Survey: Hawaii County is Unhealthiest in State

Just as Hawaii Health Systems, the island’s chief hospital facilities provider, announced that shortfalls would force it to cut services and lay 0ff 87 employees in East Hawaii, a prestigious nonprofit released survey findings that rank Hawaii County dead last in the state for overall health.

Every five years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health,” releases the results of a nationwide survey of health conditions, broken down by county. The latest survey ranks Hawaii County dead last in the state, behind Maui County, the City and County of Honolulu and Kauai County. The survey covered 32 factors that affected residents, health, and grouped those factors six general areas.  Hawaii ranked fourth out of the four counties in five of hose factors: length of life; quality of life; health behaviors such as drinking, smoking, obesity and inactivity;  clinical care, and social and economic factors. The only bright spot:  Hawaii ranked second in “Physical Environment.”

The foundation estimated that approximately 6,700 every 100,000 Hawaii County residents died prematurely. About 10 percent o county residents were without health insurance.  About 25 percent of the population were considered obese, about 45 percent of deaths in traffic accidents were found to be  alcohol-related and 22 percent of island residents drank excessively. Approximately 321 out of every 100,000 island residents had a sexually transmitted disease and on average, 22 out of every 1,000 girls between the age of 15 and 19 gave birth. Twenty-six percent of children in the county live in impoverished households, compared to 14 percent statewide. But Hawaii residents were found to be slightly less likely than their counterparts statewide to be victimized by violent crime; on average, 254  such crimes were committed per 100,000 residents here, versus 263 per 100,000 statewide.

According to the Foundation’s statistics,  there is one primary care physician for every 1,391 island residents the average statewide is one per every 1,045.


Parks and Rec Declares War on Fire Ants

The Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation has received a $50,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority to eradicate little fire ants, and it’s wasting no time putting the money to use.  The department only announced the grant yesterday, but today it announced that Hilo’s Kawamoto Swim Stadium would be closed on February 5 to treat it for the tiny stinging pests.  Future ant-eradication targets for the program include Richardson Ocean Park, Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo an Gardens and Liliu`okalani Gardens.

Little fire ants are considered to be one of the worst invasive species worldwide. In recent years, they have spread to tropical environments around the world, from Florida to Israel to Papua New Guinea.  The ants are about as long as a penny is thick, but their sting can cause a burning rash as large as a human hand. Unlike many ant species, little fire ant queens do not fly; they spread mainly by “hitch-hiking” in potted plants and in transported soil and soil amendments.  For more information about them, see the Hawaii Ant Lab’s Web site.

Kea’au Has Water Emergency

From the County of Hawaii:

This is a Department of Water Supply (DWS) emergency water restriction notice for Friday, January 16, 2015 at 4:15 p.m.

A water restriction advisory is now in effect for Kea’au residents on Milo street from ‘Ohe Street down to Railroad Avenue including customers in Ulupono Subdivision and  8-1/2 Mile Camp (Mill Camp) subdivision.  Recent reports of low to no pressure in water service for this area are now being investigated.  Until further notice, affected area customers are advised to restrict water use to essential needs only:

·          Keep water use to an absolute minimum.

·          Water should be used for essentials only (cooking, drinking and sanitation.)

·          Do not wash cars or water lawns.

·          Turn off or disconnect any devices or fixtures that regularly draw water.  Such devices include automatic icemakers and irrigation systems.

A water tanker will be located on Milo Street to supply affected residents with drinking water.

For any emergency water concerns call 961-8790.

Your cooperation is needed and appreciated.


Iselle Relief: The Latest fromCivil Defense

From Hawaii County Civil Defense:

This is a Community Assessment and Assistance information update for Thursday August 14th at 9 AM.

Incorrect rumors are circulating that generators are being distributed…. There is no distribution of generators to the public taking place. 

1.        County Public Works and Parks & Recreation crews with state Highways, Forestry crews, Hawaii National Guard, and private contractors will be continuing with debris clearance and road clearing operations. All affected subdivisions currently have access to the highways and main roadways however there may be debris and obstructions within the subdivision roadways. Once again, the community is thanked for their help and assistance with the clearing of the roads and the removal of trees and debris. Everyone is reminded that all downed power lines should be treated as energized and avoided to insure safety.

2.        HELCO crews continue to work on restoring power in the affected areas.

The various telephone service providers continue to work to restore telephone service to affected areas. Verizon reports is has restored service, while AT&T reports it has re-established intermittent coverage.

3.   Community assistance centers for the distribution of water and ice will be set up at the following locations at 12:00 noon today:

a.  Nanawale Estates Community Center

b.   Leilani Estates Community Center. People are asked to bring containers to haul potable water at Leilani

c.     Kalani Honua Retreat

  1. Hawaiian Shores Community Center

e.    Hawaiian Paradise Park Community Center

f.     Ice will also be distributed at J.Hara Store in Kurtistown starting at 3 p.m. today

Supplies are limited and everyone’s patience and understanding is greatly appreciated.

  1. The County Department of Environmental Management is waiving tipping fees for disaster debris from Tropical Storm Iselle. Haulers must request the waiver form at the scale house to qualify. For more information, haulers should go to the Web site


  1. Damage assessments are ongoing and being conducted by the County Office of Housing and Community Development and the Hawaii National Guard.

6    The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency and the County of Hawai‘i will set up Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers (DARCs) on Hawai‘i Island to provide information and services to people whose property was damaged by Tropical Storm Iselle.

The schedule and location for the Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers is:

Today and tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, from 8:00am to 8:00pm at the Pahoa Community Center

Saturday August 16 and Sunday August 17 from 8:00am to 8:00pm at the Mountain View Gym

West Hawaii News — Autism Workshops Slated For Dec. 10-11

(Media release) — Two half-day workshops on autism, presented by a national expert, will be held on the Kohala Coast Friday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010. Entitled “Autism Spectrum Disorders: Complex but Manageable,” the workshops will be given by Dr. Margaret L. Bauman, a pediatric neurologist and research investigator. Both workshops will be held at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on the Kohala Coast from 9 a.m. to noon each day.

A Harvard professor, Dr. Bauman has spent the last 25 years involved in the study and treatment of autism. Identified as one of the world’s foremost physicians in this field, she is s respected for the outstanding clinical care she provides, as well as for her research and teachings in the domain of developmental disorders. Dr. Bauman’s career is exemplified by her establishment and development of The Autism Research Foundation (TARF), The Autism Research Consortium (TARC),  HYPERLINK “” LADDERS (Learning and Developmental Disabilities and Rehabilitation Services) and The Autism Treatment Network (ATN). Dr. Bauman has been invited to Hawaii by the Baby STEPS to Stronger Big Island Families Council, in conjunction with the Hawaii County Mayor’s Committee on Early Childhood. Read more

Guest Column — Redistricting Approachith

By Rob Tucker

One thing that has been off radar in our Council District 5 race has been the important issue of redistricting. Every ten years, following the census, an examination will be made on the shape and make up of each of the nine districts. The purpose is to seek a manner and method too provide approximately equal representation within the county. This can be simple or it can be complex.

Currently Puna is represented by three council districts. Only District 5 is wholly in Puna. Districts 3 and 6 combine parts of Puna with either Kau or Hilo. J Yoshimoto currently represents District 3 (Hilo and Keaau) and Guy Enriques represents District 6 (Kau & Puna Mauka).

There is reasonable expectation that the population growth over the past decade should result in Puna achieving two full seats on council. That would be a dramatic change in Puna Power. Some people will not welcome or want that.

Whether or not this occurs and whether or not the commission charged with making the recommendations for redistricting finds Puna deserving of two seats on council is not known. What is known is that it is a top line issue for Puna in 20111 and beyond.

So as you consider the reasons for voting for or against either Fred Blas or Emily Naeole-Beason and Guy Enriques or Brittany Smart- I do ask you to consider the topic of redistricting. It is kind of a sleeper subject. Not as readily apparent as road safety, water or police protection. Not as excitable as cannabis or anti forced vaccinations but this one subject will either empower Puna or marginalize Puna over the next decade.

Redistricting matters.

(Rob Tucker lives in Pahoa.)

***Commentary*** It’s In Our Hands; Hawaii County Making National News Over Census Worker Arrest

Courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau

Today a couple of people pointed me to the Huffington Post, which published an article about the Census Bureau worker who was arrested for trespassing in Puna recently.

I don’t know if those people realize it, but that article that the Huffington Post printed is an Associated Press (AP) article.  What that means is that every newspaper that subscribes to the AP wire has or will be publishing that article. Potentially, all minor major television news anchors have read or will be reading a version of this article on the Teleprompter.

Hawaii County has, indeed, made national news.

Here’s a summation of the story that is getting major traction: 57-year-old Russell Haas was, in Census Bureau terms, canvassing a Puna neighborhood when he came upon the fenced property of an off-duty Hawaii County police officer.  Haas, instructed to “be persistent” in his data-collecting mission, went through an unlocked gate.  Himself a former New Jersey police officer, Haas met up with the off-duty Hawaii County police officer.  The off-duty police officer was uninterested in being counted in the Census and ordered Haas off his property.  Haas tried to reason with the off-duty police officer to no avail.  The off-duty police officer told Haas to wait outside his fence, as he called for on-duty police officers to arrive.  Haas thought for sure the responding police officers would be more reasonable. They weren’t.  They arrested Haas for trespassing.  Now, the trespassing case is being tried in federal court, and federal prosecutors are acting as a defense attorneys.

Read the AP story for yourself.   Read more

Love And The Big Island — Aloha State Of SOUL

Image courtesy of Andrew Boal

By RJ Mendoza

The whole purpose of this contributory column is to accurately document my re-falling in love with this island. And I would have done this on my previous Big Island based-blog, but it wasn’t the appropriate place. And I’m happy to say that after about a year and a half of trolling this website, the lovely editor and publisher has taken a chance on me.

Of course, in order to re-fall in love with this island, it would make sense to say why I fell out of love in this island. That will not be so easy, as it heavily involves my partner at the time. Suffice to say, without publicly humiliating him, we want different things for our lives. And nothing would change how I feel, or how he feels about these things for ourselves.

Regardless of your opinions on same-sex intimate relationships, it all boils down to the same human emotion, the desire to be loved, the desire to give love, and the side effect of picking up characteristics — both good and bad of the person one is in a relationship with.

Sadly, I think my ex-partner resented this island. Which is odd, because this is the island he was born and raised on, for the most part. Read more

Missing People — Help Find Joseph Pacheco Jr.

Joseph Pacheco Jr.

(Media release) — Big Island police have initiated a missing person case in connection with a 41-year-old man who failed to return from a day of picking opihi.

Joseph Pacheco Jr. of Hilo left to pick opihi along the King’s Landing coast around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 22, 2010, but failed to return home. Fire Department personnel conducted a search and located the man’s dog and backpack about one mile south of Shipman Estates Beach. Read more

Hamakua News — Golf For The Hamakua Youth Center Saturday


Golf Ball On A Tee By Alex Clark. Image courtesy of Fine Art America

(Media release) — The entire Big Island community is invited to “Invest in our Youth: A Day of Golf & Celebration,” Saturday, June 5, 2010 at the Hamakua Country Club.  Hosted by the Hamakua Youth Foundation, the festivities benefit Hamakua Youth Center (HYC), North Hawaii’s only free, drop-in after school center for 7-12th grade kids.

The “Day” begins with a golf tournament at Hamakua Country Club at 7:30 a.m.  Slots are still available at $50 per player including prizes and lunch.  But, everyone is invited to join the fun after the tourney at 1 p.m., when the free “Celebration” kicks off, with special presentations by HYC youth, live music, great food and silent auction. Read more

Missing People — Dwayne Lucas Was Last Seen In Late April

Dwayne Lucas

(Media release) — Big Island police are searching for a 48-year-old Hilo man who was reported missing Thursday, May 13, 2010.

Dwayne Lucas was last seen at his Banyan Drive apartment complex on or about April 22.

He is described as Caucasian, 6-foot-3, 270 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He walks with a limp and is known to frequent taxicabs. Read more

Hawaii News — Building Permit Requirements Eased For Wooden Trusses

Structural Wood Components image

(Media release) — Homebuilders can expect a little relief with their building permit applications under a new procedure that took effect March 1, 2010. The building division of the County Department of Public Works no longer requires pre-engineered wooden roof truss drawings or roof framing plans to be submitted with a building permit application.

Instead, the architect or structural engineer of record accepts responsibility and liability for engineering, construction and installation of wooden roof trusses in an acceptance letter to the building division.

This change keeps the design/construction process moving forward, allowing for the solicitation of bids, hiring of a contractor and time to shop for an engineer to do roof truss drawings appropriate to the project. Read more

Hawaii News — Coqui Frog Community Loan Sprayer Program To Continue

Image courtesy of Puerto Rican Twilighters

(Media release) — The County of Hawai‘i will be continuing its Coqui Frog Community Loan Sprayer program after previously announcing it would end with a public auction of the County’s coqui frog spraying equipment.

The loan sprayer program had been slated to end on April 30.

Mayor Billy Kenoi announced today that the program will continue its current assignment of 26 County sprayers to coqui “cooperators,” or organizations that use the County’s sprayers on loan to control frogs in their communities.  Therefore, there will be no equipment auction. Read more

Hawaii News — County Environmental Management Director Resigns

Lono Tyson

(Media release) — Mayor Billy Kenoi has accepted the resignation of Hawai‘i County Director of Environmental Management (DEM), Lono Tyson, effective June 30, 2010.

Tyson was Mayor Kenoi’s choice for the DEM director job from the beginning of his administration on December 1, 2008.

Tyson had served Hawai`i County previously as Solid Waste Division Chief from September 2003 to July 2005, when he moved to Australia with his future wife. Mayor Kenoi asked him to return as DEM director in December 2008.

Tyson and his wife decided to move back to Australia to be closer to their family. Read more

Hawaii News — County To Receive $123K In Federal Funds For Emergency Food And Shelter Programs

(Media release) — Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today announced the awarding of $485,827 in U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant funding to help island agencies feed the hungry, shelter the homeless as well as prevent hunger and homelessness during next fiscal year.

This federal grant is being awarded through the Department Homeland Security’s Emergency Food and Shelter (EFS) Program.

Of the federal funds allocated to the State of Hawaii, $123,116 has been awarded to the County of Hawaii. The remaining $362,711 in grants will be utilized by the State’s Set-Aside Committee. Read more

Hawaii News — Less Than Three Weeks Before Cell Phone Ban Takes Effect

Randy Dillon art

Randy Dillon art

(Media release) — The Hawai’i Police Department reminds the public that a new law banning the use of cell phones while driving goes into effect in less than three weeks.

In August, the Hawai’i County Council passed County Ordinance 09-82A, which will make it illegal to use a cell phone or other mobile electronic device while driving—except with a hands-free mechanism. The ordinance was signed into law by the mayor. It takes effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

The penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine of up to $150 dollars. The fine can go up to as much as $500 if the use of a mobile electronic device causes a collision. Read more