MARCH 2022

KHS Sponsors Career Fair

By Brenda Swan. Kohala High School hosted a Career Fair on Friday, March 4. Student Ambassadors Talia Sanchez-Lowe, Camille Pinho, Mark Salvador, Tatiana Sugse and Jayline Salvador were chosen based on teacher recommendations. They organized the event, led by a cross-section of classmen. According to advisor Cicely Isabel, “The entire event was student-led, from coordinating the campus map of presenters, creating each student’s schedule, assisting with parking, welcoming guest speakers, escorting them to assigned classrooms, and delivering water and snacks to presenters in-between sessions to thanking them and sending them off with a warm mahalo.”  “Sophomore and Junior ambassadors worked as a team… and everyone worked really hard and delivered their best work…” said ambassador Talia Sanchez-Lowe. “The best part about being an ambassador is that all of us can work together really well, and we all have fun doing it.” Sanchez-Lowe, along with organizing student schedules, made lei for the presenters and introduced them to their rooms.Twenty-nine presenters, including many KHS alumni, represented the spectrum of KHS’s four Academy Pathways: Natural Resource Food Production, Residential and Commercial Construction, Law and Public Safety, and Business Entrepreneurship. Students were encouraged to attend presentations at least two career opportunities in their pathway of interest and complete a reflection form. “Lots of connections were made between students and career fields and presenters’ experiences. We hope to bridge the gap between school and career opportunities,” Cicely Isabel explained. Feedback was positive from presenters and students alike. Talia Sanchez-Lowe says the presentations seemed impactful, “especially since most of the speakers are alumni of Kohala High. I would like students to be inspired by this and take the opportunity to learn about different job options in high school, because it definitely prepares them for their life after high school.”

State Funds to Help Purchase Māhukona Land

The State Legacy Land Conservation Commission this month chose preservation of 642 acres of land at Mahukona as its top priority for 2022 funding and has agreed to recommend adding $3 million to the growing fund secured by Hawaii Land Trust (HILT) for the purchase of Māhukona Navigation and Ecological Complex.The funds, which still will need approval of the Land Board, will be added to the $4 million committed by the federal Forestry and Wildlife Department and the $8 million offered through an easement by the County’s 2% Open Space Fund. Shae Kamakaala, director of ‘āina protection for HILT, coordinated a stunning presentation of the project to the commission with inspirational photographs of the cultural treasures and information provided by Chadd Paishon of Na Kalai Waʻa and Patty Solomon. It also included a video of Mayor Mitch Roth voicing strong support for preserving the special area between Māhukona and Kapa’a county parks. Testimony was also provided by Fred Cachola of Kohala Lihikai, Shorty Bertelman of Na Kalai Waʻa, and Toni Withington, spokesperson for the four Kohala community groups that have successfully nominated the land to the County’s open space priority list since 2007. “For many of us in Kohala, Māhukona is where our ancestors have lived for hundreds of years. These archaeological features, heiau, fishing shrines, village complex – these are very important to preserve perpetually for future generations,” Fred Cachola said. “Because of its location at the center of our leeward coast, the land at Māhukona has been special to the hearts of all who live in Kohala, both north and south,” Toni Withington added. Waimea-based Na Kalai Waʻa has partnered with HILT in the purchase because it has for many years used the barn and former railroad depot at Mahukona for its educational programs in navigation and the canoe voyaging lifestyle. Patty Solomon, along with her parents Marie and Sonny Solomon, have acted as caretakers of the land for decades.The land surrounding Māhukona Harbor was bought from Castle and Cooke (Kohala Sugar Company) in 1988 by Chalon International, later renamed Surety Kohala Corporation, which had plans to build a resort, subdivision and golf course. In 2012 a creditor of Surety’s subsidiary Kohala Preserve Conservation Trust foreclosed on the land. Morrison Grove, a firm in Florida representing the creditor, attempted to revive and sell the property for development until 2020, when it began negotiations with HILT for a conservation purchase. The property is appraised at near $16 million, but HILT is seeking $20 million as the total estimated cost of the transaction. The trust has already secured private funds to begin to complete the sale and will be undertaking fundraising within the Kohala area this year.Shae Kamakaala said HILT hopes to close the project by the end of 2023.

Funds Released to Design New KHS Gym

Gov. David Ige has released $2.5 million in capital improvement project funds for the design of a gymnasium at Kohala High School. Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye expressed her appreciation by saying, “I’m very pleased that Gov. Ige is following up with the funding so that the students and community can reap the benefits of an updated and modern facility. An upgraded gymnasium will not only provide a top-notch indoor sports facility, but also a place where the school community can stage various events such as concerts and graduations.”

Second Safety Awareness Meeting Held

Story and photo by Cheryl Rocha.The second Safety Awareness meeting was on Saturday, February 19, at Kamehameha Intergenerational Building. Kahea Lee, Director of Special Projects and Community Collaborative of E Hiki Mai Ana (Next) LLC, presented a PowerPoint slide deck introducing Human Trafficking Awareness to prevent trafficking on Hawaii Island. She received training on this controversial topic from the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention. The OJJDP sponsors programs to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and victimization and improve the juvenile justice system. Kahea focuses on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of children (CSEC). She believes domestic violence, substance use/abuse, child abuse and neglect, sexual assault and homelessness are possible pathways to being vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation on Hawai’i Island. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness of the persistent issue of human trafficking and to identify available resources. Thank you to Hana Ross, Hawaiʻi Community College student, and owners of Gill’s Lanai, who donated hot dogs, chips and water to the attendees and children at Roots Skate Park.Mālama I ka Makou Keiki: “Take Care the Child.”

Hawai‘i County Offers Residential Home Repair Loans

The Office of Housing and Community Development is currently accepting applications to its Residential Repair Program (RRP). The RRP is a low-interest loan program available to eligible low-and moderate-income homeowners. Funds may be used to repair, improve or modernize homes, or remove health and safety hazards. Loans range from $2,500 to $25,000 at three percent simple interest. Loan payments are deferred for 15 years, at which time full payment will be due. Eligible homeowners who are 62 years or older, or persons with a disability, may be eligible to have 30 percent of the loan’s principal balance forgiven at the end of the loan period. Funds are limited and granted on a first-come, first-serve basis. “Helping people stay in their own home and keep it in good repair supports families and their communities,” said Housing Administrator Susan Kunz. “Homeownership helps families and individuals build savings over time. In addition, it strengthens communities and helps many kinds of businesses that support the local economy.” “Our administration is committed to fostering a sustainable Hawaiʻi Island where our keiki can thrive and succeed,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “By helping local families upkeep their homes, we are helping them in ensuring their home’s viability for their keiki and loved ones for generations to come. That is sustainability.” Applications and program information may be found online at or by contacting Marcia Yoshiyama by email at or phone at (808) 961-8379.

Second Round for Ho‘ea Triangle Rezoning

By Toni Withington. Dwayne Cravalho’s request for re-zoning to allow for a food truck operation at the entrance to Hāwī town was again deferred by the Leeward Planning Commission this month. The commissioners chose to delay consideration rather than send an unfavorable recommendation to the County Council.A revised plan submitted in February reduced the number of food trucks from two to one and increased the parking spaces to five or six by taking out the porta-potties and picnic tables. However, Cravalho was also asked to consult with community members and neighbors about the new plan. Daryn Arai, Cravalho’s representative said the outreach had not been made. In addition, the Planning Department had only notified the immediate neighbors about the March meeting and not the 22 who had testified against the rezoning in December. There was no public testimony at the meeting.The original plan calling for Village Commercial zoning of the 7,500-square-foot triangle lot and was deferred by the commission in December after facing push-back from numerous neighbors and several of the planning commissioners. The land is located on the corner of Akoni Pule Highway and Hoʻea Road behind the “Welcome to Historic North Kohala” sign. Inadequate parking and obstruction of the traffic on Hoʻea Road were problems cited that led to the deferral.The revised site plan includes a required ten-foot road widening setback, one food truck instead of two, and six onsite parking stalls (five if one is designated for handicap drivers). The commission’s deferral asked Cravalho to reach out to the North Kohala Community Development Plan Action Committee and other community members.

Formulating a Voice for All Kohala

By Toni Withington. Nostalgia for the enthusiasm and widespread participation surrounding the drafting of the North Kohala Community Development Plan (NKCDP) 14 years ago inspired the first meeting of a forum to re-structure a valid community voice. During the years 2005 to 2008, people gathered in small and large groups to talk about how they saw the future of Kohala. The NKCDP recorded over 1,000 voices with opinions. Participants divided themselves into interest groups, called Focus Groups, to tackle problems like affordable housing, loss of public access, fixing public facilities, growth management, cultural preservation and agriculture.The Action Committee formed by the NKCDP worked to funnel the ideas of its sub-groups, which were organized like the original focus groups, into prodding government agencies and recommending changes to benefit the whole district. It functioned well for many years as the ears-to-the-ground for the County Planning Department and County Council. Other districts followed suit and developed their own CDPs. Then in 2019, with the seven sub-groups still working and some meeting monthly, the Action Committee dissolved, leaving the community without a sanctioned voice. A few other districts have continued but Kohala now falls behind in its ability to work with County and State offices to further NKCDP goals. Once discovered that Kohala was no longer involved in a structure that it had helped create, a group of folks who have been active in the CDP process had worked for months to propose changes to the former Action Committee guidelines that would reinstate our status and make the forum more representative and responsive to Kohala issues as they came to the surface. In February, representatives of the Planning Department met with Joe Carvalho, John Winter and Toni Withington to give their encouragement of a list of changes in the format of what would be called the North Kohala Advisory Group. Early this month, nine people interested in reviving the intended representative group met to talk about how to formulate a community voice without the mistakes that led to the failure of the Action Committee – how to revive the enthusiasm. Key to the reorganization would be representation that includes all areas or neighborhoods of Kohala and contain both experienced community leaders and young people interested in getting involved in district affairs. But rather than adopting the organizational plan before them, the group decided to spend more time to find a structure and style that will better fit present-day Kohala and its way of communicating and problem-solving. Encouraging more people to get involved in the sub-groups was one of the suggestions. Starting the open-ended process of reviewing and re-writing the NKCDP was another. The county is required to update the district CDPs every ten years, but the way things are, it will be years before this actually happens. It was clear that the participants wanted to keep the new forum connected to the strategies and goals of the NKCDP to maintain its status with the county government. So, the question came up about whether to form one group or two – one that would be an immediate Advisory Group and the other a steering committee for working on the long-range plan. To answer this and many other questions brought up at the recent meeting, the nine participants agreed to meet on March 22 and invite more people from all areas of Kohala to participate. Those interested in the process can send their ideas to

Halaula Well Construction Still on Track

By Toni Withington.The cavernous potholes at the bottom of Ma’ulili Road were patched this month, and the final paving of the road to the new Halaula well will begin “soon,” according to a spokesman for the Department of Water Supply (DWS). Construction of the well itself is still ongoing and expected to be completed in June. The $13 million project involves construction of a well, a 500,000-gallon reservoir tank, a control building, installation of a 12-inch pipe along Ma’ulili Road and new meters and connections for over 160 households and Kohala Middle School. The tearing up of Ma’ulili Road has tested residents’ patience since the project started in September 2019. Installation of the new pipes and meters was completed a year ago with asphalt deteriorating as time went on. With the end in sight, DWS reported that the control building is 60 percent complete, according to Jason Armstrong, Information and Education Specialist for DWS. Still pending are the State approval for installing the well pump and new powerlines installed by HELCO for the pump and the control building. Once completed, the well will provide water for the existing users between Halaula and Niuli’i. The well project and distribution system are funded through a low-interest loan from the State of Hawaii’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. For further information, contact either DWS Project Engineer: Larry Beck (808) 961-8070 or DWS Communications Branch: Jason Armstrong (808) 961-8050;

Waipi‘o Valley Road Closure May Impact Visits to Pololū

By Toni Withington. Citing a high risk of rockfall accidents, the County has restricted all vehicle traffic on Waipiʻo Valley Road to residents and farmers and banned all pedestrian traffic. Mayor Mitch Roth announced the closure on February 24 at a Zoom meeting with many affected parties. At that meeting, Councilmember Tim Richards pointed out the “unintended consequences” of the closure on other visitor destination, particularly the now congested lookout and trail at Pololū Valley. He said the County needs to pay attention to any problems that arise because of the ban. Closure of the narrow and steep Waipiʻo Valley Road had been called for by farmers and residents of the valley floor for many years due to the increase of visitor vehicle and foot traffic. They have warned of serious safety issues and extra deterioration of the cliff-side road stability. A County Council resolution favoring the closure was deferred for additional information in December 2020. The reason for the closure was based on a new study of the risks of injuries and deaths from rockfalls and avalanches on the road undertaken by the Department of Public Works, according to the mayor. The closure is expected to last until the risks to road users are lowered. “The decision was based solely on safety,” Mayor Roth said at another Zoom meeting on March 9 attended by over 300 people, many speaking almost equally in favor and opposed to the closure. Hāmākua residents accustomed to access and tour operators were mostly opposed, while residents and farmers expressed gratitude for a time for the valley to “heal itself” from overexposure. The decision was based on a Preliminary Geotechnical Engineering Evaluation created by Hart Crowzer, a Seattle firm. “The estimated risk of injury or loss of life, especially to pedestrians, exceeds the thresholds for acceptable risk,” said Steve Pause of the Department of Public Works (DPS). Some testifiers, including Chris Yuen of Nīnole, challenged the risk assessment as being wrong. Others offered suggestions on how to keep the road partially open. DPS director Ikaika Rodenhurst was unable to say how long the closure would last.The next phase is a four-to-six-month period to identify the actions that would be needed to the cliff at Waipiʻo to lower the risks. It is not known how long it will take to do the work recommended.

Veggie Rx Serving North Hawaii

The Same Canoe local food challenge has received two new USDA “Veggie Rx” grants to get more local produce out to people with health challenges and those most susceptible to COVID-19 impacts. If you or someone you know would benefit from joining a health program that provides access to free produce over 10 months, we invite new enrollments through Hāmākua Kohala Health and Mango Medical. Ask your Care Coordinator to learn if you qualify. Participants of all ages may be Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or on QUEST health insurance, SNAP, WIC or Veterans Services. If a potential participant uses a different health clinic, please email the address below to learn how they can be pre-qualified. The program provides an average of $500 in fresh produce at no cost and the boxes can be picked up twice a month in North Kohala, Waimea and Hāmākua. There are also pick up sites in Kona, South Kona, Ocean View and Miloli‘i if you have friends or families there who may qualify. Email for information or leave a message at 808-328-2452

Letter: Keep 5G Out of Kohala!

Why has the pride of Hawaii ~ namely North Kohala ~ been chosen to be infested with cancer-causing 5G transmitters on every power pole? The danger is very real and has been proven … although (of course) not circulated or broadcast out of mass-media mainstream news (controlled by the same multinational corporations who intend to profit billion$ from installing 5G ~ ignoring the radiation sickness also transmitted to a naive accepting public).  Please contact your political representatives and urge them to prevent this broadside attack on your health. Tim Richards promised at least one person that this would NOT happen. His office phone is 808-961-8564. David Tarnas’s office phone is 808-586-8510. Governor Ige’s office is 808-586-0034. Your political reps often are swayed in the wrong direction by corporate pressure. The only way we can “unsway” them is by significant numbers of us phoning their offices in protest. Thanks for your contributing effort! Sincerely,David Cottis Ainakea Sr. Residences

Viewpoint: Earth Day Celebration

By Lydia Zuniga. To our dearest Community Members: On Earth Day last year – April 22, 2021 – our beautiful community came together to clear vegetation, trim trees, dig holes and put the roots in the ground of a variety of donated fruit trees, creating a “food forest” behind our Roots Skatepark. This effort was aided by the awesome mana of skaters, farmers and volunteers from south, east and west sides of the Big Island who came to North Kohala, inspired by the beautiful idea of encouraging our children to eat from the ʻāina and prepare for the future. While we try to bring awareness of the importance of regenerative farming, at the same time we encourage staying active, as both are keys for healthy humans. Roots Skatepark has been a blessing to our community for almost two decades, under the direction and focus of Brian Sandlin and Richey Riggs. Both these men have put in many hours of volunteer work. The park provides a space for healthy minds, bodies and souls for keiki of all ages, including tūtūs, as is never too late to learn something new! It is overwhelming to mention each of the supporters that made this magic possible throughout the years – especially on Earth Day, when we had community businesses, organizations and over 100 humans supporting us for two days of hard work and fun to accomplish this amazing project. Since that day, volunteers have watered the plantings by hand, and these plants always need more love. Aikane Nursery and Landscape sponsored maintenance of the skatepark grounds for almost a year. At our Kamehameha Park, everybody enjoys spaces offered by the County and other organizations, from the playground, pool, gym, football fields, skatepark, tennis courts, basketball courts and even a fantastic golf course. What an honor to be part of our King Kamehameha’s big dream: BE UNITED. And we are starting here at his birthplace. We are so grateful to live in such a beautiful community where we look after each other. Kind reminder to be mindful, though; don’t leave your children unattended, as our community keeps on growing and sometimes strangers show up. In our efforts to provide more presence, we are preparing a space where we’ll be researching, linking, promoting and organizing more experiences to support ideas and organizations that encourage the wellbeing of our community members. I am a business developer and proud mother of three amazing Big Boys. My oldest graduated from Kohala High School in 2015. I have been actively involved in our community since 2012, creating and directing events and activities that promote awareness and regenerative practices, with music and fun like “Malama I Ke Kai,” a community beach cleanup with a surf tournament that we do around November/December. Right now we are preparing for the Friday, April 22, Earth Day celebration. If you would like to get involved, feel free to send me a text or email with your name, email and phone number to 808-443-8361 or Please follow “Roots Skatepark” on Instagram and Facebook and “Malama I Ke Kai” on Facebook for the latest news and ways to help. Mahalo Nui Loa, we hope you join us in our adventures. Remember to breathe deeply and be grateful everyday, ʻcause we live in paradise. Aloha!

Hawai‘i State House of Representatives Update. From the Desk of District 7 Representative David Tarnas. MAR 2022

Aloha. The 2022 legislative session has reached its halfway point, at which all bills approved by the House will now cross to the Senate, and all bills approved by the Senate will cross to the House for further consideration. I encourage you to check out the work of committees of interest to you by visiting, viewing hearings, and submitting testimony on bills that are important to you. As I mentioned in last month’s article, one of the top priority bills that we are considering in the State House would increase the minimum wage and provide more tax relief for working families. The House bill on this issue is HB 2510, which increases the state’s minimum wage incrementally and makes the state earned income tax credit refundable and permanent. The Senate bill on this issue is SB 2018, which increases the minimum wage to the same level as the House bill, but at a faster rate, and does not include the same adjustments to the earned income tax credit. While there are many advocates supporting these two bills, it’s important to know that some small business owners in our community oppose these bills. Owners of businesses such as restaurants are very concerned that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would compel employers to reduce hours for employees and increase costs for consumers. These are real and legitimate concerns that legislators must consider as we balance what may be competing interests among our residents and businesses. Although economic issues are top of mind for many of us, we are also addressing many other issues at the Legislature. I highlighted numerous bills covering a wide variety of issues in my column last month. If you want more information on any of the legislation under consideration, please contact me. One issue of increasing concern in recent months is the noticeable increase in the number of goats alongside roads and across the landscape in West Hawaiʻi. The overpopulation of goats has created traffic safety problems as there are reports of increased numbers of vehicle crashes involving goats. While it is important to have enough goats for our community to hunt for food, the goats’ rapid population growth has caused overgrazing, soil runoff and erosion, and destruction of farm crops and home and business landscaping. The Legislature is advancing three measures to address this problem: HB 1721, HB 1872 and HCR 17.HB 1721 requires collaboration between the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to address feral animal management and appropriates funds for a natural resource management specialist position dedicated to feral animal management. The feral management plan’s objectives are to manage feral animal populations in such a way that they provide a viable source of food for the community, while also reducing their impact on native plants, wildlife, and ecosystems, local agriculture, and communities. HB 1721 has been approved by the House and is now crossing over to the Senate for further consideration. HB 1872 requires the DLNR to recognize that game birds and mammals can provide a sustainable food source if they are properly managed to support viable populations that are sufficient for hunting but appropriately limited to minimize their negative impacts. HCR 17 requests the DLNR to convene a task force to develop a feral ungulate management plan for West Hawaiʻi. The resolution recognizes that hunting of feral game mammals provides an important local food source, as well as recreational and subsistence hunting opportunities for the public. However, it also recognizes that hunting alone is not sufficient to control the populations of these animals. The resolution notes that collaborative efforts are needed to identify opportunities for more effective management of feral ungulate populations, such as higher bag limits and increased open seasons for hunters, incentivization of commercially guided hunting operations, increased use of game mammals for meat and food security, targeted culling in overpopulated areas, and other methods. The task force is requested to work in close consultation with wildlife managers, hunters, watershed managers, park and reserve managers, invasive species control experts, and large landowners in West Hawaiʻi. HCR 17 will be considered in the House first and, if approved, will be sent to the Senate for further consideration. During the legislative session, the State House and Senate consider bills covering a wide range of subjects, from minimum wage to feral goats. Whatever issue is most important to you, please let me know your views. Please contact me any time at or 808-586-8510 with your ideas, opinions about proposed legislation, or any other matter related to State government. You can also subscribe to my e-newsletter at Mahalo!

County Council Update From the Desk of District 9 Councilmember Tim Richards. MAR 2022

Aloha! Once again, it is time for the monthly update from our office. Pololū ValleyAs many of you have seen, the access to Waipiʻo Valley has been closed. A report came out concerning the safety of the road that has triggered a response, in the abundance of caution, to shut the Waipiʻo Road to the general public. Farmers and people living in the valley still have access, but the public is excluded. Recently, there was a public meeting with Mayor’s Office, Department of Public Works Director Ikaika Rodenhurst, Council Member Heather Kimball, and 300+ community members who were able to voice their opinions and concerns on the closure of Waipiʻo Road. My concern is more encompassing. With the closure of hiking capability on that side of our valley, I can see an increase of hikers journeying to the Kohala and Pololū side. The Pololū Trail Steward Program currently at the trailhead of Pololū has been educating visitors about the valley, and it has worked quite well thus far, but an influx of more people will be problematic. On March 10, on the radio show in Kohala KNKR’s Kukakuka with Kalani, I was on with Mayor Roth and we specifically discussed this topic. It is an area that will take more conversation and more management, but the mayor is committed to get this done. Stay tuned! Māhukona: Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission (PONC) – Currently, efforts are underway to purchase the greater Māhukona area and put it into the Hawaiʻi Island Land Trust to protect it going forward with a conservation easement to the County of Hawaiʻi. This was the number one priority for the PONC funds in the 2020 Annual Report received by the Council in early 2021. Soon thereafter I introduced Resolution 145-21, which was unanimously passed allowing the County to enter negotiations for its purchase. The County is currently in the process of finalizing that arrangement. Recently, a proposal went before the State’s Legacy Land Conservation Program Commission seeking an additional $3,000,000 in funding to enhance this purchase and enable further efforts for these properties within the PONC’s mission. We are now in receipt of PONC’s 2021 Annual Report which lists 17 priorities. Of the 17 listed, Kohala is again listed as the number one priority for the Hapuʻu to Kapanaiʻa Cultural Corridor and holds a total of nine of the top ten priorities identified. Kohala is making an impact in this process and clearly embraces the mission of what PONC is trying to accomplish across our beautiful island. We are excited for Kohala and the preservation of its precious land. Māhukona Pavilion – Though this project has been delayed, it is still a priority for this administration and the County Parks and Recreation Director Maurice Messina. Total cost of the pavilion project is estimated at $5 million. It is on our CIP (capital improvement project) list but not yet funded. With the COVID recovery funding coming out of Washington DC for infrastructure, we are looking through all programs to seek the needed funds. Parks and Recreation Facilities in Kohala: Continuing with the County’s Parks and Recreation and Kohala’s needs, everyone knows that the Kohala pool is currently closed. Estimated repair cost are approximately $5 million. Though we do not presently have that funding, we do have funding for the design and planning phase of the refurbishment; approximately $500,000. The intent is to get this evaluation and planning phase done as quickly as possible so it can be considered “shovel ready.” The concept is that if some funding suddenly becomes available, we could quickly act on it. Although there is a great amount of uncertainty with the funding coming out of Washington DC, the County of Hawai‘i is trying to stage itself to be able to capitalize on those funds if they should suddenly become available. Another concern is the lights on the Shiro Takata Field at Kamehameha Park. It has been determined that a complete overhaul is needed at an estimated cost of $1 million. Again, funding for this has not been secured.Opportunities for Funding for Hawaiʻi County: At Council’s Committee on Finance’s March 8 meeting, we started the process of approving the bond authorization for up to $149.5 million, with much of it being needed for the struggling wastewater facilities on Hawaiʻi Island. Of the total, $10 million is to be allocated to the Department of Parks and Recreation for maintenance and repair across the island. That $10 million is for the whole island and as you can see from my narrative, for just the three projects identified above, they total $11 million. During discussions with Director Messina, he estimated at least $50 million is needed to make things right for our county parks. Many years of deferred maintenance has sadly put us where we are now. When in Washington DC in February, other Council Members and I met with our federal representation to try and figure out how we might be able to go forward financially. Since then, on March 8, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz’s office gave a presentation to the Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, Relations, and Economic Development, providing us with broad summary of all the programs potentially available. They have also offered to help us seek the right programs to find funding for these and other projects so important to our island community. One example of another project, aside from those above-mentioned, is our Kohala Ditch. There appears to be a way forward for the Kohala Ditch, as well as funding for it, but will take the community coming together in a unified and focused direction. Stay tuned as we continue to navigate all the different possibilities and attempt to secure the funding needed for so many of our projects. As always, it continues to be a great privilege to serve as your Councilman and I look forward to working toward solutions in 2022 and beyond.

Artists’ Cooperative Features Kenji’s House

By Diann Wilson. The North Kohala Artists’ Cooperative welcomed a new show in March. “Kenji’s House” is a tribute to Kenji Yokoyama, who was a third-generation Japanese fisherman, free diver and shell collector from Kapaʻau. The show, by Catherine Morgan, includes her small linoleum cuts showing scenes of his house; big and small collages; and a display of figures and shells that belonged to Kenji. Cathy has a rich history with the art world. Originally from New Jersey, her interest in art started when she was in high school. Following graduation, she attended one of the oldest arts schools in the US – the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where she majored in print making. Having always had an interest in children, teaching and building community, Morgan became part of a group of artists in Boston, where she quickly experienced the potential of artists working together to show, teach and sell their work. Fast forward to 1991, when Cathy moved to the Big Island with her husband and three children. After a short stint in Hilo, they relocated to Kohala, which has been home ever since. She feels lucky to have found our community and has been able to repeat the experience of bringing artists together through an art cooperative. While her show at the artists cooperative is all about Kenji, Cathy actually never met him. Seeing beauty in his house, she once sat across the street from his home and created a pastel drawing of the property. Shortly afterward, she noticed a dumpster parked in front of it. She investigated and discovered that Kenji had passed away and the new owner was going to dispose of most of the belongings left behind. Finding beauty and value in his shells, figurines and other recycled items, Morgan and friends got trucks and loaded up all they could. They eventually created a museum featuring his collections and provided information and education about recycling. Thus, Kenji has been a long-time muse for Morgan. The Kohala Artists’ Cooperative is located at 54-3676 Akoni Pule Hwy in Kapaʻau and is open seven days a week from 12 to 5 p.m. “Kenji’s House” will be on display through Earth Day, April 22. In addition to Cathy’s exhibit, the Coop will be featuring an Earth Day celebration and exhibit in April. The new show will focus on rejoicing in and appreciating the four elements of: earth, wind, fire and water. This show will be unique, as it will include not only work from Coop members but will also feature art by other community members.All North Kohala residents are invited to submit their work for consideration. Those who are interested in participating are asked to bring their art to the Coop on Wednesday, April 20, between the hours of 12 and 5 p.m. Art submitted can be offered for sale or for display only. The Earth Day show will open April 22, with the opening day festivities running from 12 to 7 p.m. The show is free, open to public and includes presentations and evening entertainment. For further information, contact Catherine Morgan at (808) 960-3597.

Kalo and ‘Awa Education: Seed to Market Agricultural Initiative Update

By Maya Parish. The Seed to Market agricultural initiative geared toward building food security in Kohala – a group effort between Kohala Food Hub, HIP Agriculture and Kahua Paʻa Mua – is off to a great start. The second free community workshop in the Seed to Market series will be held on Saturday, April 9, at the Kohala Village HUB Barn from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The second workshop will be about the cultivation of kalo (taro) and ʻawa (kava) with Kohala Center educator Kaʻiana Runnels. The workshop will share about the cultural significance of the two plants as well as how to space them, prepare the planting area, plant, water, maintain, control pests, harvest and sell any excess harvest beyond your family’s needs locally through Kohala Food Hub. A planting demo will conclude the workshop for hands-on and visual learners. A kalo huli giveaway, heavily discounted ‘awa cutting sale, lunch featuring kalo by donation and live music will take place after the workshop from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. The Kalo and ʻAwa Workshop will also be live streamed on Zoom, and a link to the virtual class will be sent to anyone who requests it. To RSVP to the in-person or virtual class, please email The first free community workshop on dwarf coconuts, featuring educators Trent Grant, David Fuertes, and Dash Kuhr, was held on February 19 at the Kohala Village HUB. Over 60 people joined in person, and many others attended live on Zoom and requested the link to the class. A recording of that class, entitled “How to Grow Dwarf Coconut Trees,” can be found on YouTube at Over 70 dwarf coconut trees were sold at deep discounts to community members, helping to build more food security for our region. An opportunity to volunteer and learn with Kahua Paʻa Mua, Ke Kula Nui O Waimānalo and its Ulu Pono MahiʻĀina program is coming up on Sunday, March 26, at Kapanaia Farm from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with lunch to follow. The workday will be a preparation of the land for a future food forest installation in the agroforestry model. Kapanaia Farm is located directly on the left after the single bridge at the 25-mile marker on Akoni Pule Hwy. Kahua Pa’a Mua also has volunteer workdays the first Saturday of every month, with lunch provided for volunteers. To confirm attendance to the agroforestry installation prep or the volunteer days on the first Saturday of each month, please email David Fuertes at Families, individuals and other community organizations are invited to join in with this ongoing year-long project. If you have excess produce, herbs or starch crops to sell, have acreage you want to plant out with tree and companion crops, wish to buy more freshly harvested locally grown produce for your family, or wish to volunteer, please email Subsequent free community workshops will cover the practical step by step process of planting and maintaining crops that tend to do well and have a reliable market in Kohala, such as ʻulu (breadfruit), ʻuala (Hawaiian sweet potato), citrus (all types), maʻia (bananas and plantains), and ʻolena (turmeric).

Vaping and E-juice Flavors: Tasty Yet Deadly

By Kai (Gacayan) Carvalho . “Here you go kids. Have some strawberry flavored e-juice!” It tastes like it and smells like it, but instead of eating it you can vape it! From candy flavors to dessert flavors and fruity flavors such as watermelon and passion-orange-guava made specifically for the taste buds of Hawai’i, e-juice flavors for all! With the overwhelming availability of e-juice flavors on the market, it is evident to see that marketing of vaping products have influenced the reason why Hawai’i faces a youth vaping epidemic. In Hawaiʻi, eight out of ten youth use flavored tobacco vaping products. Electronic smoking devices, commonly known as vaping devices, contain nicotine and flavored e-juice with over 15,500 flavors currently on the market. What began as an invention made for the sole purpose of helping cigarette smokers quit their tobacco use utilizing a “weaning” off process of nicotine intake evolved into an exploitation of tasty flavors to entice consumers to start at a young age, become addicted and stay consumers for life. The creators behind the scenes are those of vaping companies and Big Tobacco companies. Big Tobacco companies are known for misleading their consumers through marketing of their nicotine products which ultimately cause major health effects including death. Their credibility was and continues to be suspect. The target audience and consumers the tobacco and vaping companies are hoping to get hooked on these sweet, tasty flavors include teens and young adults who love candy. Ages might range from 12 years old and older, although they may be targeting younger kids. Vaping can also be enticing to adults who may be looking for a dessert-type flavor. Vaping e-juice is not discriminatory toward any ethnicity, socioeconomic status or even educational level, from the kid whose both parents smoke cigarettes to the captain of the volleyball team who is also the class president, e-juice and vaping devices are meant for ALL in their marketing strategies. While middle and high school students may be “just experimenting” and want to try it “only one time,” this is where their empowerment to start will cause the opposite effect in the power and control they may have over themselves is no longer as nicotine is in control now. In control of how relaxed or not relaxed they may feel, stressed or not stressed, agitated or not agitated and happy or unhappy all because they felt empowered to try it just the one time and became addicted to the “feel good” feelings of dopamine. The untold story that many of young age are not aware of includes the history of Big Tobacco companies who produce vaping devices and e-juice. The story of how Big Tobacco for decades upon decades advertised, as they are now, how safe nicotine products such as cigarettes would do no harm. Now without argument, statistics year after year continue to show the number one cause of death in the United States is tobacco related. Tobacco kills more than car accidents, AIDS, homicides, alcohol and drug use combined. Where does nicotine come from? It comes from the tobacco plant. At a time when tobacco companies were put under the microscope on their honesty of their products’ true health effects and the harm and death it could bring, cigarette use started to trend downward and as that statistic descended, the appearance of e-cigarettes came into focus. With e-cigarette use on the rise, it was apparent that money would not be lost for these companies but in fact by adding tasty flavors would cause what can now be seen as the youth vaping epidemic. This is the background story of the same companies that kill more than 480,000 Americans per year (CDC) are the same companies that produce vaping devices and the e-juice that stores their nicotine in them hidden among the candy and fruit flavors. In all, by using candy, fruit and soda flavors in e-juice, Big Tobacco and vaping companies have proved that their marketing tactics are working. The outcome of their success can be seen in Hawai’i’s youth vaping epidemic defeat where youth are becoming addicted to vaping and e-juice contents. Eating and drinking nutritious food is essential in daily living and by exploiting tasty flavors in a way to get kids addicted to vaping devices brings great concern for their livelihood and life expectancy because of nicotine’s harmful effect. It is of utmost importance to prevent further harm to be imposed upon Hawai’i’s youth. By implementing policies and laws against marketing and advertisements so youth will not be enticed to give in to unhealthy behaviors such as vaping candy and fruit flavored e-juice, these youth will have a fighting chance. Hāmākua-Kohala Health fully supports our Tobacco Treatment Staff and their collaborative efforts to protect our youth from the harfmul effects of vaping. Our keiki are our future and we must protect them now.Call Hāmākua-Kohala Health today to speak to one of our Tobacco Treatment Specialist if you or someone you know needs support with quitting their tobacco or vape use. We encourage all to call your local lawmakers so we can give our keiki a voice in ending the youth vaping epidemic here in Hawaii. Hāmākua-Kohala Health and our Staff believe in “Caring for your ʻohana, Caring for you.” Call us at (808) 889-6236.

Kohala High School Homecoming

Kohala High School’s 2021-2022 Homecoming Court Freshmen Attendants: Kailani Valenzuela-Conte and Isaac Salvador-Libron Sophomore Attendants: Maekayela Galam and Landon Kauka Junior Attendants: Kaisha Salazar and Trever Figueroa Senior Attendants: Iris Cedillos and Legend Kauanoe-Libron  King: Oshen Cazimero,  Queen: Leiana Carvalho Seniors dance at a virtual assembly. During the week leading up to March 4, Kohala High School students celebrated Homecoming with dress-up days, games and an assembly. An evening dinner and show culminated the week’s activities. Themed “Under the Stars,” the semi-formal, outdoor event featured performances by students and community members; a catered, sit-down dinner; and introduction of the Homecoming Court.

Hawaii Writers Guild Issues New Publications

By Joy Fisher. With Spring around the corner, Hawaii Writers Guild is celebrating life’s annual renewal with two major publications. The 2022 edition of Latitudes, the Guild’s annual online literary review, went live at the end of February, and the Spring 2022 issue of Member News posted in the second week of March. “Whether you want to read the work of our authors, or news about their writing lives, it’s all available, free to the public on our website,” said Joy Fisher, public relations director for the Guild, which is based in Kohala. Latitudes, published once a year, takes several months to create, from start to finish. First, a call for submissions goes out to members of the Guild in the Fall. Members have 60 days to select or polish a work to submit for consideration. Specific guidelines are published for works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. “The Guild, which currently has 78 members, received a total of 76 submissions this year, 39 of which were ultimately selected for publication,” reported Bob Lupo, Latitudes’ current managing editor. Selection is a two-step process. The first cut is made by genre editors—two in each genre. Pieces that survive that first cut are then judged by the entire selection committee, which consists of eight genre editors, two at-large editors and the managing editor. Only the managing editor knows who authored the pieces. Both the subject matter and writing styles of the selected pieces is diverse. From the momentary escape of Mark and Mimi, an octogenarian couple, from the confinement of their locked nursing home in the fiction piece “Escape to Tiki Cove,” to the Siamese-cross male kitten, Mel, the star of “Cry Baby,” who escapes gassing at the Humane Society and grows up to nurture generations of kittens into healthy adulthood—a true story—every reader will find someone to soften their heart or bolster their spirit. Poetry is the most often submitted genre and is amply represented. But even within this single genre, diversity abounds, from the pensive memory poem, “My Father’s Knife,” to the author’s lament in “Lost Muse” that her writing muse has gone “missing on Kauai,” the poems will draw a sympathetic tear or an understanding smile. To find Latitudes on the Guild’s website, go to, click on “More…” and look for “LitReview Third Edition” in the dropdown menu. The latest issue of Member News is in the same dropdown menu. Look for “Member News Top Two.” In Member News, a newsletter for, by and about Hawaii Writers Guild members, readers will find feature stories about special writing projects of our members; an opinion column called Genre Corner and another column called Transitions, which details changes in the writing lives of our members; profiles of eight new members who have joined the Guild since our last issue; and stories about the new publications of 10 members. Although the Guild was formed on the Big Island, it now has members on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Molokai, as well as members who live on the mainland but write about Hawaii or have other connections to the islands. “One international member lives in Bosnia,” Fisher said. Hawaii Writers Guild is a nonprofit organization under IRS Code section 501(c)(3).

Local Boyz 2022

Story and photo by Tom Morse. Local Boyz continues to be Kohala’s representative in Kupuna Softball. Twenty-two teams play in the Big Island’s League from January through June, with a tournament scheduled in Hilo July 6-7. Front row (left-right): Jim Scancella, Alterry Murai, Greg Galan and Eddie Kise. Second row (left-right): Andrew Stevens, Guy Nakamura, Ted Matsuda and Steve Maeda. Third row (left-right): Kihei Roxburgh, Steve Nakamura, Jim Trump and Gary Tocatlian. Fourth row (left-right): Greg Chilton, James Lincoln and Stan Gonsalves. Top row (left-right): Ben Bruno, Kelly Asai. Missing: Mel Ako and Scorekeeper Chris Kise.

Kohala Portraits—Recognizing Neighbors: Ms. Aloha, a.k.a. Rhonda Ching

Story and photo by Karolina Garrett. In that other world over yonder called Kailua-Kona is a beater Pinto car, some rust on the hood, perhaps a lopsided bumper, propelling itself forward on gas fumes, and maybe a fuller tank if that cash tip arrives at the next pizza delivery. Fewer pizza drivers in Kohala, true, but in Hāwī or Kapaʻau we can still imagine that Herculean and heroic dynamism at work to make those deliveries. Such empathy for this worker. As we all barrel forward this pre-post-continuous pandemic March 2022, deeming who is essential to necessary delivery of life in Kohala becomes crystal clear. Those who bring steady service day after day, or for 24 years in the Kohala Elementary School front office, we consider essential. Rhonda Ching is this worker, and she appreciates that over the decades her colleagues created a nickname for her: Ms. Aloha. From her point of view, sitting at her desk behind the school’s front counter, and now plexiglass, she plays her own empathy card from 7 a.m., when she opens the school doors, until pau hana at 4:30 p.m. Anyone could need office assistance – faculty, staff, parents, administrators, keiki students, even delivery folks. She is Ms. Aloha of E komo mai. And at an institution with 341 students, 26 faculty, and 33 support staff, she meets the challenge. For all keiki students, she offers a softer word to ease the conversation on why he or she has been sent to the office. Often a classroom event transpired, and Ms. Aloha is there to decode what and what next. For adults, she even ventures into humor land, such is the kingdom Ms. Ching lords over. Harried teachers, flummoxed administrators, and under-caffeinated staff can wander into the zone. “In there I can make people laugh,” Ching admits. “Teachers walk in and maybe I can make their day happy.” For parents, they often call unsure how to achieve an administrative task for their child. Given that the paperwork can be daunting, parents delay. One sheet goes missing. Another is incomplete. Phone calls are made and emails are sent. By day’s end, mission impossible made possible through the front office conduit, Ms. Ching. “Once you give them that understanding tone, as in hearing them calming down, then I make sure to help out, and sometimes my voice helps solve the problem,” is how she describes an ordinary day at the aloha delivery office. Ms. Ching has become adept at sharing the empathy card, understandable given her life trajectory so far. Born and raised in Kohala, she attended Kohala El and High School (middle school yet to arrive) while growing up and stays close to her three siblings—two live local and one on Oʻahu. She went on to raise three children of her own. Today she beams at her grandmother role for eight grandchildren, and soon to arrive, her third great-grandchild. Tūtū resiliency, bar none. She earned her Associate of Science in Secretarial Skills from Hawaiʻi Community College in an era when women aiming for an accounting degree, her stronger interest at the time, was questioned. Ms. Ching recalls ruefully that only as a senior in high school did the historical culture grant female students permission to wear pants instead of skirts. Empathy card holders usually don’t flip through the deck on an island alone. Ms. Aloha credits her longevity to amazing Principal leadership over the decades and to Stella Steinhoff, the other office administrator at Kohala Elementary. The two have been a working dynamo for over 20 sustainable years. And I suppose for this parent, as she watches her son graduate from fifth grade in May from Kohala El (sniffle, sniffle), the sheer feat that is public education done fantastic seems an odd juxtaposing to pizza delivery. Yet in her essay “Be Cool to the Pizza Dude,” Sarah Adams reminds us that “my measurement as a human being, my worth, is the pride I take in performing my job — any job — and the respect with which I treat others.” Helpful context to honor one key woman so gratefully—and all the others at Kohala El, the incredible service workers that made my son’s education possible. Hoping that Ms. Ching doesn’t take offense that I compare her to a pizza delivery dude—she might call me into the front office.

Kohala Night Market

United States Representative Kai Kahele poses for a photo with Kohala High School Future Farmers of America and Kahua Pa‘a Mua at the Kohala Night Market. David Gibbs (middle left) and Lani Bowman (middle right) celebrate Mardi Gras with Kona visitors. Kohala Food Hub’s Maya Parish shares information on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).