, please visit https://www.hawaiianairlines.com/A321neo.

Hawaii Department of Transportation Launches 8th Annual Pedestrian Safety Month with New Girl Scouts Partnership and Drive Wise Hawaii Brochure

Governor David Y. Ige, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), and federal, state and community partners kicked off the state’s 8th annual Pedestrian Safety Month today at the State Capitol with an official proclamation ceremony. Held each August, Pedestrian Safety Month works to increase awareness of pedestrian safety to make Hawaii a safer place to walk. The month is organized by HDOT’s Walk Wise Hawaii program and will feature daily public and private pedestrian safety events.

“The primary cause of pedestrian accidents is inattentive behavior on both the part of the pedestrian and the driver,” HDOT Director Ford Fuchigami said. “Our Walk Wise Hawaii program is an important tool, along with enforcement and safety engineering, in increasing awareness to reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries in our state.”

In 2016, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian deaths in the U.S., which is the highest in more than two decades. State data shows that there were 32 pedestrian fatalities in Hawaii in 2016, and one pedestrian fatality in 2017.

On average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes nationwide,” Fuchigami said. “We believe that this alarming trend can be reduced through increased awareness of the problem and education, which is why we created Pedestrian Safety Month.  Protecting our most vulnerable roadway users is one of our top priorities.”

During today’s event, HDOT announced a new community partnership with the Girl Scouts of Hawaii. Walk Wise Hawaii conduct safety presentations to nearly 5,000 Girl Scouts throughout the state. Girl Scout troops will then create a pedestrian safety project to share key Walk Wise Hawaii safety tips with the public, earning each participating Girl Scout an inaugural Walk Wise Hawaii Pedestrian Safety Patch.

“Pedestrian Safety is an important message to everyone, and Girl Scouts in Hawaii look forward to carrying that message throughout our community,” said Shari Chang, CEO Girl Scouts of Hawaii. “Scouts of all ages will be participating in a variety of community awareness projects to support this program.”A new Drive Wise Hawaii brochure was also unveiled, which outlines ways that drivers can safely handle pedestrian activity on Hawaii’s roadways, including:

  1. Always be prepared to stop when approaching a crosswalk. A pedestrian may be hidden from view.
  2. Be vigilant. Always look for pedestrian movement in your direction.
  3. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Proceed when the pedestrian has safely passed your vehicle.
  4. Be aware that pedestrians can be hidden from view when you are stopped at multilane roads.
  5. When driving between dusk and down, watch for pedestrians in dark clothing. Always use your headlights.
  6. Always watch for pedestrians when backing out of driveways or parking stalls. Children can be hidden from view.
  7. Make sure that you are fit to drive.

The brochure features a Drive Wise Hawaii Pledge for drivers that asks them: “As a good driver to always be aware that pedestrians can be hidden from view by stopped vehicles on multi-lane streets.” Brochures will be distributed at participating McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii drive-through locations and community events throughout the state during Pedestrian Safety Month.

Pedestrian Safety Month public partners include the City & County of Honolulu’s Department of Transportation Services; all County police departments; the Hawaii Police Department’s Community Policing Teams and Neighborhood Security Watch Teams; and Safe Routes to School. Private partners include First Hawaiian Bank, DTRIC Insurance and Moms In Hawaii. Pedestrian-related community events and campaigns will be taking place throughout the month to encourage safe pedestrian behaviors and raise driver awareness of pedestrians.

For more information on Walk Wise Hawaii and a list of Pedestrian Safety Month events, call (808) 587-2160 or visit https://www.facebook.com/WalkWiseHawaii/.

About Walk Wise Hawaii
Walk Wise Hawaii is a public education program focusing on pedestrian safety and driver awareness, and is sponsored by the Hawaii Department of Transportation through its “Safe Communities” program with funding from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). Walk Wise Hawaii has employed extensive outreach methods including partnerships with public and private entities since its inception in 2003.

About Girl Scouts of Hawaii
Supporting almost 5,000 girl and adult members statewide, the Girl Scouts of Hawaii (GSH) builds girls of courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place. GSH’s headquarters is located on the island of Oahu, with three neighbor island service centers on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai and Maui. GSH is chartered by the national office, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and is responsible for the leadership, administration and supervision of Girl Scout programs in the State of Hawaii. For more information about GSH, visit www.gshawaii.org or call (808) 595-8400.

Hawaii Attorney General Chin to Serve on Executive Committee for National Association of Attorneys General

Attorney General Doug Chin has been re-appointed to the Executive Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), a bipartisan organization of all attorneys general nationwide.

Doug Chin

Attorney General Chin previously served on the NAAG Executive Committee in his position as Chair of the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG). His tenure as CWAG Chair ends at the beginning of August, but NAAG President and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has appointed Attorney General Chin to remain on the Executive Committee.

Attorney General Chin said, “Our work with NAAG helps ensure issues important to Hawaii are addressed and directly benefits the work we are doing at our office.”

Attorney General Chin will also serve as a member of the following NAAG committees: civil rights, criminal law, and training. In addition, he is co-chair of the finance committee, co-chair of the marijuana issues working group and a member of the Volkswagen settlement fund committee.

Eating Macadamia Nuts Can Help Reduce Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Under Certain Circumstances

The Hawaii Congressional Delegation applauded the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of a petition that certifies that eating macadamia nuts can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease under certain circumstances.

The approval of the petition will allow certain macadamia nut products to carry a label that designates them as heart-healthy. After a nearly two-year wait, the Hawaii Congressional Delegation wrote to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on June 26 urging him to expedite review of the petition.

“The FDA ruling will directly benefit Hawaii’s agricultural community,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono. “Macadamia nuts are one of Hawaii’s most well-known foods, and today’s ruling allows farmers to better market macadamia nut products by educating consumers of their health benefits.”

“This is great news for Hawaii’s macadamia nut producers and our local economy,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “This ruling lifts a cloud of uncertainty off the industry and helps cement the macadamia nut’s place as one of our state’s most valued exports.”

“I am thrilled to see the FDA recognize the health benefits of one of Hawaii’s most famous crops,” said Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01). “This is good news for Hawaii and those of us, like me, who eat Macadamia Nuts on a regular basis.”

“People in Hawaii have long recognized the benefits of macadamia nuts for our overall health and wellbeing,” said Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “This decision is an important step to strengthening our local macadamia industry, increasing its potential for growth, and confirming that like other tree nuts, macadamia nuts can offer a great contribution to a healthy diet.”

The petition was submitted by Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut, Inc., but will apply to certain macadamia nut products, regardless of manufacturer.

Under the new guidelines, certain macadamia nut products can carry the following statement:

“Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of macadamia nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased intake of saturated fat or calories may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See nutrition information for fat [and calorie] content.”

Hot Summer Nights Featuring Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker and Alex Gupton

Renowned local artists Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker along with Alex Gupton are holding their yearly high profile art event at The Kona Oceanfront Gallery.  The highly anticipated event – “Hot Summer Nights” featuring Parker’s and Gupton’s latest creations will be showcased this Friday night, July 28th from 5-9 PM.

“If you ever wanted to own a piece of art created by two of Big Island’s best, this would be the night to get it” said Mark Hanna the owner of Kona Oceanfront Gallery. “It’s going to be the event of the year” he added.

All are encouraged to come out and participate in a night filled with Art and Entertainment.  Both artists will be in attendance to autograph, personalize and talk story all evening. Kona Oceanfront Gallery is the premier gallery on the Big Island that features cutting edge artwork from all local artists.   The Gallery is centrally located on Ali’i Drive next to Bubba Gumps; free refreshments and validated underground event parking will be available night of the event.

So come on in and cool off this Friday during Hot Summer Show Nights with Brad Parker and Alex Gupton at the Kona Oceanfront Gallery.  Phone 334-0037 for more information.

Heroes of Hope Save Native Plant Species From Brink of Extinction

A team of biologists has accomplished two herculean feats in Hawaiian plant conservation: the successful reintroduction of the endangered Ka‘ū silversword (Argyroxiphium kauense) and Pele lobeliad (Clermontia peleana) on Mauna Loa and Kīlauea volcanoes in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Park ecologist David Benitez and Rob Robichaux collecting pollen from a Ka‘ū silversword. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

In an article recently published in the leading science journal, Biological Conservation, the biologists describe their 20-year efforts on Hawai‘i Island to rescue the plants from the edge of extinction.

“It’s been two decades of painstaking efforts by devoted individuals from federal, state and private agencies and institutions to save these plants,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park botanist Sierra McDaniel. “The team used technical rope systems to produce cuttings from Pele lobeliads in the rainforest canopy, flew by helicopter to remote volcanic slopes to rescue Ka‘ū silverswords, and worked long hours in the field and greenhouses to save them. It’s impossible to describe the joy we feel to see these plants thrive in the wild again,” she said.

The 11-page article describes the efforts and plants in detail, with color photographs that illustrate the nature of the efforts and convey the exceptional beauty of the plants. The article celebrates the centennial anniversary of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, which was established Aug. 1, 1916 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pele lobeliad flowers with nectar droplet. The abundant nectar serves as a food reward for native honeycreepers. Photo courtesy of Rob Robichaux, taken in the Volcano Rare Planet Facility greenhouse.

The Pele lobeliad nearly went extinct. Only five remnant plants are known in the wild, but now, more than 1,000 Pele lobeliads have been reintroduced in protected areas in the national park. The effort with the Ka‘ū silversword has been similarly successful, with more than 21,000 plants having been reintroduced in the park. Furthermore, the Ka‘ū silversword has now produced offspring of its own  – a key factor for long-term recovery.

An important aspect of the work has been linking the reintroduction efforts to landscape restoration at large scales in the park and in adjacent state and private lands, thereby providing opportunities for future growth and expansion of the silversword and lobeliad populations.

“The highly collaborative nature of the work has been the key to its success,” said Rob Robichaux, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, and coordinator of the silversword and lobeliad recovery efforts. “Daunting challenges remain. Yet the story of the Ka‘ū silversword and Pele lobeliad offers hope for a brighter future in which the landscapes of Hawai‘i are once again replenished with its many native plant species, which are true marvels of evolution,” he said.

Award-Winning Hawaiian Mystery ‘KULEANA’ Set for North American Premier

‘KULEANA’ is the Hawaiian word for Spiritual Responsibility. ‘KULEANA’ is also a provocative new mystery/drama written/directed by Brian Kohne that stars Moronai Kanekoa (Gary Kubota’s one-man show LEGEND OF KO’OLAU), Sonya Balmores (Marvel’s INHUMANS), and Kristina Anapau (TRUE BLOOD, BLACK SWAN). ‘KULEANA’ holds its North American Premiere August 1 at 6pm in the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts as an opening night selection in the 23rd San Antonio Film Festival. A Hula performance will precede the screening, the Texas Premiere of WIND RIVER, starring Jeremy Renner, follows at 8pm.

In ‘KULEANA’, set on Maui in 1971, a disabled Vietnam vet must rediscover the Hawaiian warrior within to protect his family, defend their land, and clear his father’s name. ‘KULEANA’, presented by Hawai’i Cinema, held its World Premiere screening for an attendance-record 3,100 enthusiastic viewers outdoors at the 2017 Maui Film Festival in June, and was honored with an Audience Choice Award.

Critics report of ‘KULEANA’: “An original blend of Hawaii’s history, spirituality and culture. Kuleana introduces a unique new film genre: Hawaiian Noir. While the setting may be tropical paradise, it’s set against a shocking and densely plotted mystery that twists and turns like a Raymond Chandler thriller.” And: “With its easy-going pace, lived-in characterizations, emphasis on domestic cruelties and layered, twisty storytelling, the movie this most reminded me of was Chinatown.”

‘KULEANA’ is written and directed by Brian Kohne, and produced by Stefan Schaefer. The unrated 95-minute mystery/drama stars native Hawaiian Moronai Kanekoa, Sonya Balmores of Marvel’s TV series INHUMANS, Kristina Anapau of TRUE BLOOD, and island entertainers Marlene Sai, Augie T, and Branscombe Richmond. The legendary Willie K provides an original score with Johnny Wilson; and the soundtrack boasts hits by Joni Mitchell, Procol Harum, Tony Orlando and Dawn and more, with classic Hawaiian recordings of the sixties from Genoa Keawe, Lena Machado, Sunday Manoa, Sons of Hawaii, Marlene Sai, and more.

The San Antonio Film Festival runs Tuesday August 1, to Sunday August 6, with an array of shorts and features, workshops and panels, VIP events, and fun for all ages. Tickets are on sale at the Tobin Center Box Office. For more information, visit: SAFilm.com.


‘KULEANA’ Trailer (2017) from Hawai’i Cinema on Vimeo.

Hilo Man Charged With 3 Offenses in Ambulance Theft

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 24-year-old Hilo man for 3 offenses in connection with the theft of an ambulance from the Hilo Medical Center (July 20).

Maksim Stasyuk

Hospital staff reported that a privately owned ambulance belonging American Medical Response was taken from the hospital. An extensive search by police and AMR personnel was underway when a witness reported seeing the ambulance on Leilani Street, leading into the solid-waste transfer station.

At 2:20 p.m., police located the ambulance and arrested Maksim Stasyuk at the scene. At 5:25 p.m., (July 21), Stasyuk was charged with first degree theft and two counts of criminal property damage. He is being held at the Hilo cellblock in lieu of $36,000 bail pending his initial court appearance (July 2 4), in South Hilo District Court.