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Big Island of Hawaii News, 14 June 2013. Post #2162


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

Big Island of Hawaii News is following these Hawaii stories through Friday, 14 June 2013:


Syphilis cases reported in West Hawaii.

Shoreline dispute goes to court.

Tropic Care 2013 wraps up mission to West Hawaii.

UH-Hilo computer science students prepare for international competition.

Off-duty firefighter and beach goers save family from ocean waves in Polulu Valley.

DETAILS (with sources cited).

(Stephens Media).  A disease that still kills thousands of people every year has been detected in West Hawaii.  According to reporter Nancy Cook Lauer, the state Department of Health has found five cases of syphilis in the past five months in West Hawaii.  Although the sexually transmitted disease was found mostly in men who have sex with other men, health officials are worried that the potentially deadly infection could spread to other islands because of interisland air travel.

Luke Hasty, the program coordinator for the STD/AIDS Prevention Branch of the Health Department, told reporter Lauer that “we know that there are probably more that have the infection than have been reported.”  Hasty said the disease is easy to treat with antibiotics if it’s caught early.  People who think they may have syphilis, or are concerned about what their sexual partner does, should see their health care provider for a blood test.

Left untreated, syphilis can weaken the immune system and eventually kill those infected with the disease.

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  According to reporter Tom Callis, Scott Watson of Ninole is taking Hawaii County to court over a shoreline setback for homes at Pepeekeo Point.  Watson wants the setback requirement reduced, “arguing that the county erred by designating the shoreline at the top of a bluff above the waves.”  Watson filed the legal action on 02 May in Third Circuit Court after he was fined for building within the setback.

Watson told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” in January that he has not violated the 40-foot setback “if it is measured from the shoreline below the bluff.”  Watson believes the setback should begin there.

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  This summer is becoming quite busy for UH-Hilo computer science students.  According to reporter Colin Stewart, UH-Hilo’s Team Poli’ahu is “hoping to win glory for themselves, their school, the state of Hawaii and the nation in a July contest held in Russia.”  Besides the international competition, the computer science students are “laying the groundwork for a system that could one day help to save lives in the event of a natural disaster.”

So far, Team Poli’ahu has lived up to its reputation by beating out out all competitors in the prestigious 2013 U. S. A. Imagine Cup–a student technology competition sponsored by Microsoft Corporation.

The winning project is one that could help local civil defense officials and emergency responders.  The project called “Help Me Help” features a mobile phone app that allows users to submit and track individual hazard during emergencies and natural disasters.

On Monday, team members will discuss the new app with Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira.  Oliveira told reporter Stewart that he “was greatly impressed” with the team’s software.  He said that he could see it being used by first responders in a variety of situations.

(Stephens Media).  Tropic Care 2013 came to a successful end on Wednesday, after volunteers from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and other organizations visited sites in West Hawaii to provide basic medical and dental care to those who can’t go to a doctor or clinic.  According to reporter Carolyn Lucas-Zenk, the dental and medical work was performed by 122 military reservists, as well as the program’s many partners.  Lucas-Zenk said “together, they helped fill a gap in a district with very limited access to health care and transportation.”  Approximately 100 residents visited the two Tropic Care sites every day. The sites were located at the Ocean View Community Center and at Ka’u High and Pahala Elementary School.

(Stephens Media).  Thanks to a quick-thinking off-duty firefighter and several beach goers, a family was saved from drowning at a  beach in Polulu Valley Sunday morning.  According to reporter Chelsea Jensen, firefighter Jeff Maki and his family were hiking out of Polulu Valley when Maki heard people calling for help from the beach.  Five people, who were around 150-feet offshore, had been caught in a rip tide and were being carried away by the current.

Maki, who had experience as a lifeguard in Florida and on Oahu, grabbed two rescue tubes from beachgoers and began to work his way to the distressed swimmers.  Two  rescue tubes were installed by resident Mike Varney and two were provided by the Kohala Swim Club.  When Maki reached the first three people, he gave them the two rescue devices and helped them navigate to shallower waters where bystanders helped them to shore.  Maki then went back in the water to aid the remaining two people, a father and a daughter.  Luckily for the exhausted survivors, two doctors were hiking in the valley and were able to help the victims.

Maki climbed the train out of Polulu Valley to make sure that help was coming.   Maki and the helping bystanders told reporter Jensen that the rescue tubes “played an important role in saving the family from the rough waters of Pololu.”


Hilo and vicinity–Partly sunny with a few windward showers.

Kailua-Kona and vicinity–Partly sunny with a few upslope showers south of Captain Cook.

Highs near 81.  Lows near 68.  Winds shifting to the east northeast, 6 to 12 mph, by Friday.

Sunrise Friday–5:41 a.m.  Sunset Friday–7:00 p.m.  Total hours of daylight Friday–13 hours, 18 minutes, and 52 seconds.


Hilo High Tide–6:53 a.m./7:10 p.m.  Hilo Low Tide–1:37 a.m./12:06 p.m.

Kailua-Kona High Tide–7:31 a.m./7:48 p.m.  Kailua-Kona Low Tide–2:14 a.m./12:43 p.m.


A High Surf Advisory remains in effect for east-facing shores.

Hapuna Beach breaks–flat.  Kona and Banyans–1 to 2 feet.  Ka’u and Pohoiki–3 to 5 feet.  Hamakua, including Kolekole Beach Park–4 to 7 feet.  Hilo and Honolii–3 to 5 feet.


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