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Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for New Waimea District Park

A groundbreaking and traditional Hawaiian blessing for a new 24-acre Waimea District Park were held Monday, November 16, during a public ceremony attended by Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi, County Councilmembers, State lawmakers, and Parker Ranch Inc. executives.

Kahu Kealoha Sugiyama performs the blessing ceremony for a new Waimea District Park on Monday, November 16. Image provided by: Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation

Kahu Kealoha Sugiyama performs the blessing ceremony for a new Waimea District Park on Monday, November 16.
Image provided by: Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation

The project’s first phase, complete with three covered play courts, lighted ball field and keiki playground, will be opened in December 2016, well ahead of the original 2020 estimate, Mayor Kenoi said while standing in front of the green pastures to be developed into active recreation.

“It’s going to be a pu‘uhonua (place of peace and safety) in beautiful Waimea,” he said.

Parker Ranch donated the land for the park site located near its former headquarters and reached via Ala ‘Ōhi‘a Road.

“This is truly an exciting day for Waimea and the Big Island,” Dutch Kuyper, Parker Ranch president and CEO, said, noting athletic fields are where children can learn good sportsmanship and humility, even in defeat.

Contractor Nan Inc. has been hired to build the project’s first phase, which also will feature accessible walkways, more than 150 paved parking spaces, landscaping, and infrastructure.

Mayor Kenoi thanked the Waimea community, including the Waimea District Park Builders, for not giving up on the dream of a new park. He also thanked State leaders for helping obtain partial funding for the park development, the County Council for approving the balance of the necessary funding, and the Department of Parks and Recreation for managing the project.

Hawaii Electric Bills Fall to Lowest Levels in More than Five Years

Customers of Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric this month are seeing the lowest monthly electric bills in more than five years, largely due to the continued drop in fuel prices. And on Hawaii Island, customers of Hawaii Electric Light are benefitting even further, with the lowest monthly bills in more than six years.

“Lower oil prices are helping our customers right now, but we know our state needs to stay committed to long-term solutions, which means developing a diverse portfolio of low-cost renewable energy resources. It’s critical that we keep working toward our state’s goal of a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard,” said Darren Pai, Hawaiian Electric spokesman.

Based on 500 kwh/month for Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Maui; 400 kWh/month for Molokai and Lanai

Based on 500 kwh/month for Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Maui; 400 kWh/month for Molokai and Lanai

Currently, 22 percent of the electricity needs of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ customers are met using renewable resources and Hawaii is by far the national leader in the percentage of customers with rooftop solar. And the Hawaiian Electric Companies are continuing to increase renewable resources and develop new options for customers to manage their bills. Recent actions include:

  • Proposed time-of-use rates for residential customers, public schools and electric vehicle owners
  • Expansion of utility-owned electric vehicle fast chargers
  • Piloting intelligent energy storage systems
  • A proposed community-based renewable energy program that would benefit customers who cannot or chose not to take advantage of rooftop solar to receive the benefits of renewable energy
  • Plans to install 137 megawatts of solar power from grid-scale projects to be completed in 2016

Chief Justice Recktenwald Honored with Peacemaker Award

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald was honored by the Kuikahi Mediation Center, in partnership with the Hawaii County Bar Association (HCBA), at an Annual Recognition Dinner on Sunday, November 15, 2015, in Hilo.

Julie Mitchell, Executive Director of Ku'ikahi Mediation Center, presented Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald with the 'Peacemaker Award' at an Annual Recognition Dinner on Sunday, November 15, 2015.

Julie Mitchell, Executive Director of Ku’ikahi Mediation Center, presented Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald with the ‘Peacemaker Award’ at an Annual Recognition Dinner on Sunday, November 15, 2015.

“This year Kuikahi is giving our ‘Peacemaker Award’ to the Chief Justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court.  Chief Justice Recktenwald is nationally recognized for his leadership and commitment to increasing access to justice,” said Judge Andrew Wilson, Kuikahi’s board president. “He has been a strong supporter of alternative dispute resolution and has forwarded our efforts in the courts with programs such as the Hilo Self-Help Center and the Foreclosure Mediation Program.”

Under the Chief Justice’s leadership, Self-Help Centers were established in six locations statewide, including in Hilo and Kona.  More than 3,860 individuals, who otherwise could not have afforded legal representation, have been assisted on the Big Island, alone.  Statewide, the volunteer attorneys at the Self-Help Centers have assisted more than 10,000 people.

“More than half of our clients are at or below the poverty level,” said Julie Mitchell, Executive Director of the Kuikahi Mediation Center.  “The Hawaii State Judiciary has made tremendous strides in increasing its access to justice for all by increasing its services both in the courts and online.  We applaud Chief Justice Recktenwald for his vision and continued efforts.”

In addition, mediation services are available at the Hawaii State Judiciary’s district, circuit and appellate courts.  Chief Judge of the Third Circuit, Ronald Ibarra said: “The Chief Justice has always recognized the value of conflict resolution and conciliation methods and has supported programs, such as our Third Circuit Foreclosure Mediation Program, Family Court’s Ohana Conference, and our Court Annexed Arbitration Program.”

The Chief Justice has also helped expand services such as the Hawaii Appellate Pro Bono Pilot Project, a divorce mediation program on Kauai, and a paternity mediation pilot project on Oahu.

“I’m honored to receive this recognition from the Kuikahi Mediation Center and the HCBA,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald.   “It is because of our community partners like the Kuikahi Mediation Center that we are able to expand programs that encourage litigants to use mediation, so that they can attempt to resolve their conflicts on their own terms and at less cost.  We are grateful for this partnership and their continued support.”

HCBA also recognized Attorney Addison M. Bowman, who is a Professor of Law Emeritus at the UH William S. Richardson School of Law and an appellate mediator for the Hawaii Supreme Court, for his many years of service.