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Big Island of Hawaii News, 08 June 2013 through 09 June 2013. Post #2111


The views expressed in this Hawaii news summary are mine unless otherwise stated.

Big Island of Hawaii News is tracking these Hawaii stories through Sunday, 09 June 2013:


County furloughs are over.

Murder mystery deepens.

Fourth of July fireworks show may not happen.

Kawaihae groundbreaking for new harbor improvements.

Police investigate three home arson cases.

Skatepark dreams.

DETAILS (with sources cited):

(Stephens Media).  Hawaii County employees spent their last furlough period this past Friday.  Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi told reporter Nancy Cook Lauer that “thankfully, furloughs have come to an end…it was an unprecedented situation, unique challenges…we hope to not ever have to do that again.”

According to reporter Laurer, United Public Workers and Hawaii Government Employee Association members, as well as elected officials, appointees, and excluded managerial workers have been subject to furloughs since 2010.  On 01 July, UPW and HGEA employees will not only get that day’s back pay returned, but they’ll also see raises of  around 4 percent, under negotiated union contracts at the state level.  Mayor Kenoi said the painful furloughs “helped the county survive the Great Recession without having to resort to layoffs.”

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  Hilo’s traditional Fourth of July fireworks display could be cancelled if event organizers can’t find $33,000 to fund the program.

Kelton Chang, the treasurer of the Hilo Jaycees, told reporter Colin Stewart that the now disbanded Lehua Jaycees, who sponsored the show for  nearly thirty years, will be unable to carry on.  Chang added that “the county really wants to work with nonprofits on a venture like this, and it’s been a traditional thing for the Lehua Jaycees.”  Chang said the Lehua Jaycees “has struggled to  maintain its membership numbers…their chapter is winding down…membership has gone down to a point where they can’t take on such a responsibility…so they decided to bow out graciously..but the timing was difficult.”

Chang noted that county officials called the Hilo Jaycees on 15 May to see if its membership could “help out.”  Chang said “now, we only have less than a month to raised the funds.”  Even with the help of a special fund maintained by the Hawaii Fire Department, the Hilo Jaycees are still “$15,000 short of the total price tag for the show.”

If you’d like to help the Hilo Jaycees, visit

(Stephens Media).  With a formal groundbreaking ceremony held Friday morning at Kawaihae Harbor, state officials said construction of a new floating dock with a finger pier and a gangway could begin as early as next week at the south Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor.

Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman William Aila told political and community leaders at the gathering that “we’re not looking  back anymore..we’re moving forward.”

Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation Administrator Ed Underwood told reporter Erin Miller that the past four years have been frustrating, as the state worked to comply with regulations regarding dredging and preservation of the coral reef near the harbor.

Besides the new floating dock, the state Legislature has appropriated $2.3 million to improve the access road to the harbor and extend a water line from Kawaihae down to the harbor.  This session, legislators also dedicated $1.3 million for the boat ramp and loading docks.

Those waiting for the floating dock were glad that the long-delayed project will get underway in a few days.  Captain Steve Turner told reporter Miller that he’s been waiting over 18 years for the dock, adding “I think it’s fantastic…this to me is the finest sailing in the state of Hawaii.”

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  The murder of a California woman and the disappearance of her husband to be are turning into a baffling mystery for Hawaii police and the families of the victims.  According to reporter John Burnett, the family of Bo Johnson fears he may have been the victim of violence and believe he’s been unjustly portrayed by police and the media as a suspect in the murder of Brittany-Jane Royal.  The pregnant woman was found entangled in a line of a fishing boat near Kalapana.

Tom and Kathy Johnson of Petersburg, Alaska said the last contact they had with their son was on 27 May, the day before his girlfriend’s body was found off shore.  They and their son, Mark, are on Hawaii Island, hoping to find Bo alive or to get some answers about what happened to him.  Hawaii police said the couple was camping near the entry of the  lava viewing area in Kalapana, not far from where Royal’s body was found.

Lt. Greg Esteban of the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section told reporter Burnett that officers are “actively pursuing leads in the case and we  have not found Mr. Johnson…as a result, he is still considered a missing person and he is not excluded as a suspect in the (homicide) case.”  Esteban said police have “executed a search warrant on the campsite and have sent the evidence collected to a forensic lab for analysis.”

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  According to police, a house fire that destroyed an Orchidland Estates home on 38th Avenue on 30 May was the third suspected case of home arson in the Puna District this year.

The Hawaii Fire Department said the home was a total loss, with damage estimated to be around $150,000.  Lt. Greg Esteban of the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section told reporter John Burnett that “at this point in the investigation, we still have some follow ups to do, but we don’t have any suspects at this time.”

On 06 April, a house on Road 6 in Hawaiian Acres was destroyed in another fire.  Police said the blaze was set intentionally.  Twenty-six-year-old Kurtistown resident Justin James Clark was indicted on Wednesday for allegedly setting fire to the unoccupied home owned by Aezja Munson.  According to police Clark’s former girlfriend was in a relationship with Munson and that Clark “wanted to shoot” Nate Munson.  Police said witnesses picked Clark out a photographic lineup as the driver of the Jeep Cherokee that was seen in the area of Munson’s home jsut after the fire.

The other Puna house fire under investigation occurred on 20 March on 35th Avenue in the Orchidland Estates.  Fire officials believe the home was unoccupied.  The fire caused an estimated $100,000 in damage.

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  Skateboard enthusiasts are getting a bit closer to having their own skatepark.  According to reporter Tom Callis, three years of effort by street surfers and skating enthusiasts “have gotten their own dream park on Hawaii County’s list of capital projects.”

Of course, nothing’s definite at this point.  The designation doesn’t secure funding “and acts as more of a placeholder for the approximate $3.5 million project.”

Organizers of the skatepark project remain optimistic, saying the designation is “a significant step in the right direction” and are continuing their talks with the Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as pursuing non-profit status, “a necessary step to receive grant funding.”

Reporter Tom Callis says the county has “set aside land between the Kawamoto Swim Stadium and the  Walter Victor baseball fields for the 25,000-square-foot proposal.”


Hilo and vicinity–Mostly cloudy with a few passing showers.

Kailua-Kona and vicinity–Partly cloudy with showers possible south of Captain Cook.

Highs near 80.  Lows near 69.  Winds shifting to the northeast, 10 to 20 mph, by Sunday.

Sunrise Sunday–5:41 a.m.  Sunset Sunday-6:59 p.m.  Total hours of daylight Sunday–13 hours, 17 minutes, and 48 seconds.


Hilo High Tide–2:54 a.m./4:14 p.m.  Hilo Low Tide–8:59 a.m./10:54 p.m.

Kailua-Kona High Tide–3:32 a.m./4:52 p.m.  Kailua-Kona Low Tide–9:36 a.m./11:31 p.m.


Hapuna Beach breaks–flat.  Kona and Banyans–2 to 4 feet.  Ka’u and Pohoiki–2 to 3 feet.  Hamakua, including Kolekole Beach Park–2 to 4 feet.  Hilo and Honolii–2 to 3 feet.


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