MAY 2022

‘Iole Land Donated to Hawai’i Community Foundation

By Toni Withington

Hawai’i Community Foundation (HFC), one of the largest nonprofit funding agencies in the state, this month announced the donation of approximately 2,400 acres of land in the ‘Iole ahupua’a by the New Moon Foundation.

Plans are underway for turning the sweeping holdings from the forest reserve to the ocean into a living laboratory to be used as a model for how indigenous practices can help improve Hawaiʻi’s energy and food security, according to Micah Kane, President and CEO of HFC.

The project will bring together academic experts, Native Hawaiian practitioners, community members, students and government leaders to develop sustainable solutions rooted in ancestral knowledge and indigenous practices. It will include partners at the University of Hawaiʻi and Arizona State University.

To steward the land and the program, HFC formed an organization last December called simply ‘Iole. Interim CEO of ʻIole Alapaki Nahale-a is already on-site overseeing operations, staffing and beginning the process to develop the mission, vision and values for the nonprofit – a key element being community discussions and program development.

“We have the opportunity to restore this special place back to abundance, much like our ancestors before us did,” Nahale-a said in a statement announcing the donation. “As we listen to ʻIole and do what is right for the land, it is my hope that will be inspired to take responsibility for their own place and share in the belief that humans can live as a healthy part of earth’s ecosystem.”

Joining the announcement, Thuy Nguyen Fujimoto, President and co-founder of the New Moon Foundation; Bennett Dorrance Jr., Vice-President and co-founder of the New Moon Foundation; and Jason Fujimoto, President of the Kohala Institute, shared the following in a joint statement: “Our vision is for ‘Iole to be a place and values-based living classroom that practices and models collaboration for the benefit of our Hawaiʻi and global communities. We believe and trust in the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation and its partners to bring new capacity to ʻIole and carry the important responsibility of this place into its next chapter.”

New Moon purchased the multiple parcels of land from the Bond Estate between 1998 and 2007. The donation includes 380 acres makai of Akoni Pule Highway between Ainakea and Lighthouse Road (Kauhola Point). The rest reaches mauka of the highway and includes Kalahikiola Church, the old Boys School, the renovated Girls School and a conference center, as well as various agricultural enterprises.

The lineup of players in the new effort reads like a Who’s Who of leading Hawaiian movers. Micah Kane was named CEO of the Year in 2020 by the Hawaiʻi Business Magazine for his work at HCF. Besides being head of the Department of Hawaiian Homes (DHHL) for six years, he is a current trustee of Kamehameha Schools. 

Alapaki Nahale-a was chair of DHHL, a member of the University of Hawai`i Board of Regents, president of the Hawaiʻi Island Charter School Network and is Kamehameha School’s Senior Director of Community Engagement and Resources for Hawai’i Island.

In an interview, Nahale-a said connecting to existing environmental and agricultural organizations in North Kohala is a first step in the formation of programs at ʻIole.

“Foremost we want to engage local families with a focus on education, enhanced agricultural programs and job opportunities,” he said. “This includes preservation programs along the coast.”

Micah Kane takes a broader view of what ʻIole can do. “The world needs authentic solutions to our planet’s most urgent issues, from food security to climate change, to ensure a sustainable future for all people. Solutions that combine ancestral knowledge and indigenous practices with revolutionary science will produce a culturally sound framework that protects the well-being of both people and place.”

“Through our collaborative work at ʻIole, Hawaiʻi has the opportunity to continue to lead the fight against climate change and affect social issues impacting communities here, and across the globe.”

HCF, UH and ASU have committed to jointly raising $6.75 million for the operations of ʻIole for the first three years of the project. The funding allows ʻIole to focus on properly implementing programming and creating impact without being burdened by financial stress or constraint.

UH President David Lassner said, “We are excited at this opportunity to collaboratively envision a 21st century ahupuaʻa. ʻIole can be a place grounded in Hawaiian values and knowledge where we are jointly committed to the innovation and courage necessary to integrate traditional and modern ways of learning, doing and living.”

“The ʻIole ahupua’a is the epitome of potential for sustainable action and community resilience here on Hawaiʻi Island,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “Our administration has committed to fostering a Hawaiʻi Island where our keiki can thrive and succeed for generations to come, and in that, we are excited to support ʻIole and its partnering organizations in every way possible.”

Bond Library Update

By Christine Richardson

On May 2, members of the Bond Library Restoration team met with our Kupuna at the Kohala Senior Club. How wonderful to gather again in the old courthouse with so many great folks!

The Co-chairs for the project, Sharon Hayden and Christine Richardson, were delighted to share updates on the progress of the Bond Library Restoration project. Much behind-the-scenes work has been going on since we last checked in with the community in November. Our pro bono contractor, John Metzler, has created a timeline, cost estimates and full scope of work. Bill McCowatt, our pro bono building design and planner, has completed all the drawings and designs and submitted them to the County for our repair permits. We have contracted with a very skilled and enthusiastic restoration architect, Angel Ayon, who is consulting with Bill on all the historic details. Meanwhile, Christine and Sharon have been writing grant proposals and talking with community members about ways to raise funds and provide opportunities to help.

In December 2021, the Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation awarded the project a $100,000 grant to start the work. Most recently, the project was awarded $200,000 from the State of Hawaiʻi Grant-in-Aid program. We want to thank Representative Tarnas and Senator Inouye for their support of this request, and Susan Maddox of Friends of the Future, who is our fiscal sponsor for large grants. 

There are currently more grant proposals in the pipeline, which will hopefully contribute to the estimated $1 million in costs to complete the repairs for this building. The goal is to make it structurally sound and safe for occupancy by mid-2023 and have it last another 100 years!

A great question was asked during our talk story: “What will happen in the building when it is repaired?” The working plan is for a Kohala Heritage Center, which will be a both a gathering place and a repository for artifacts, historical documents and photos, books, art and other visual experiences. 

Sharon Hayden is leading this Phase II effort. Here youth and kūpuna volunteers will share their knowledge and respect for the history of Kohala with residents and visitors alike. 

This site will be utilized as a meeting place for local nonprofits, school groups, clubs and other small group gatherings. This Heritage Center will help to bring together the many diverse groups of people that make up the rich tapestry of North Kohala. Another popular concept is to incorporate a media lab that would focus on communications, providing state-of-the art training for our youth and all interested residents. This way, the Center will also be seen as a place that not only focuses on Kohala’s history but looks to the future. Students will be able to record “talk story” sessions, collecting “Living Treasures” collections for the archive.

The Kohala Heritage Center will also help to stimulate the local economy by providing visitors a place to learn about the many historical aspects of this district.  Students will learn valuable communication skills and gain experience through talking about Kohala while building a “pride of place” for their community. 

This Heritage Center will fit well with the historic County Courthouse, the old Bank of Hawaiʻi and Nanbu buildings and the most popular destination, the original statue of King Kamehameha I directly across the street.

Work on the building will commence when permits are granted and enough funding has been secured to get started, hopefully later this Fall. Our contractor, John Metzler, states the building’s foundation and frame are strong, well built and in good shape. 

Once they get going, the work should only take eight to ten months. The team will continue to find ways to raise funds for both the building and the Heritage Center as well as build a committee to design the displays and programming. Please let us know how you can help! 

Tax deductible donations may be sent to the North Kohala Community Resource Center (NKCRC) at P.O. Box 519 Hawi, HI 96719. Please be sure to designate the Bond Library. You can also send us an email at or leave a message at 808-889-0169 with ideas or ways to help us reach this important milestone. We would love to hear from you.

The End of Power Outages? Or a Reduction in Them?

By Toni Withington

Hawaiian Electric is planning to build the State’s first microgrid based on battery storage here in Kohala. 

The microgrid is designed to allow power to flow when outages occur on the single transmission line that connects North Kohala to the main power grid. 

Outages can occur while the utility rebuilds the 70-year-old transmission line and during maintenance or emergencies like car accidents or fallen tree. The microgrid was designed to allow Hawaiian Electric to serve the community when outages occur on the single 24-mile transmission line that connects North Kohala to the main power grid, but outages are expected to be fewer and shorter when they occur.

The overall project is unique because Hawaiian Electric would own and operate the microgrid controller but contract a third-party to guild and own a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) to be the controller’s energy source.

Batteries installed next to the Hāwī Substation would be capable of serving Kohala’s 2,000 customers with stored energy when the line is accidentally broken, but also during a planned outages during the conversion of the old radial line to an upgraded new line.

Hawaiian Electric, formerly known on this island as HELCO, has submitted its plans to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in the form of a request for proposals (RFP) that, if approved by the PUC, will be put out to bid for the battery portion of the project. 

The contracted company will own and operate the battery, while the utility will continue to own and operate the microgrid controller and maintain all other functions of distribution. 

If the project is approved, the microgrid could be completed in November 2024, the company predicts. The rebuild of the 24-mile transmission line would be done over multiple years with the batteries taking up the slack.

Details of the plan can be reviewed at While the PUC reviews the request, any stakeholder can make comments on the plan by emailing or entering them on the PUC’s website:

The 2008 North Kohala Community Development Plan talks extensively about how to improve the reliability of electrical service in the district, which has a long history of unplanned and planned outages. 

Hawaiian Electric was then in the process of designing a second line over the Kohala Mountain. Another plan was to install a diesel generator as a backup. But through many years of talking with Kohala residents and organizations, the alternative of a microgrid with battery storage became the preferred choice.

Because the microgrid solution is new and the complexity of third-party ownership of the BESS, the company hired Entura, an Australia-based power consulting firm, to provide guidance on technical requirements and purchasing and contracting details. 

Entura has expertise with designing small Pacific Island microgrid systems that use renewable energy and storage systems.

The RFP calls for a standalone BESS with 5 megawatts (MW) / 22 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy storage capacity that can be integrated with the microgrid controller system. 

The BESS microgrid controller is expected to seamlessly transition between grid-connected and local modes. 

How seamless the transition is between loss of the main grid and transfer to the batteries is the big question. The batteries will be capable of powering all Kohala for an eight-hour workday during construction of the new line.

The microgrid controller and battery would be built on 1.207 acres next to the utility’s Hāwī Substation on Akoni Pule Highway. The company has been granted an easement on the land from Surety Kohala Corp. but is in negotiations to purchase the site.

One thing not spelled out in the RFP is the role that the Hāwī Wind Farm will play in the microgrid. In a statement to Kohala Mountain News, a spokesman for the company said: “Hawaiian Electric met with Hāwī Renewable Development representatives, and it was decided that the microgrid project would not be tied to the wind farm. The energy produced by the wind farm is sent to the main electric grid that distributes power around the island. 

“An amended power purchase contract between Hawaiian Electric and Hāwī Renewable Development was submitted to the PUC for approval in December 2021.

 Unlike the existing contract, the amended contract is not linked to volatile oil prices that currently are impacting electric rates.”

Last summer the wind farm submitted its own application to the PUC for upgrading its turbines.

Land Board Gives Māhukona Land Purchase a Boost – Twice

By Toni Withington

The State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) is the latest government agency to lend it’s stamp of approval to the purchase 642 acres of private coastal land at Māhukona to be preserved from development. It did so twice in a month.

The land board voted unanimously on April 22 to approve its role as subgrant to federal funding tentatively lined up by a $4 million U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Land Acquisition Grant. The Forestry and Wildlife Division of the DLNR will become partners with the federal agency. 

This grant joins a conservation easement purchase agreement with the County of Hawaiʻi to provide $8 million for the preservation of land that was once zoned for resort, residential and golf course development.

Then on May 13 the board also authorized a $3 million grant through the state’s Legacy Land Preservation Program. Both grants received high marks in their competition for funding. The Fish and Wildlife grant was among only six projects funded in the country, and the Legacy Land allocation was voted the top position in the ranking of projects by the Legacy Land Commission in March.

Hawai`i Island Land Trust, also known as HILT, has been brokering the sale and will hold title to the land for Na Kalai Waʻa, the group that stewards the navigational heiau and drydocks the voyaging canoe Makaliʻi on the land, along with other Kohala groups.

The trust and the current private landowner have already signed an agreement to purchase the land.

At the April meeting Shae Kamakala, director of ‘āina protection and general counsel for HILT, listed the endangered animals, plants and yellow-faced bee that qualified the land for protection of endangered species by the Recovery Land grant. She said the Koʻa Holomoana heiau is still actively used to teach navigation and the kūpuna of Kohala families are showing how to steward the large land holding, owned until 2012 by Surety Kohala Corp.

At the May meeting David Penn, administrator of the Legacy Land Preservation Program, told land board members the $3 million allocation ties for the largest grant ever made by the State’s program and is also the first to have a conservation easement from the County of Hawaiʻi.

Just before announcing the unanimous vote, board chairperson Suzanne Case said: “It is a beautiful spot, and it is a very rich spot, and as you can tell we’re all very happy that you’re able to do this land protection project and work with the community closely on caring for it.”

The Māhukona Navigational and Cultural Preserve is part of a coastal ecosystem encompassing the ancient Kohala Field System between Lapakahi State Historical Park and Kapaʻa Park, both properties owned by the State. It is home to 175 ancient cultural sites including four heiau, agricultural and housing complexes, shrines, burials, and the ala loa. In addition, there are remnants of the historic harbor such as the railroad terminal, sugar and ranching activities.

In a statement, Hawaii Land Trust said it is working with the Kohala community and Na Kalai Waʻa to ensure the land remains undeveloped, available for public coastal trail access and becomes an active place of Hawaiian cultural practice.

“We look forward to this once in a lifetime opportunity to protect and ensure generational stewardship of such a special place,” Kamakaala said.

Māhukona Park Workday Set for June 5

By Toni Withington

Mālama Māhukona is calling for those who love Māhukona Park to show up on June 5 for a workday and the first of many idea-gathering session for what to include within the new park facilities.

With its status as official Friends of the Park, the group has the go ahead from the Department of Parks and recreation (P&R) to do some brush and dead wood removal around the condemned pavilion and plan the location of some hearty dryland vegetation to hold the raw soil down.

Participants will gather at 8 a.m. in the parking lot. Information on how to help move forward the planning process for the park will be available along with water and snacks. Wear sturdy shoes and bring gloves. 

For more information call Noelani Salis at (808) 480-1829, Cheryl Rocha at (808) 345-9738 or Lydia Zuniga at (808) 443-8361.

Nine members of Mālama Māhukona gathered on May 11 for their monthly meeting with Michelle Hiraishi, deputy director of P&R, to advance community participation in the planning and construction of the new park. The 70-year-old pavilion, the only amenity in the park, was condemned over three years ago.

Hiraishi said the county has awarded Engineering Partners of Hilo a contract to plan the removal of the pavilion and the chemical hazards identified in and around it. The actual remove will be subject to competitive bidding contract after the engineering plan is accepted. 

P&R has repeatedly said $400,000 is available for the removal of the structure and the construction of a platform as a gathering place until the new pavilion is built. Hiraishi said the platform will not necessarily be in the location of the condemned pavilion. The location is open for discussion.

The new park is expected to cost about $4 million, and she encouraged the Kohala community to support the P&R designation of that amount on the County’s Capital Improvement Budget coming before the County Council soon. She also said P&R will be getting funding to hire a grant writer to seek matching funds for all park improvement projects.

Besides planning the park structure and landscaping, several Mālama members suggested they could help P&R gather documents and material necessary for the permitting process, which along with the new infrastructure could make up half the cost of the new park. Members repeated their strong recommendation that work on the park be contracted to Kohala businesses.

Homes For Kohala: Affordable Housing Survey Results

By Beth Thoma Robinson

In the November issue of Kohala Mountain News, the North Kohala Affordable Housing Group, a sponsored project of the North Kohalal Community Resource Center, announced a survey intended to update the results of the housing survey conducted for the Community Development Plan in 2007. The earlier survey had 75 responses, and 30 percent of those said they were in needed of housing that was more affordable than market prices at that time. Another 44 percent had a household member in need. 

Thanks to the ease of online survey technology and the reach of social media, the recent survey currently has over 200 responses and clearly demonstrates what we all know: the situation has gotten worse, not better, in the past 12 years.

Updated Survey Clearly Demonstrates the Need Has Increased

With over 200 responding, 79 percent of those surveyed are in need of housing, and 68 percent said a family member is also in need. Almost all of those who took the survey currently live in Kohala; 39 percent were born right here and another 31 percent have lived here at least 16 years. People with Kohala roots want to stay here in Kohala.

The biggest need continues to be among young adults, and young families who want to raise their children here.

In the 2008 CDP, over half of those surveyed said for them “affordable” would be under $250,000. In 2022, 65 percent of responses said less than $300,000 and another 29 percent could go up to $400,000. That means there are no homes listed for sale in Kohala in the “affordable” range for local residents.

What Kind of Housing Does Our Community Want

The 2008 CDP estimated a need of at least 600-700 additional affordable homes, and reflected the communityʻs desire that it be integrated into existing neighborhoods. How can we go about creating a supply of affordable homes?

There are various options in principle, so the survey asked people to rank their preferences. The most popular option would be another phase of the self-help housing (80 percent ranked in top two choices). 

Next popular was to buy an existing home. Only about 30 percent of those answering were open to a land trust or leasehold situation, in which another entity owns the land and the resident buys only the house. 

The least popular option was renting. Only 23 percent ranked that choice as number 1 or 2, perhaps reflecting the recent experience many have had of their rental housing being sold to a buyer who intends to live in it.

These results, including the demographic data collected, are being shared with our County and State officials as well as with affordable housing developers and non-profits such as land trusts and Habitat for Humanity.

Building Momentum for Housing Solutions

The Affordable Housing Group solicited donations, primarily from real estate and mortgage professionals and companies, to create a professionally produced film illustrating the need. You can view the film on our new website, on our Facebook page, or on YouTube. Many thanks also to the Keyes and Vaefaga-Tinnan ʻohanas for telling their stories on camera.

The Affordable Housing Group will also have a table at the Kohala Reunion in July. So if you have yet to take the survey, want to talk about next steps to get qualified to buy a home, or want to volunteer your time or even make a donation, please come see us there.

Kamehameha Day Celebration

Mark your calendar!

On June 11, North Kohala celebrates the birth of our king 

with the following schedule:

7:00 a.m. – Lei drop-off at the statue.

8:00 a.m. – Lei-draping of the statue.

9:00 a.m. – Parade begins at Kohala School complex.

The Kohala Kamehameha Committee has decided to not hold a ho‘olaule‘a this year but hopes to be able to bring that component back in 2023.Come prepared to buy your 2022 version of Kamehameha Day shirts to benefit Nā Kupuna o Kohala.** Note that Akoni Pule Highway will be closed at 9:00 a.m. from Honomakau through the Hospital Road. Please adjust your morning accordingly.

Mahalo and we hope to see you there!

The Kamehameha Day Celebration is a sponsored project of the North Kohala Community Resource Center and this year is funded by the King Kamehameha Day Celebration Commission and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation West Hawai‘i Fund.

LETTER: Mahalo from St. Augustine’s

By Lani Bowman

St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church would like to thank the many community volunteers who created a very successful “Fill a Bag for $5” on May 7. We would especially like to thank volunteers from Hawaiʻi Community Federal Credit Union, Hāmākua-Kohala Health Center, and Tutu & Me Home Visiting ʻOhana, and hope to hold a similar event prior to the start of school in August. A big mahalo also to the over 150 people who came to fill their bags, share in fun fellowship with others, purchase our Thrift Shop extras and receive free giveaways! 

We are proud to say not one bag went to the landfill. Two carloads filled to the brim were taken to share with a Micronesian community in South Kona. For over 30 years, St. Augustine’s Thrift Shop has served the people of Kohala. 

It has provided opportunities for affordable shopping right here in Kohala. It has also helped our environment and landfill by providing a location for people to take their unneeded, gently used items. We encourage community members to continue to shop and drop off items. 

Please adhere to the drop off times and days to help our small staff of dedicated volunteers to be able to get items ready for sale. Please only drop off items you yourself would purchase.

LETTER: NKGP’s 1st Annual Easter Egg Hunt: Wet weather didn’t keep the kids away!

By Chelsea Ching LaFrance

On April 15, the North Kohala Golf Park hosted its first annual Easter Egg Hunt. 

Even though we had only a few weeks of planning time, the event was a success. With the help of the North Kohala Community Resource Center, the County of Hawaii Parks and Recreation team, Roots Skate Park and many other small businesses, the thought-to-be-small event turned out to have approximately 120 eager-to-hunt keiki. The event was great but made us realize that we need more eggs next year. The 1,000 stuffed eggs were not nearly enough, and the wet weather didn’t allow for us to wait till dark, but that didn’t stop the smiles. 

Seven keiki participated in our “most creative” Easter egg basket and they really put in the effort. All walked away with generous gift cards from Keauhou Shopping Center, Gill’s Lanai and King’s View Café. Even with the wet weather, many ʻohana stuck around for a free sweet treat from Super Cute Cotton Candy, which took the time to make mini treats on a stick to give out. 

We hope that with all we learned from this event, next year’s hunt will be even better. More eggs are a must, and fingers crossed for dry weather. 

It was amazing how many great community members, companies, restaurants and programs near and far chipped in to help hide eggs, stuff goodie bags, and donate prizes and funds to purchase goodies. 

We would like to thank all those who came out to enjoy doing something with their keiki and a huge mahalo to all those who gave their time and effort to help make this happen!

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

Aloha. The Legislature has completed its 2022 session, approving and sending 343 bills to the Governor. 

Overall, it was a successful legislative session in which we addressed long-standing economic issues and provided unprecedented levels of financial support for our working families, Native Hawaiians, public schools, and kūpuna. The State’s improved economic outlook and federal funding allocations allowed us to make these significant investments in our community while also providing tax relief for residents and committing nearly $1 billion to the State’s budget reserves. 

This month, I would like to highlight some of the biggest accomplishments benefitting working people and families, affordable housing, native Hawaiians, public schools and kūpuna.

The Legislature increased the minimum wage and made the Earned Income Tax Credit permanent and refundable. This wage increase and tax credit will help many working families in our community. To reduce the negative impact of increased wage expenses on small businesses, the final bill spread out the wage increase, so it begins this October and further increases are staggered over several years. In addition, the Legislature approved a tax rebate of up to $300 per resident.

The Legislature took significant steps this session to invest in critical programs that will help alleviate the rising cost of living and increase the housing inventory for those who need it most. We passed a package of bills that appropriate nearly $1 billion to help the homeless, very-low income, moderate-income, and working families with rent relief and housing, and to provide funds to develop more affordable housing. We appropriated $300 million into the Rental Housing Revolving Fund to develop rental housing for working individuals and families. We funded $15 million to extend the ʻOhana Zones pilot program until 2026, which will provide temporary shelter, permanent transitional housing, and medical and social support services for houseless people. We allocated $45 million for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund to facilitate development of infrastructure for affordable housing. And we provided participants in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs up to $500 per month for rental assistance, which will directly help working families be able to afford rent.

In landmark legislation passed this session to fulfill the State’s public trust responsibilities to Native Hawaiians, we appropriated $600 million to allow the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to build more homes, buy more land, and provide rental and mortgage assistance to Native Hawaiians on the DHHL waitlist. The Legislature additionally provided $10 million for homestead services, $20 million for DHHL lot development, and $35 million of federal funds for new homestead development. And we paid for the settlement in a class action suit of Native Hawaiians who sued the State for the time they spent on the waitlist for getting a parcel on Hawaiian Home Lands. In addition, we increased the annual payments of public land revenues to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) from $15.1 million to $21.5 million and made this retroactive, resulting in a $64 million payment to OHA. 

Public education is a top priority for our community. Because of that public support, the legislature was able to make major progress supporting our public school teachers by passing a package of bills that increased salaries for public school teachers; provided additional pay for professional development; and provided funds for higher salaries for difficult-to-fill teacher positions, including Hawaiian language teachers, special education teachers, and teachers in rural schools. We also provided funds to build new preschools or renovate existing public school classrooms to convert them to preschools.

We passed numerous bills that will benefit our kūpuna. This includes providing adult dental services for those on Medicaid, appropriating more funds for the kūpuna care program, establishing the Hawaiʻi Retirement Savings Program for people who don’t have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, extending the driver’s license renewal period for licensees who are between 72-80 years of age from two years to four years, and providing additional funding for aging and disability resource centers in each county.

Next month, I will highlight the successful legislation and funding related to natural resources, environmental stewardship and climate change that were priorities of the House Water and Land Committee, which I lead as Committee Chairperson. I will also highlight the Capital Improvement Projects in our community and funding provided through the Grants-in-Aid program to organizations in North Kohala, including the Bond Memorial Library restoration project and HIP Ag’s programs in Kohala for farmer training, youth education, food hub infrastructure, Kūpuna Box distribution, and the farm-to-school food system. 

Mahalo for your support and advice this legislative session. I am grateful to serve as your State Representative and welcome hearing from you by email at and by phone at 808-586-8510. You can also sign up for my e-newsletter at and access the archive with past issues for your information.

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

Aloha! Once again, it is time for the monthly update from our office.

Agriculture and Kohala – Food for Thought

One of the big concerns that was highlighted throughout the pandemic was the lack of food security/food self-reliance in our state. Approximately 90 percent of the food we consume is imported. Using a conservative national number of about 3.5 pounds of food per person per day, our state consumes approximately five million pounds of food daily. Tourism adds another 20 percent, or one million pounds. At 200,000 people, Hawai‘i Island’s population is one seventh of the State’s. This translates to our island consuming about 750,000 pounds of food each day. With tourism, that number is approximately 900,000 pounds. Since around 500,000 pounds of food is grown within the state each day, that’s a difference of 400,000 pounds a day. This highlights the challenge for our state and its food self-reliance, but also the potential opportunity.

Considering Kohala. 

Depending on how you want to measure Kohala, the entire district outside the valleys down to approximately ʻUpolu Point is about 20,000 acres. Of this total, perhaps 3,500 acres could be considered potential for agricultural and food production. Strictly as a tabletop conversation, the production of pounds of food per acre varies widely depending on what commodity we are discussing. 

By no means is this a suggestion or an implied direction for Kohala. This is only for scale of agriculture purposes in comparison to an area we all know well. 

To put some commodities in context for Hawai‘i in per-year estimates, see the adjacent sidebar.

The point of this is to highlight the potential of our agriculture. A conservative estimate would be perhaps 7,500 pounds of “agricultural product” per acre, per year. (This is comparable to average corn production in the United States). For Kohala, 2,000 acres could mean 15 million pounds of food produced annually. Given that our island consumes 750,000 pounds a day, that would be an equivalency of three weeks of food. 

Hawai‘i Island has enviable tracts of land and water resources potentially usable in agriculture. We have well-established markets in need. This informational piece is not to articulate a plan per se, but to highlight what it truly means and what it will truly take to feed our community to strive towards food security. 

Next month: The economy of agriculture and irrigation. 

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. 

Acres harvestedProduction (1,000 pounds)
2019: 3202019: 4,140
2020: 2202020: 4,000
2021: 1752021: 3,210
YIELD: Approximately 18,000 pounds/acre
Acres harvestedProduction (1,000 pounds)
2012: 4002012: 3,400
2016: 3102016: 3,500
2017: 3502017: 3,700
2018: 3102018: 3,000
YIELD: Approximately 8,500 pounds/acre (2012)
YIELD: Approximately 9,600 pounds/acre (2018)
Data gathered from the Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Producers  Cooperative established in 2016
TreesProduction  (1,000 pounds)
2018: 20002018: 71
YIELD: Approximately 20,000 pounds per acre
Hawai‘i is third largest producer in the U.S.
2019: 8202019: 1640
YIELD: Approximately 2,000 pounds/acre  (10,000 pounds/acre reported potential)

Lei-Maker Fundraises to Help Fix Kohala Pool, Gets Unexpected Update

Story and photo by Libby Leonard

Back when lei-maker and healer Maile Spencer Napoleon was growing up in North Kohala, there weren’t that many places to swim that seemed safe. Even if there were, she was not allowed to play in the ocean. She was allowed in the town pool, though, where she formed many beloved memories. 

When Kohala’s community pool in Kamehameha Park was closed down in the fall of 2021 due to numerous issues and what appeared to be an enormous price tag to fix, she knew that Kohala was going to be missing one of its greatest resources. 

Unsure if anybody was doing anything to fix it, after being approached to sell her beautiful lei at the farmer’s market in Hāwī to raise funds, she agreed immediately, and decided to create Swim For Health to raise money and awareness to help fix the pool. Despite the hefty price tag, which was initially reported as $4.5 million for the County to fix the pool, she said she would keep showing up every Saturday to raise money until she didn’t have to anymore.  

“Raising money for the pool, I really think for me, it’s to cue in on the children, where they have something to do and some place to go to have fun and also exercise,” said Maile.

When Napoleon was a teacher during the plantation era, her students had a lot of needs, because their parents did not make enough money to cover them. Napoleon had the children make things like Christmas ornaments out of items from nature, which she would then sell to others only for their loose change to raise money for the kids. She called this “Small Change.” 

Napoleon, who has always brought together so many factions of the community, hoped that it would be the community that would come together and fix the pool on their own, without the County, true Kohala style.

What Napoleon didn’t know was that around the same time she decided to do her fundraiser, her hopeful vision was unfolding. 

According to head lifeguard Spencer Coakley, retired pool technician Gary Tocatlian – who has fifty years of experience and wants to give back to the community – volunteered his time and labor to do pool assessments and upcoming fixes. It’s possible that the pool only needs a pump. He said that they will eventually have a work party to clean the pump room to prepare for the fix. 

The pool might be able to be open by the end of the year, which is a welcome surprise, since many expected it to be years before it could be of use.

Coakley credits his father, Jeff, for making everything happen with the group Friends of Kohala Pool, where he was constantly interacting with others to find solutions. 

“The pool is recreational, but also a healing center,” said Jeff Coakley.

Jeff Coakley who has been a Senior Lifeguard for the County of Hawai’i, swim coach, and instructor among several other things aquatic, said that not only do many people with physical ailments use the pool for rehab, but the physical therapy offices actually refer them there. 

He added that going through the County and all of its red tape with permits for hired workers would’ve held back progress for a long time, but that the County, who is in support of Coakley’s efforts, said that as long as they can get volunteers to do the work, they can move ahead with their plans without any issues. 

There still might be some hurdles with Parks and Rec because of their codes and procedures, said Tocatlian, but they are all confident they will be able to overcome them.

They think the pump might run around $9,000, but they are unsure what the final cost will be. After they determine that price, there will be additional fundraisers run by Rick Cohen, Robin Woodley, Andy Longpre, and Bill and Barb Davis. 

Until the final assessment is made to put those fundraisers into action, you can donate and purchase lei from Aunty Maile at the Hāwī farmers market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 12 noon.

Upcoming Citrus and Sweet Potato Education: Seed to Market Agricultural Initiative

By Maya Parish

The 2022 Seed to Market agricultural initiative – a group effort between Kohala Food Hub, HIP Agriculture and Kahua Paʻa Mua geared toward building food security in Kohala – is continuing full steam ahead. The third free community workshop in the Seed to Market series will be held on Saturday, June 25, at the Kohala Village HUB Barn from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. 

The third workshop will be about the cultivation of Citrus and ʻUala (sweet potato) with educators Ken Love (for citrus) and Kehaulani Marshall (for sweet potato). The workshop will share practical knowledge about the crops, including 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 demonstration will conclude the workshop for hands-on and visual learners. A heavily discounted grafted citrus tree sale, and a lunch by donation featuring citrus and ʻuala, will take place after the workshop between 12 noon and 1 p.m. 

Ken Love, founder of Hawai’i Tropical Fruit Growers and affectionately known as the “Hawaiʻi Fruit Guru”, is a well-known figure on island championing the production and consumption of locally grown fruit and vegetables, with a focus on not letting fruit that grows here go to waste. Kehau Marshall is a part of the organization Ulu Mau Puanui located in leeward Kohala, where they are learning about The Kohala Dryland Agricultural Field System. Interested parties may visit their website to learn more at

The first free Seed to Market community workshop on dwarf coconuts, featuring educators Trent Grant, David Fuertes, and Dash Kuhr, was held February 19, and the second on kalo (taro) and ʻawa (kava) featuring educator Kaʻiana Runnels was held April 9. Over 130 participants have joined in person thus far, and many others have attended live on Zoom and/or requested the links to the class videos. The links to the recordings of both classes can be found at Over 70 dwarf coconut trees have been purchased at deep discounts by community members, ample kalo (taro) starts have been given away, and a number of ʻawa (kava) starts have also been purchased helping to build more food security for our region.

The June 25 citrus and sweet potato 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

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, 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), maiʻa (banana), and ʻolena (turmeric). 

Kohala Reunion 2022

By Lynda Wallach

The Kohala Reunion is less than two months away and the sense of excitement and anticipation continues to grow. Already more than 1,200 people have joined the Kohala Reunion 2022 Facebook page and 13 Kohala High School graduating classes have reserved tent space. The Reunion Committee is working hard making the final arrangements for the entertainment, games, ceremonies, contests, keiki activities, tours and everything else that promises to make this Fourth of July weekend a time for all to remember.

The Lim Family will open the event at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 2, beginning a day filled with incredible entertainment. Over 50 dancers from three local hula hālau will start things off with a program of kahiko (traditional) and ‘auana (modern) followed by two hulas presented by the students of Aunty Margaret Tablit. The day continues with performances by Mila Polevia, Cole Fuertes and Kainani Kahaunaele and ends with dancing to the music of the Jarican Express. 

The Sunday line-up is just as exciting, beginning with Tita Alcoran and continuing with John Keawe, David Gomes, and Nino Kaai. Dancing Sunday night will be to the music of I’land Boiz and North Shore.

Also on Sunday, Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko (RMD) will perform Okinawan taiko and the Kohala Hongwanji will demonstrate a bon dance in the afternoon, with everyone having a chance to participate. There will be a keiki section all day on each of the three days with a bouncy castle and face painting. 

Shay VanZandt and the 4-H will oversee roping practice each day and the first rounds of kickball and basketball-HORSE competition will take place on Sunday. The championship rounds for tug-o-war, kickball, basketball-HORSE and roping will all be on Monday. If you are planning to put a team together for any of those, now is the time to start thinking about it.

For those who want to showcase their cooking skills there will be dessert contests (coconut milk, guava and sweet potato) and local favorites (dried fish, smoke meat and sausage) each day. Applications will be sent to those that checked it off on their application. Extra will be posted on HCFCU bulletin board. Completed application should be sent to Kohala Reunion 2022, PO Box 804, Kapaau HI 96755.

Bill Wong will lead tours of ʻIole each morning, David Fuertes will take people to Kahua Pa’a Mua on Sunday and there will be an open house at the North Kohala Community Resource Center (NKCRC) on Monday. Kohala High School & Kohala Hospital will also have a tour. See program book for updated information. Throughout the three days the Hisaoka Gym will be filled with exhibits showcasing Kohala’s past and present. If you want to spend some time hanging out and relaxing with friends, there will be checkers, jacks, cards, and hanafuda available to borrow in the keiki tent. 

Registration will be open until the first day of the Reunion although people are encouraged to register early. Those who register will receive a bag of goodies including a program book containing the times and places of all the entertainment, activities and sports events as well as information on the participating food and craft vendors and the exhibits in the gym. 

The Reunion committee is looking forward to welcoming all those returning from afar and all those who still call Kohala home.

Support for the Kohala Reunion 2022 is provided by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority through the Community Enrichment Program. The Kohala Reunion is also a sponsored project of NKCRC. 

See our booth at the Kohala Night Market on June 1 for more information.

Kūkulu o Kohala presents Mo‘okū‘auhau, Mo‘olelo, Mo‘opuna: Connections Through the Generations

By Pua Case

On June 11, 2021 – Kamehameha Day – Kūkulu o Kohala, a traveling exhibition that pays tribute to community pillars through photography and the arts, was formally opened in five locations from Kapaʻau to Niuliʻi. Maile lei and chants were offered at each exhibit site by Hālau Kawehimamoikawēkiuʻo Kohala to honor the theme, Moʻokūʻauahu, Moʻolelo, Moʻopuna, Connections Through the Generations.

The exhibit began as a vision to recognize the generations of lineages throughout the Kohala community. It transformed into a visual symbol of the ability to rise to face any and all challenges. In this case, the challenge facing the community was COVID. From the onset, it was important that this exhibition not be rushed, that it be done right with protocols and guidelines and with the deepest aloha in mind and heart for the genealogies, stories and chants that would inspire the community as well as visitors to Kohala.

For this author, as Mauna Kea Education and Awareness (MKEA) Project Director, this exhibit display in Kohala was especially significant to me and my family as we trace part of our genealogy and family stories back to Kohala.

“Each of the previous seven displays were special, from the past exhibits at the Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hāmākua in Honokaʻai, the East Hawaiʻi Cultural Center in Hilo, to the current exhibits at One Aloha Shave Ice in Kona, and at One Step on Oʻahu. This exhibit in Kohala however, was extra special and therefore, we stepped into the community carefully, assembling an advisory committee of family and deeply respected community members in order to make sure that we adhered to their requests, followed their lead and shaped this exhibit around the characteristics and rich heritage of this place.

“They guided this project through every step of the process from selection of photos to installation at each location. That was of utmost importance as it has always been our goal to have the exhibit remain in Kohala for as long as it is felt to be a valuable part of the essence of the community.”

When visiting the various Kūkulu displays in Kohala today, one will see that each display is unique and that the faces of Kohala, from Hawaiʻi and from around the world highlight the strength and manner in which people continue to stand for the protection of the environment, for sources and resources, for life ways and for sacred places such as Mauna Kea and Pololū Valley. This has indeed been a heartfelt undertaking and a sincere mahalo goes out to Mauna Kea Education and Awareness for sponsoring the exhibit, the Kohala Advisory Committee, location hosts, everyone in the photographs and the Kohala community. Location sites include the Vea Polynesian Gift Shop, Pomaikaʻi Cafe Gift Shop, King’s View Cafe, Makapāla Retreat Center and Starseed Ranch. To view the display at Starseed, contact Alohi Keohuloa at (808) 825-1678 and for Makapāla, contact Elisabeth Kawe at (808) 430-6918. All other locations welcome visits during business hours.

Many community members and visitors from around the world have been inspired by the strength of community shown in the faces displayed within each piece of art. It has been an honor to hold space for the stories held within the exhibit,” shares Elisabeth Kawe of the exhibit at Makapāla Retreat Center. That sentiment is shared by all the location sites which for all involved with installing and maintaining the exhibit means that Kūkulu o Kohala is a success and important for the community.

Kohala community members are welcome to contact MKEA at to inquire about submitting a photo to add to any of the exhibit displays.

Roots Skatepark Earth Day Celebration a Success

By Libby Leonard

On April 23, the annual Earth Day celebration at Roots Skatepark took place, sewing together several members of the community through volunteership and donations to take care of the park’s grounds and new food forest.

The event was thrown by Mālama I Ke Kai and Breathe Roots Hawai’i. Breathe is a subsidiary of the nonprofit Roots Advocates for Youth, run by Executive Director and Events Producer Lydia Zuniga and her Operations Director Caryn Villacorte. 

“It’s about unity,” said the vibrant Zuniga.   

The event – much like the formation of the skatepark itself through the efforts of Richey Riggs and Brian Sandlin – was a truly collaborative, altruistic experience.

Volunteers of all ages filtered in at 8 a.m., and after a short session of yoga and meditation, proceeded to take care of vast portions of the park, weeding and putting in mulch donated by Kahua Paʻa Mua, while also utilizing Dragonheart Farms’ popular GrowFaast soil amendments.  

All were later served lunch, part of which was donated by the Kohala Fish Company, and all of which was prepared for free by Gill’s Lanai, packaged in compostable containers  from Kohala Grown. 

Cole Kela Fuertes provided the music free of charge from 11:00–1:00.

Tables were also set up for Kohala High youth to give out their prepaid plate lunches and other snacks for their prom fundraiser. There was also a face-painting station, tables with secondhand items, shave ice, and Roots Skatepark merchandise. 

Many other donations came from organizations and individuals across Kohala to make the skatepark and its food forest reach its full potential. “It will be nice to just be able to kind of grab a piece of fruit for a snack,” said young skater Felipe Ruvalcaba.

In the future, the kids will be able to choose from bananas, oranges, coconuts, cherries, and mulberries with whatever else the community chose to plant in new raised beds.

According to Zuniga, the event was a full success and fulfilled her project’s mission of creating a place that brings a sense of belonging and feeling valued, while all working together. 

Up next for Roots is Go Skate Day on June 19. Akoni Pule Highway will be closed briefly from the Aloha Gas Station to the park, where kids and adults can skate to have more fun and food. 

To learn more or donate, visit

Future Farmers of America

Story by T.J. Giel.

The Kohala FFA Chapter proudly represented their chapter at the State Convention from April 18–22, 2022. This event was held virtually with chapters from around the state in attendance. Members competed in events such as: Job Interview, Extemporaneous Public Speaking and Creed Recital. Christine Kimball, Daylan Tayan-Germano, Hailey Kauanoe-Galdones, Camille Pinho, Daysha Tayan-Germano and Kenneth Matsuda represented our chapter with such professionalism, dedication and true Kohala Pride!

Results were announced virtually on Friday, April 22, with chapters from around the state. The Kohala FFA Chapter received state honors with Camille Pinho winning 1st Place in the Job Interview category and Kenneth Matsuda winning 1st Place for his Creed Recital. With these honors, Camille and Kenneth can compete at the National Level in Indiana later this year. 

FFA is a dynamic youth organization that changes lives and prepares members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. FFA develops members’ potential and helps them discover their talent through hands-on experiences, which give members the tools to achieve real-world success. FFA is an intracurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. It is one of the three components of agriculture education. The official name of the organization is the National FFA Organization. The letters “FFA” stand for Future Farmers of America. These letters are a part of our history and our heritage that will never change.

Little Free Pantry Returns

Photo by Sadie Young

The Kohala Little Free Pantry is back up at Banyan Park, on the mauka (uphill) side of Akoni Pule Highway near the intersection of Hāwī Road.


On page 7 of the April 2022 issue, it was incorrectly stated that Malia and Eugene Dela Cruz were parents of the three boys in the photo. In fact, Jhace Kaipo’s mother is Chontel Eugenio and Conquer Libron-Crabbe’s parents are Blaine Crabbe and Narlynn Libron.

Notice of Road Closure

Attention motorists: Akoni Pule Highway, Route 270,

will be closed on Sunday, June 19, from 10:00 to 

10:30 a.m. The closure will occur from the intersection 

of Kynnersley Road to Roots Skatepark for the 

“Go Skate Day” Parade, a family-friendly event to 

celebrate the Phase Two expansion of the park. 

Participants will ride their skateboards down Akoni Pule Highway to Roots Skatepark. For more information, 

contact Roots Skatepark Volunteer Director 

Richey Riggs at 808-895-2909.

KHS May Day Celebration

By Brenda Swan

Kohala High School was pleased to resume their May Day celebration, “Aloha e Kohala, kuʻu one hānau e” (Kohala the beloved sands of my birth) on May 3 with a program featuring live music and hula under the direction of Uncle Michael Matsu. After a two year hiatus, the scaled-down assembly was viewed in person by a limited number of students and special guests in the Kohala High School gymnasium, while the remaining students enjoyed a live-stream of the event.
The stream is available to view at
Following an opening oli and pule by Tumu Naleialoha Napaepae-Kunewa and welcome from Principal Amy Stafford, the May Day Court procession began with Mō’ī Kāne (king) Legend Kaleikaumaka Libron. It was led by ka mea oli (chanter) Moses Kahoʻokele Crabbe and attended by pū (conch shell blowers) Blade Libron-Crabbe and Ishen Salvador-Libron, and his Ke Alo Ali’i (king’s personal attendant) Anthony Kawaiolamaikalākūlua Ka’ai. His nā poʻe ihe (spearsmen) were Isaac Salvador-Libron and Easton Hoshida, and nā paʻa kāhili (feather standard, symbolic of royalty) were Tamatasi-Villiami Sauta and Chase Hirano. Mō’ī Wahine (queen) Teige Keikilani Lorenzo-Akamu was led by Kumu ʻĀina and attended by ladies-in-waiting Tamryn Lorenzo-Akamu, Ayezha-Lynn Isabel and Maekayela Galam. Her nā poʻe ihe were Isaiah Castillo and Makaialeaukahi Pang, and her nā paʻa kahili were Weston-Jon Camara and Quentin Hook.
Mōʻī Kāne and Mōʻī Wahine were followed by the island court. Representing Hawaiʻi Island were Rayana Ivy Hulaliokapūpūmakamaeikealaula Kanehailua-Baldos and paʻa kāhili Landen DeSilva. Maui was represented by Myiesha Kamalei Hatsumi Emeliano and paʻa kāhili Zavier Ramos-Moniz. Kahoʻolawe was represented by Marley Peʻahi Mitsuko Yamamoto and paʻa kāhili Kainalu Yamamoto. Lānaʻi was represented by Iris Sarai Cedillos and paʻa kāhili Elias Edayan. Molokaʻi was represented by Savannah Keaowenamaikalani Kawaihilinahe Kupukaʻa and paʻa kāhili Samson Soares. Oʻahu was represented by Kailani Maile Valenzuela-Conte and paʻa kāhili Keale Valenzuela-Conte. Kauaʻi was represented by Tiani Aaliyah Kaʻulaokeahiimekealohaokekainui Reyes Akana and paʻa kāhili Aidan Blanco. Niʻihau was represented by Chyler-Leighn Kuliakauʻiokalani Derla and paʻa kāhili Kahakaulaomaliʻu Catrett. 

The program was moderated by Megan Kiliohumaikalāhikiola Hoʻopai and Hailey Kaunoe-Galdones. 
Mahalo to Aunty Kauʻi Nakamura and Uncle Laddy Shim for their kōkua (help), and our musicians John Keawe, Jr., Uʻilani Lorenzo, Cole Fuertes, and Ray DelaCruz. Kohala High School would like to mahalo all who helped make this day possible and to the community for their continued support. 

KHS Capstone Projects

Story and photos by Brenda Swan

On the evening of Friday April 29, a group of Kohala High School Student Ambassadors, culinary students and seniors transformed the STEM building complex. They welcomed parents, guests and local luminaries to a showcase for capstone projects and a Taste-of-Kohala experience.

Following opening remarks from Complex Area Superintendent Janette Snelling, Career and Technical Education District Resource Teacher Fern White and Natural Resources teacher Dean Snelling, guests enjoyed presentations by the seniors summarizing their work-based learning experiences. They were then treated to a variety of local-style dishes prepared and served by Mrs. Figueroa’s culinary students.

The capstone is a long-term project, intended to develop skills that prepare students for college or career through practical experience by partnering with a local business in line with their interests and aspirations.

Student-industry partnerships ranged from medicine and construction to hydroponics and energy production.

Thanks to these community and industry partners, students had opportunities to develop critical thinking skills in a real-world setting: BodyPro Physical Therapy, Hawaiʻi Life Real Estate Brokers, Isabel’s Automotive, Mrs. Adrina Kise, Kohala-Hāmākua Dental, PowerGrid Partners and Risen Construction.


Photo by Reed Takaaze

6th row (top), left to right:Samson Soares, Nicholas Tyler, Alyssa Sasaki, Maya Matthey, Noah Smith-Chau, Nathan Perez Lucy Hernandez, Patience Lewis and Sam Van Dam.

5th row: Chase Hirano, Zavier Ramos-Moniz, Gissel Ruiz, Brennan Torres, McTyrone Afaga, Raimana Lajala-Kanakanui, Dhona Rico and 

Daylan Tayan-Germano.

4th row: Gibson Polevia, Logan Neves, McCartney Michaelis, Francesca Salmoiraghi, Talia Sanchez, Brooklyn Geiger, Kona Ledward-Mongkeya, Jake Duby and Quentin Hook.

3rd row: Onipa’a Tavares-Matsuda, Koby Agbayani, Chyler Derla,  Anela Cazimero-Roxburgh, Landen DeSilva, Teige Lorenzo-Akamu, Tristan Van Berg, Legend Libron- Kauanoe, Jace Hook and Lauren Hawkins.

2nd row: O’shen Cazimero, Emily Leonard, Waiulu Kawai-Poliahu, Kai Nemzer, D’Angelo Duque, Ayezha Isabel, Iris Cedillos, La’akea Kauka and Neighton Bell.

1st row: Adam Heu-Mathieu, Damien Padilla, Rayana Baldos, Myiesha Emeliano, Riley Preston, Isaiah Woods, Kayla Nicholas, Leiana Carvalho, Joel Gonzales-Oliveros and Zayden Bronson.       

Missing: Kalimahoonimakani Biedenharn-Gali, Razel Cafe, Malie Kamaile-Isabel, Angelina Peritore, Nikolas Tompkins and Skyla VanZandt.

Community Manager seeks to spread kindness and hope

Story and photo by Libby Leonard

Several months ago, when school was in session, Ross Pagat knew he wanted to do something extra to help students start their day off right.

One morning he wrote a positive quote on a white board, walked himself to where the long parade of cars forms from families dropping off their children on Honomakau Road, and held it up. 

At first he was nervous, unsure how he was going to be received, but his nerves calmed when he was met with copious smiles and waves. After that he came out every morning he could, rain or shine, first thinking he’d go to Spring Break, but once that passed, decided to take it all the way to the end of the year. 

“It’s important that we do these things because we all go through struggles, every one of us. Some days, I may be struggling more than others. And that’s when that act of kindness can go a long way,” Pagat said. 

Pagat is the Community Manager for Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF), a nonprofit that “empowers families to navigate social challenges and to grow self-resiliency, vibrancy, and healthy, secure communities in Hawai’i.” 

PIDF partners with the three schools in Kohala, where Pagat’s job is to go out and gather information on school issues and needs, many of which he finds from the students themselves. These concerns are then brought to community partners and stakeholders to build relationships with the schools and find solutions, in what Pagat says is a Community-School strategy.

The community partners Pagat liaises with are extensive and include Liliuokalani Trust, Big Island Substance Abuse Council, Vibrant Hawaiʻi, Kohala Village HUB, Overflow Church, Takata Market and Hawaiʻi County Parks and Recreation. 

In part, he attributes being able to hold up these signs to this teamwork. 

He came up with the daily quotes alongside his wife and son, whether by searching for them online, hearing them from friends, or making them up himself. 

Now that school is out, when asked what he could impart to the students, Pagat says, “My wish for the students over the summer is that they continue to seek out positive things and do positive things for other people.”


APRIL 2022

E Maka‘ala, E Mālama – Our Community Remains Vigilant in Our Care of Pololū

By Lehua Ah Sam

If you visit Pololū today, you may notice some subtle improvements. First thing you will now likely see is the face of a kamaʻāina, a native of Kohala, there to greet you, and orient you to Pololū Valley. These kamaʻāina faces are the stewards of Pololū, the first of their kind in Hawaiʻi. These stewards are supported through the continued collaborative efforts of Nā Ala Hele, KUPU, Protect Pololū Project, and with funding support from Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority and the generous donation of the Nā Kūpuna organization. Jordan Barlan was recently hired and will be joining our current stewards Aunty Sarah Pule-Fujii and Uncle Paul Ishikuro at Pololū lookout on the weekends. 

Interpretive signs have also recently been added to the trailhead. These interpretive signs share valuable information about the valley, including the expectations for visitors. Visitors are made aware of the lack of bathroom facilities and the dangerous trail conditions. The sign shares images and stories from Pololū’s history. There is also a reminder that non-permitted camping is prohibited on the state managed beach parcel by §13-221-15 under the authority of HRS §171-6. “From the tourist standpoint, I think the sign does its job and supports the stewards in education.” says Loa Patao an ʻohana lead in the Protect Pololū Project. 

Education of visitors has become a major priority as numbers continue to increase. The closure of Waipio valley along with the release of travel restrictions to Hawaiʻi have meant numbers of visitors have reached as high as 730 visitors to Pololū Valley during an 8-hour period on a weekday during the month of March. Numbers easily exceed 1,000 over the weekends. The Protect Pololū Project and the ʻohana of Pololū have called out for volunteers to help steward the lookout because the sheer number of visitors is just overwhelming. Influencers, hiking groups, and social media marketing that utilize geotagging, and images of Pololū are directly responsible for the increase in visitors. Stewards encourage visitors to Pololū to be more aware of their social footprint on Pololū when they choose to “tag” this special wahi pana (storied pace). “I’m telling our visitors when sharing their photos please don’t say where they at. Just say, ‘somewhere over the rainbow.’ They ask me why, and I tellʻum, ‘too much people here. Sharing will bring more.’” says Aunty Sarah.

Other ʻohana members are engaging directly with our concierge desk and community members who work directly in the tourism industry. These workers, our own Kohala ʻohana, are our front line of defense with visitors. They often influence where a visitor will leave their footprint. Our ʻohana love Pololū, so this is just one simple, yet impactful way to help protect this special place.

While all these awesome programs, and partnerships at Pololū are becoming models for other communities across Hawaiʻi, the threat to Pololū is more imminent today than ever before. In March 2022, Aloha Kohala Realty publicly listed for sale the famous “Mule Station’’ property at Makanikahiō. While our community speculated that this listing would occur soon, many were shocked to see the owner, KP Holding LLC, a subsidiary of Surety Kohala Corporation, included in the listing a 2.5-acre beach front parcel bottom of the of Pololū Valley trail, which Surety has attached to the Mule Station parcel listing. The combined 44.5-acre total is listed for an equally shocking price of $25 Million. 

The Protect Pololū Project has reached out to a local land trust to engage their help in acquiring these parcels for conservation. Previously Surety Kohala has shown a reluctance to engage with land trusts and other community led conservation purchasers, even for this particular parcel. In 2018 a Kohala community organization nominated the Mule Station and an adjoining parcel to the County’s PONC priority open space list in an effort to purchase and protect this parcel through conservation. “Surety Kohala’s land manager then attended a PONC hearing and threatened to withdraw from discussions of a promised donation of land for a parking lot if the nomination was considered. The organization withdrew the nomination.” informs Toni Withington who worked on the PONC proposal. 

Protect Pololū Project, North Kohala’s Community Access group, and all our ʻohana and community partners are keeping a vigilant eye on this parcel listing while investigating all options to protect Pololū. If you would like to kōkua, help us volunteer, help us in pule (prayer) and protocol. Our Pololū ʻohana is calling out for lei lāʻī (single strand ti-leaf lei) to join together again in prayer, protocol and protection for Pololū. Drop off the lei with our ʻohana at Keokea Beach Park on Saturday, April 30, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sign up for our Mālama Pololū – May Day on May 1. We will begin with protocol and the draping of the lei at sunrise. Following protocol will be trailhead, trail and beach maintenance from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteer spaces are limited due to safety protocol. Visit to sign up, or email While we cannot close the trail because of the current legal system, we also ask that everyone spreads the word to allow Pololū to rest that day. Let those with function reciprocate our aloha to Pololū and let the rest of us enjoy our ʻohana and friends at other places in our community for May Day. E mālama kākou iā Pololū, we all collectively will protect Pololū. 

Kohala Coqui Coalition Comes to a Close

By Kim Takata

After nearly two decades of working to “Keep Kohala Coqui Free,” the Kohala Coqui Coalition is sad to announce they are shutting down active operations. Battling this noisy invasive frog has been a challenging campaign over the years. We successfully treated and eradicated hundreds of infestations and became the model for success on the Big Island. However, with the increased pressure of coquis coming in on automobiles, new construction, landscape plants, and county vehicles, several infestations became out of control. With time, coquis dominated some locations, mostly inaccessible gulches, and their numbers continue to grow larger today. In recent years, it has been very difficult to find workers willing to go out at night and work in treacherous terrain to treat known infestations. It has been frustrating to receive reports of coquis on the Coqui Hotline only to reply that we no longer have the manpower to do eradications.

The Coalition has nearly exhausted the State funding we received for the past five years and there isn’t much prospect of obtaining substantial new funding. The Coalition plans to support our community with the remaining funds as long as possible, by providing products free of charge for anyone wanting to eradicate coquis on their property. The coalition website,, will remain available offering valuable information for safe coqui eradication. In addition, information brochures will be available in several stores in Hāwī, Kapaʻau, and Niuliʻi. We continue to encourage neighbors to pool their resources and effort to keep their community free of coquis.

The Kohala Coqui Coalition was formed in 2003, when a large coqui infestation was discovered in a gulch bordering two local nurseries. With the efforts of a small group of people, the community came together with the goal of preventing an invasive noisy frog from disturbing the peace and quiet of our neighborhoods. In retrospect, many thanks go to Bob Martin, a founder of the North Kohala Community Resource Center, who attended the first meeting and quickly helped the Kohala Coqui Coalition become a sponsored project of the North Kohala Community Resource Center (NKCRC). Under the umbrella of NKCRC, a 501(c)(3), the Coalition raised $17,000 from businesses and local residents in the first month. The money was used to completely eradicate the first large infestation in North Kohala. From there, Christine Richardson, Executive Director of NKCRC for 17 years, managed to obtain steady funding from County and State grants as well as many private donors throughout the years. Many thanks go to Christine and the staff of NKCRC for all the work and effort that was required to obtain and manage these grants.

The years of battling coquis would never have happened without the “on the ground” leadership of Ralph Blancato and the many workers he led into gnarly gulches, pastures, and people’s backyards over the years, eradicating coqui frogs. He never gave up and often went out alone, determined to keep them at bay.

Also, thanks to all those who volunteered to eradicate, monitor the coqui hotline, set up information booths at many local events, and/or donated money to the Coalition. It is because of all of you that the Coqui Coalition was successful. North Kohala was the only district on the Big Island that recognized how severe this infestation would be and stepped up and acted. How lucky we are to live here!

For more information, go to

Mahalo Kim!

As the Coqui Coalition ends twenty years of education and 

eradication in North Kohala, the Coalition and community extends a Big Mahalo to Kim Takata. Kim led the Coalition for 15 years with grace, determination and humor. She saw right away what an 

important environmental effort this was and took the reins with humility and kindness. Kim was a great project organizer at NKCRC and it was a pleasure to work with her, strategizing ways to raise both money and awareness in the community. She tracked all the data, did all the bookkeeping and worked closely with NKCRC staff on the many reports needed to insure funding. Big Island Invasive Species Council (BIISC) recognized her hard work in 2018. Kim exemplifies community service. I treasure the time we had working together and thank her for her great work in Kohala.  -Christine Richardson

Hisaoka Gym to be Re-fit for Emergency Shelter

By Toni Withington

The County of Hawaii has taken the first steps needed for a $7 to 10 million retrofit of Ikuo Hisaoka Gym in Kamehameha Park to make it safe as an emergency shelter during times of high winds. 

The County Council Finance Committee has been asked to receive $800,000 of federal funds through the Community Development Block Grant Program of the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. The funds would be to cover the architectural and engineering work to make needed wind retrofits to the building.

“We are seeking funding for this capital work, including applying to FEMA hazard mitigation grants through the State,” Councilmember Tim Richards said in an email. FEMA is the federal Flood Mitigation Assistance Program.

He explained that the funds are specifically for planning, which is expected to bring the project up to what is called “shovel-ready,” meaning construction is ready to go as soon as funds are identified. 

According to the Planning Department, the project was identified as a priority because the gym is the only site that can serve as a high-wind emergency shelter facility in North Kohala after the hardening and retrofits are complete.

Although the gym was built under previous guidelines for emergency shelter, the roof has repeatedly leaked in sub-hurricane weather. Other improvements to the gym, such as improved spectator stands, are already identified in the Department of Parks and Recreation budget.

Pickleball Fun in Kohala

By Eila Algood and Kathie Babben

Do you like to laugh while exercising? Well then you may want to play pickleball. It’s what’s happening here in Kohala twice a week. It all started (in Kohala) in 2018 thanks to David Ebrahimi, a.k.a Uncle David. He wanted a sport that would be accessible for people over 50. According to AARP magazine, over 60 percent of all pickleball players are over 55. The game is played on a small version tennis court. There is a net, a little lower than a tennis net, and small, lightweight plastic balls with holes that are hit back and forth with short wooden paddles. There are boundary lines and even an area known as the kitchen.  The scoring is different than tennis and the game is usually played with two people on either side of the net. Because there is less court to cover, the game is much gentler on the body. Quick movements are more useful than slamming the ball. That being said, most players like to smash it once in a while. 

Through his research, David learned that the Hisaoka Gym in Kamehameha Park had pickleball equipment that was barely being used. Park staff pointed David to the outdoor basketball courts as a place to play and that’s where it began. In 2019, the group was invited to play inside the gym, which was a better option considering the Kohala winds, winter rains and inability to play in the dark. There were three indoor courts, with boundary lines taped, providing space for 12 players at a time. Interest had grown and pickleball life was all good until March of 2020. With lockdown and the closure of the gym, all group activities stopped. 

Fortunately, at the end of 2020, the Parks and Recreation Department opened up the park and the group was invited back but had to play outside. David marked out one of the tennis courts to accommodate pickleball, and so it began again. In October 2021, the gym opened, and pickleball moved back inside.

A garden variety of people play: snowbirds, tennis enthusiasts, ping pong lovers, athletes and non-athletes, folks of all ages and experience levels. David sets the friendly tone for welcoming all abilities by encouraging the more experienced to be kind in guiding the newer players. He has a talent for teaching and coaching players, which helps everyone improve their game.

David organized a fun Pickleball Tournament that took place in the gym on March 19. Although a bit more competitive than the regular games, there were still a lot of laughs.  It was a high energy and, for some of us, exhausting seven rounds of play. There were 20 players – seven from Oregon and 13 from Kohala. David did an amazing job at matching players up with partners as well as setting up the space and providing the balls and extra racquets. Lisa Ebrahimi brought healthy snacks and drinks to keep everyone energized. 

The first-place winners were Ruben of Hāwī and Sally of Oregon, each taking home a paddle-shaped cutting board and a huge jar of pickles! Second place winners received a jar of gherkins, and third place winners got a little jar of capers.

Now, you may be wondering why it’s called pickleball, of all things. In 1965, Joel Prichard and Barney MacCallum developed the game. Joel’s wife, Joan Prichard, suggested calling it pickleball because, as a competitive rower, the game reminded her of a pickle boat, which is a mismatched crew boat team. The name stuck and seemed to have set the tone for a playful, fun experience. As of February 2022, there were 4.8 million players (plus those of us in Kohala) showing a two-year growth rate of nearly 40 percent,  according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association report. 

On a personal note, I have played many sports over the duration of my life, but nothing evokes the sense of camaraderie and laughter like this pickleball group. It doesn’t have the formal vibe of tennis and, because we all play in close proximity to one another, there’s ample opportunity for chatting and interacting.

If you’d like to give it a try, go to the Hisaoka Gym at Kamehameha Park in Kapaʻau on Tuesday or Thursday between 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. or email 

Ma‘i Movement Aims to End Period Poverty

Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi is a nonprofit organization committed to ending period poverty in Hawai’i through providing feminine products and education. Period poverty is defined as the inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and education, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities and waste management. 

While the term period poverty is relatively new in the medical literature, menstrual hygiene management has been used for decades in the context of the gender gap in education for youth living in low- and middle-income countries.

NoKo Theater and Nostalgia Music Consortium, Inc.

By Frank Palani Cipriani

Noko Theater Arts and Nostalgia Jazz Lab has been a collaboration for nearly two years, in partnership with the Kohala Artists’ Cooperative, to teach our respective arts to the children in our community. The Kohala Artists’ Cooperative has graciously provided us use of their facility for our respective venues since January 2020.

In spite of Covid-19, our programs have grown in size and scope, with the addition of more students, as well as piano, bandstand, instruments, sound stage, light stage and a planned video production suite. We have outgrown the Artists’ Co-op and must seek another home where we can grow and blossom to our full potential.

The vision for the Nostalgia Music Consortium is to establish a permanent center for teaching theater arts, dance and music to children. We will meet every Saturday for Jazz Lab and to schedule activities. These include things such as mentored music lessons for students in various musical instruments, rehearsal sessions, invitational joint jam sessions, as well as instruction in technical theater arts, sound stage, light stage, video production and associated technical skills. We will invite select local musicians to mentor students for an hour or so, scheduled every Saturday, with their respective instruments and to schedule performances combining mentors and students. We will schedule auditions for students wishing to enter the program, with parents’ permission. Public relations outreach will be via the Kohala  Mountain News, KNKR North Kohala radio and the “Coconut Wireless.”

We bring to the Nostalgia Music Consortium a full bandstand including piano, twin congas, a drum set, microphones, professional public address system, sound board mixer, light stage, and sheet music for the curriculum course of study. In addition, we are planning to acquire a video production suite and will lead technical classes in its operation for students wanting that skill set.

The ability to meet all day on Saturdays will greatly add to the flexibility of the operation, allowing us to organize the scheduling of all the various activities in a timely manner.

Additionally, a permanent bandstand and video production studio can be licensed to other venues wishing to use the facility to record their performances. We will provide our student “techie” to assist. We will seek grants and consorts to fund our Project.

The VISION is: “To turn Saturdays at Nostalgia Music into a day of Education and Celebration of Music, Dance, & Theater Arts in our Community of North Kohala.”

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

Aloha. The 2022 legislative session is rapidly approaching its conclusion, with the last day of session scheduled for May 5. By then, the House and Senate will have negotiated the final language in bills that will receive a final vote in both chambers before being sent to the Governor. Governor Ige will then decide if he will sign the bill into law, allow the bill to become law without his signature or reject the bill by exercising his veto power. If both the House and Senate agree to override the Governor’s veto, the legislature can do so. 

At the legislature, I work on your behalf to support bills that would benefit the State and to reject bills that would be detrimental. In this month’s column, I share an update about the priority measures approved by the House Water and Land Committee, on which I serve as Chair. I also review the status of a handful of bills that North Kohala residents have requested information about, on topics which have received widespread media coverage.


The priority bills heard and approved by the House Water and Land Committee are now nearing the finish line of the legislative process. These bills include:

– Wildlife rehabilitation services: SB573 requires all those required to have a Habitat Conservation Plan to have a service agreement with a facility that provides emergency medical care and rehabilitation services for injured wildlife.

– Aquatic resource violation enforcement: HB1653 increases the penalties for those who violate aquatic resource laws and rules, especially for repeat offenders committing multiple violations.

– Environmental damage mitigation: SB204 authorizes DLNR to charge fees to those whose activities cause environmental damage, such as coral reef destruction, for example. Those fees will fund the State government to conduct ecosystem rehabilitation or wildlife conservation work

 -Drone fishing: SB2065 prohibits the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in state marine waters for fishing purposes.

– Fishpond stocking: The State Budget (HB 1600) includes funding for DLNR to produce juvenile fish for the purposes of stocking fishponds.


Allowing Casino Gambling on Hawaiian Homelands 

Whether to allow gambling in the State has been a controversial topic at the Legislature for years. Several bills considered the issue this session. Those include HB1962 and SB2608, which would have required the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) to evaluate the feasibility of limited casino gaming on DHHL property. Each of these bills have now been shelved and will not move forward this session.

Reducing the DUI Blood Alcohol Cutoff Limit

Two bills, HB1437 and SB2096, were introduced at the request of the Maui County Council to lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold for the offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, from 0.08 to 0.05 percent. SB2096 passed the Senate and crossed over to the House, but it did not receive a hearing before the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. Neither measure remains under consideration for this session. 

Electronic Device Ticketing at Stoplights

SB663, signed into law as Act 131 by Governor Ige in 2019, established a red light running committee to develop policy recommendations for red light running pilot programs. The project is beginning with a pilot study on Oahu, during which the Department of Transportation team will study the number of red-light signal violations before and after installation of red light imaging detector systems. HB2336 and SB3312 were introduced this session to adjust this law to better reflect the legislative intent and updated timeline of the photo red light imaging detector pilot program. The program’s primary objective is to deter dangerous driving behavior at stoplight intersections, while reducing the police time and court costs necessary to enforce the law.

Waste Reduction and Extended Producer Responsibility

HB2399 establishes an extended producer responsibility program, which requires producers of certain consumer goods to pay an annual fee based on the amount of packaging volume the producer places on the market each year. These funds will be used to work towards reducing the volume of packaging waste sent to disposal facilities. This bill has been approved by both the House and Senate in different versions. The two chambers will need to reach agreement on the final bill language by the end of April for it to move forward for final approval. At the end of session, I will mail to all registered voters a summary of the bills passed by the legislature. I will also highlight the bills we have passed in my article next month. Please contact me any time at and 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

Aloha! Once again, it is time for the monthly update from our office.


During Council Committee meetings on April 5, a resolution was brought before us exploring the possibility of reducing our current county fuel tax from 23 cents per gallon to 13 cents per gallon, a reduction of 10 cents per gallon. This fuel tax is paid by residents and visitors alike. It is estimated that approximately 25 percent of that tax is being paid by visitors.

As most of you are aware of by now, I am a numbers person who reviews history and looks at the big picture when trying to make a decision. 

For the fuel taxes here on the Big Island, per gallon the federal government takes 18.4 cents, the state gets 16 cents, and the County receives 23 cents. (Diesel is similar but a little higher in some instances; this conversation is focused on gasoline only.)

The federal fuel tax started back in June 1932, put forth by President Roosevelt’s administration to fund the then-crumbling infrastructure nationally. That one cent increase may not sound like much today; however, gasoline was only 18 cents per gallon at that time, so it was perceived as a relatively large tax. From there the fuel tax has gone through many evolutions and re-authorizations, with one of the notables being in the 1950s under President Eisenhower to fund the federal freeway interstate system. The last time it was raised was back in the 1990s, and currently the concerns are the inflation over the last 30 years has outpaced the buying power of that funding.

So where are we now? Retail gasoline is somewhere around $5.25 to $5.50 per gallon in most places. Of that, approximately 57 cents per gallon is the combined fuel tax. The resolution that was put before us would reduce the county portion by 10 cents per gallon, about 40 percent of our portion. On a 20-gallon fill up, that would be $2.00. Assuming a family drives 12,000 miles a year in a car that gets 20 miles per gallon, that is a savings of $60.00 a year. A notable amount, but what about the impact?

Currently, our county has some 1,000 miles of road to maintain. When I took office in 2016 the repaving cycle was once every 60 years or so. It is now somewhere around once every 35 years but needs to be about once every 20 years, more often for the high traffic roads. Much of our funding for this comes through the State Transportation Improvement Projects, or “STIP,” funds. This is the funding that comes through the state, often mostly funded by the federal government. For Hawaiʻi County to participate in this funding, we must have a 20 percent match. As an example, the Waikoloa Road from Māmalahoa Highway down to Queen Kaʻahumanu, about 11 miles, is a $50 million project. The county must have $10 million to receive the other $40 million. Without any match we get nothing. I have been working very diligently on making this project and others come to fruition. Recently the County has taken over the maintenance of the road from Hāwī to Pololū Valley. Eventually this road will also need resurfacing and the funding will come from a similar project.

The resolution that was before us would, in effect, reduce our access to this funding. Conversation during our discussion talked about this being temporary, but for whatever reason that language was not in the resolution. The return on investment for our highways is high through the program, as we put in $1.00 and get $4.00 matched to improve our highways. 

I voted no on this resolution as the language to make it temporary was not in the resolution and the potential benefit of its current rate far outweighs the small relief proposed. A public hearing is being scheduled for April 19 to receive public input on this matter. I look forward to your comments. I hope this explains the issue from all perspectives. 

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. 

World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on March 21 every year in honor of those born with trisomy of the 21st chromosome, or Down Syndrome. This year Malia and Eugene Dela Cruz of North Kohala got their boys  – Kamakoa Dela Cruz (age 17), Jhace Kaipo (age 17) and Conquer Libron-Crabbe (age 6) – together, wearing the same t-shirts, to honor them and their uniqueness. 

CDP Re-organization Takes Focus

By Toni Withington

While still not ready to convene its first official meeting, those seeking to reinstate Kohala’s voice in County affairs took steps this month to widen the representation from the community.

The ad hoc group has been working successfully with the Planning Department for six months to replace the former Action Committee of the North Kohala Community Development Plan (NKCDP) with a forum that reflects more accurately residents’ views. 

Plans for the structure of a nine-member advisory group have been worked out already, but details such as the name of the committee and who might first serve are still at bay. For example, should members represent Kohala’s various “neighborhoods,” or whether it should be called the Kohala Council rather than Kohala Advisory Group?

But the clear objective of the nine community members who participated in the meeting on March 22 is to motivate people to get active in community affairs, especially as pandemic restrictions are lifted. 

A decision was made to energize the existing sub-groups as well as those subgroups that have taken a break because of the pandemic. The eight subgroups at first represented the various goals and strategies named in chapters of the NKCDP, which was made County planning ordinance in 2008. Until the Action Committee ceased to function in mid-2019, the groups had met monthly to take up issues of importance and relay them to the Action Committee.

“What motivates Kohala people to get out and say something?” asked Collin Kaholo. “Issues. Something that affects them.” Because the subgroups are better able to study and address individual issues, new community participants might be attracted to attending, even joining, the subgroup meetings.

The subgroups evolved to implement the goals of the NKCDP. The groups are: Kohala Community Access; Parks, Water, Roads; Affordable Housing; Growth Management; Power, Viewplains and Erosion Control; Agriculture; Historic and Cultural; and Health and Wellness.

Joe Carvalho suggested encouraging the first three, which are still meeting, and re-invigorating the others by encouraging past participants to get them going again. Holding the meetings in the same location on different days would help keep the chairpersons from having to scramble for a place to meet. Kamehameha Park was identified as a central location.

To reach out to new participants, plans were made to have information booths at community events such as the monthly Kohala Night Market at the HUB, the Kohala Reunion, the Earth Day Celebration as well as stories in the paper and on KNKR. A single email address,, was chosen as the location to sign up and get information about meeting locations and times. An outreach will be made on social media as well.

Issues that were identified as current concerns are the: 

– rising cost of gasoline, 

– loss of agriculture water from the Kohala Ditch,

– planning of Māhukona Park facilities,

– lack of affordable housing,

– establishment of neighborhood watch programs,

– construction projects on both gymnasiums,

– changes to Kohala’s power grid,

– need for park upkeep, and

– handling of heavier visitor traffic. 

“These can be addressed by the subgroups and a central NKCDP organization, but only if people are willing to carry their concerns into action,” said John Winter, a former chair of the Action Committee and an organizer of the latest re-vitalization. “Kohala deserves a place at the table.”

Beyond just implementing the fourteen-year-old NKCDP, participants decided to include early discussions about revisions to the plan to reflect more accurately the theme of “Keep Kohala Kohala,” given the new challenges facing the post-pandemic world. CDPs are supposed to be reviewed every ten years, so an official Planning Department effort is expected.

Community Planning of New Māhukona Park to Begin

By Toni Withington

While engineering efforts to demolish the condemned Māhukona Beach Park pavilion drag on, Mālama Māhukona, an official Friends of the Park group, has been given the go-ahead to start thinking about how the new park will be laid out and landscaped. 

Because the County Department of Parks and Recreation (P&R) has promised to encourage the park users to be part of the expected long planning process, any initial layout would only be considered a proposal, Michelle Hiraishi, deputy director of P&R, told members of Mālama Māhukona at their monthly meeting. But it would get the discussion going.

Members of the group had expressed frustration at the department’s slow handling of the pavilion demolition process. The 70-year-old pavilion was condemned and boarded up over three years ago. P&R has yet to sign a contract to even explore the engineering needed to plan the demolition, much less contract its removal.

Mālama Māhukona has offered to begin the work of landscaping parts of the park prior to the building of the new facilities but asked why the department can’t begin the design while waiting for the demolition. Hiraishi conceded that the community can start the discussion on its own, knowing that environmental and engineering considerations will have to be followed. 

The $400,000 now available are to be used for demolition and the building of a temporary platform for use while planning and construction of a permanent structure are underway. Concern was expressed that delays are keeping the park from having access to recent federal infrastructure funding for “shovel ready” projects.

Hiraishi outlined the ways the group can design the initial landscaping and schedule workdays. She said P&R could supply some materials and supplies as well as help publicize events where clearing and planting can take place.

Nani Rasmussen, chair of Mālama Māhukona, asked if P&R could do fundraising to support park improvements. Hiraishi said that County offices cannot do fundraising, which could be done by the local group. Karen Martinez said that local expertise is available to assess issues like climate change and sea level rise. Patty Solomon asked if the department has a copy of the historic sites review that was done years ago.

Hiraishi said she would supply maps of the 15 acres of land available for the park, though no one thought the footprint of the park’s usable area might be that large. The cost of maintenance would be a controlling factor. Although in the past the department has had to struggle with a $400,000 annual budget to maintain 300 park facilities, Hiraishi said the budget for next year is expected to be boosted to $1 million.

Kohala Senior Club Resumes  Activities

Kohala Senior Club meetings have resumed every Monday morning (except holidays) at 9:00 in the building above the King Kamehameha statue. Returning and new members are welcome. Masks are optional. For more information, contact Faye Yates at 808-225-3666.

Update on North Kohala Recycling

By Holly Algood

Recently, I was asked if I knew of an updated guide to County recycling in North Kohala. These last couple of years we have seen profound change, and our recycling programs were not excluded. The most recent change has been the suspension of e-waste recycling from April 1 through July 1, due to the loss of State funding. 

As far as an updated guide to our local Kaʻauhuhu transfer station in Hāwī, here are the highlights:

– The Kaʻauhuhu Transfer Station is open Monday through Sunday from 6:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m.

– Household trash can be thrown down the main chute daily at the above hours. 

– Clean corrugated cardboard and brown paper bags can be deposited makai of the main chute in the container and clean glass bottles (other than HI-5s) can be deposited in the container next to the cardboard collection bin closer to the gate.

– Scrap metal – including appliances, clean cans, lids and metal bottle caps – can be deposited in the mauka container Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but NOT on Sunday.

– Residential green waste can be deposited in the household chute as long it is not longer than 4’ (excluding palm fronds) and less than 6” in diameter. The County accepts only one load per day per customer/vehicle.

– Hi-5’s (the drink bottles and cans redeemable for five cents) can be turned in Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the depot next to the transfer station. 

As there is too much information on recycling countywide to recite here, check out the County’s website ( for information about other local transfer stations. It is important to note that times open and services offered differ by location. 

This website is a vast resource with much detail. Find links for recycling everything from paint to automobiles. 

Learn about worthwhile programs available to recycle and reuse your no-longer-wanted items. Some of the links include Hawaii Electric’s Rid-a-Fridge program, where they will pick up full-sized appliances (over 14 cubic feet) and another section on how to dispose of hazardous waste materials. 

Programs are available to help with automobiles no longer needed and information about where to pick up free mulch. The Zero Waste site is both informative and useful. Visit for suggestions about what to do with just about anything that is no longer wanted and recommendations for how castoffs can be reused or recycled to keep our ʻāina more pristine. 

Back to the recent suspension of the e-waste program, if spring cleaning leaves you needing to get rid of e-waste before July, visit Mr. K’s in Hilo at 815 Kinoole Street in Hilo. 

You can check out their recycling services and fees by visiting their website or call Mr. K’s at 808 969-1222.

Now that we are getting out more, why not clear out unneeded items. It’s good for the ʻāina and good for us all.

Traffic Roundabout Proposed for Waiaka Intersection

By Toni Withington

The long-awaited improvements to the dangerous intersection at Waiaka Bridge, where Kohala Mountain Road meets Kawaihae Road in Waimea, will include a roundabout, not a signal light.

Announcement of the new plans were revealed in a Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) last month for what is expected to be a $10 million replacement of the 80-year-old bridge, which has been deemed “functionally obsolete” for many years. The intersection, near Hawaii Preparatory School (HPA), is particularly dangerous for traffic to and from North Kohala and is subject to long delays at peak traffic hours.

The selection of the roundabout as the only solution was a change from a DEA completed in 2019 that also offered as alternates two T-intersections, one with a signal light. The current report dropped those choices, saying the roundabout would cut delays and outperform a T-intersection. It said the roundabout scenario had “strong support from the community.”

The proposed traffic flow would improve the line of sight from both roads, would meet state and federal design guidelines, and improve the flow of Keanu`i`omano Stream, the engineers reported. The bridge would be lengthened to 80 feet.

The roundabout would have a 30-foot diameter island with 12-foot-wide single lane pavement, 8-foot-wide shoulder, and a 5-foot-wide bike/pedestrian path. Traffic would remain at 25 miles per hour. The change would require the purchase of over 9,000 square feet of land, mostly from HPA.

Construction is projected to begin in the summer of 2023 and be completed at the end of 2024. A bypass bridge mauka of the current bridge would handle traffic during construction. The permitting process is expected to take more than a year.

Comments on the Draft EA were to be submitted by April 22. A copy of the document can be seen at

North Kohala Tool Library Moves Forward

Story and photos by Libby Leonard

North Kohala’s very own nonprofit tool library is coming closer to fruition. 

Founded by David Gibbs, alongside Lani Bowman, Alicia Veloria, David Fuertes, Matt Jakielski and Adrian Thalasinos Haley, the library has recently become a newly sponsored community project by the North Kohala Resource Center. 

The nonprofit, whose mission is to support and elevate the community, while having a positive impact on the environment, plans to not only make home and construction tools more accessible at little to no cost, but also other things like food processing and farming equipment, catering and party hosting items, carpet and grout cleaners, and whatever else can be useful. 

“Basically, it’s to increase our resilience,” said Gibbs. With a background in engineering, construction, and homesteading, Gibbs got the idea from a phone call with his sister, who simply asked if Kohala had one. Only vaguely familiar with the idea, he did some research to find there were hundreds of tool libraries all over the world. 

“It’s a great way to bring the community together, because it becomes a meeting center,” said Thalasinos Haley, who managed a tool library in Portland Oregon, before moving to the Big Island to be with his ʻohana.

According to Alicia Veloria, who is an experienced builder and passionate environmental advocate, it also has the capacity to eliminate more waste in the landfills for those who just buy tools and only use them once, then potentially end up throwing them out. 

To gauge interest and needs, the nonprofit put out a survey in December. 

A vast majority who participated said they borrowed tools from time to time. 

One third resorted to renting, and 74 percent said they got discouraged from starting a project due to lack of access to tools. 

The survey also sought out who may want to donate tools, which garnered a lot of positive feedback, with people already wanting to donate. 

Among them was Teri Freeman, whose husband recently passed away. She said they had a lot of tools from building their house, and while she wanted to keep a few things, she’d rather give them to the library so they could be used by the community. 

The nonprofit, which is hoping to be in full operation by April 2023,  is still seeking a location. The group’s goals are to budget a $20 per hour position for a kamaʻaina tool specialist to manage it, an online database and eventually a makerspace to have DIY workshops for all ages. 

For more information, visit their Facebook page, where you can take the survey (also accessed at, or check out their booth at the First Wednesday Kohala Night Market.  

To make a tax-deductible donation, visit and type in “North Kohala Tool Library.” 

Easter Excitement at the  Kohala Village HUB

Photo by Bennett Dorrance

Esther (Tricia Storie) the Easter Bunny delights children with her basket of honey sticks.

Kamehameha, Ke Ali‘i Hanohano – Kamehameha, the Revered Chief

By ʻEkela Kahuanui

On Saturday, June 11, Kohala will pay tribute with ceremony, lei, hula, mele (songs) and oli (chants) to Kamehameha Paiea, the fearless king. 

While many in the lāhui (Hawaiian nation) believe him to only have been a conqueror, we need to remember that his leadership also brought an era of peace and growth, as well as an establishment of the aupuni (government structure). 

Kamehameha spent his life creating a foundation of a nation from which the lāhui continues to rise, shaping the indentity of Hawaiians. For this and many other reasons, we celebrate his life and praise him as leader extraordinaire. 

A paʻu parade is also planned to begin at 9:00 a.m., starting at the Kohala school complex. The paʻu tradition is unique to Hawaiʻi, dating back to the 1800s. 

Aliʻi and other women would drape many yards of fabric around their dresses to protect them from being soiled as they journeyed to distant regions on horseback. 

The paʻu princess brings honor to the island she represents, the community she comes from, and the King she’s there to honor.  

The princesses this year are Hawaiʻi – Caylah Siedel-Glory, Maui – Presley Matsu, Kohoʻolawe – Kristian Ellazar, Lanai – Puanani Tayan-Smith, Molokaʻi – Phyllis Freitas Badayos, Kauaʻi – Laura Bodell, Oʻahu – Renee Bautista and Niʻihau – Antonette “Missy” Fernandez. 

Please join us as we celebrate Kohala’s most beloved son on June 11 at his statue.

Support provided by Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority through the Community Enrichment Program.

Sushi Rock Owner Pens Book to Benefit Kohala Cares

By Libby Leonard

In March of 2020, during Covid, Peter Pomeranze, one of Kohala’s most beloved restaurateurs, decided that while his restaurant Sushi Rock was shut down, he wanted to help those in his community who were struggling to survive.

During that time Kohala Cares was born. To this day, the weekly Wednesday food drive at the Kohala Village HUB provides up to 130 bags of food, assembled by a growing array of community volunteers, to residents in need.  

“I believe food is love,” said Pomeranze, adding that starting the food drive was what made it bearable to close his restaurant of 17 years permanently.

Now Pomeranze, who has mainly run his operation from donations and some small grants, has published the book “Sushi Rock: More Than a Restaurant” as a benefit for the food drive.

Released on Bookbaby in early April, the book is a warm and celebratory reflection of his journey with the restaurant, his love and compassion for his employees (which he calls family) and the early beginnings of Kohala Cares. 

It includes recipes from its eclectic menu, amongst which is his famous purple sweet potato cheesecake. 

The book is $30, and all proceeds go to Kohala Cares. To purchase, visit 

For any other tax-deductible donations, visit and type in “Kohala Cares.”

Kohala High School Graduation Class of 2022 May 21, 2-4 p.m. Hisaoka Gym at Kamehameha Park

The commencement ceremony for the Class of 2022 will be held at Hisaoka Gym at Kamehameha Park. All graduates must report to the gym no later than 12 noon on graduation day. This event is by invitation only. 

A negative result for a Covid-19 Rapid Test and a ticket is required for each person attending (vaccinated or not). Rapid tests will be provided for free by a generous community donor. Gym opens and Covid testing begins at 11:30 a.m. and will end promptly at 1:30 p.m. 

The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. sharp. No access will be allowed into the gym after 2 p.m. No exceptions. Masks are required at all times when inside the gym, since this is a Department of Education sponsored event, but may be removed briefly to take photos or for a mask break outside the gym area. 

May Day at Kohala High School

By Kehaulani Hedlund 

Kohala High School proudly presents the return of May Day after a short hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The program will be live streamed for anyone in the community wishing to virtually join us from 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon on May 3. Please follow our social media pages for a link to view. As always, we mahalo everyone pulling together to make this performance possible for our students and our community at large.

E ala ē Nā Paniolo! 

Kohala Portraits—Recognizing Neighbors: Gina Rocha, Kohala Middle School, Facing Future

Story and photo by Karolina Garrett

Hula’s artful dance first requires practice and discipline, then the graceful intuition arrives. It takes commitment and follow-through, which the hula dancers mirror for the audience—the one-for-all and all-for-one Aloha spirit.

Gina Rocha has allocated her energy as Kohala Middle School Administrative Services Assistant (SASA) these last 17 years based on hula’s axiom applied to educational admin tasks, often translating into when the-one is absent, then the-all face challenges. In this way, Hawaiian school life relies on community effort—even if the words discipline and grace are, at times, unlikely descriptors of students wobbling through middle school. Especially precipitous times, these can be the family’s first ever purchase of a deodorant canister and preparing meals at home to keep mood elevations (swings?) steady-steady for middle school youth. Calling all participants to the hula dance floor, please.

Rocha kicks off her day around 6:45 a.m., when she arrives to campus. At this early hour, Rocha and Principal Sanborn spend a few minutes identifying the priorities before them that day. They convene briefly, for soon the phone starts ringing. A teacher makes a surprise call, perhaps, needing a substitute for the day. Rocha then coordinates an Educational Assistant (EA) to be in the classroom for student support until the sub arrives. Rocha maintains her office helm until late afternoon, around 4:00 or so. Takes discipline and grace in teamwork to be “facing future” for our students. 

Rocha will bring these qualities as she finesses through the early morning rush hour, noticing myriad kuleana spots that need focus. Purchase orders, payroll, supply inventory, teacher forms, staff forms, student communications, and after school activity coordination are action items for any “routine” day—and these are a brief start on a much longer list that Rocha accomplishes.   

As students leave school for the day, one could miss the bus, or another could wait too long a stretch for the ride home, or a classroom may need opening to retrieve a notebook, or any unforeseen gentle calamity may appear for Rocha and her team to resolve. One teacher’s science experiment went awry, and a custodian had special “maintenance,” the message delivered via walkie talkie from the front office.

Even as official shop closes and Rocha treks home, she often carries work with her. That complicated purchase order that requires 20 minutes of undisturbed focus. Or any myriad paperwork entanglement. Recently she learned the new financial software that arrived with some, yet not adequate, training. Self-tutoring at home did the trick.

And her discipline exemplifies the classic Hawaiian motto of the “workaround,” a well-sculpted in Big Island culture where educational systems, the peoples inside them, and often scant material resources, are complex. Some long-heralded history where the spirit of ancient Hawaiians carries forward, beyond the brittle workaround. Consider the example when metal did not exist, how twine from plants tied knots, which secured building roofs and more. Materials can often be less valuable than the applied grace.

Rocha recalls learning hula at Mauna Kea resort during her middle school years. Took courage to learn a new aspect, for her, of Hawaiian culture. That lasting experience helps her today, her ongoing motivation to bring her best to work for Kohala Middle School students and their education.

Through e-mail, Principal Sanborn describes Rocha: “As the backbone of Kohala Middle School, Gina Rocha instrumentally facilitates everyday operations because she brings a wealth of knowledge, resources, and relationships as well. I can’t imagine Kohala Middle without Gina. She is well-known and well-loved in the Kohala community.”


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).



Hāwī Wind Farm Powers North Kohala

Story by Toni Withington. Did you know there are times when 100 percent of North Kohala’s electrical power comes from the Hāwī Wind Farm? Statewide only thirty eight percent of electricity comes from non-diesel sources. Sixty percent of Hawaii Island’s power comes from alternative sources. Kohala’s ahead of the curve. Those giant white blades slowly circling above the Upolu Airport, in a moderate breeze, can even send excess energy to other parts of the island. There’s a lot more to learn about the wind farm that has been kept as silent as those giant windmills. For example, there’s the projected upgrading of the sixteen turbine towers that will create new jobs for Kohala residents, the internship program that is opening opportunities for Kohala students, and the boosted technology that will make the system more available to solve problems of blackouts. The possibility that the district could produce all its own alternative energy was not even anticipated during the drafting in 2008 of the North Kohala Community Development Plan. The wind farm, which was built in 2006, was considered only supplemental and the community recommended a second power line from Waimea’s diesel generators. That’s all changed. Electricity from the farm goes directly into the Hawaii Electric Light Company’s (HELCO) power grid, backed up by power from Waimea only when the wind can’t supply enough juice. With 20 miles per hour of wind, the farm can produce more electricity than the 2,100 homes and businesses in Kohala use, according to Ken Ridley, site manager of the wind farm.  The project began evolving when Richard Horn, one of the original investors in the farm, took over full ownership in the name of Hāwī Renewable Development. Now, over twenty years after startup, the company has asked the State Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for extension of the Power Purchase Agreement with Hawaiian Electric Company, the parent of HELCO. The proposed $43 million upgrade of the sixteen V47 wind turbines is “working its way through the PUC process,” according to Horn. It will include refurbishing the turbines, the generator, and installing new battery equipment. The company expects to hire 30 workers from Kohala for the upgrade. Keeping the current system running employs four people, all of whom live in Kohala Ridley, who runs the operation for Power Grid Partners, calls the V47 turbines “the reliable workhorse of wind generators.” The upgrade of the power trains and infrastructure, refurbishing the giant blades onsite will bring the facility back up to 100 percent health.  Horn, who is involved with hundreds of wind sites across the US, is in the process of putting together 40 sites in coastal villages of Alaska. Hāwī Renewable also owns and operates the Lalamilo Repower Project, which has five wind turbines sending power, not to HELCO, but to the Department of Water Supply to run its well pumps in Waimea. Ridley said those five turbines have the same capacity as the 100 turbines in the original wind farm there. When there is no wind, a generator keeps one set of blades moving slowly so that it can turn automatically into even a slight breeze. A breeze at 10 miles per hour will start moving the blades on its own and the other towers join in at different locations on the 250-acre farm. The optimum is wind at about 20 miles per hour when the blades are rotating at 29 revolutions per minute. “That’s our target,” said Ridley. When the wind reaches 30 to 40 miles per hour, a mechanism in the cone changes the pitch of the blades to spill the wind rather than going too fast. Data from each of the turbines is sent to the control room where large computers and elaborate software allow the operator to analyze the detailed weather patterns and readings from the array of mechanical and electrical parts in the pod behind the blades. Besides Ridley the operation employs technicians Michael Luchetta, Michael Frailey and Josh Derby. They are assisted by two Kohala High School seniors and two college interns (see related article). The extension of the power-buying permit with HELCO will not mean there will be more towers or turbines, because the transmission lines cannot accept more power, Horn said in a web meeting last summer. Horn said he expects the rate paid by HELCO for the power will be lower than the existing project. At the time, he had expected the PUC approval by mid-2022 and work to start in April of 2023. Because each turbine would be upgraded separately, the farm will continue to power Kohala during the transition. Meanwhile, the 200 head of cattle will continue to graze between the giant towers. Orin Stevens serves as ranch manager to keep the land in pasture. “Agriculture is a necessary component of the farm,” Horn indicated in an interview. “Food is an important byproduct.”The fact that windmills inevitably strike birds out of the air is a hot issue at windfarms around the state. Because of that the company has completed surveys of the problems at Upolu and is monitoring the situation through a Habitat Plan Mitigation Permit reviewed by state and federal wildlife agencies. It will include ongoing reports to the State Department of Land and Natural Resources. Meanwhile HELCO seems to be relieved that it will not have to endure the expense of installing a second power line from Waimea. Instead, the company is installing a new system of advanced batteries in Hāwī with the idea that the wind farm and the power from Waimea can offer a backup for protection against the many power outages that have become regular part of living in Kohala.

Students Learn About Wind Power

By Toni Withington. Besides producing clean energy, the Hāwī Wind Farm is seeking to produce a new generation of technicians to keep Kohala ahead of the curve.  At seven o’clock every Friday morning, two Kohala High School seniors show up at the giant windmills near ʻUpolu Airport for a day of work. On other days, a pair of students from West Hawaii Community College get hands-on experience at keeping the power flowing to North Kohala homes. Jake Duby and Zaden Bronson took time off from helping their mentor, Michael Frailey, a technician at the facility, to talk to me about their experiences. It was a clear morning with no breeze and the sixteen giant windmills were still, except for one that was moving very slowly. Duby explained that it was searching for wind, being powered by a generator in the pod behind the blades. Frailey said the boys were there as part of Kohala High School’s Capstone Project that encourages seniors to seek real world job experience in the community. “The program started in September with paperwork, but will extend the entire school year,” he said. “I really want to encourage kids to stay in the community, to see that there are good jobs using different skills.” At the wind farm the boys have been put to a variety of different skills from highly technical computer monitoring to mechanical repairs to ranching work, since the farm is also a 250-acre working pasture. “It’s been a great learning experience going from using a hand rake to sitting at a desk, working with vehicles, like something new every day,” Duby said flashing his hands. The previous day a new John Deere tractor had arrived and Jake, who has applied to the University of Hawaiʻi hoping to focus on automotive mechanics, was eager to seeing it perform. Bronson said he is continually impressed at how energy is made and put into the HELCO system. Renewable energy seems to fit into his aspirations for “making things with my hands that apply to the real world.” He would like to design renewable housing options using renewable energy.  One project Zaden was able to accomplish while at the farm was straightening the frame on his truck. It took five days of math, measuring, cutting and welding to get it in shape. As part of their internship, the boys will have to create a video and a picture board of their activities. They may also put solar panels on school vehicles. The college students, Jake Honi-Deguair and Liana Prudholm, get to do more advanced projects, such as monitoring the computers in the control room. They are working on getting certification to get into on-the-job training to work on the turbines. A soft swishing noise drifted in from the pasture and the single wind turbine was rotating on its own, joined by a second one nearby. No breeze was felt on the ground, but the computer detected an eight mile an hour breeze at the top of the turbine. Recently a crane was brought in to remove the cone and three blades from one windmill so the technicians could change the bearings and work on the mechanism that changes the pitch of the blades in higher winds. The students were all there to observe the heavy work of dealing with maintenance.Ken Ridley, the site manager of the facility, strongly supports Frailey in his pulling the internship programs together.“We need technicians in the wind industry, which is growing rapidly,” he said. “When we repower the farm, we will need up to 30 people – electricians, mechanics, contractors, skilled labor.”When asked what he thought are good qualifications for wind technicians, he said: “A good mechanical background, experience with computers and hydraulics.”Looking up at the turbines, four of which were now turning slowly, he added, “No fear of heights.”Frailey, who has spent time up in the pods at the top of towers, mentioned, “It helps to be able to work in small spaces.”When I left, the boys were headed to the garage to inspect the new tractor.The grass in the pasture was waving slightly. Overhead eight sets of blades were swishing along, sending sweeping shadows across the landscape.

Stewards on the Lookout

By Kehaulani Hedlund and Aoloa Patao. A first-of-its kind response to mitigate negative impacts from increased numbers of visitors to Pololū Valley, the Pololū Trail Steward Program has been operating since August of 2021. The pilot project – in collaboration with KUPU, Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, and ʻohana of the area and neighboring ahupuaʻa (a smaller land division within a moku or district) – seeks to educate tourists about the potential dangers at the lookout and on the coastal trail.The stewards are highly knowledgeable of Pololū Valley and greet all who come to visit. A typical day at the lookout for them starts with tidying up the parking lot to ensure its safety, marking off stalls to be used only for picture-taking and people who are unable to access the trail, and assembling their outdoor station. When the parking lot is full, stewards guide vehicles in safely turning around and parking on the side of the road. Upon visitors starting their trek down, stewards confirm they have the necessary water and share crucial information so that they can complete their hike unscathed.A gap in funding between this past January through the spring of 2022 threatened a temporary ending to the stewardship program, but ka ʻohana Ah Loo (the Ah Loo family) answered the call and has provided funds to fill that puka (area of need). Their charitable donation, through Nakupuna Foundation, came after reading an article in “Ka Wai Ola” about the current efforts to preserve Pololū as a wahi pana (storied place). They then flew to Kohala to talk story with their family in Niuliʻi and visit the lookout.A sincere mahalo to the stewards of the lookout for intervening when visitors are unprepared to embark on their journey. Prior to the stewardship program’s start in 2021, an unprecedented number of rescue calls had been made at Pololū. Community-based efforts, in collaboration with the necessary entities, have proved successful in beginning to address the needs of Pololū Valley and its lookout. The Protect Pololū Project looks forward to creating a sustainable model and expanding our efforts to mitigate the impact of foot traffic, allowing the ʻāina to rest.Those wishing to support the Protect Pololū project can make a charitable donation through the North Kohala Community Resource Center via

Kohala Food Hub CSA

By Maya Parish. Kohala Food Hub is starting a new multi-farm CSA at the beginning of April this year. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. By becoming a member of Kohala Food Hub’s CSA program, residents can help provide a consistent and reliable market to our regional producers, which allows us all to continue to build our local food system and get closer to regional food security.  Fresh local produce, starches, and herbs from a number of farms in the area will fill the abundant weekly CSA bags. Confirmed farms include Lotus Organic, Lokahi, HIP Agriculture, Kahua Pa’a Mua, and Hale Nalukea. Kohala Food Hub is continuing to outreach to other farms and backyard growers to supply the CSA, and it welcomes other producers to join as well.CSA bags can be delivered to North Kohala residents’ doorsteps or picked up at the Food Hub’s Ho‘ea Rd. location. The CSA program will also serve residents in the Kawaihae region, bringing farm fresh North Kohala produce down the coast for more to enjoy.CSA members will be invited to join for three-month-long periods, and the program will start the first week of April. The weekly bags will showcase a variety of rotating items and will be priced at $25 for CSA members. The mixed produce bag will retail for $30 on Kohala Food Hub’s online marketplace, giving CSA members a $5 weekly discount while inviting others to participate as occasional customers. CSA members will receive other perks including recipes, guided farm tours with participating producers, and exclusive early bird pricing for the subsequent CSA period.Kohala Food Hub is an aggregator, marketer and distributor of locally grown produce, starches, herbs, and locally made products such as honey, jams, pesto, salves, tinctures and more. Its online marketplace ( is open for shopping every Friday through Monday, with order pick-up and delivery every Wednesday. To sign up as a CSA member, learn more, or participate as a grower with the CSA, email or text/call (808) 747-3277.

LETTER – Fireworks

Dear Editor, I would like to echo the sentiments expressed by Dov Kadima published in the January 28, 2022 issue of KMN regarding use of extremely loud fireworks this past New Year’s Eve. As a resident of Hāwī for over a decade now I have never before experienced such a distressing night of fireworks. My family has had active-duty members serving in all branches of the military for generations, including one in the Air Force now. For the many veterans who have served in war zones the violent noises we heard that night must be incredibly stressful. They certainly were for our beloved dogs. I respectfully ask that we all do our part to create a more peaceful July 4th. Mahalo, Margaret Dunphy

Hawaiʻi State House of Representatives Update From the Desk of District 7 Representative David Tarnas. FEB 2022

Aloha. The legislative session is well underway as the proposed bills are being considered by the relevant committees through hearings and public testimony.  I urge everyone to check out the work of the committees of interest to you by going to, checking out the hearings, and submitting testimony on bills that are important to you. One of the top priority bills that we are considering in the State House would increase the minimum wage and provide more tax relief to working families. I cosponsored House Bill (HB) 2510, which addresses the findings of a report conducted by the Aloha United Way that found that 47% of Hawaii’s families were financially distressed and simply could not make it here economically. The bill increases the state’s minimum wage incrementally, increases the refundable food excise tax credit, and makes the state earned income tax credit refundable and permanent.  Creating more opportunities to build affordable housing is a critical piece of our strategy in the State House to address the needs of our community.  I am working with the Chair of the Committee on Housing to advance specific bills to accomplish this goal. These include the following package of bills:  HB 1836 establishes expedited county approvals of district boundary amendments for affordable housing projects.   HB 1837 requires each county to reduce zoning and regulatory barriers to affordable housing development.  HB 1929 funds the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development to do a study to refine rural district policies and make recommendations to facilitate the reclassification of lands from the agricultural district to the rural district.   HB 1796 provides funds and extends the sunset date for the Ohana zones pilot program to reduce homelessness by placing individuals into permanent housing, expanding housing, and preserving existing housing.   HB 2084 allows landowners and lessees of important agricultural lands to apply to the counties to develop farm cluster housing on the lands for rental to farmers and farm employees who work on the farm. Since the demographic group that has been hardest hit and most priced out of housing is Native Hawaiians, I cosponsored HB 2511, which appropriates $600 million to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to enable beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homelands Trust to acquire their own homes.  We are also working to address the needs of our senior citizens through several bills:  HB 1754 provides funds to restore dental benefits to adult Medicaid enrollees.  HB 1824 appropriates funds to the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, which identifies, investigates, and resolves complaints of conditions that may adversely affect the health, safety, welfare and rights of residents in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, adult residential care homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care settings.  Other notable bills proposed this session include: HB 1570 bans the sale of flavored tobacco and synthetic nicotine products, including e-liquids for vaping, to individuals under 21. HB 1653 increases the penalties for violations of aquatic resource rules and laws. HB 1656 increases support to the State Na Ala Hele program for the protection and expansion of public trail access statewide. HB 1668 requires the State to update the classification of agricultural lands based on current data of soil productivity. HB 1768 exempts instream use of water for traditional and customary kalo farming from the requirement of obtaining a water license. HB 1518 funds the State to do more work to control little fire ants. HB 1714 funds the State program to mitigate and control the spread of the two-lined spittle bug and the recovery of pasture lands damaged by the invasive pest. HB 1769 provides additional funds to DLNR to study and combat rapid ohia death. HB 2202 establishes the ohia lehua as the state endemic tree. HB 1930 funds the State to support the deployment, replacement, and maintenance of fish aggregation devices. HB 2024 establishes an alternative management framework for Mauna Kea. HB 1689 strengthens the reporting and inspection of shipping cargo to prevent illegal import of fireworks. HB 1695 increases the fines for fireworks-related violations. HB 1721 requires the State to develop a feral animal management plan, especially for goats in West Hawaii and axis deer on Maui, and submit recommendations to the legislature. All of us in the community are shocked and dismayed by the recent announcement by the U.S. Attorney that two former state legislators are being charged with corruption for accepting bribes. As a legislator, I hold myself to a very high standard of ethical behavior and expect all legislators to do the same.  I am very disappointed that these two former legislators violated this public trust.  It is an honor and privilege to serve as your State Representative and I will continue to work diligently to serve our community with integrity. Please contact me any time at and 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. FEB 2022

Aloha! Once again, it is time for the monthly update from our office.HAWAI‘I COUNTY MASS TRANSIT – “Hele On”For the last several months, our island’s Mass Transit Agency bus system has been in the news. A great deal has happened with our “Hele On” bus system, and recently under its new administration, the County of Hawai‘i has taken great strides in improving the service for our island community. When I took office in December 2015, our Mass Transit system was struggling. Previous councils had authorized the creation of a Mass Transit Master Plan to take the County of Hawai‘i Mass Transit Agency to the next level. Early in my first term, the Master Plan was delivered to Council. Our struggling bus system operated on approximately $10 million per year but suffered from undependable service, poor equipment, and declining ridership because of those problems. The Master Plan, produced by SSFM International, Inc., laid out a detailed methodology on how to build our system to what it should be, and how to get it there. By all measures, a great plan. So why did we struggle? Hele On was lacking leadership. As mentioned before, the budget was $10M a year. Most of our equipment was old, donated secondhand buses from Maui and Oʻahu that had reached their end of service there and were then donated to us. Though we didn’t have to pay for the buses, the maintenance costs were staggering and reliability was fleeting. At its peak, we had 1 million rides a year generating $1M in revenue. (Mass Transit is very commonly heavily subsidized; this is not unusual.) What was concerning was the declining ridership due to the poor service. Something had to change.  In 2018, the County Council approved the Master Plan and increased Mass Transit’s budget to $20M a year with plans of new replacement equipment and a promise of a new beginning; that fell flat. Through three Mass Transit Administrators and to the end of 2021, our Hele On system languished, stumbled, and struggled. Then came John Andoh.  Hawai‘i County finally had an Administrator that KNEW Mass Transit. As a young boy, he played at being a Transit Director. His professional life brought him across the nation working on urban and rural transit systems. The leadership of someone who understands programs, federal transportation grants, and how to schedule routes that start to address our community needs has been refreshing. Mr. Andoh recently put forth an initiative to allow for free ridership for up to two years. In doing so, we actually increase our federal grants under a recovery program. As ridership grows so does our grant basis. New routes are being implemented that are streamlined, responsive and respectful of people’s needs. New equipment is being ordered and technology is being embraced to have real-time tracking of buses and locations on smart phones. Regional service, like around Kohala, is being evaluated. New equipment includes electrification of some buses and hydrogen fuel cell technologies to reduce carbon footprints.  The Master Plan is finally truly being implemented by an Administrator that eats, sleeps, and breathes Mass Transit. In a few short months, ridership is growing and trust in service is returning.  Leadership. Thank you, Mr. John Andoh. It truly has been a breath of fresh air with you at the helm. We look forward to your stewardship of this critical need for our island community!For more information, listen to the interview with John Andoh and me on KNKR’s “Kukakuka with Kalani” on the January 27, 2022 podcast at and check out the Hele On webpage at for specific route details, etc. It continues to be a great privilege to serve as your Councilman and I look forward to working toward solutions in 2022 and beyond. 

Voices of Recovery

Story and photos by Joel Tan. Voices of Recovery is a project of Wellness and Recovery for Kohala (WRK) featuring North Kohala families and photography by Malia Welch. This photo series was shot in late 2021 at Konea ʻO Kukui Garden, Rainbow Cafe, and a local job worksite featuring everyday Kohala folks advocating for vibrant health and addiction recovery. WRK is the COVID-era return of a previous community effort, Kohala Communities Against Drugs and Alcohol (KCAD) led by Aunties Lani Bowman, Nani Svendsen, and others in the face of the alcohol and ice epidemic of the 1990s. COVID, gentrification, and income inequality are mutually reinforcing systemic issues that lead to addiction, poverty, and illness in our rural communities. In 2021, WRK volunteers organized sign wavings, food giveaways, and other service leadership activities to promote counseling and support services for our rural community. Funded via Vibrant Hawaiʻi’s Health and Wellness and in collaboration with Big Island Substance Abuse Council, the portraits in this series and interview quotes are featured in a social media campaign promoting recovery and support services in rural communities. The featured families were asked what recovery means to them. We selected key messages to give voice to the different perspectives on recovery and resilience. If you or someone you love is seeking mental health or addiction recovery support, please call (808) 969-9994 ext. 860.

Monthly Kohala Night Market Draws Community

By Kathy Matsuda. Kohala Village Hub’s Kohala Night Market takes place on the first Wednesday of the month from 4-6 p.m. and features a variety of vendors along with live entertainment.Na Kupuna ʻO Kohala and Halau Kalaniumi ʻA Liloa, led by Kumu Kaui Nakamura, performed on February 2.

Hāmākua-Kohala Health Update on Future Health Center

By Kai (Gacayan) Carvalho and Marilyn Cariaga. Several years ago, Hāmākua-Kohala Health’s CEO, Irene Carpenter, went out into the Kohala community and visited various community groups, spoke on Kohala Radio and received feedback about what the Kohala community needed in terms of health care. The voices of the Kohala community were clear on their request. 1) Reduction in health care provider turnover.2) More mental health and substance abuse services. 3) Better health care facilities.4) Shorter wait times for appointments.To address the requests of the Kohala community, we needed to restructure the entire organization and raise funds. We are confident that we are on the right path to fulfill the community’s requests. Since then, Hāmākua-Kohala Health has greatly improved the turnover rate of providers. We have a consistent team of doctors, including Dr. Eric Murray, Dr. Jocelyn Chang and Dentist Dr. Joseph Coleman. We have more than ten providers collectively including Medical Doctors, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, Physicians Assistants, Psychologists, Psychological Counselors, and seven Care Coordinators. Our staff has doubled to over a hundred staff members within the last year. In addition, our patient base has grown from 5,500 to over 8,500 patients. The development of new jobs continues as we see an increased number of patients that we serve. We require more space to continue this growth, and it is there at the former Kohala Club Hotel. The Hawaiian value “Pono” means to do the right thing and correct or proper procedure, it is a value that Hāmākua-Kohala Health honors. Since acquiring the former Kohala Club Hotel, we have taken the appropriate steps to get closer to having a new health center for the Kohala community. Some of the completed actions thus far include an archaeological survey on the land, plus a flora and fauna report. We are currently in the process of getting all required permitting for renovations. While we look forward to bringing Kohala access to the utmost in healthcare, we also remain mindful of our space at the historic Kohala Club Hotel. Our processes will take time, proper procedures to follow, and money. It will be worth the wait. Some of the new health care center plans include a training center for community members pursuing a career as a health care professional. Medical assistants, high school students, nurses and medical doctors will be training. This training center would allow us to respond to the huge deficit in healthcare providers by “developing our own.” Kohala would have access to medical providers specifically trained to work in rural communities who understand the limited resources we work with. As we look forward to the future of this space and continue to follow protocol, we are thankful for the patience and support of our Kohala community. We remind all that we are still providing a range of medical and behavioral health services at our current location in Kapaʻau, next to the Kohala Hospital.Hāmākua-Kohala Health and our Staff believe in “Caring for your ʻohana, Caring for you” and look forward to one day opening the doors to our newly renovated health center with all. Call us at (808) 889-6236.

Hawaii Writers Guild Celebrates Fifth Annual Meeting

By Joy Fisher. Hawaii Writers Guild’s (HWG) Fifth Annual Meeting and Election of Officers, held via Zoom on January 22, revealed an expanding organization, despite continued accommodations necessitated by COVID-19. “We used to have annual dinners at Anna Ranch in Waimea,” Public Relations Director Joy Fisher said, “but with the omicron variant racking up a record numbers of cases on the Big Island, we held this year’s meeting, like last year’s, online.” The event was facilitated by Events Director Johnson Kahili IV.“The upside of the online format is that our members who live off-island are able to join us,” Fisher said. The Guild, which started as a small group of writers on the Big Island, now has several members who live on other islands, some members who live part- or full-time on the mainland, and one member who lives in Bosnia. The Guild added 13 new members during 2021, ending with 76 current members, including two student members. The annual meeting included a State of the Guild report highlighting the organization’s achievements during 2021. Utilizing its YouTube channel, North Kohala Regional Director Eila Algood and former President Diann Wilson, also from North Kohala, each continued to host online programs to replace the in-person programs curtailed by COVID-19. “Inside the Writer’s Studio,”hosted by Algood, offered readings and interviews of writers, and “Write On!”hosted by Wilson, offered workshops on aspects of writing and publishing. As Algood moves on to other endeavors, another program, developed by Kahili, “Hawaii Writers Showcase,” took its first bow online in 2021. True to its name, the new program showcases Guild members reading their original work, often in outdoor settings. Another major achievement in 2021 was continuation of the Guild’s online literary review, “Latitudes,” helmed by Bob Lupo of Honokaa, and supported by eight genre editors – two each in fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry. “Latitudes,” the third issue of which is planned for online publication in February 2022, features the writing of Guild members and is available at no charge to the public on the Guild’s website, to an exchange agreement with the Berkeley Chapter of the California Writers Club signed in 2021, the Guild also gained access to that organization’s Speakers Series, which features skills lectures by writers. In 2021, the Guild also published its first issue of “Member News,” a biannual publication to keep members informed of the accomplishments of their colleagues. The next issue is due out in March 2022. Another important activity developed during 2021 was an expansion and renaming of the Guild’s online writers support group. Readings and Responses is now offered every week and is a benefit of membership in the GuildAt the annual meeting, members were encouraged to offer suggestions for new activities and programs for 2022. A planning meeting will examine these suggestions and chart a direction for further development in the near future. One feature of Guild annual meetings is a tribute to members who published their work during the previous year. This year, that tribute was presented in a PowerPoint slide show produced by Kahili. Kahili also organized a “spinning wheel” game, which facilitated the selection of six lucky attendees as winners of books published by members of the Guild.The election of officers for 2022 was also announced at the annual meeting. Carol McMillan of Kamuela was elected for a second term as the Guild’s president. Other officers who were re-elected include Bruce Stern, vice president, from Waikoloa, and Bob Lupo, treasurer, from Hakalau. Donna Beumler was elected as the Guild’s new secretary. She replaces Diane Revell, who served as secretary of the Guild from October 2017. Both Beumler and Revell live in North Kohala.

Kohala Hospital Celebrates National Wear Red Day

By Aulani Hammond. On February 4, the Kohala Hospital Team supported awareness of Women’s Heart Health, as heart disease is the number one cause of death in women and men. Staff participated in fun activities, such as a heart healthy recipe contest.The food drive project, led by Emergency Room Manager Aulani Hammond, collected 420.5 pounds of food for the Kohala community. All the donations will stay in Kohala and be distribute to those in need by Kohala Cares.

Group Wants to Mālama Māhukona Park

By Toni Withington. Amid further delays in starting reconstruction of Māhukona Park, a new Kohala group has applied for Friends of the Park status with the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). Mālama Māhukona is the name selected by people who have been meeting monthly for a year with the director and deputy director of the DPR to plan for new facilities at the park. Representatives of the Save Māhukona Park Committee, the Parks, Water, Roads Group and others have been participating. The new organization is headed by Lawrene Noelani “Nani” Rasmussen. It will have status with DPR to assist in making sure the Kohala community has a role in planning the new facilities, clearing the land and landscaping with volunteer help, as well as taking on future stewardship. The application also says the group will “assist with designing appropriate signage and interpretive materials to promote respect for this highly historic and cultural area.” The group asked DPR to “respect the cultural needs of families with generational ties to Māhukona.” Although told in January that work on the demolition of the 70-year-old condemned pavilion might start this month, the deputy director of DPR told the group at the February meeting that the contract to configure the demolition has been delayed. Michelle Hiraishi said the contract, not for the demolition, but for planning and specifications of the work to be done, was sent to the State’s top rated civil engineering firm in this field but came back over twice the expected bid price. The Department plans to cut back some of the requirements and submit the contract to the next highest ranked firm. The contract being negotiated is for the preparation of documents (plans and specifications) for permitting and construction bidding and includes all necessary investigative work. This work will have to be done before the multiple permits are approved and the pavilion and contaminated soil around it are actually removed. Work on the removal will be put out to contractors through a competitive bidding process following State and County procedures. “The de-construction is anticipated to include but not be limited to, abandonment of the existing septic system, hazardous materials remediation, razing of the structure, modification of the electrical service to a free-standing utility wall/pole, and finish treatment of the resulting exposed grade,” Hiraishi said. The work will start “at an agreed upon date when all permits/approvals have been secured.”

Teaching Change

By Leila Dudley. This spring our Kohala Middle School students will be working with the Teaching Change program and the Kohala Center to learn more about the different ʻāina of Kohala while actively helping to care for this ʻāina. The six hale (houses) will each travel to one of three Kohala Center sites: Keawewai, Niuliʻi and the Koaiʻa tree sanctuary. Students will learn about these places through kilo (observation) and hands-on hana (work). Students will also learn their stories, their winds and rains, their plants and animals — native and invasive species – as well as about possible careers in natural resource management and more!  As a hōʻike (showcase or performance/sharing of work), each hale will share out about their huakaʻi (field trip/excursion) to these places so all hale will collectively learn about these three places where Kohala mālama ʻāina is taking place. In addition, all six hale will engage with these organizations in pre- and post-trip classroom visits. This will support what they are learning in the classroom, create or develop a sense of place and belonging, and also be a good outlet for students to get outside in a COVID-safe environment and have fun.  This year, we will again be hosting a summer school program, in partnership with Teaching Change, focused on Bio-cultural Ahupuaʻa Exploration and aloha ʻāina, where students will get to become intimate with the forests and the ocean in Kohala, as well as other sites on our island, and become the scientists themselves!

Kohala Basketball Undefeated in 2022 Season, Varsity Heads to Quarterfinals

By Brenda Swan.Kohala High School Boys Varsity and Junior Varsity Basketball teams went undefeated in the 2022 season. Varsity went on to capture the BIIF (Big Island Interscholastic Federation) Division II title, beating HPA (Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy) 35-29 in the Championship game on February 19. The Cowboys now advance to to the D II state quarterfinals against Waipahu on Thursday February 24, on Oʻahu. Oʻshen Cazimero put 21 points on the board, while Laʻakea Kauka added 11 and Logan Neves sunk a 3-point shot. Scores can be found at current BIIF guidelines individual schools determine how many spectators can safely attend. The KHS team is permitted to invite a certain number of preapproved guests to home games, the number changing based on venue. Guests must be fully vaccinated. Mask wearing and social distancing are required at indoor and outdoor events. Varsity Roster: 10 Legend Libron, 11 Jace Hook, 12 Logan Neves, 13 Landon Kauka, 20 O’shen Cazimero, 21 Koby Agbaya, 22 Easton Hoshida, 23 Onipa’a Tavares-Matsuda, 24 La’akea Kauka, 32 Trevor Figeroa, 44 Keale Valenzuela,  JV Roster: 10 Ryzen Cazimero-Bautista, 11 Isaac Salvador-Libron, 12 Mark Cadelinia, 13 Jeonald Pascual, 21 Zayden Fernandez, 23 Jayden Hook, 32 Kayzen Ittner, 43 Tasi Sauta, Coaching Staff: Kihei Kapeliela – Varsity Head Coach, Reeve Cazimero – Varsity Assistant Coach, Beau Cazimero – Junior Varsity Head Coach,

Kohala Middle School Academic Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the Kohala Middle School’s Academic, Pono and Grit Awards! The following students earned one of these prestigious awards for their achievements in the second quarter of the 2021-2022 school year. Academic Awards
Principal’s List:
Kohala Middle School recognizes the following students on the Principal’s List whoachieved a 4.0 grade point average for the second quarter:
Grade 8: Jussaine Basilio, Ascher Blanco, Princess Rain Cureg, Zuri Anaya Dela Cruz, Elia Kolly.
Grade 7: Morris Benjamin, Kale`a Perez, Gabriel Timothy Suetos.
Grade 6: Ailee Afaga, Margarette Afaga, Evin Bumanglag, Mason Bumanglag, Chawai Dunhour-Watanabe, Nash Ishimine, Aiden Padilla, Ayden Chad Tagalicud, Hailey Van Zandt.

Honor Roll: Kohala Middle School recognizes the following students who earned a spot on the Honor Roll by achieving a 3.5-3.9 grade point average for the second quarter:
Grade 8: Jaycie Chilton, Barbie Def Domasco, Gene Ferris, Jeremiah Medeiros, Adriana Jayne Soriano, Royden Tabiolo, Aayden Bolosan, Kenneth Caravalho-Soares, Zalea Douglas, Necole Garcia, Chanceton Ke`a, Alyssa Marie Bautista, Malie Karrati, Noreen Lucas, Sara Lynnell Pagala, Pela Terrell, Kiara Terry.
Grade 7: Kalena Cambra, Liam Howard, Mari Ontiveros, RC Baun, Rhobie Kyle Francisco, Marino Candorama Jr., Madelyn Jessop.
Grade 6: Karylle-Cris Guillermo, Aizelen Thomas, Rainui Walulik, Kalista Caravalho, Jasmine Genetiano, Cullen Hook, Faith Grace Ramos, Na`i Rivera, Hazely Cazimero, Ka`oe Esquerra-Waiohu, Xarahlyn Matsu-Souza, Arianna Perez-Neves, Luis Fernando Ramos Marroquin, Steven Stenson.

Pono Award:Kohala Middle School recognizes the following students with the Pono Award for being a role model, doing the right thing, and encouraging a respectful and safe school environment:
Grade 8: Payton Camara, Phoebe Leonard, Dillon Oandasan, Alexander Faisca, Chanceton Ke-a, Halia Keliikipi, Adriana Soriano, Pela Terrell.
Grade 7: Jered Ariola, Marino Candaroma Jr.Grade 6: Hunter Javillonar, Kalani Peleiholani, Nash Ishimine,Margarette Afaga, Jasmine Genetiano, Ailee Afaga, Evin Bumanglag, Luis Fernando Ramos Marroquin, Trycyn Corotan.

Grit Award:Kohala Middle School recognizes the following exceptional students with the Grit Award. To an exceptional student who displays resiliency, perseverance, dedication and determination in the face of challenges.
Grade 8: Ayzen Yamamoto-Perez, Ihilani Leong, Cheyenne Hoopai, Kiara Terry, Trinity-Lee Keawe, Simone Kolly.
Grade 7: Loryn-Rose Carvalho, Audrey Sasaki, Rhaejah Lajala-Fernandez, Tasi Sarme.
Grade 6: Aizelen Thomas, Arianna Perez-Nevez, Karylle-Cris Guillermo, Savannah Pai, Kelsy Secuya





Kahua Paʻa Mua Farm Assistant and Mentor to Embark on New Journey

Story and photo by Libby Leonard. On February 7, Jamiel Ventura, one of North Kohala’s MVPs of agriculture, will be leaving for Georgia to begin his longtime dream of serving in the United States Army. For the last five years, the 2017 Kohala High School graduate worked for the agriculture education nonprofit Kahua Paʻa Mua. He was not only a beloved farm assistant, but a trusted mentor for the Hoʻokahua Ai (HA) Youth Mentorship program, where he mentored students in sustainable crop production, animal care and maintenance. He also taught the sustainable methods of Natural Farming—something he also did for families in the nonprofit’s ʻOhana Agriculture Resilience Program. While he started as a mentee in the nonprofit’s HA program in high school, where he also ran cross country and was (and still is) a member of the International Karate League, he came to work on the farm through Kupu’s Conservation Leadership Development Program, who places their workers with onsite hosts. Kupu, which is one of Hawaiʻi’s largest nonprofits, provides service-learning and environmental stewardship opportunities to empower youth, and recently gave Ventura an award for his service. Ventura’s interest in agriculture started in middle school through a video game called Viva Piñata, where players plant crops in garden plots, but it was Kahua Paʻa Mua’s Executive Director David Fuertes and his teaching in the HA program that fully ignited his passion for farming. According to Fuertes, over the years Ventura has blossomed into a confident leader, who developed the ability to manage their community education farm. “He touched many lives, including those of our 26 OAR families,” Fuertes said. He added that, “The kids liked playing with him, the adults loved his work ethic, and he ALWAYS gave his time when asked.” In August, when Ventura was spotlighted on social media by Kupu, he told them: “I wouldn’t trade my time with Kupu for anything else, even if the past could be rewritten. It helped me grow into who I am now. This was in a sense my own ‘mission,’ not many are like it and I’m glad this one is mine!”  He also added that in the time he had between then and leaving, his goal was to savor and fully embrace the remaining experience he had on the farm, with Fuertes – whom he affectionately calls Papa – the Fuertes ʻOhana and their friends, all of whom have become extended family for him over the years. Those who know him in the community will miss his gentleness, thoughtfulness, curiosity, care for the ʻāina, hard work and humor, but are extremely proud of him as he embarks on his next chapter.

Demolition of Māhukona Pavilion May Start Next Month

By Toni Withington. It has been almost three years since the 70-year-old pavilion at Māhukona Beach Park was condemned as dangerous and toxic, and the County Parks and Recreation Department (P&R) is about to spend the first dollars to get rid of it. At the regularly scheduled monthly meeting with Parks Deputy Director Michelle Hiraishi, members of the Save Māhukona Committee learned that the County has drafted a contract with an unnamed engineering firm to demolish the pavilion and remove soil around it that is contaminated with dieldrin, a dangerous pesticide. The contract is in the process of being signed by the firm and the County. Hiraishi predicted the work will start in February or March. Last July Maurice Messina, director of P&R, said $400,000 has been allotted for the cost of clearing the area, building a temporary platform over the pavilion site, and beginning the process of planning the new park facilities.“We need to get the park site cleaned up so the space can be used and seen,” Hiraishi told the committee. “We will start working on the plan for the new facilities, so we can open up community discussion of what will be in the park.” The planning is expected to take two years and can be started while the demolition is underway. Hiraishi was asked if the community could begin clearing the brush and kiawe trees from around the proposed site, since it has been determined that the new pavilion and restrooms will have to be located farther away from the ocean due to sea level rise. She suggested the committee could apply for Friends of the Park status with the department that would allow residents to help make changes, including clearing the land on designated workdays. The park sits on 15 acres of land, only a fraction of which has been used in the past. Whether the recreational platform is temporary or remains will be decided when the community planning takes place. Hiraishi apologized for the delay in organizing community planning input, saying it would start when the pandemic allows.

Lamaloloa Preservation

By Gail Byrne Baber. With over 1,000 signatures supporting the petition of the coastal preservation of Lamaloloa, community members are hopeful that a conservation sale can proceed, since the parcel fell out of escrow in December. Funding for a public purchase is still available. The leeward stretch of the North Kohala coast has the highest number of intact cultural and archeological sites in the state. Preservation of Lamaloloa will keep the cultural landscape whole, unmarred by development or a luxury home.

2022 Kohala Ag Initiative, Seed to Market: Building Food Security in Kohala

By Maya Parish. Kohala Food Hub, Kahua Paʻa Mua, and HIP Agriculture are teaming up on a 2022 agricultural initiative in North Kohala, with plans to continue into 2023 and beyond. The project, called “Seed to Market: Building Food Security in Kohala,” will include community educational workshops, fruit tree, starch crop, and herbal medicine crop plantings in backyards and at various larger sites in the region, and the launch of a North Kohala Based Multi-Farm CSA. The two primary goals of the project are to build food security in the region and to strengthen and support local agriculture to offer viable economic pathways for more community members. Regenerative agriculture techniques, such as Korean Natural Farming, syntropic farming and agroforestry will be used and shared with all interested community members, working together toward building a thriving food system that is both owned within the community and actively regenerating the land. The first free community workshop will be held on Saturday, February 19, at the Kohala Village Hub Barn from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. The workshop will be on dwarf coconuts, providing instruction on how to space trees, prepare the planting area, plant, water, maintain, control pests, harvest and sell any excess coconuts beyond your family’s needs through Kohala Food Hub. A coconut planting demo will take place on site for hands-on and visual learners. Free food and drink samples, live music by Kelly Hyde, and a coconut-themed lunch by donation will follow. The workshop has been approved by the County and all the County’s COVID protocols will be observed. The outdoor lawn just outside the Kohala Village Barn offers ample outdoor space to gather. Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to purchase dwarf coconut starts at a reduced rate, as the initiative will be covering 30-50 percent of the cost. The workshop will be live streamed on Zoom for anyone who would prefer to attend virtually, and it will also be filmed, edited and posted online as a living educational resource. Families, individuals, and other community organizations are invited to join in with this year-long project, work that will surely take many hands. Do you have space in your backyard for a fruit tree, two or more? Might you be interested in growing ʻawa or other high value medicinal crops? Want to put more starch crops in the ground for your family? Do you lease or own acreage you’d like to plant out an orchard on? Do you have excess produce, herbs or tree crops now that you might be interested in selling through Kohala Food Hub? We hope to collaborate with you! 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 kalo, ʻulu, ʻuala, citrus, bananas and more. A fruit tree grafting workshop will be hosted by Kahua Paʻa Mua at Starseed Ranch, along with ongoing hands-on agricultural mentorship of families and youth in the community as they build out vegetable gardens, aquaponics systems, and hog pens in their backyards. To RSVP for the Coconuts Workshop on February 19 at Kohala Village HUB, please email To participate in the Seed to Market initiative as a potential planting site, whether you want to plant one tree or 100; to participate as a volunteer on planting days; or to learn more about selling your wares through Kohala Food Hub and/or participate in the North Kohala Multi-Farm CSA as a backyard grower or larger-scale farmer, please email or call/text (808) 896-3179. 

New Focus on Old Coast Guard Road 

By Toni Withington. There are so many potholes in Old Coast Guard Road that soon they may all grow together into a smooth surface. But those who don’t want to wait are once again looking for solutions. Ever since the ʻUpolu Point Coast Guard LORAN Station closed its facilities in the 1990s, the federal government has been asking for either the County or State to take over ownership of the road. Then about a decade ago, Hawaiʻi County started shuffling papers with the Department of the Interior. Through three mayoral administrations, Bobby Command, who is now the County’s Deputy Managing Director, has tried to orchestrate the many nearby landowners and stakeholders into an agreement that would let the County finally take over the road.  Meanwhile in Kohala, two committees that are part of the North Kohala Community Development Plan have been talking about solutions for a long time. Recently the Kohaha Community Access Group and the Parks, Water, Roads Group activated other agencies to join the discussion. Specifically, these are the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail and the Na Ala Hele State Trail System. Both those agencies have a stake in improving the access down Old Coast Guard Road to the ocean. Na Ala Hele has a trailhead to a State-owned coastal path along the shore of Puakea Bay Ranch subdivision, and the Ala Kahakai will someday run along the ancient Ala Loa. The County’s 2% Open Space Program also has a stake in the area, since the 17.5 acres that were once part of the LORAN Station has been on the mayor’s annual priority list for purchase since 2018. “I’m all for finding some way to make this happen,” Bobby Command said in a recent email. “This whole area is so rich in ancient and modern history.” Also joining the effort is Nathan Eggen, the managing partner of Honoipu Hideaway LLC, the owner of the 17.5-acre parcel that includes the makai portion of the road and the parking lot at the trailhead. Eggen’s family, along with friends, bought the land from Parker Ranch four years ago and refurbished several of the former Coast Guard residences there. They also constructed and maintain a public trail along the shoreline. Last month the State Land Use Commission turned down their request for a determination that would have moved the Conservation District boundary from mauka of the residence to makai. In asking to put the residence in the Agricultural zone, Eggen said the family has no intention of building another residence. “We want to grow our own food. We want to be part of the community,” Eggen told the commission. Old Coast Guard Road was once called Honoipu Landing Road. Oxen used to haul unrefined sugar to a launching place atop Paliakamoa, where it was sent on trollies down cables attached to ships offshore. The road was also used by families to access the ocean for fishing, gathering, swimming, camping and enjoying the sunsets. Since ancient times, Honoipu has been used by canoe paddlers and boaters as the closest and safest place along the island’s west coast to begin the crossing of the Alanuihaha Channel to Maui. A monument in the parking area memorializes the first Puerto Rican immigrants to Hawaii Island, who landed at Honoipu in 1901. It was erected by their descendants in 2001 on the centennial of their arrival.

Kohala Real Estate Market – 2021 Review

By Beth Thoma Robinson R(B). Kohala Home Sales and Prices Break Records in 2021. The combination of pandemic-driven buying and historically low interest rates that increased the number of sales and pushed up home prices in Kohala and throughout Hawaiʻi in 2020 continued throughout 2021. For the first time, the numbers reflect not only more sales at higher price points driving the median price higher. This year we saw examples of individual homes being “flipped” for significant short term gains.To summarize: – 75 homes sold in 2020 in Kohala, compared with 65 homes in 2020. – The lowest price a home was listed in 2021 was $209,900 for a bank-owned “tear down.” It sold in a bidding war for $241,000. – The highest-price sale was $ 4,150,000 for almost-oceanfront two parcels in Niuliʻi totalling 43.89 acres with a small dwelling on one of them. – The median home sale price rose from $511,250 in 2019 to $577,000 in 2020 to $605,000 in 2021. – There are currently only 11 homes for sale in Kohala.Fewer Opportunities for Local First-Time Home Buyers.  Only 14 homes sold below $500,000 in 2020, compared with 23 in 2021. In part this was because there were fewer homes for sale. Demand from both newcomers and first time buyers taking advantage of low interest rates also pushed home prices above where they were at the last peak. We are seeing record high prices for what should be the “affordable” homes in Kohala. Here is one specific example. A “fixer upper” house in Halaula that sold for $275,000 at the end of 2019 was renovated in 2020 and resold for $430,000. That same home sold again one year later for $599,000! Homes that sold between $500,000 and $1,000,000 had another record year as prices got pushed up. There were 40 sales in this range in 2021 versus 29 sales in 2020. In more than a decade of writing this annual real estate market report, this is the first time that homes in this price range were not mostly properties on acreage. Only seven homes on at least one acre sold for under $1 million.There were also 19 sales over $1 million, almost double the number from 2020.  Seven of these were over $2 million, compared with only four in 2020 and one in 2019. Three of the sales over $2 million were in Puakea Bay Ranch. These continue to be mainly, although not entirely, malihini buyers, and the sellers also are either non-resident or returning to the mainland. Land Sales Increase Due to Lack of Homes for Sale. There were 27 sales of land in Kohala in 2021, up from 19 vacant lots sold in 2020. Most of these were individuals looking to build a home, given the lack of residential real estate for sale. The most affordable prices continue to be the $200,000 range for 10,000 sq ft lots in Hanaula Village. The gated subdivisions like Puuepa Ranch, Puakea Bay Ranch, and Ranch at Puakea all had lot sales in 2021, at prices similar to previous years. There were notable sales of large agriculturally zoned parcels as well. The Halawa parcels that had belonged to Inhabit Hawaii, where Vipassana Hawaii once had a special permit for a retreat center, have been sold again. The special permit has lapsed, meaning these parcels now have individual owners planning only residential and agricultural activities. The parcels owned by Parker Ranch on Hoʻea Road, a total of over 455 acres, also sold in 2021 and will continue to be used for agricultural purposes. In other good news, the 93 acres including the bay at Kapanaia and a portion of Kapalama Heiau was acquired by the Countyʻs PONC (open space) fund for $2.9 million. This accomplishment follows the priority of the North Kohala Community Development Plan for protecting important shorelines.Forecast for 2022 – More of the same. With inventory even lower than at this time a year ago, many qualified buyers losing out in bidding wars, and interest rates likely to remain below 4%, all forecasters expect 2021 to continue to be a seller’s market in real estate in general. Kohala will be no exception. That makes it a very difficult time for local buyers in need of housing. If you fall into this category and have not yet completed the Affordable Housing Survey, please go to the website to do so. Documenting the need will assist in the search for longer term solutions for Kohala.

Kohala Reunion is Happening!

By Lynda Wallach. After having been postponed for two years because of COVID, the 2020 Kohala Reunion, now the 2022 Kohala Reunion, promises to be an event worth waiting for. This year’s theme is Kohala ʻĀina Haʻaheo: “Kohala, Land of the Proud.” The festivities will take place over the 2022 Fourth of July weekend, beginning Saturday morning and ending Monday afternoon, and will be filled with activities that will appeal to all ages. People with ties to Kohala come to the Kohala Reunions, not just from our local community, but from the mainland and from several of the other Hawaiian Islands. They come to reconnect with Kohala and with friends and family and old schoolmates. Already tents have been reserved for Kohala High School graduating classes from 1959, ‘60, ‘61, ‘63, ‘70, ‘72, ‘75 and ‘76. As in the past, the focus of the first day will be on Kohala’s past and will include talks and exhibits on the history of the community. There will be traditional Hawaiian games, such as konane, and a roping station so attendees can practice for Monday’s big competition. Students of Aunty Margaret Tablit would like to get together and perform songs in her memory. Sunday will be devoted to Kohala’s present. Activities for that day include ethnic cooking demonstrations and dancing demonstrations. If you ever wanted to learn Okinawan taiko drumming or Japanese Bon Dance, this will be your opportunity. Boyd Bond will also be teaching children (and adults) how to make and fly a kite. There will be a keiki section available Saturday and Sunday to keep the children entertained. The third day will be Kohala ʻOhana Day and will be centered around the children, teens and young adults who are the future of Kohala. After the Fourth of July Ceremony led by Joe Carvalho, most of the rest of day will be devoted to games and contests. This is the big competition, the time to get your ʻohana together, however you define ʻohana – your family, your graduating class, a sports team, a group of hunters, policemen, firemen, a hula hālau or just a group of friends – and match your strength and prowess against competing ʻohana. Some of the proposed contests are tugs-of-war and kickball. Also planned are a basketball-horse tournament and a roping contest. One of the highlights of the day will be the Kohala Cowboy Challenge. David Fuertes will be giving three untrained horses to three trainers one week prior to the event, along with the challenge requirements. The winner of the challenge will win all three horses. Each day will also feature a cooking contest (dried fish, smoked meat, homemade sausage) and a dessert contest (coconut milk dessert, guava dessert, sweet potato dessert.) You will be able to sample the food and vote for the one you like best. Applications to enter the cooking competitions will be sent out later in the year. There will also be tours each day of local sites so those returning to Kohala can see what is the same as they remember and what has changed. An event of this size with so many activities and potentially thousands of attendees over multiple days obviously requires a lot of planning and many volunteers. Help is still urgently needed to plan and oversee several of the activities. If you are interested in being a part of a memorable 2022 Kohala Reunion, please contact Kathy Matsuda at (808) 895-2025 or Also, be sure to check out and join the Kohala Reunion 2022 Facebook page for pictures of past reunions and news about the upcoming one.

LETTER: Fireworks

Dear Editor, I believe I speak for many, if not all, war veterans when I say those firecrackers and mini-bombs that go off on New Year’s and July 4th (right in our own neighborhoods) conjure up memories we would rather not bring to mind, ever again. Those sounds also fill our companion animals with body-shaking fear. Isn’t 2022 time to change those war-like sounds to more celebratory sounds, such as bells, chimes, and meaningful music? New Year’s Eve and July 4th should be filled with sounds of peace we hope to remember, not sounds of war we wish to forget. Thank you, Dov Kadima

VIEWPOINT: $4.5 Million Needed for Kohala Pool Renovation

By Jeffrey Coakley. The Kohala Pool was built back in 1974, while Councilman Hisaoka was Kohala’s representative. The story – or rumor – goes that there was enough money for a pool and library. Since Waimea was colder than Kohala, Waimea got the modern library and Kohala got the swimming pool. The first senior lifeguard was Andy Oshita, who later moved to California and became a director of Parks and Recreation. Over the 25 years following Andy Oshita, Alphonso Mitchell and Ben Fisher served as senior guards, from around 1981–2006. Ben Fisher then transferred to Hāpuna Beach, and I took over from 2006–2017. From 2017–2020, Lisa Nahuina of the Halawa Thomas family became the senior guard. She then transferred and became the senior guard for Honokaʻa pool and her weekend guard, Spencer Coakley, took over and is the current senior guard. Over the pool’s history, from 1974 until the pandemic – which has curtailed many aquatic programs – the pool has provided numerous activities for the Kohala community of all ages. The Learn To Swim program; aerobic workouts for fitness; Novice, USA and High School swim teams; and lap swimming welcomed diverse community members. People also used the pool to rehab from spinal, neck or back injuries and knee-, hip- or shoulder-replacement surgeries. The pool was a great place for low-impact exercise for those with obesity, heart disease, stroke or diabetes. During the summer, the pool provided fishing classes by the DLNR for youths. As the senior guard, I conducted “Take only what is needed” spearfishing classes, utilizing cultural practices. There were also swim meets, drug-free activities by KCAD, Grad Nite and water polo. But above all, the Kohala pool provided a safe environment with staff trained in first aid, CPR and use of an AED. Something we don’t mention is that the staff was always on the lookout for anyone who is being bullied or abused in anyway. The staff also provided a safe babysitter service. Not really, but parents could drop their kids off at the pool with their lunch and they could spend the entire day going from pool to playground and back. It was cool, as we’re all family looking out for each other’s kids. However, after 48 years of service, the pool needs a complete renovation. Surrounding tree roots have clogged the pipes that transfer the water to the filters and back out to the pool. The pool pump is worn and beyond repair. There are five filters but only three are operable, and they are barely doing the job. The holding tank is rusted; we used quick drying cement to patch the leaks. Over the past 15 years or so, the staff did their best to keep the pool opened despite the drawbacks and lack of money. They did the best that they could to band-aid the problems, but now have run out of band-aids. Could the County just repair or buy a new pool pump until they get the money? That’s what they’ve been doing for the past decade of repairing the pool pump. Two years ago, Tim Richards was able to get $400,000 to redo the pump room, but then the pandemic hit, and the money went elsewhere. Frustrating, as I personally knew the pool couldn’t last much longer no matter how many band-aids we had. As much as I would like to just buy a new pump and keep the pool open so I could continue coaching the Kohala High swim team, the clogged piping would put too much strain on the pump and it would break down, money down the drain. So, what to do? As a community I would encourage everyone to write a letter telling Mayor Roth how important the pool is to you and the community. Not as a complaint, as this administration inherited the problem and didn’t create it. Writing a letter makes it more sincere – just a paragraph or two telling the mayor to make funding the Kohala pool a top priority. However, please do whatever works for you. Tim Richards is well aware of the problem, as I have talked to him over the years about the Kohala pool and we were almost able to at least fix the pump room that would have kept the pool opened. Maurice Messina, P&R Director, fully backs having the pool be a top funding priority. Writing to the mayor, who supports the pool renovation, would help to support the effort. He can be reached at: Mayor Mitch Roth, 25 Aupuni Street, Suite 2603, Hilo, Hawaii. 96720 On a side note: In a conversation with Maurice Messina, I offered a fundraising idea: Since the pool was not being used maybe we could fill it with donated tilapia fish? People could bring their kids to fish for free and only pay so much per pound for what they caught. He had a good laugh.

Hawaiʻi State House of Representatives Update From the Desk of District 7 Representative David Tarnas: JAN 2022

Aloha. Mahalo for giving me the opportunity to serve as your State Representative. The 2022 Hawaii State Legislative Session is scheduled from January 19 – May 5, 2022. I encourage you to keep informed about the bills and to submit testimony to legislative committees when bills are scheduled for hearings. By creating an account on, you can choose your preferences for being notified when certain committees meet and when the Legislature acts on specific bills. As Chair of the House Committee on Water and Land, I will review all bills brought to our committee and select the ones to be scheduled for a hearing. Our committee’s responsibilities are very broad, and include any policy matter involving water, land, forests, watersheds, wildlife, the coastal zone, and marine issues. Our committee will work to continue the positive momentum from the 2021 session, which was recognized by the Governor and the Chairperson of the Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) as the best year for ocean, water, and land legislation in decades. I am grateful to be working with a great team of legislators to accomplish this important work. Please contact the House District 7 office if you have any questions about bills, the legislative process or require assistance with State agencies. We’re here to help. For the 2022 session, Zoe Sims continues as my chief of staff. The HD7 team has two new session staff members, Scott Gifford and Tamara Goebbert. Scott is a political science graduate of Hawaii Pacific University and works as the Committee Clerk for the Water and Land Committee. He is also a member of the Hawai’i National Guard. Tamara is a UH Manoa journalism and political science graduate who handles all constituent services and communications. The Legislature will be working on many priority issues this session. This includes examining and revising the Administration’s $16.9 billion Executive Budget, which allocates funding and personnel for each department and program. Our committee is responsible for reviewing and recommending budget modifications for the DLNR, as well as the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development in the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Among the financial decisions we must make is whether to accept the Governor’s request to deposit $1 billion into the State rainy day fund, which will be used in the event of a major decline in tax revenue or unforeseen emergency expenditures. The account’s current balance is $350 million. With so many other needs, such as addressing homelessness and providing crucial social services, we may decide to put less money into the rainy-day fund and use some of the money to pay for these essential social services. The State continues to face a challenge regarding unemployment insurance. During the pandemic, the state’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) paid out $6.5 billion in State and federal funds to cover unemployment claims. To make these payments, we borrowed $800 million from the federal government. To reimburse the State Unemployment Trust Fund, the 2021 legislature appropriated $700 million in federal pandemic relief funds and $100 million in state funds. The current balance of the State Unemployment Trust Fund is $123 million. However, we should have a balance of $1.3 billion to cover a year’s worth of potential unemployment claims. Usually, the trust fund is funded only by employers’ unemployment insurance payments. To rely on businesses alone to pay over $1 billion in needed funds would be a significant burden on our businesses. The legislature will need to determine if we appropriate additional funds to the trust fund and if we modify the statute to adjust the unemployment trust fund formula to avoid a big tax increase to businesses.Other priorities the legislature will address in the 2022 session include the U.S. Navy’s fuel leakage into the Red Hill drinking water well and the resulting water contamination for thousands of people served by the Navy’s water system. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply has shut down the Red Hill shaft and two other adjacent drinking water wells, causing major interruptions in Oahu residents’ drinking water supply. In response to this crisis, the State House of Representatives sent a letter to the U.S. Defense Secretary urging the Navy to clean up the contaminated water supply and develop and implement a plan to remove the fuel and decommission the underground fuel storage tanks at Red Hill.  The Hawaii Department of Health has issued a final decision and order directing the U.S. Navy to suspend operations and empty the underground fuel tanks at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, maintain all environmental and monitoring controls, and immediately install drinking water treatment systems to purify the drinking water supplied to residents. To keep everyone informed, I will continue to send out my e-newsletter on a regular basis. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my e-news at If you have any questions or concerns, please call my office at 808-586-8510 or email me at As we begin a new year, please stay safe and well. Let’s hope for the best in 2022!

County Council Update From the Desk of District 9 Councilmember Tim Richards: JAN 2022

Aloha! Once again, it is time for the monthly update from our office. 2022. 2021 is finally behind us. Looking towards 2022, we as a community, county, and state need to discuss and plan our future. Through the pandemic, there was a lot of rhetoric but not a great deal of substance to conversations. The challenges and problems that we discovered, if viewed as a potential opportunity, can help us figure out a direction. What we must embrace is that very little of what we do will be unanimous, but we can find a middle ground to go forward. Through the pandemic, a couple of challenges were highlighted. Some of the issues are: – Our economy was 40 percent reliant on the tourism industry. The pandemic showed us how vulnerable we are.  – Ninety percent of our food is imported. Long have people discussed being food self-reliant, but to do so we must embrace agriculture – all agriculture – and to build the economy of agriculture and its industries. Currently, the food needs for the Big Island alone are approximately 1,000,000 pounds of food a day. That is the equivalent of 1,000 farmers delivering 1,000 pounds of food every day to the markets. We have a few farmers at this scale, but we need more. To develop more, we must make the lands that agriculture needs available. As well, we must have the value-added/processing capability available to make agricultural industries make sense. -Housing, let alone affordable housing, is almost unavailable. During the pandemic there was a huge influx of people moving into our county. With that influx and demand for housing, prices skyrocketed. The demand for “affordable housing” was high pre-pandemic and now is even more daunting.  -Cost of Living. Emerging out of the pandemic, the cost of living is skyrocketing as inflation is running high, some reports of 7 percent plus. In 2020 we saw a 46 percent increase in inter-island shipping. Young Brothers was struggling, and though our Senate had worked on approving relief funds using federal relief money, this bill did not clear the House and PUC authorized the increase. (I had argued before the PUC that if they had to authorize an increase, they should leave agriculture commodities out of it to help our local economy. That did not happen.) With no housing and a poor economy, we have no strong revenue streams or economic generators, and our community will be impacted even further. A strong economy translates into jobs which translates into economic success for our people. – Tourism. Pre-pandemic, at any given time about one out of five people on the Big Island was a tourist. Almost overnight, 20 percent of our population disappeared. With all the shutdowns, we saw a quieter island community with minimal traffic and people. Though that part was enjoyable, there was severe economic impact. What it did how us though was perhaps with thoughtfulness, we could make some changes as far as management of visitors and their impacts and improve the overall experience for everyone. I could go on with other topics, but I believe this makes my point. The glaring question before us now is, “And then what?” Do we have the will to make the changes that we need to improve all our lives? I am from agriculture and inherently optimistic, so my short answer is yes. What are some of the potential solutions? – Economy: Retool the opportunity for jobs, thus controlling the cost of living. To start, we all need to actually embrace agriculture. Support public policy that supports not only the growing, but also the value-add and marketing of our local homegrown products. That value-added opportunities will create jobs, keeping those funds in our county and economy. Some of the high-tech value-added foods can create high-paying jobs.  – In the energy world, support all aspects of potential renewable energy and use that additional capacity to generate hydrogen production as a renewable energy fuel source. We have enough potential on this island to generate enough hydrogen for export if we support it, all while being essentially carbon neutral.  – Plan and actually manage tourism in our county. This will take a consortium of planners and the public to identify the wants and needs, as well as crafting a workable plan going forward. We were already seeing some of this type of work starting for visiting Waipio and Pololū Valleys, and some of the beach parks. Again, together we have to support the initiatives of planning through these challenges to get this done. Cost of living, housing, and food security start to be addressed by taking the steps to supporting our initiatives that support our economy. We collectively must seek a balance between the needs of the community with the needs of our environment, find the middle ground, and move forward together.  It continues to be a great privilege to serve as your Councilman and I look forward to working toward solutions in 2022 and beyond. 

Kohala Artists’ Cooperative

Story and photos by Tom Morse. Facing the highway across from the Kapa’au Post Office, it stands-out with its bright colors and unusual displays. Inside the cavernous interior, hundreds of art pieces by only Kohala artists are on display. Open from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. every day, a steady stream of visitors and residents pull into the spacious parking lot. Sales are brisk. There are currently thirty-seven member artists ranging in age from ten to eighty-two. Each pays monthly dues to support the rent payment on the building. When a piece sells, the artist receives eighty percent of the proceeds, with the remainder going to perpetuate the co-op. All members volunteer to staff the facility during open hours. The current version has been a long time coming. In 1996 Bill Parks (woodworks), Catherine Morgan (prints and a collages) and Hap Tallman (wood benches and chairs) opened a store in downtown Hāwī that lasted about four years. Then there were Christmas shows where twenty-five artists displayed in the dining area at the Kohala Village Inn. The first show was called “Light Up Lukes”, Lukes being the name of the building for many years before it became The HUB. There were poetry readings, and John Wallace and The Bhutto Theater performed. In 2008 Catherine Morgan and Malia Welch rented the space above Kenji’s House in Kapa’au (in what is now a house above Gill’s Lanai). About ten artists displayed their creations. The Kenji Museum was created on the site. Ten artists initially showed their work in Kenji’s House. Four years later they had outgrown the old house gallery. Half of the group, led by Mary Sky Schoolcraft, formed a second co-operative called the Living Arts Gallery in the Old Domingo building in Hawi (now Dr. Berg’s office), which operated until 2010. In 2018 seven artists signed a lease for the old Bozos Garage building, the present site. Prior to COVID, art classes, performances, and private-party rentals of the site helped pay the rent and utilities. At the start of COVID, the facility closed for a couple of months. The Kohala Community Resource Center helped the group raise $5,000 to restart. Individual artists have at times, displayed their works for one month on one wall in the big room. The present Steering Committee includes Dirk Lummerschein, Brian Dugan, Mary Toscani, Catalina Cain, Catherine Morgan, and Isaiah Price.

Hoʻea Road Re-zoning Deferred

By Toni Withington. The County’s Leeward Planning Commission last month deferred a request for rezoning of a small triangular-shaped parcel at the entrance to Hāwī town. Dwayne Cravalho had applied for a change from agricultural use to commercial on the lot at the intersection of Hoʻea Road and Akoni Pule Highway immediately behind the “Welcome to Historic Kohala” sign. Cravalho asked for the zoning to install two food trucks, picnic tables, portable toilets and parking. Commissioners responded to the 22 testimonies of people opposed to the zoning. One person spoke in favor of the proposal. Commission Chair Michael Vitousek pointed out the several changes needed, considering the Planning Department’s requirement of a roadway-widening setback and moving of the driveway location. The deferral is open to the discretion of Cravalho, meaning it can be brought back to the commission later. However, Vitousek suggested “the community’s concerns need to be taken into consideration in the new site plan.” Contacted since the meeting, Daryn Arai, Cravalho’s representative, said a revised plan will be submitted addressing the concerns with the changes that are detailed below. The Planning Department staff reminded commissioners that the zoning does not limit the commercial uses to that described in the application once the zoning is in place, mentioning residences, retail stores and a gas station as examples. “The shape of the parcel and parking requirements would mean the amount of usable land would be low,” said planner Jeff Darrow. The triangular lot is 7,544 square feet. Concerns about the proposed food truck plan focused on the limited space for parking, the traffic problems at the intersection, the portable toilets and the owner’s stewardship of the land. “The place is an eyesore now. It is fenced and overgrown,” said Commissioner Faye Yates. “The parking, the porta-potties – don’t you care about the community?” Commissioner Mahina Paishon-Duarte asked if Cravalho has determined the maximum number of users who would be on the property at a given time. His representative Daryn Arai said they expected orders to be called in and picked up. She expressed concern that the portable toilets alone would attract more visitors to the site. The sole testifier in favor of the rezoning was Jeffrey Coakley who praised Cravalho’s business practices and welcomed new Kohala resident-owned businesses. Sixteen of the testifiers in opposition identified themselves as residents of or near Hoʻea Road. The recommendations of the Planning Department for approval included conditions for an additional future road-widening setback of 10 feet along Hoʻea Road as well as landscaped buffers on all sides of the lot to prevent customers from parking alongside Hoʻea Road or the highway. Another condition would require the driveway to the two-stall parking lot be moved as far from the intersection as feasible. Reached by email, Arai said he and Cravalho are “currently working on a revised site plan that would attempt to provide mitigating actions that we hope will address concerns raised in testimony and comments received by the Commission.” The changes include reducing the number of food trucks to one, adding more parking stalls, eliminating on-site dining, eliminating the portable toilets as confirmed by the Department of Health regulations, and moving the driveway as far north on Hoʻea Road as possible. Arai said he is not sure when the revised plan would be submitted and a new hearing scheduled, but he said Cravalho “wishes to be thoughtful and diligent about all of this and not simply rush.”

Roots Skatepark Update

By Richey Riggs. As we move into the new year and look toward the future, it is important for us to say thank you to the many hands and hearts that put in the work and made contributions to get us to where we are today. Mahalo to our volunteer builders and masonry craftsmen, notably led by Brian Sandlin and his dedicated crew from Abstract Concrete. His donation of time and resources have made the park the pride of Kohala. It has been one year since completing the expansion of Roots Skatepark and many improvements have been made ever since then. Aesthetic details and a tidy surrounding are key to becoming a welcoming facility. We do our best to enhance the landscape with lush vegetation and a groomed lawn. Big thanks go to the hardworking people at Aikane Nursery for their selfless contribution at keeping the grass smooth and neat. We invite one and all to come enjoy the skatepark with family and friends. With the new and expanded terrain there is plenty of room to work on your beginner skills or hone your advanced technique. You will appreciate the warm atmosphere as the skateboard community in Kohala is inclusive and encouraging to all, new faces and the familiar regulars. With that said, we would like to announce that we have plans for future expansion and improvements to the facility: more terrain and additional safety features. It’s all very exciting to plan more construction and look ahead to what’s next. We couldn’t have made the current expansion possible without the district funding appropriated by former Councilwoman Margaret Wille and the tireless years of volunteer fundraising by our community skatepark youth advocates. Mahalo nui!For information and a link to donate, please go to or email at

Area Nature School A Breath of Fresh Air for Kohala Youth

By Libby Leonard. Back in 2020, during a time of difficult remote learning at the beginning of the pandemic, Devin Longfellow wanted to figure out what she could do to help children and their parents navigate the challenges of isolation and global anxiety. It would be after a desperate father said that he wished the schools would provide outside learning where his kids could breathe fresh air, that she would become electrified with the idea of creating an outdoor school that would give a safe space for area kids to explore and feel a little more freedom.  That summer, with what seemed like effortless community support, she opened the Give & Grow Discovery School on a farm in Niuliʻi. It has a magical outdoor program that provides a safe social space for children to play and learn about themselves through nature-based activities, where the priorities are empathy, free expression, altruism and nature immersion. Starting off with only eight children from friends who were parents like herself, two years later – due mostly to word-of-mouth – this special program has grown to a vibrant community of over 50 parents, four teachers, 15 guest teachers, 20 volunteers, and over 60 children. The children meet weekly and are involved in activities like planting starts in the garden, scavenger hunts, storytelling, stream adventures, and mindfulness circles. Guest teachers teach them cultural and agriculture activities like seed saving, working in loʻi patches and worm composting; and physical activities like yoga and martial arts. The kids also give back to the community through their own “Giving Garden,” which has supplied over 100 pounds of food to families and kūpuna in need.   According to Longfellow, this philosophy feeds their mission, as she teaches the kids that community service or “giving” is one of the most powerful forces in the Universe. While they are currently capping the number of students due to COVID, Longfellow, who is the lead teacher, offers a “pay what you can” tuition system in order to make things accessible to all families. She has also been holding various fundraisers and applying for grants to keep making that happen. This past holiday season, she held one fundraiser at the art co-op, selling gifts the kids made; had a bake-sale at the farmer’s market; and sold t-shirts at Kohala Grown. She says the North Kohala Community Resource Center, which is their fiscal sponsor, has been instrumental in their success, helping with certain grants that have helped them thrive and expand. If you’d like to donate, please visit and scroll to Give & Grow Discovery School.


Local Legend Wins Two Film Awards

By Laurel Adler. Hāwī resident Kealoha Sugiyama has been recognized with two international movie awards as the star of the award-winning film, “Paradise Unfound.” Drawing from his own memories of growing up in Hawaiʻi, Sugiyama gives his view of the tragic history of the sovereign Hawaiian Kingdom being overthrown by the United States, resulting in its people’s loss of their land and heritage. The issue of sovereignty and lost land is still controversial today. On August 31, the film was awarded Best Documentary from both the Hollywood Dreams film festival and Italy’s international X World Short Film Festival. The movie premiered in Las Vegas and was broadcast on a Southern California television channel reaching over 10 million viewers. The movie has finally returned to its birthplace. On November 14, Paradise premiered on the Big Island, with screening space provide by Unity of Kona. After watching the film, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions of the people involved in the making of the film. Laurel Adler, the director of Paradise, then presented Sugiyama his two awards. Awards were also presented to Jim Carey, who also appeared in the film, and to Cathy Gilham, production assistant and second camera operator. Sugiyama was a high school graduate of Kamehameha Schools for Boys, later studying at City College of San Francisco. A long time Hawaiian Airlines employee, he is now devoting his time to local endeavors, such as performing traditional Hawaiian blessings.

Saint Augustine Community Meal Update

By Lani Bowman. For over 15 years, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church has provided monthly community meals for our Kohala ‘ohana. These events offered opportunities to gather, enjoy good conversation, and share a meal with our neighbors.  After the onset of COVID, in-person community meals were no longer viable at a time when our community needed help more than ever. The high number of layoffs in the resort industry and climbing unemployment rates prompted St. Augustine’s to recognize an increased need for prepared meals.  In response, we developed a drive-through format that would allow us to provide meals safely. Meals are prepared in a certified kitchen and trained volunteers dish up and distribute the meals at St. Augustine’s Church. Based on available funding and volunteer labor, we decided to offer two meals per month. We are grateful for assistance from more than eight community organizations, which provided volunteers to dish and distribute meals. We applied for and received CARES funds through the North Kohala Community Resource Center for the last quarter of 2020. At our first drive-through event, we provided 200 meals. As need increased, we ramped up to between 400 to 600 meals by the end of 2020. By the end of 2020, we had provided 3,175 meals. In 2021, we secured a local grant through the Kohala Center that was designed to assist local families, farmers, and food producers. This grant, combined with funds from St. Augustine’s and assistance from local organizations, allowed us to continue to provide two drive-through meals each month in 2021. As we continued to assess community needs last year, we added 50 meals that were delivered twice a month to senior housing plus another 80 meals our volunteers delivered twice a month to people who were unable to attend our drive-through event. At most of our events, we were also able to provide produce we purchased from local farmers, as well as donated fruit. St. Augustine’s provided a total of 8,960 meals in 2021, even though we were closed for over a month during the Delta COVID surge. St. Augustine’s would like to continue this very important outreach for our community. However, additional funding is needed to maintain the number of meals we are currently providing. This is especially important as Omicron continues to spread. We are reaching out for kokua from community members, businesses, and organizations to continue funding this effort to prepare and distribute meals safely. St. Augustine’s has budgeted funds to help feed our community, and we’re inviting organizations and individuals to partner with us in this mission. Any amount would be appreciated, and families or businesses could pool resources to become a meal sponsor. If you would like to help sponsor a meal, please contact Vicar Jennifer Masada or Bishop’s Warden John Sakai for more information. Our email address is 

Kohala Kupuna Receive Blankets of Aloha

By Kai Gacayan. Blanket deliveries were made before Christmas day to bring holiday cheer and warmth to those at the Kohala Hospital long term care facility. Nearly 100 blankets were donated by the staff of Hāmākua-Kohala Health; a quarter of those were specially delivered to the Kupuna being cared for at the Kohala Hospital. These Blankets of Aloha is one of the many ways in which Hāmākua-Kohala Health gives back to the individuals and families of Kohala every holiday season. For many years we have participated in the Laulima Giving Program and have partnered with AlohaCare and HMSA, whereby donations of food, househould items and toys for the keiki are donated to ease the holiday strain for families in need. This  holiday season 22 seniors, five families and over 20 keiki received a blanket or Basket of Aloha. Our Hāmākua-Kohala Health ʻohana thanks the Kohala community for the opportunity to continue to be your medical, behavioral and dental provider of choice. Wishing all of Kohala a safe and great start of the New Year. For more information on services we provide and resources available to you and your family, please call (808) 889-6236 or visit us online at