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Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 16, 2024

After a sunny day, Mauna Loa was without snow at its summit on Tuesday, as shown in the webcam image on Tuesday afternoon. Over last weekend, there was heavy snow during severe winter weather. Two hikers were rescued on Monday
 morning. See more below. USGS webcam image

Color photograph of scientist in the field with equipment
Earthquake-detecting devices to study the deep
earthquakes beneath Pāhala. A meeting will be
 held this Thursday at Pāhala Community
Center, 6 p.m. USGS photo
THIS THURSDAY IN PĀHALA: WHY ARE EARTHQUAKES HAPPENING DEEP BENEATH PĀHALA? That is the title of a community gathering this Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. at Pāhala    Community Center. The session is sponsored by USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory as part of Volcano Awareness Month.
    Since 2019, earthquakes have been occurring frequently in the region 12–25 miles below the town of Pāhala. Many of these earthquakes are felt by residents in the area, and the larger events are felt throughout the Island of Hawaiʻi. In 2022, scientists at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory worked with members of the community to deploy nearly 100 earthquake-detecting devices in the Pāhala area in an effort learn more about what is causing these events.
    This Thursday, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory earthquake specialist Ninfa Bennington will describe this ongoing earthquake activity and explain the experiment underway to determine if these events deep beneath Pāhala are related to volcanic activity at Kīlauea.

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FREE SCHOLARSHIP MENTORING FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS RESIDING IN KAʻŪ: Millions of dollars of scholarship money go unclaimed each year - mostly due to a lack of applications from qualified college students. Scholarships are free money, tax free, and don't have to be repaid. 
    Many scholarships cover educational expenses beyond tuition such as books, housing and meals.
    A committee has been created this year to assist students in successfully locating, researching and applying for college scholarships. A team of adult volunteer mentors in the Kaʻū District are available to work with students who need help, encouragement and support in receiving scholarship money.
    Mentors will assist students with online research of available scholarships, help students keep organized, review applications for completeness and grammar, not miss deadlines and proof read applications, essays and other submissions. 
     This service is free to any high school senior living in the Kaʻū District. For more information and to sign up with a scholarship mentor, contact the committee at okaukakou.org.scholarship@gmail.com or contact Kaʻū High School Counselor, Regina Blanchard-Walker.

TWO HIKERS WERE RESCUED, AIRLIFTED OFF MAUNA LOA on Monday, after running out of food and water and getting lost during severe winter weather that closed the mountain above 10,000 feet.
    The hikers, a male and female, were not injured. They first called 911 Sunday morning, Jan. 14, to report that they were out of food and water in the windy, freezing weather and that their phones were running out of power.
    A search-and-rescue ranger from Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and a helicopter pilot deployed and quickly located the uninjured couple around 11,000 feet on the remote slopes of Mauna Loa. The pilot landed and the ranger checked on the hikers. He gave them food, water and a satellite communication device, along with instructions to return to the nearest shelter and continue to hike out on their own. Their elevation and dangerous gusting winds made it too risky to transport the pair by air.
Snow on Mauna Loa. USGS file photo
   Shortly after sunset on Sunday, the hikers texted the park ranger that they had lost the trail near 10,300 feet in the foul weather. The pilot, unable to operate safely in darkness and hazardous conditions, flew the ranger up again Monday morning. The couple was safely extracted one at a time.
    "The search-and-rescue mission could have been prevented if the hikers had followed explicit directions to check in and pick up their permit from the park's backcountry office," said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Chief Ranger Jack Corrao. "The park closed the summit of Mauna Loa and canceled all high-elevation backcountry permits on January 9 due to severe winter weather, and we immediately posted a closure alert on our website and social media outlets. Their actions put themselves, the pilot and our ranger at great and unnecessary risk."
    The couple were with two other hikers from Oʻahu but the pairs separated on the arduous hike to the closed summit area. The other couple hiked out on their own without incident. All four hikers were cited for engaging in activities without a permit.
    All areas on Mauna Loa in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park remain closed above Red Hill Cabin.
Information on how to acquire a backcountry permit and prepare for a safe backcountry trip in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is available at https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/hike_bc.htm.

Hawai‘i Police Department 98th Recruit Class picture left to right: Iryna V. Izotova, Rory R. Ringang, Isaac K. Paglinawan, Clark J. Bucknell, Daniel K. Akina, Taylor K. Au, Quintin K. Carvalho. Photo from HPD
THE LATEST RECRUITS AT HAWAI'I POLICE ACADEMY GRADUATED with a class of one woman and six men. The Hawaiʻi Police Department’s 98th Police Recruit Class Recognition Ceremony was held on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. The ceremony focused on police personnel, guest speakers, and family members of the recruits.
     The 98th Police Recruit Class began training on July 17, 2023. The HPD statement says, "They started
off as strangers who had come together from a variety of backgrounds and previous career paths. In the end, after six months of intensive training, they graduated with a class of seven police recruits."
    Class Officers include Officer Taylor K. Au, Class President, and Officer Rory R. Ringang, Vice President. Other members of the class are Officer Daniel K. Akina, Officer Clark J. Bucknell, Officer Quintin K. Carvalho, Officer Iryna V. Izotova, and Officer Isaac K. Paglinawan.
    Special recognition was given to those recruit officers who achieved outstanding performance during the course of academic training. The Academic Award was awarded to Officer Au who attained the highest grade point average on weekly and certification examinations. He also received the Firearms Award for his interest and proficiency in the use of firearms and for attaining the highest rating in firearms training.
    As the recipient of the academic and firearms awards, Au will have his name engraved on a perpetual plaque, which is displayed in the department’s training room.
    Ringang was recognized with the Physical Fitness Award for excelling and maintaining his level of physical conditioning.
   The graduates begin to work as police officers, with four months of on-the-job field training with veteran police officers before they are qualified to work a solo assignment.

MAJOR REED K. MAHUNA TOOK THE POST OF DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF on Tuesday. He was sworn in during a ceremony at HPD;s Training Rroom on Friday, after serving as Acting Deputy Chief since July 1 last year. He is a 25-year veteran of HPD.
    “As the Acting Deputy Chief for the past six months, Reed has done an amazing job at helping lead the department,” said Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz. “I am honored we can make his appointment
Mayor Mitch Roth and new Deputy Police
Chief Reed Mahuna. HPD Photo
permanent and look forward to working together for years to come.”
     Now that the Police Chief has permanently appointed Mahuna as Deputy Chief, “We await his official confirmation by the Police Commission at their next meeting on Friday, Jan. 19,” said Moszkowicz.
    Prior to being named Acting Deputy Chief Mahuna served as Major of Area I Operations, overseeing the Criminal Investigation Division, which includes Vice, Juvenile Aid, and the Criminal Investigation Sections, as well as the Crime Lab. He has also served as Major of the Technical Services Division, which includes the department’s Communications Dispatch Center, Communications Maintenance Section, Computer Center, Records and Identification Section, and Traffic Services Section.
    Mahuna’s former assignments include serving as a Police Officer and Field Training Officer in the South Hilo district, Police Officer in the Area I Traffic Enforcement Unit, Detective in Area I and Area II Criminal Investigation Section, Lieutenant in the Puna district, and Lieutenant in Area I Vice Section. He has also served as Captain of the Area II Criminal Investigation Division, Captain of the Hāmākua and South Hilo districts, and Captain of the Area I Criminal Investigation Division.

The Kaʻū Calendar newspaper, 5,000 in the mail.
2,500 on the streets.