County, State and Federal Officials Bless the Latest Section of Saddle Road Completed

Calling it so much more than just infrastructure, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi joined state and federal officials Monday at the blessing of the latest section of the Saddle Road to be completed.

Saddle Road Blessing

Senator Inouye joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and others for a blessing of the recently refurbished section of Saddle Road between mile post 11 and mile post 19

“This is a connector for the families and businesses of Hawaii Island,” said Mayor Kenoi, who spoke at the event which celebrated the completion of the eight-mile stretch between mile-marker 19 and mile-marker 11. “It enhances our quality of life.”

Road and Highway Builders LLC of Sparks, Nev., completed this section on time and on budget. The $32.8 million contract was awarded by the state Department of Transportation in September 2009 with the project starting in November 2009. The contractors likely could have gotten the job done a bit earlier, but ran into a stretch of bad weather a few months ago which delayed the project a few weeks.

“This road gets us where we need to be, and will do it safely,” said Mayor Kenoi, who recognized the commitment of U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye to the Saddle Road project. “From everyone on Hawaii Island, we extend a deep mahalo.”

The Saddle Road project, which began in the mid 1990s, has so far produced 31 miles of highway, which replaces a narrow and winding road created in the 1940s following the attack on Pearl Harbor. According to Sen. Inouye, the road was created not just as a cross-island passage, but to provide access to a prisoner-of-war camp located on “saddle” between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.


Senator Inouye touring U.S. Army Garrison Pohakuloa with LtCol Chris Miles.

“I bet you didn’t know that,” said Sen. Inouye, who joined Mayor Kenoi, state Transportation Director Glenn Okimoto, state Sen. Gil Kahele and other dignitaries in untying a ti-leaf lei that stretched across the entire width of the road, which has three lanes in the mm-18 area.

Sen. Inouye said the continuing construction of the Saddle Road fulfills a commitment he made to himself in 1964 when he decided to devote his life to to public service. The longest-serving senator in the United States said his commitments to Hawaii Island were to bring east and west together, create a four-year college in Hilo and to improve the Saddle Road.

“I’ll be around, believe me,” said Sen. Inouye, speaking to the 80 or so people who gathered in the cold and rainy weather, “until this is finished.”

Just as soon as this blessing  was completed, officials moved to the west side of the Saddle Road, where Kirkland Construction is expected to begin civil engineering work on the second-to-last leg of the Saddle Road, from mile 41, sometimes called the “Steps” or “Girl Scout Hill,” to mile 14 of Mamalahoa south of Waikoloa Road.

Kirkland was recently awarded the $33.7 million contract and could be given the notice to proceed in the next few days. The company, which plans to use local construction workers for a majority of the work will have until June 2013 to complete the 9.6 miles of earthwork. A contract to pave that portion of the road will be advertised at a later date.

So far, the Saddle Road project has spent $250 million and employed 2,000 people at one time or another. By the time it is completed, officials estimate that 2,700 people will have worked on this project.

“Uncorked” at The Shops at Mauna Lani with Mark Yamanaka

The Shops at Mauna Lani “Uncorked” on November 4th, is an invitation to get back to basics, relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of great food and drink.  From 5:30-7:30 p.m., the community is invited to simply celebrate Friday night, sip a sunset glass of wine or beer, sample some of the Hawai‘i Island’s finest and favorite flavors and listen to the sweet music of Mark Yamanaka, four-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award Winner in 2011.

Mark Yamanaka

Mark Yamanaka at the 2011 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards

Menu tastings feature upscale Japanese “izakaya-style” dishes and sushi from Monstera, contemporary island cuisine by Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar, the traditional sizzle of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, authentic Mexican flavors from Just Tacos and a local favorite from Foodland Farms.  Accompanied by select wines and beers to toast the occasion, “Uncorked” is a one-night getaway for those who love exceptional food and wine, as they stroll through the friendly open-air atmosphere of The Shops at Mauna Lani.

The Shops at Mauna Lani

This year The Shops at Mauna Lani is proud to be presenting a portion of the ticket purchase to North Hawaii Community Hospital Diabetes Wellness Center as the selected charity for this event.

Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 on the day of the event, and include food tastings, wine and beer favorites along with a special edition Shops at Mauna Lani wine glass.  As a special bonus for a future visit, tickets also come with a $15 food discount at each restaurant (when two or more entrees are ordered)—a total $60 value.

Sponsors include Johnson Brothers of Hawaii, Paradise Beverages and American Wine & Spirits of Hawaii.  Tickets are available now at all three restaurants, Foodland Farms, 4D Movie Ride and The Shops at Mauna Lani management office.  For more information, call 885-9501 or visit, follow us on Twitter (@The Shops) or Facebook.

Zipline Death Prompts KapohoKine to Suspend Booking Zipline Tours

KapohoKine Adventures (KKA), an eco-tourism company based in Hilo and with islandwide operations, confirmed that it has suspended booking zipline tours pending a full evaluation on the soil composition and structural integrity of the lines.

KapohoKine Ziplines

The entrance to the Honoli'i Outpost KapohoKine Zip Line Course

In September, a not-yet-operational line that was undergoing final testing at Lava Hotline’s site by the company that installed it, failed.  One construction worker was killed and another seriously injured.

KKA has used Lava Hotline exclusively for its zipline tours.  Lava Hotline closed the operation pending evaluation and KKA will not book tours at other ziplines until the causes of the accident are fully understood.

“KKA wants to see the reports of the soil, structural engineering and architectural consultants that Lava Hotline retained to evaluate the ziplines,” said KKA co-owner Tony DeLellis.  Those evaluations are underway on the seven other Lava Hotline ziplines in the same area as the one that failed.  Lava Hotline zipline is owned by KKA partner Gary Marrow.

KapohoKine Ziplines

KapohoKine Zip Line

Launched in 2004 from a garage in Kapoho (hence the name), KapohoKine Adventures has helped shape Hawaii Island’s new age of tourism.

“We provide guests to Hawaii Island the best experience possible, introducing them to what makes this island unique, with its volcanic eruptions, incredible vistas and seascapes and we do it in a way that is a cut above what was being offered when we started,” said DeLellis.

KKA is continuing its popular eco-tours, minus zipline experiences.

KapohoKine Ziplines have been suspended indefinitely

With one 2004 Chevy Suburban and one guide (co-owner Gary Marrow), the partners began their specialized eco-adventures, marketing heavily to cruise line visitors.  In 2007, the company moved its expanding fleet out of the Kapoho garage into a 4,800 sq. ft. baseyard in Pepeekeo.

Then the economy and the island’s cruise line passenger count plunged the following year.  The company scrambled and has managed to survive.  DeLellis is proud that even during the tough economic times, KKA never let go of any of its 25 employees.

As discerning visitors look for more meaningful experiences, the KKA ohana (Hawaiian for family) searches for ways to reshape and improve eco-tourism, by developing experiences suited to visitors on both sides of Hawaii Island.

“Our tours are as much about education and preservation of the environment as they are about an exciting adventure,” says DeLellis.

KKA’s outdoor adventures include road trips through lava country in Puna, interpretive walks at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, barbeques at KKA’s partner macadamia nut and honey farm, helicopter and aerial flights above secluded native rainforests, cascading waterfalls and craters.

Zipline adventures, long used as transportation in mountainous regions and at ski resorts, become a worldwide attraction for eco-travelers and Hawaii Island allows ziplines on agricultural land as an open area recreational use.  KKA added them to its menu of services in 2010.

While KKA suspended booking any zipline tours, pending the reviews by specialists, it continues its other high-value tours.  On a given day, the Hilo-based eco-tour company will field 18 vehicles (14 from Hilo, four from a second base in Kona that opened in 2009) and as many as 250 visitors.  Customers range from local school children to honeymooners and eco-tourists of all ages.

KKA has a storefront on Waianuenue Avenue in Hilo, which carries eco-adventure gear from Patagonia and Keen footwear, plus locally made jewelry and Atebara snacks.  The store is also a gathering place where people talk story about their adventures as well as enjoy downtown Hilo.

KKA and its partners also have a strong sense of stewardship when it comes maintaining and celebrating the natural beauty of Hawaii.  The KapohoKine team regularly cleans up litter along the highway and the slopes of Mauna Kea, and contributes to many local charity fundraisers.

“We’re honored that groups big and small, from St. Joseph’s School in Hilo to national organizations such as the Make A Wish Foundation, have approached us for help,” said DeLellis.  “It’s so fulfilling to be able to help local and national groups experience the wonder of Hawaii Island where they otherwise might not be able to.”

For more information on KapohoKine Adventurers, visit

Information for Organizations and Individuals Wishing to do Business with the County of Hawai’i

From the Mayor’s Office:

Effective July 1, 2011, the Governor signed into law Act 190, which requires State compliance certificates for all purchases of $2,500.00 or more.

State Procurement Office

All business entities and/or individuals wanting to do business with the State or any of the Counties will be required to obtain Tax Clearances (both State and Federal), Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), and Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) compliance certificates.

Please note that the State of Hawaii, Office of Taxation, will no longer be issuing the paper documents for tax clearances.  Therefore, vendors will need to participate through Hawai’i Compliance Express (HCE) in order to obtain certifications.  When participating in HCE, all three compliances will be included, Tax Clearances, DCCA and DLIR.

Hawai’i Compliance Express (HCE) allows vendors selling goods or services to state or county government entities to quickly and easily demonstrate that they are in compliance with state procurement laws.  There is a $12.00 annual registration fee for the service.  To register, just go to , complete the easy step-by-step process, and pay the $12.00 online using credit card.

Registration with HCE, in and of itself, does not qualify a vendor to do business with the County for purchases over $2,500.  The vendor must be certified as being in compliance.  The County will check on HCE for compliance before entering into subject purchases.

For further information, please access the State Procurement Office website at or call the County’s Purchasing Division at 961-8231.

Kevin Dayton Resigns From Mayor Kenoi’s Office to Return to Journalism

Mahalo Kevin Dayton for all your hard work with the Mayors Office and thanks for asking Tiffany and I to help start up the Opala in Paradise group.

Media Release:

Kevin Dayton, executive assistant to County of Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi, has resigned from his county position to return to a newspaper reporting position with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Kevin Dayton

Kevin Dayton interviews a member of the Hawaii Ocean View Estates community

Dayton, 52, served in the Kenoi administration for nearly three years. His responsibilities included communications and special projects. Before joining the Kenoi administration, Dayton was a reporter and bureau chief for The Honolulu Advertiser for 16 years, and was a reporter for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald for four years.

Kevin Dayton

Kevin Dayton worked hard on his off time helping clean up the islands garbage

“I would like to thank Mayor Kenoi for giving me an opportunity to develop new skills, to work with his excellent staff, and serve the mayor and the residents of the County of Hawaii for the past three years,” Dayton said.

Kevin Dayton

Making sure the camera is just perfect

“Kevin has been a valued member of our executive team, and he will be missed,” Mayor Kenoi said. “We all appreciate his many contributions to our administration, and we wish him success in his new job.”

Kevin and I carry remove an illegally dumped couch on one of our Opala in Paradise Cleanups

Kevin and I carry remove an illegally dumped couch on one of our Opala in Paradise Cleanups

Dayton will be be assigned to cover the Honolulu mass transit project for the Star-Advertiser.

Puna Kidnapping Suspect to Appear in Court Today

East Hawaiʻi detectives have charged an 18-year-old Keaʻau man with kidnapping and several counts of terroristic threatening in connection with a domestic violence incident that occurred late Friday afternoon at a home in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision in Puna.

Dustin M.K. AhChong

Dustin M.K. AhChong

At 2:45 p.m. Sunday, Dustin M.K. AhChong was charged with kidnapping and six counts of first-degree terroristic threatening. This incident involves AhChong, during a domestic dispute over custody of an infant, allegedly pointing a hand gun and then a rifle at five victims and threatening to shoot them if the infant was not surrendered to him.

Both weapons were later recovered. They were determined to be an “air soft” pistol and a pellet rifle.

Though frightened, none of the victims sustained any physical injuries.

Detectives with the Juvenile Aid Section are conducting this investigation.

AhChong is being held at the Hilo police cellblock in lieu of $22,000 bail. He is scheduled to make his initial court appearance in South Hilo District Court on Monday (October 24) at 1 p.m.