***Commentary*** Reflection On 2013 Stories

2013By Tiffany Edwards Hunt  

As this new year begins, we can look at all we as a community have heard news about throughout 2013:  the murder of Brittany Jane Royal and disappearance of Boaz Johnson;  the ban on genetically modified organisms; the effort to initiate a geothermal public health study (see Alan McNarie’s piece).

We learned of the the passing of the legendary Helene Hale, one of my mentors and one of the state’s first women politicians.  We saw the opening of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, following the passing of that great politician last December, the new road linking the West side and the East side together.

We learned of shark attacks in the state and even here on Hawaii Island, at Punalu’u involving a bodyboarder and at Pohoiki involving hope-to-be pro surfer Jimmy “Ulu Boy” Napeahi, a senior at Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences.

We learned of a state hospital escapee commit murder in Puna, after several years here hiding in plain sight.

We saw the Save Pohoiki movement established to stop the industrialization in Puna, in response to proposed geothermal expansion.

We learned that the planners of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea bowed to prevailing public sentiment and agreed to an environmental impact statement before proceeding with .

We heard of the passing of Star Newland, once Paradise Newland, a woman committed to dolphin swims and language sculpting, whose bumper stickers you see on County buses and police vehicles, “Just say yes to domestic harmony.” At the time of her death, she was initiating a new program, “bee buddies,” to raise awareness about honey bees.

We read our fair share of domestic violence stories — this month’s culprit being 35-year-old Justin Lee who allegedly ran over his 41-year-old girlfriend with a car after an argument.  He has been charged with second-degree reckless endangering and two counts of second-degree assault.   Also this year, we learned about Alex Gambsky’s arrest, several years after he allegedly killed his wife and buried her in the backyard of their Orchidland home.

Shifting from the grim to the inspiring, we saw Leahi Camacho, a senior at Kealakehe High School, swim across the Kaiwi Channel, which lies between Molokai and Oahu.   

We learned of the Panaewa midget football team that almost couldn’t go to the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Florida, after thousands of dollars was allegedly embezzled from their savings.

We witnessed the establishment of same-sex marriage in Hawaii, ensuring equal rights for all Hawaii’s residents.

It’s truly been a memorable year, 2013, and Big Island Chronicle has reported to you details of some of those stories.

As we begin 2014 and start on our list of new year’s resolutions,  I’d like to offer mine with this newspaper. I hope to continue our trend of delving deep into the issues that are most on people’s minds. Politics seem to be BIC readers’ greatest interest and, given the profound impact they have on our lives, I see nothing wrong with continuing to devote plenty of ink to that sort of coverage.

We will start off the new year watching our governor and State Legislature decide what to do with a budget surplus.  We also get to enjoy the campaign season leading up to the 2014 election.  I am very curious to cover this election, particularly with a couple of our County Council members reaching their term limits and folks in the community already vowing to challenge incumbents.  As for who has emerged as candidates, Madeline Greene, a pawn shop owner in Pahoa who is on various community groups including the Pahoa Weed and Seed group and Mainstreet Pahoa Association, wants to challenge Greggor Ilagan for the District 5 seat representing lower Puna.  And Aaron Chung, a former Hilo councilman, is telling mutual friends he is interested in taking over the seat being vacated by J Yoshimoto due to term limits.  It’s also a likely scenario that current Deputy County Clerk Maile David will pursue the seat being vacated by Brenda Ford due to term limits.  I look forward to sharing with you these stories and more in the year to come.  Thank you so much, readers, and those of you who appreciate and admire what we’re doing here. I have had people pull me aside to tell me this newspaper is the NPR of alternative newspapers here on the island.  That, to me, is the ultimate compliment. I want to thank Allen McNarie for all his hard work over the course of the year and all our community contributors who have made this newspaper a stellar piece of community journalism.  Happy New Year, everyone. — Tiffany & Co.

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