New Mushroom Category at Sam Choy’s Poke Contest

Fun is mushrooming at the third Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest Sunday, March 16 at the Sheraton Kona Resort Convention Center.

A new competition category—poke with Hamakua Mushrooms—encourages the use of mushrooms from the Big Isle’s gourmet fungal company located in rural Laupahoehoe. It joins four other culinary categories: traditional, cooked, poke with Aloha Shoyu soy sauce and non-seafood.

Hamakua Mushrooms

Hamakua Mushrooms

“The poke contest is all about sharing our favorite recipes and using local products,” says celebrity chef Sam Choy. ”Put your braggin’ in the bowl and enter to win prizes.”

Hamakua Mushrooms (HM) produces over 5,000 pounds of specialty and exotic mushrooms weekly. The exacting, multi-step growing process, which is done in a series of environmentally controlled rooms, will be detailed at the festival during a video. Attendees will also be able to see the bouquets of fresh, flavorful mushrooms growing in their sterilized bottles—Hamakua Mushrooms produces four varieties of shrooms.

“Contestants can source our mushrooms at islandwide grocers,” details HM co-owner Janice Stanga. “Our ali‘i oyster and pioppini mushrooms are sold at Costco, KTA, Safeway, Foodland and Sack ‘n Save.” For more info, phone HM at 808-962-0017.

Entry fee is $15 for amateurs and $30 for professionals—culinary students can participate for free. High schoolers can enter in a new High School Division and college culinary students are welcome to again vie in the non-professional category.

Suisan Company Ltd. will donate 15 pounds of fresh filet ahi to the first 50 entrants using fish. It contestant wants additional ahi, it will be offered at wholesale price. Suisan also offers seafood to contestants at a wholesale price. Contest entry deadline is March 10; find forms at www.SamChoysKeauhouPokeContest.org.

Poke contest fun is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and includes Hawai’i Island Marketplace, a “Poke Throw Down,” a celebrity “Poke Chop” cookoff, guest speakers, entertainment by Royal Hawaii Band Kona and cultural demonstrations. Public poke tasting is 12:30 p.m.

Poke Cook-off

Public admission to all contest activities is $5 (limit of five poke tastes) or $10 for an event bag and unlimited tastes until gone.  Keiki under 12 are free). Proceeds benefit the $150,000 Equip the Kitchens Campaign for the future Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui campus. Last year’s contest donated $5,000 to the effort.

A free trolley will operate from Keauhou Shopping Center (pickup near Longs Drugs) 4-10:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Keauhou Resort’s annual Kamehameha III celebration March 14-17 that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli. The contest is sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, Aloha Shoyu Company, Suisan Company Ltd., Hawaiian Springs, Hamakua Mushrooms, West Hawaii Today, the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, Fresh Island Fish, Coca Cola, BMW of Hawaii, Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering, Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Roberts Hawaii, Bacardi, Sun Dried Specialties, Kapa Radio and Young’s Market Co.

Crafts and Entertainment at Annual Spring Fundraiser at Hulihe’e Palace

The picturesque, seaside grounds of Hulihe‘e Palace will be the location of the annual spring fundraiser, Day at Hulihe‘e, on Saturday, Mar. 29. An 8:30 a.m. traditional Hawaiian blessing kicks off the 9 a.m.-4 p.m. event, which is hosted by palace caretakers the Daughters of Hawai‘i and the Calabash Cousins.

Hula Dancers dance behind Hulihe'e Palace. (Photo Fern Gavalek)

Hula Dancers dance behind Hulihe’e Palace. (Photo Fern Gavalek)

Browse among tented arts and crafts booths, a tempting bake sale featuring Aunty Nona’s scrumptious peach cake and the ever-popular Classy Tutu’s Attic. Choose a fresh flower lei made on site by palace volunteers. The Kuakini Hawaiian Civic Club will offer ono food and local hula halau will provide cultural entertainment.

New this year are cultural demonstrations including pa‘i ‘ai (poi pounding) and ‘upena (fish net making). Prize drawings throughout the day will be featured, including the chance to win a king-sized Hawaiian quilt for a $5 donation.

Palace admission will be complimentary all day, although donations will be accepted.

Hulihe'e Palace

Hulihe’e Palace

Day at Hulihe‘e remembers Hawai‘i’s Citizen Prince who was born in March: Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole (1871-1922.) Hawai‘i observes an annual state holiday to commemorate Prince Kuhio’s dedication toward serving his people; it’s Wednesday, Mar. 26 in 2014.

Beginning in 1902, Kuhio served as a delegate to the U.S. Congress for 10 terms, was the driving force behind the development of Pearl Harbor and instituted the Hawaiian Homestead Commission. A monument at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park credits Prince Kuhio for founding the park in 1916.

Hulihe‘e Palace is open for docent-guided and self-guided tours. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday—with the exception of the palace open 1-4 p.m. the Monday following the monthly Kokua Kailua Village stroll.  Palace admission for a self-guided tour is $8 for adults, $6 for kama‘aina, military and seniors, and $1 for keiki 18 years and under. Docent-guided tours are available upon request. For details, contact the palace at 329-1877, the palace office at 329-9555 or visit www.daughtersofhawaii.org. The gift shop, open 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays- Saturdays, can be reached by phoning 329-6558.

Caretakers of Hulihe‘e Palace are the Daughters of Hawai‘i and the Calabash Cousins. The Daughters was founded in 1903 and opens membership to any woman who is directly descended from a person who lived in Hawai‘i prior to 1880. Helping the Daughters in its efforts since 1986 are the Calabash Cousins; membership is available to all.

Sam Choy’s Poke Contest Coming Up

Put your braggin’ in the bowl and enter your favorite poke recipe to win cash and prizes at the third Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest Sunday, March 16. Public tasting is 12:30 p.m. at the Convention Center at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

Sam Choy Poke Contest 131

Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Keauhou Resort’s annual Kamehameha III celebration March 14-17 that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli.

Other festivities include:

• Free Puana Ke Iki Lecture by Lily Dudoit, “Keauhou-Where the Current Continues to Renew Itself,” 5:30-7 p.m. March 14 at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay.

*Lani Kauikeaouli Canoe Race, 7 a.m. March 15 at Keauhou Bay, hosted by Keauhou Canoe Club

• Free 14th annual Kamehameha III “Lani Kauikeaouli” Concert, 4:30-10 p.m. March 15 on the lawn at Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay. Emcees Skylark Rossetti and Kimo Kahoano with Punahele, Mailani, Nina Kealliwahamana, Marlene Sai, Sonny Lim, Ladies of Na Lei O Kaholoku, Mark Yamanaka and Kapena.

• Free Daughters of Hawai‘i Tribute, 10 a.m. March 17 at Keauhou Bay with Royal Order of Kamehameha and 200 Kamehameha Schools Ipukukui students.

Sam Choy Poke Contest 158

Poke contest fun is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and includes Hawai’i Island Marketplace, a “Poke Throw Down,” a celebrity “Poke Chop” cookoff, guest speakers, entertainment by Royal Hawaii Band Kona and others, cultural demonstrations and delicious poke tasting.

Contest competition is in five categories: traditional, cooked, poke with Aloha Shoyu soy sauce, non-seafood and a new category—poke with Hamakua Mushrooms. Suisan Company Ltd. will donate 15 pounds of fresh filet ahi to the first 50 entrants using fish. It contestant wants additional ahi, it will be offered at wholesale price. Suisan also offers seafood to contestants at a wholesale price. Contest entry deadline is March 10; find forms at www.SamChoysKeauhouPokeContest.org.

Entry fee is $15 for amateurs and $30 for professionals—culinary students can participate for free. High schoolers can enter in a new High School Division and college culinary students are welcome to again vie in the non-professional category.

Chefs from Facebook’s campus restaurants on the Mainland are bringing a contingent to again vie in the professional division. Last year’s overall contest winner was ‘Umeke’s of Kailua-Kona.

Public admission to all contest activities is $5 (limit of five poke tastes) or $10 for an event bag and unlimited tastes until gone.  Keiki under 12 are free). Proceeds benefit the $150,000 Equip the Kitchens Campaign for the future Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui campus. Last year’s contest donated $5,000 to the effort.

Sam Choy Poke Contest 180

A free trolley will operate from Keauhou Shopping Center (pickup near Longs Drugs) 4-10:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Keauhou Resort’s annual Kamehameha III celebration March 14-17 that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli. The contest is sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, Aloha Shoyu Company, Suisan Company Ltd., Hawaiian Springs, Hamakua Mushrooms, West Hawaii Today, the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, Fresh Island Fish, Coca Cola, BMW of Hawaii, Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering, Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Roberts Hawaii, Bacardi, Sun Dried Specialties, Kapa Radio and Young’s Market Co.

Commentary – Governor Abercrombie’s Administration’s Continued Lack Of Transparency

I received a phone call from Governor Abercrombie’s West Hawaii liaison after my last letter to the editor was published in January.

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway opened this weekend.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Photo by Aaron Stene

The meeting with Ms. Barbara Dalton was a very uncomfortable experience.   She asked me why I wrote that letter, which criticized Governor Abercrombie’s administration for not being transparent with the public regarding highway projects. In addition, she told me not write anymore letters criticizing the governor and go through her if I have any more concerns in the future.

I wrote several e-mails to Governor Abercrombie’s Honolulu staff regarding the meeting I had with Ms. Dalton. Someone from Governor’s Honolulu office called me a few days later. He apparently told Ms. Dalton that it was inappropriate to tell me not to write letters criticizing the governor.

This individual, who I didn’t get his name, also promised to get an update on the stalled right of way acquisition for the final east side Daniel K. Inouye Highway phase.

Its been over a month and I’m still waiting for this person to call me back. I’ve sent several e-mails to various individuals in the governor’s Honolulu office with no response. They don’t care about my concerns it seems like, which is deeply frustrating. I will remember this when I vote for governor in November.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

New Playground Equipment Being Added at Kailua Park

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce the upcoming installation of new children’s playground equipment at Kailua Park, also known as Old Airport Park, in Kailua-Kona.

The A.J. Watt Gymnasium in Mt. View. This playground is similar to the one being added at Kailua Park.

The A.J. Watt Gymnasium in Mt. View. This playground is similar to the one being added at Kailua Park.

Construction work will start Tuesday, February 18, and is expected to be completed by the end of May.

While the park will remain open, the existing playground will be removed and therefore unavailable for use. To protect the public, the contractor’s work area will be fenced off. Park users are advised to be aware of construction activity and equipment.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks the public for its cooperation, patience and understanding as it provides enhanced recreational opportunities for the island’s keiki.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Call for Entries: Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Seeks 2014 Poster Image

The iconic 44th annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival announces the launch of its annual Festival Art Contest, one that illustrates the talents of Kona’s prolific art community.

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

Local artists are invited to submit original Kona coffee art for consideration and the winning entry will be showcased throughout the Festival. Artwork should be evocative of Kona’s coffee heritage and integrate the Festival’s 2014 theme – Bringing Kona Together.
The winning design will become the official image of the 2014 Kona Coffee Cultural Festival and will be featured on all official Festival merchandise including the Festival button, event poster and retail merchandise. The winning design will also be featured on the Festival’s magazine cover, website and other promotional materials.

Artists of traditional media including oil, acrylic, tempera, watercolor, illustrations as well as computer graphics and photographers are invited to participate. Artists are encouraged to be inspired by this year’s theme – Bringing Kona Together. Typography should not be included within the art. There is no entry fee to participate and the competition is open to all Hawaii Island residents 18 and older.

Ownership of entry copyright: By submitting artwork into this contest, the artist agrees to assign all ownership rights and copyright of the art to the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

Artwork submissions are due by Tuesday, April 1, 2014 and should be delivered to Malia Bolton at the Kona Coffee & Tea Company located across from Honokohau Harbor on Queen Kaahumanu Hwy or entries can be submitted electronically via email to maliabolton@gmail.com. Be sure to include “Festival Submission” in the subject line with your electronic entries.

2014 Focus Luncheon with Mayor Kenoi

Mayor Billy Kenoi and select cabinet members tackle current Hawai`i County issues at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce 2014 Focus Luncheon 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Sponsored by the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, the annual luncheon offers a unique opportunity for the local community to meet with County Department representatives in a casual setting. Attendees will have the opportunity to have lunch with a specific department as well as pose questions to the Mayor and other Cabinet heads. Issues to be included in the discussion include the possible increase of the GET via a county surcharge; the County’s solid waste management plan; the controversial GMO bill; and, the quest to reopen the Kona International Airport international arrivals facility.

Cost for the luncheon is $45 for Chamber and Rotary members, $55 for non-members. No walk-ins allowed. For more information and/or to register, visit kona-kohala.com or call the Chamber office at 808-329-1758.

THE KONA-KOHALA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE provides leadership and advocacy for a successful business environment in West Hawai‘i. The result of KKCC’s work is a community of choice as reflected in our quality of life, business and individual opportunity and manifest respect for our culture and our natural resources. For info, 329-1758 or visit www.kona-kohala.com.

 

South Kona Fatality Update

An autopsy was conducted Friday (February 7) on the body of 52-year-old Matthew B. Lee of Kailua-Kona, who died Wednesday (February 5) in a two-vehicle crash on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway around the 71.5 mile marker.

HPDBadgeThe medical examiner determined that Matthew B. Lee died from a medical condition and not from injuries sustained in the crash.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has reclassified the negligent homicide investigation to a coroner’s inquest.

As a result, the traffic fatality count has been reduced to three fatalities this year compared with seven at this time last year.

Man Identified From Yesterday’s Two-Vehicle Car Crash

A 52-year-old Kona man died Wednesday (February 5) from injuries he sustained in a two-vehicle crash on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway.

HPDBadge

He was identified as Matthew B. Lee of Kailua-Kona.

Responding to an 11:30 a.m. call, South Kohala patrol officers determined that Lee, who was operating a 1997 Ford F-250 pickup truck loaded with several empty propane gas tanks, was traveling south on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway between the 71- and 72-mile markers when he veered across the centerline into the north-bound traffic lane and sideswiped a 2013 Dodge Dart 4-door sedan being operated by a 62-year-old man from Alberta, Canada.  Also in the Dodge Dart were three other adults. No one in the Dodge Dart was injured. After colliding with the car, Matthew’s truck struck an embankment on the north-bound shoulder and came to a stop.

Lee was pronounced dead upon arrival at North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital.

Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway was closed to traffic at about 11:35 a.m. and reopened around 4:15 p.m.

Police do not believe that alcohol or speed contributed to this collision.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation and has ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Christopher Kapua-Allison at 326-4646, ext. 229.

This is the fourth fatality this year compared with seven at this time last year.

Medical Examiner Defers Cause of Death Following Autopsy of Man that Died After Being Arrested

An autopsy was conducted Wednesday (February 5) on the body of 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona, who died Tuesday in the course of an arrest.

Randall Hatori

Randall Hatori

The medical examiner deferred the cause of death pending toxicology and histology results.

At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday (February 4), a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.

Hatori, who was a passenger and was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders, fled on foot.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. Initially unable to restrain Hatori, the officer deployed his conducted electric weapon (commonly known as a “Taser”) in an attempt to subdue him. Hatori continued to actively resist arrest and the struggle continued. Other officers responded to the scene and assisted in restraining Hatori. After Hatori was placed in handcuffs, he became unresponsive.

Fire Department EMTs on scene attempted resuscitation and then transported him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 a.m.

Detectives recovered 7.3 grams of methamphetamine at the scene of the struggle.

The Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section is continuing to investigate this incident as a coroner’s inquest and an assault on a police officer.

In addition, the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation, as is standard practice in any police involved death.

Alvarez remains at the Kona police cellblock while police investigate possible drug charges.

Kona Crime Prevention Committee Recognized Officer Marlin Hopson as “Officer of the Month” for February

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Marlin Hopson as “Officer of the Month” for February in a luncheon ceremony Wednesday (February 5) at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona.

Officer Marlin Hopson

Officer Marlin Hopson

Hopson was honored for arresting two brothers who were riding in a car shortly after it was reported stolen.

On November 27, the car was reported as having been taken from the area of the Kona pool. The victim was able to obtain information about the location of a cellular phone, which was believed to be inside the car.

While responding to that location, Officer Hopson passed a car matching the description of the stolen car, which was traveling in the opposite direction. After the officer turned around to check the license plate number, the car fled. Hopson saw it turn into a local subdivision, where it crashed.

He was able to apprehend both occupants, including one who had exited the car and was hiding in the bushes.

The victim’s credit card was found in possession of the driver, as was marijuana. A search of the vehicle revealed a meth pipe with residue.

The two men were charged with an assortment of felonies.

As “Officer of the Month,” Hopson is eligible to become “Officer of the Year.”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawaiʻi.

Man Dies in Traffic Collision on Kona Highway

Hawaiʻi Island police closed a portion of Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway Wednesday (February 5) between Puakō Beach Drive and the entrance to the Mauna Lani Resort while officers investigated a fatal traffic collision near the 71-mile marker just South of Puakō Beach Drive.

HPDBadge

At approximately 11:25 a.m., officers responded to the collision and learned that a 52-year-old man was traveling south in a 1997 Ford F-250 pickup truck when he reportedly crossed the centerline and struck a 2013 Dodge Dart traveling in the opposite direction being driven by a 62-year-old man visiting from Canada.

The driver, who was the sole occupant of the truck, was taken to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Neither the driver of the other vehicle nor his three passengers were injured.

At approximately 1:15 p.m., one lane of traffic was reopened on the highway. The other lane remained close.

Police have initiated a standard negligent homicide investigation, which is being continued by the Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit.

New Flood Insurance Rate Maps for South Kona

On February 7, 2014, a FEMA Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) for the areas of Hōnaunau, Keōkea, and a small section of Ki’ilae in South Kona, will become effective and create new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

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The LOMR, submitted to FEMA in early July of 2013, identifies new flood hazards as the area underwent an increase in residential and agricultural development since the orginal FIRMs was revised in 1988.

Structures located within a Zone AE Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) may be required to have flood insurance, if the structure is mortgaged by a U.S. government backed loan. Structures located outside the SFHA, are encouraged but not required to have flood insurance.

Property owners may check the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps at the Department of Public Works, Engineering division in Hilo weekdays, from 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM.

39-Year-Old Kona Man Dies After Being Arrested

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 39-year-old Kona man who died in police custody.

Ernest Alvares

Ernest Ricky  Alvarez

At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday (February 4), a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.

Randall Hatori

Randall Hatori

His passenger, 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona—who was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders—fled on foot.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. During the struggle, the officer sustained injuries. Other officers responded to the scene. After Hatori was in police custody at the scene, he became unresponsive. Fire Department personnel arrived and took him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53. a.m.

The officer required treatment for his injuries at Kona Community Hospital.

Alvarez was taken to the Kona police cellblock. In addition to the contempt charge, he was arrested on suspicion of promoting a dangerous drug. He remains at the cellblock while detectives continue that investigation.

Police have initiated a corner’s inquest investigation in connection with Hatori’s death. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

As is standard practice in any police involved death, the Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section will conduct an investigation into the death and the circumstances leading to it, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

Kona’s Yano Hall Renovated, Rededicated

A major $753,000 renovation of the Sgt. Rodney J. T. Yano Memorial Hall, a popular facility in Captain Cook, was completed today with a rededication ceremony. Yano Hall hosts a variety of senior programs and is also available for community events.

Glenn Yano and former State Rep. Virginia Isbell untie the maile lei to reopen Yano Hall. Looking on is Managing Director Wally Lau, Reverend Jiko Nakade, Councilmembers Dru Mamo Kanuha and Brenda Ford, Kona Regional Senior Club President Sharen Bangay, and Mayor Billy Kenoi.

Glenn Yano and former State Rep. Virginia Isbell untie the maile lei to reopen Yano Hall. Looking on is Managing Director Wally Lau, Reverend Jiko Nakade, Councilmembers Dru Mamo Kanuha and Brenda Ford, Kona Regional Senior Club President Sharen Bangay, and Mayor Billy Kenoi.

Stan’s Contracting re-roofed three buildings, removed hazardous building materials, replaced floor tiles, made accessibility improvements, and painted under a $702,978 contract. Funding came from a mix of Community Development Block Grant funds and County capital improvement funds.

Seven months of major renovations began in April 2013, followed by in-house work by Department of Parks and Recreation staff to beautify the exterior of the facility and remodel the kitchen with new accessible counters, cabinets, and appliances. Their work is valued at $50,000.

“The reason I feel blessed to have grown up in this beautiful, wonderful community is because of our kūpuna. What we have didn’t just magically appear. What we have was given to us by our kūpuna,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi on the importance of supporting senior programs in his remarks at the rededication ceremony.

The Kona Daifukuji Mission in Honalo hosted the senior programs that were displaced by the renovation for the duration of the project. The misson’s Reverend Jiko Nakade performed the blessing at today’s rededication.

The Sgt. Rodney J. T. Yano Memorial Hall opened in December 1970. It is named after Sergeant First Class Rodney James Takahashi Yano, who was born in Kealakekua. He served in the Army’s 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and was killed in action in Vietnam. A grenade detonated in his helicopter, but before Yano died, he threw burning ammunition out of the helicopter to save the rest of his crew. For his bravery, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Rodney’s brother Glenn Yano and other members of the Yano family were in attendance at today’s rededication.

Innaugural Hawai’i Island Ranchers Dinner at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai

Inspired by storied lands, Hawaii’s leaders in education, agriculture and culinary arts have cooked up a deliciously innovative collaboration in the 2014 Hawai‘i Island Ranchers Dinner at Sam Choy’s Kai Lānai, Friday, February 28, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. Presented by Choy and prepared by Executive Chef Scott Hiraishi, the Ranchers Dinner not only highlights local-grown foods and sustainable grass fed beef, but offers the chance for diners to meet and eat with the farmers, ranchers and chefs who bring “farm-to-fork” full circle.

Executive Chef

Executive Chef Scott Hiraishi.  Photo by Britten Traughber

The Ranchers Dinner is the first in a series of collaborative culinary-agriculture projects of Kamehameha School-Land Asset Division (KSLAD) in partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. KSLAD manages 365,000 acres of Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate land, bequeathed for the education and betterment of her people by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop in 1884. Of those, 160,935 acres are agricultural property on Hawai‘i Island alone.

“Two out of three Kona Coffee farms are on KS land,” said Land Asset Manager Les Apoliona, explaining that part of their mission is to support agricultural education, business planning, and farmer certification programs. Working to connect Hawai‘i Island food producers with skilled chefs also connects agriculture to hospitality and tourism. “It’s about relationships,” said Apoliona. “We are actively exploring various options, and looking at partnering for a sustainable Hawai‘i.”

Hiraishi is doing his best to further the concept. Hawai‘i born and raised, Hiraishi has worked alongside Choy for much of the last two decades, starting as young culinary student. When the iconic Sam Choy’s Kaloko location closed, Hiraishi expanded his career into resort service at the AAA 5-Diamond Four Seasons Resort Hualālai and the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay. Hiraishi has cooked for the International Food and Wine Travel Writers Welcome Reception and the James Beard Celebrity Chefs Tour Reception at Mauna Lani Resort, and was a featured chef at Taste of the Hawaiian Range.

In 2010 Hiraishi once again teamed up with Choy for his new Keauhou location, which is located on KS land. The connection became clear. Bringing the best food from the region to the tables of one of the region’s best restaurants completes the circle—supporting the vision of sustainable local agriculture that nurtures business and vice versa.

“I’ve learned so much from the entire experience,” said Hiraishi. “One of the most important things—to get the freshest ingredients you can—is to talk to the farmers and work with them. When you can’t find something specific they will go out and find it for you, or grow it for you.”

For the Ranchers Dinner, Hiraishi created a five-course plated feast with wine pairings that stars select cuts of versatile Hawai‘i Lowline Cattle Company beef, including “cook your own” Tenderloin with ishi yaki (Japanese hot stones) where guests may interact with Choy and Hiraishi. Also in the spotlight are creative preparations of Local-Style Oxtail Soup, Beef Tongue, Flank Steak, Rib-Eye, Short Ribs and more, served with Hāmākua Mushrooms, fresh vegetables from Living Aquaponics farm and other products sourced from local farmers markets. Dinner concludes with a smile, and Chef Scott’s Chocolate Macaroon “Cow Pie.”

Cost of the Ranchers Dinner is $75 per person which includes select wine pairings and a custom logo “Ag Bag” with sampling of ingredients used in the menu. Only 75 seats are available for the exclusive dining event and reservations are required. For more information, visit www.SamChoy.com, follow Ranchers Dinner at Sam Choy’s Kai Lānai on Facebook, or call 808-333-3434.

Hualalai Academy Soliciting Donors to Calm “Perfect Storm” – Operation to Suspend May 30th

The Head of School at Hualalai Academy is soliciting potential donors to help Hualalai’s current financial situation.  Here is a copy of the letter being sent to potential donors:

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

Aloha,

Thank you for your willingness to look at the current financial status of Hualalai Academy, a K-8 independent school, serving the children of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Over the past several years, the school has faced declining enrollment due to decreased discretionary spending for working families and the impact of new charter schools and online academies.  Although the Hualalai Academy Experience is clearly the program of choice, many families have had to make the tough decision and settle for a no-tuition educational option for their children.

This “perfect storm” of circumstances has led to our board making the tough decision to suspend operation effective May 30, 2014.  This decision was the result of multiple banks and lenders choosing not to refinance us based on our limited cash flow via student tuitions.

Specifically, the school has the following debt:

Mortgage and lines of credit with First Hawaiian Bank                                $1,600,000

Bridge loan with friend of HA                                                                             200,000

Anticipated Bridge loan with friends of HA                                                       500,000

Debt as of June 1, 2014                                                                                  $2,300,000

The anticipated bridge loans are currently being pursued so that we may be able to pay our faculty and complete the school year for the sake of the students.

Should we receive a “miracle” and find a way to eliminate past debt, we have the “team” ready to spring into action and keep Hualalai Academy open and poised to improve our financial position and grow the Hualalai Academy Experience.

As I write, we are fighting the clock. Students are applying to other quality independent schools and teachers will be receiving job offers as their reputation as outstanding teachers precedes them. So, time is of the essence.

In closing, I am the new kid on the block as I arrived on July 1, 2013 to help the school grow into the finest independent school in Hawaii.  Instead, I have been watching a slow death.  However, we are still breathing and your support would allow us to come back to life and once again thrive and serve.

Thank you for taking the time to consider helping Hualalai Academy.

Sincerely,

John R. Colson

Head of School

Hualalai Academy

The contact information for donations is John Colson 808-326-9866 jcolson@hualalai.org

Big Island Police Searching for Kona Man Missing Since Thanksgiving

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 37-year-old Kailua-Kona man, who was reported missing.

Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder

Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder

Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder was last contacted on Thanksgiving Day, 2013.

He is described as 5-foot-10, 150 pounds with green eyes and short brown hair.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Officer Eric Uehana Sr. at 889-6540.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hualalai Academy on Big Island Closing, Needs Funds to Get Through School Year – Board of Director Under Fire From Parents

Parents of students that attend Hualalai Academy on the Big Island of Hawaii were shocked when they received an email on Friday from the Board of Directors of the School, Dr. Matt James, that told them the academy would be closing it’s doors for good at the end of the academic year OR SOONER.

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

The letter basically stated the school needed to raise $3,000.00 per student just to be able to complete the school year.

I tried to warn folks about the legitimacy of some of the things this alleged “Dr.” was doing previously on my website:

Dr. Matt James

Dr. Matt James

Today I got an email from a parent from one of the students that attends the campus and she is concerned about her kids future at this school and whether he will even complete the school year at the school:

“Aloha Damon
I’m a concerned parent who’s child attends Hualalai. We received a letter Friday that they will be closing their doors before end if school year. We are currently trying to get answers and can’t get any. We started looking into the president of the board Dr. Matt James and seen do did a story on him awhile back, we found that his past seems to be shady. Looking for some help.”

I’ve forwarded this information on to some of my other journalist friends and we will see if we can get some answers for the students.  In the meantime here is the letter that students brought home to their parents yesterday:

 January 17, 2014

Dear Hualalai Academy Ohana,

It is with a heavy and sad heart I must share with you that Hualalai Academy must close its doors at the conclusion of this academic year or sooner if we are unable to secure additional funding. We are turning to you, the ohana, to help the school get through this school year.

Before I begin and share with you the entire series of events, I want you to know that as parents of two children who attend this amazing school, my wife and I are devastated. The faculty and Board of Directors have done everything we can and at this point we do not see a miracle on the horizon.

John Colson, the Board of Directors and I have been working on our financial challenge since July 1st of this school year. To begin, please keep in mind that John left a wonderful job at HPA to join us. He believed this school was special and that it could become the premier independent school in Kona.

First, we identified the school needed to cut expenses and reduce overhead. John did this immediately and put the school in a position to be as close to a balanced budget as possible. Furthermore, the board made the difficult decision of conducting a teach-out for the high school and suspending operation at the end of May 2014. Both of these actions set up our ability to stabilize the school.

Next, we secured funding to fill gaps created by a smaller than usual enrollment to complete the first half of the school year. This temporary loan assisted the school to remain functional, and it allowed John and I the necessary time to meet with the bank and work on our debt restructuring. While the school owns the land, it has also incurred significant debt over the years.

The school campus, both land and structures, has a significantly higher value in comparison to our debt; therefore, based on this, we created a three to five year business plan to improve the school. As a part of the plan, we met with the bank to restructure the loans and refinance the land. Based on the land value and our plan, we were very confident the bank would approve the plan and assist us with a new financial package. We have been with this bank since the foundation of our school and have a good working relationship with them.

So, with the land asset, John running the school, and our business plan, the meeting went extremely well. The bank gave us positive indications and we were asked to wait. Because of this response, we only pursued one other avenue which was a possible sale of the land to finance our operations. After waiting for two months, we were informed by the bank that not only would they NOT refinance the land, they would not assist us in any other fashion.

During the two month wait, we also met with all of the viable banks in Hawaii to no avail. Additionally, we worked with an investment company from the mainland, explored the option of becoming a charter school with authorities and we have looked for a buyer to purchase the land all with the legitimate expectation that we could stay open and continue to deliver the amazing Hualalai Academy Experience.

As of January 16, with no other viable options for the school, we felt we must disclose our financial situation to you. Thus, we must now work to find transitional funding to complete this school year and assist families as they begin to find other educational options for the 2014-2015 school year. To put our financial situation into perspective, the school needs to raise approximately $3000 per student to make it through the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year.

On behalf of the full board, I thank you for your support of Hualalai Academy and being a part of our ohana. We are now doing everything we can to complete this year, and we need your support and help. To be clear, without additional funding the school year may have to be shortened.

Should you have questions, please contact John at your convenience.

With a heavy heart,

Dr. Matt James, Chair

Board of Directors

Hualalai Academy

Scuba Diver Died From Medical Condition

HPDBadge
An autopsy conducted in connection with the December 12th death of a scuba diver in waters off Kona has determined that 55-year-old James Uihlein of Fallbrook, California, died from a medical condition.