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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016

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Olson Trust donated this Christmas tree from his Wood Valley farm to stand along the main road into Pahala near fishing boats,
trucks and residents going to work at dawn today. Photo by Julia Neal
KEOKI KAHUMOKU, well known in Ka`u for more than a decade teaching Hawaiian music to students from pre-school to high school at public and charter schools and clubs, hosting music camps and performing at many venues and festivals, was arrested at Hilo Hospital on Tuesday night and pleaded not-guilty yesterday to sexual assault.
Keoki Kahumoku
     A warrant for his arrest was issued after a Kona grand jury charged him on Dec. 13 with sexual assault and kidnapping for an alleged incident in May of 2015 in Ka`u. Both Kahumoku and the alleged victim earlier received restraining orders against one another.
     According to a report in this morning's Hawai`i Tribune Herald, Kahumoku's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Patrick Monez, asked Hilo Circuit Court Judge Glenn Hara for supervised release or a bail reduction from $150,000 to $50,000, noting that Kahumoku is without a criminal record and that his home is with his wife and mother in Hilo.
     Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Munoz asked the judge to keep the bail at $150,000, with the bail report noting that Kahumoku reported that he has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, is receiving medical treatment and has completed a drug treatment program.  Hara said he believed that Kahumoku remains of risk to the public and maintained a bail amount of $150,000. A trial is set for April 11.
    Kahumoku is known for his `ukulele building workshops for keiki in Ka`u. He also collaborated with many of the classic Hawaiian slack key players and composers and brought many of them to Ka`u to teach and give free concerts, from his father George Kahumuku, Jr. and uncle Moses Kahumoku, to the late Dennis Kamakahi, John Keawe, Sonny Lim, Ka`u-raised Ledward Ka`apana,  Jeff Peterson, Daniel Ho, and many more. Five Hawaiian music albums on which he performed with the masters won Grammy Awards. See more at www.hawaiitribune-herald.com.
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George Szgetti, President & CEO of Hawaii Tourism Authority, with
Sen. Mazie HIrono and Mayor Harry Kim
THE NEW DIRECT FLIGHT BETWEEN JAPAN AND HAWAI`I ISLAND was met with great fanfare by Sen. Mazie Hirono, Gov. David Ige and Mayor Harry Kim yesterday.
    The direct flights are expected to attract more people to Ka`u in their travels from Kona to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
    Hawaiian Airlines’ inaugural flight is a new direct route from Haneda Aiport in Tokyo to Kona International Airport. It replaces the Japan Airline direct route that stopped flying years ago, leading to the international part of the Kona terminal with its federal oversight shutting down in 2010.
        “Today’s flight is the culmination of years of effort to reestablish international flights outside of North America to Kona, which is important for the Hawai`i Island economy,” said Hirono.  “The visitors we welcomed today will only be the first to experience our unique culture and everything that makes Hawai`i a special place.”
     Hirono wrote to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Fox to urge him to approve Hawaiian Airlines’ application for the direct route. The U.S. Department of Transportation approved Hawaiian Airlines’ application on May 13, 2016.
    Hirono also toured the new Federal Inspection Services facility at Kona International Airport, which will process international visitors who fly directly to and from Kona. After the FIS facility closed in 2010, Hirono worked with federal, state, and County officials, and community and business leaders to reestablish the facility.

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Gov. David Ige and Sen. Mazie Hirono welcome the first direct
flight between Haeda and Kona on Hawaiian Airlines.
HAWAI`I IS HEALTHIEST STATE FOR FIFTH YEAR in a row, according to a rating this month  by America's Health Rankings.
     The state is in the top three for such healthy attributes such as people having health insurance and public health funding, clinical care, using seatbelts and eating vegetables.  Hawai`i has a lower heart attack, heart disease, obesity, cancer, and mental distress rate than most other states. Income disparity is not as extreme as in most states.
      Where Hawai`i ranks low, however - in the bottom ten - is in lack of water fluoridation, people not getting enough sleep, salmonella infections, chronic, excessing and binge drinking of alcohol. There is also a possible underreporting of diabetes and pre-diabetes, the report states.

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A WARNING ABOUT DRUGS AND ADDICTION was issued yesterday by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. She stated that, "Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that heroin deaths now exceed gun homicides. The same data also found that opioids cause almost two-thirds of all drug-related overdoses in the U.S. Let that sink in. At the heart of this problem is the fact that prescription drug companies like Purdue Pharma are lying about how dangerously addictive these drugs are,  just to increase their bottom line. They must be held accountable."

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NA`ALEHU FRUIT STAND has gone on the market for $625,000. Once the recommendation of many Big Island guide books in English and Japanese , the former fresh food grocery, pizzeria, bakery and snack store featured plantation days memorabilia, and various pizza, health food and take out meals. 

Na`alehu Fruit Stand in its hey day, as featured in the Momona
Japanese guide book. Historic photos from Momona
Na`alehu Fruit Stand featured fresh
island foods.
Current state of Na`alehu Fruit Stand
Photo from Diana Prentess
However, it shut down years ago and the building sits empty and deteriorated on 1.94 acres and is zoned RS-7.
    The site also includes a structure that was formerly a real estate office, school library and windsurfing shop. Over a half acre is zoned Commercial on Highway 11. Almost one and a half acres is zoned Residential. There are 11 buildings of record and all are unoccupied.
The real estate listing says, “The value is in the zoning and its perfect location in the beautiful quaint town of Na`alehu with heavy traffic daily. Tour buses and visitors are passing through to see the volcano and also sample Ka`u’s delicious award winning coffee.”
Jars with specialties lined the shelves.
Photos from Momona
    The listing realtor is Diana Prentess. She said that “Hopefully someone would be able to purchase it to turn it into a cultural center, coffee stop, or health food store.”
     It was opened and operated by John Santangelo, a former County Council member.

FIREWORK PERMITS BECOME AVAILABLE THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, according to a statement from the Hawai`i Fire Department. The closest location is J. Hara Store in Kurtistown. Each permit is $25 an entitles the permittee to purchase 5,000 individual firecrackers. Setting off firecrackers with permits is allowed only between the hours of 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.
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CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp through the holidays.

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